perhaps you should read the thread
here is a 'relevant' post!
Posted on 21-02-2007 18:06
Today I tested the Apollo against my SB 160. I have sold my beloved X-186 but have sailed that for such a long time I think I can make a comparison from memory.
Boards: SB 160 with stock Drake 70cm fin and Apollo with stock Drake 75cm fin; I also used a Deboichet R13 70cm +8 (more on that later).
Sail: Gaastra Neutron 9m on carbon mast and boom
Accessories: GPS and Anemometer.
Venue: Brogborough Lake in Bedfordshire, UK. 220 Acres of open water with clean wind when blowing from the South or West.
Rider: 185cm and 93kg (this diet is working)
Conditions: Temp 10-11 degrees C. Wind SW Force 3-4 (Average wind speed 13.4 mph Maximum 19.3 mph)
Subjective assessment. The extra length of the Apollo's fin makes it difficult to launch (even in a deep clay pit) Up-hauling the Apollo was also a challenge compared to the 160. Bensen's comments about the lack of volume in the nose are very valid. The nose sinks easily and requires an adjustment to the foot positioning (more towards the back). I believe this would be even more noticeable with larger (heavier) sails. Once afloat, the phrase "it does exactly what it says on the tin" comes to mind because the Apollo planes effortlessly across the wind. There is no need to coax it on to the plane or pump the sail or fin (no more bumping over the bow wave for me). When it is planning the nose rides high and once in the straps you become very aware of the big fin. The Apollo points well and continues to hunt upwind as the fin provides lift and the leeward rails starts to bite. This is where the excitement stops however because once up to a certain speed, the Apollo seems like it won't go any faster - unlike the 160, which continues to accelerate. I suspect the size of the Apollo's fin is holding it back. The Apollo feels more stable and less "twitchy" going upwind than the 160 and I began to feel the extra width in the tail working with the bigger fin keeping the board very steady. It also appeared to be going upwind at a higher angle. This was borne out on a number of laps by the Apollo taking one less beat to get to the windward end of the lake (GPS recordings later confirmed this) However, the actual time taken to get to the windward mark was almost identical on 3 out of 4 beats. Tacking proved very difficult due to the lack of volume up front but I began to become accustomed to this and adjusted my technique accordingly - it was still difficult though and I think it will be a challenge in the heat of racing. (It also made me realize how forgiving the 160 is!) Downwind I was a little concerned, as on this point of sailing you become very aware of the shear size of the Apollo - particularly in the tail area. I used to have an FX III which was very scary downwind and I was worried the Apollo would be the same (both 250cm long). Nevertheless, the Apollo again rides high over the small chop and you can push it very low. Speed again becomes a limiting factor. Gybing requires a little more work than the 160 but the Apollo responds well to "effort". I detected no difference in gybing other than this. The Apollo points no lower than the 160 and took as many reaches to get to the leeward end of the lake. However, it felt slower. This lack of speed was NOT confirmed by GPS readings. So the Apollo and the 160 seem to be well matched down wind. The very big difference between the 2 boards is when going on to the plane and when coming off the plane. The Apollo planes smoothly and earlier than the 160 and it comes off the plane later. It doesn't "sludge" like the 160 and glides for longer between the gusts. It felt very like the x-186 going on to the plane but there the similarity ends as the Apollo points so much higher. In marginal conditions I find formula boards (SB, F2 etc) suffer from a "dead spot" which, when trying to get planning means you have to go upwind a little before resuming your reach. This was not so noticeable with the Apollo. Later I tried the Apollo with a Deboichet 70cm R13 +8; it felt like a different board but not for the better. It did not want to plane as early and going upwind, I was not able to take advantage of the sharp leeward rail, as the Apollo didn't appear to be railing as much. It appears to me that the bigger fin is instrumental in the Apollo's ability to plane early and is an absolute necessity to take advantage of the extra width in the tail. As a result the Apollo took longer to get to the windward mark than the 160. Downwind with the R13 seemed a little more "free" but the GPS did not confirm this. I hope the rules change to allow 75cm fins in the future!
Objective measurements. Upwind max: 160 = 23.7 mph - Apollo = 21.6 mph Downwind max: 160 = 28.2 - Apollo 25.8. GPS Track Log showed Apollo pointed noticeably higher than the 160 but that downwind they were very similar.
Conclusion: I'm not selling my 160 just yet. In the gusts the Apollo became a bit of a handful. Even with the 70cm, you can feel just how big it is. Nevertheless, I suspect that in lighter winds and with larger sails the Apollo will come into it's own. I am very pleased I have one and am looking forward to becoming more familiar with it.
N.B. Despite opening the foot straps to their maximum width and using the widest screw holes, I still found it difficult to get into them with boots on. Race straps may be light but they are not as convenient as some other designs. Looking forward to getting back to barefoot sailing!