Sunday 4 March 2012

Exocet and Hot Sails tuning in low winds

It was light winds on Saturday, so I rigged the biggest sail I currently have. The 8.0m Hot Sails GPS will become my second biggest in my quiver by the end of the month but currently it is my only option when the wind is light. I rigged it with the downhaul on the lowest setting at 28cm extension, a couple of people even commented that it didn't appear to have much downhaul on. It still exhausted the gusts (when I could find one) without problem and I never felt like I was being lifted  up like often happens with minimal downhaul.

Jon White on the Hot Sails GPS 7.3m rigged for light winds on minimum downhaul
I paired it at first with the Exocet SL Sport 78cm, my biggest slalom board, and a Black Project Type R 45cm fin. This was great for half an hour and allowed me to get used to the new Chinook Pro1 180-246 carbon boom and the outhaul settings for the sail. I came in and added a couple of cm of downhaul. I felt this did give me an extra knot peak speed but the wind had picked up ever so slightly so its hard to judge if it was the extra rope through the cleat that caused it. The GPS track confirms this increase as well.

It gave me confidence to get out my smaller and new Exocet RS4, which caused the wind to promptly drop. When I slogged out to the windier part of the harbour it was fine, although the 37.5cm Black Project Type R felt like it was not giving enough lift and the board was riding low in the water. I changed up to a 40cm and this added the extra lift I wanted. There was not enough wind to plane out of any gybes on it and found myself slogging for a few seconds after every gybe. I noticed that if the arc is too tight then the front footstrap catches in the water, but do remember that happening on my first session on the pre production model. With the bigger fin this did not happen half as much, I guess due to the extra lift and wider turning circle.

Hot Sails 7.3m showing good twist even on light wind settings
Then I tried some more downhaul, opting to go for 32cm which is the max printed on the sail. This was maybe a bit too much, I felt like the low end was lost along with some of the initial acceleration which was previously phenomenal. The cams rotated fine but did require a harder tug to sheet in after a gybe to get them to lock into place straight away. I think if I had to choose between the 8m on max downhaul or the 7.3m on low I would go for the 7.3 due to the lower drag and potential higher top end.

The wind cannot even be classed as up and down as it never really got up all day, and often there were people not planing while I was. Sometimes it was the other way around though as I got more tired due to 2 weeks of high pressure and no wind in the UK to keep my windsurfing fitness up. Overall I am pleased with the results, compared to Portland Pirates team mates that I scored equal speeds to over the last year I did manage a couple of knots faster, even if this is still in the mid twenties.

So I now know that the 8m needs the 40cm fin or even more in a bigger board. It will power up both the Exocet SL Sport 78 and the Exocet RS4 when the white horses are just starting to appear, with the bigger board perhaps even sooner with a bit of a better technique for early planing (something I am working on). I think the 7.3 will get me slightly higher top speeds when the 8m is calling for max downhaul, but that is to test in the future. This is probably more due to my weight and ability, someone heavier/better may find the 8m preferable in those circumstances.  This last statement will be interesting for me to experiment on as often the conditions are very similar after work in the spring and summer.

The Chinook boom was fantastic, being a bit wider than the old triple clamp carbon I have and also maybe a bit stiffer at 225cm extension I noticed I could let off more outhaul for deeper runs off the wind without the sail folding over the boom.

Thanks to Jon White and Karen McBarrons for the photos of their session on Saturday up north. Unfortunately my camera operator (oops, I mean fiancĂ©e) was at work.

Good speeds and winds
The Bus

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