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Old 10th May 2011, 07:39 PM   #1
Lewn
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Default First time on Formula board

Hi guys,

I have no experience on windsurfing at all and I would like to start formula windsurfing(mainly because in the area I'm going to surf the winds are very light 5-10kts). I am fairly athletic guy and I catch up pretty quick on sports. My question is whether I could start learning with a formula board and a small sail? Would it be a lot harder than starting on a big freeride starter board? My concern is that I don't want to spend money on a used board that I will have to sell back in a few weeks time (hopefully..) but rather spend it straight for a new formula board that I will keep. What do you thing?
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Old 10th May 2011, 08:43 PM   #2
Ken
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Lewn,

I don't recommend learning on a new formula board. They are somewhat fragile and dropping the mast on the nose will do damage. And yes, you will drop the mast on the nose many times as you are learning. The big fins (70cm) are a handicap for beginners because of their length (shallow water). Finding a small fin isn't hard, but the the board will be a dog if you have a 40 or 50 cm fin (hard to keep upwind and slow to plane).

While the boards are wide and stable, they are not easy to tack because the nose will sink quickly so you have to move from one side to the other very fast. It's very hard to do as a beginner or novice.

Look for a used, large freeride board (with or without a dagger board) and use it to learn. You will progress faster and you may be able to sell the board for what you paid. In our area, these large "beginner" boards are in high demand and get scooped up fast when available.

If you are stuck with winds in the 5-10 knot range, you might think about a cruising longboard with a dagger board. Once mastered, then if you want to go for a formula board, fine, but keep the longboard for light wind cruising. Formula boards aren't much fun in sub plaining conditions, they slog slowly. Planing on a formula board depends on your weight. I need an 11.0 sail, about 8 knots of wind and a hell of a lot of pumping. I weight 78kg.

Lessons will save you a TON of time even if you are athletic. Learning to windsurf is a slow progression and it takes a lot of time on the water to master the sport. I have been doing it for 27 years and have sailed/raced formula boards for over 8 years.
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Old 10th May 2011, 10:48 PM   #3
sergio k
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Yup, formula boards are more fragile, unless you get formula experience, so that's a concern
and you'll have to learn how to fix small dings with epoxy, etc.. but it's relatively easy...
Not sure I'd recommend to buy a brand new formula as your first board, but if you can find a used
one it's a great platform to learn in light wind locations, you'll progress a LOT FASTER,
in the beginning you can use smaller sail 5-6 m2 and smaller fin 50-55 cm, easier to maneuver, etc... than, once you get basics switch to 70 cm and >9m2 sail so you can start planning, getting into harness,
foot straps, etc...
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Old 10th May 2011, 10:56 PM   #4
sergio k
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and I'd totally disagree with Ken that's they're hard to learn on, I know whole new generation
of windsurfers that learned on formula boards, they learn lot quicker than the ones that take
freeride board option.
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Old 11th May 2011, 12:05 AM   #5
Ken
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Sergio,

I didn't say they would be hard to learn on, just that they are subject to damage and tacking is difficult for beginners. Since it is a large platform, stability makes it pretty easy to learn some basics. However, they are slow to tack into the eye of the wind, and if you can get around the mast quick enough to prevent sinking and falling, pushing the sail forward to move the board through the eye of the wind will not be easy for a beginner.

Footstrap use will also be a lot harder on a formula board because of their extreme outboard location. I don't know if the formula experience boards have an inboard strap option, but if they do, it would make it a little easier.

Learning to windsurf on a formula board can be done, but I think there are better options.

Also, depending on the REAL wind conditions where Lewn lives, if it really is just 5-10 knots, he will spend 3/4 of his time slogging. If it is more like 5-15 knots, the a formula board can be a good choice.
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Old 11th May 2011, 08:13 PM   #6
nakaniko
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5-10 ktn is the perfect range for the Serenity, imho the only board to enjoy is such low winds, but is absolutely not a board for beginner.
On the opposite they tell me that planing with (7?-)8 knots is possible for skilled surfers with a formula board but rigged with a full-cam 12,5 mq race sail, heavy and very difficult to uphaul and handle.
One way could be to find one of the first formula boards even strongly used and protect anyway the deck with a glued (or somehow fixed) thick layer of eva or foam, to be removed when impacts are no more an issue; this is what I want to do to (try to) teach windsurf to my girlfriend. Fin suggested a big seaweed fin.The counterside is the absence of the daggerboard
that can be frustrating in trying to go upwind, especially when you have to come back to the point you've started. I agree that buying a pricy new formula board for absolute beginning is a risky business; on the opposite I don't understand the meaning of hard to be tacked, even if the meaning is slow to be tacked, but for beginners the slowest the better
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Old 11th May 2011, 09:01 PM   #7
Ken
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I weigh 78 kg and if I stand on the nose (close to the mast) of my formula board (starboard 160) for more than 1 second, it sinks. You can't do a "uphaul" tack and work your way around the nose because it sinks. To tack a formula board, you have to step from one side to the other around the mast without placing any weight in front of the mast foot. While a beginner can learn the technique, it's a whole lot easier to be able to stand on the nose of a board and allow the board to tack by leaning the mast in the direction of the tack.

