Michigan Windsurfing

Windsurfing & Stand-Up Paddleboarding in Michigan

I've got a quick question for the windsurfing techies out there!

Dave Young was over a few weeks back looking to buy a used windsurfing board. I have in my possession several 120litre ish boards, Astro Rock, Mistral Explosion, from friends trying to sell them and my Bic Blast, as well as a large custom made gorge board. We noticed interestingly enough the mast track positions appear much further forward on the older boards than on the newer designs.  This brings me to my question, I can understand how the mast track being further back would enhance maneuverability and turnieness ( I know that's not a word).but on the other hand it would seem to make jibing much harder as the further forward the mast and mast track is the easier it would be to keep downward pressure on the board! Not to mention you would be standing further forward also keeping the boards nose down. Watching some of the older Gorge videos on those fiberglass boards I am amazed at the fact sometimes when they do make a carving jibe successfully! As they enter the jibe with the sail in front of them I think to myself "your never going to make it", and yet,,!  As I sit and watch the video the carving technique seems  all wrong the sail is too far in front of the rider somehow. To carve a proper jibe on a modern board the sail must come way back where the foot of the sail is touching my ankle, my front arm is straight but most of the sail is beside me forcing me to lean forward and into the turn and not in front of me as in some of the jibes in the videos.

On my more modern boards if I don't lean forward and put down pressure on the boom to the foot of the sail the board will begin to bounce out! I didn't seem to see this happen too much in those old videos. Any thoughts!

Again I learned to carve a jibe on a Techno 283 but the best, most comfortable, and easiest jibes I ever did were on my old Bic Veloce 178 101 litres with a 6.0. With a mast track way further forward than on any of our newer boards.

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Hi Don,

Some thoughts around notions of stability, force input, and damping:

Everything in design is a tradeoff.  In the olden days, on those small boards, the name of the game was to go out in high wind and be in control.  Early planing was not the key element, as almost nobody really expected to have fun on a shortboard unless it was blowing 15+, and few people expected to plane a jibe on a 12-foot longboard.  Narrow tails on the shortboards provided little resistance to feeling carvy and turny but the longer distance between mast base and fin kept them stable.

Today even as a heavyweight I expect to plane on a relatively small board in 12 knots.  Doesn't sound like a lot of difference from 15 but the velocity squared thing (for wind energy and fluid force) makes that ratio 144/225 = 64% of the available oomph to get planing for a given sail size...so we are now on bigger sails and fins, and wider boards especially in the tail....

...which impart more force to the board and water for a given wind velocity, with the force linear with respect to the sails and fins...so to make up for having only 64% of the wind energy we need a sails and fins 1.56 times as big...

...and a wider board at the back so we don't sink the tail as we get back into the footstraps, and presto magico with wider boards and bigger fins we pop up on a plane a lot sooner...albeit with a wider tail that imparts more resistance to turning.


By going with shorter and wider boards with bigger fins and sails we have significantly increased the available force on the fin, board, and sail for a given wind range.  If we had done that with the old distances between the centers of effort of the sail, board, and fin we would have ended up with boards that didn't feel loose at all and just tracked - maybe not a bad thing if you are just blasting in a straight line on flat water but no fun trying to ride through chop.  (Being able to adjust distance was the cool part about the TrimBox (and all those nice fins you delivered to me in the K-Mart parking lot).)   So the board makers shortened the lever arm distance to make sure the rides have some feel to them.

So now with all that board width and fin depth and sail size we have setups that are stable around a shorter lever arm with a higher potential force on each end of that arm.  Oh-oh, that sounds like a bad recipe when things go wrong, like dealing with a downwinder on a long fin and a wide board...legs turn to jelly keeping a Formula stable in 20+ and chop...

Jibing the old boards was a much more stable proposition because any given force input was counteracted by more waterline length through the full length of the lever arm between sail force center and fin force center, while at the same time lateral resistance in the rear was lower.  Tendencies to bounce and otherwise go unstable in the turn could be counteracted with small-force corrections which are damped by the long waterline and thus stay within stability limits.

Jibing the newer boards is less stable because any given force input is counteracted by less waterline length through the full length of the lever arm between sail force center and fin force center, while at the same time lateral resistance in the rear is higher.  Tendencies to bounce and otherwise go unstable in the turn are counteracted with larger-force corrections which are less damped by the short waterline and thus easily exceed stability limits.  By putting pressure on the mast base as noted you are increasing the waterline enough to damp the instability.

One thought is that if you are a chronic late-planer like me (my excuses are having crappy technique, no coordination, and weighing 220 pounds (that's 100 kg in Canada)) then the whole wide board / big fin / big sail thing is very worth it.

If, however, you are elegant and find yourself putting small fins and sails on these new wide boards and wishing you were on a narrower board that had more jibe stability, then it may be worthwhile to seek out narrower tails and longer lever arms.