Once you master the "quick tack", it's second nature and easy to do, but it takes a lot of tacks before it's automatic. It's the same move as tacking a short (low volume) board.

Formula boards are very slow to tack if you begin from a slog, and they frequently will begin to drift backward before you can begin the tack. This only amplifies the problem of the sinking nose, plus it's almost impossible to get the nose of the board through the eye of the wind from a slog, so completing the tack (pushing the mast and sail way across the eye of the wind to bring the board all the way through and into the wind will be very challenging for a beginner at the very least.
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Old 11th May 2011, 10:14 PM   #8
mark h
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Lewn
Plenty of good advice here for you to consider what board is best for you. Without any doubt, Ken is right to say that there are better boards for newbies than a formula. Learner boards are what they say, "learner boards" designed for quicker progression etc.

Having said that, like Sergio says, there is a whole new generation of windsurfers out there that learned on a formula board. I was one of them. I learned on the "formula experience" Bic Tecno Formula 170 with a 6.5m sail and a 50cm freeride fin. I accidently planned on my 3rd or 4th session and nearly crapped my self, felt like 100mph, but probably more like 15mph I moved onto a formula 147 a few weeks latter.

What ever you decide to do, DO NOT buy a brand new formula, you WILL f*ck it up in no time, they are super fragile.

If you really are an athletically intelligent fast learner, then grab a cheap second-hand formula. The older, the easier as older models had narrower tails.

Heres a few tips:
For learning to plan, set the board up with the rear centre footstrap, leave the other two rear footstraps off for now as they will just get in your way. You will plan easily by putting your foot in the rear centre strap first (stops you getting catapulted in the gusts), then going for the front strap once slow planning. Not technically the correct way, but it worked for me.

Get yourself a "Jezes Knob" (google it. Its not a sex toy) this will save you a fortune on "ding stick". Also take a look at the new SB iDo, not seen one, but this could make things easier for the first few sessions. If you get a Jezes Knob, remember not to get your toes or fingers trapped between it and the mast, this will hurt like.........

Get yourself a big freeride fin to replace the formula fin. Around 50-55cm will do.

Progress fast and have fun
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Last edited by mark h; 11th May 2011 at 10:19 PM.
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Old 11th May 2011, 10:25 PM   #9
sergio k
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Ken, really didn't want to continue to argue on FW, but - if you stand on very rip of any board it will
sink ... FW board is wide and plenty stable to tack unless you're 220+lb or very clumsy,
in that case it will take an extra day to polish technique,with a smaller fin
is actually really quick to jibe/tack, and once you're comfortable even with 70cm fin tacking is not slow or hard ...
Again, If you're are athletic, want to progress quick and live in light wind place and want to plane
(personally for me longboarding is just as exciting as watching grass grow...) FW is a great choice.
And I base my opinion on very large # of beginners that did just that.
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Old 11th May 2011, 10:47 PM   #10
nakaniko
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Ok, understood. I coudn't imagine that a board with such a big volume could have problems in tacking, but now I realize that this is the consequence of the actual very short shape.
I've got an old flapper board, a custom board from a former local shaper, that is shaped like a race board with sharp edges, but still with 263 cm of lenght. Mine is the rare small version, it's only 73 cm large, and much easier to carry and handle than the 100 cm wide version, unknown volume but it should be around 150-160 lt, as the board is thick; pheraphs is from 2000 or 2002. In this board tacking imho is easy also form my 90 kg, and I haven't problems ofgoing backward: seaweed fin doesn't match so good with the flap design, spinouts but only in planing mode.
And so: pheraphs the older the formula /and so the longer the shape), the better for learning. Obviously I mean it could be possible, none can ignore that the best is a wide board fitted with a centreboard like the Start (very pleasant, I've ridden it some years ago)... or the future Super Cat!
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