I get so used to rigging big that when I finally do get on small stuff because I am totally confident of the planing conditions it feels just wonderfully loose and easy.



anything BUT a quick question there Don.  and having read this 3 times slowly, still not sure what the ? is,

my guess is you are questing the location of the mast track in relation to older VS newer, and why the technique from the older Gorge videos works....  my simple answer is , they had to make it work, cause its all that was available.

since the compact era began the mast track have been moved  most having the widest part of the board in place somewhere in that 6" length.

I cant see how you could sail using the same technique on old vv newer designs All the things that make up the board, shape, rocker, rails, bottom shape will alter the feel. someone would have a cure for the bouncy feel .

I mention the foot strap location, especially the front one  in relation to the mast foot, irregardless of era , its going to make a difference in user feel and friendly behavior, otherwise why have multi options .

the phrase "it aint rocket science"   kinda dont work here

I guess the actual question got lost while I was thinking about "content" for the discussion ! At any rate the question is "as the current trend is toward freestyle sailing and the mast tracks move back is this actually better? for everyone, especially for beginners,. or are the mast tracks on beginner and slalom racing boards in fact more forward? 

well....... I can certainly contribute to content, how useful relevant another story.

On topic mast track,  the board shown is my 2013/14 project, it started life as a 1999 Mistral Score 104L Freestyle, freestyle in '99 not so dedicated a shape as noadays, 240 X 58.5 . The board now is 229X 58.5, will be 85Liter +0r -

the mast track NOW is 10cm more REARWARD form the tail than it was original, I cut 23cm front, 10 rear.

measures I have taken or given to me from similar sized to a little larger( FSW)  , put this track

the same on 2, and to match would need to be about 4-6 " forward on the remaining .

I 'think' Iam saying I agree with your theory that they , some ,  are back but not all

You would need to do a study on length percentage vs mast placement on the various types

to confirm, the actual placement from the tail is only part of the equation.


 in the photo you can faintly see some lines across the track, the rear and centers are the same on 2,

the farthest forward mark is actually the rear end track  of a Fanatic

One thing, and I have talked to many sailors about this is, if you think about your favorite board back in the late 80's or mid 90's and how much fun it was, it was retired due to damage (taking on water) or simply the technology was outdated and the board was heavy by today's standards. Everyone I talked to said gee I wish I had that board available to me today, manufactured with new materials and technology then I would have an awesome board! Interesting!


I really like the part that the board took on water, and I  wish a couple I HAD would have sunk

Light weight came with some issues of strength, and with carbon &   Kevlar came soaring costs, but comparatively speaking its still relatively cheap compared to most inflation swollen items.

Possibly the reason windsurfing is dying is user friendliness. Some of my friends have been trying to carve a jibe for 20 years and are still struggling with it, Price is certainly not a factor when it comes to kiters these kids show up every year with new stuff!  the learning curve for flashy kiting is really, really fast compared to windsurfing! Why?  The windsurfing industry seems more and more about high end wave or freestyle sailing rather than the back to basics of just having fun chop hopping. lets face it I am never going to be Robbie Naish and I don't kid myself on thinking I am. ( I guess I an a Dinosore, but when I look at my peers they are all Soreasses as well!   I just want to go out each season learn a few tricks and chop hop and cruise! Most of us are content with that so I think the industry should try to make it easier for the weekend warriors and  develop boards that are more user friendly! It will certainly be interesting to see where windsurfing goes in the next ten years or if we will all be kiting!! One by one we are dropping off because the lure of easy sailing on kites and user friendly equipment is very seductive! Just to be clear I am not talking about low wind sailing either, optimal is 5.0 to 6.0!


I think you've seen this, but take a look at what Uncle Robbie has to say about Windsurfing:


No I haven't seen that one! Great trailer Brian thanks. makes me wonder if kiting gives one the same inner feelings! Yes the sport has taken a huge downturn in sailors over the last 10 years, very noticeable, not sure if this is good or bad. I do miss the days of going to the beach and sailing with 30 or 40 others of all levels! Some days I really miss having a few people out there so we can show off to each other, it's not near as much fun showing off to yourself! However I am not yet ready to call it quits and move on to a new sport, still have some things I want to accomplish and that keeps me hungry for windsurfing! Yes as a whole all the equipment is better today by far than when I started sailing in 1985 and the prices have stayed fairly reasonable in fact! I have in the past few years unfortunately seen many good sailors go to the wayside because they have gotten tired of being skunked and wasting time. Again it will be very interesting to see if kiting suffers the same fate eventually! I suppose someday I will be out for a session and when I come in to the beach someone will ask me "What are you doing?" "What is that stuff??"

I think having young people (especially) doing freestyle stuff near the beach, would give windsurfing a huge boost.   Most of us just 'mow the lawn' out there - and that's still a lot of fun - but it doesn't translate to watchers on the beach.

Put that Tricktionary book on your Christmas list and get out there and practice your tricks!

my 2 ¢

  We don't have much influence over what the youth do, they are the future of anything :period. We can expose them to what makes us smile, windsurfing, and if it sticks magic.  I don't see that the freestyle is the answer, I have fun just sailing, I  dont use a name to categorize it. I enjoy watching those talented in freestyle, but fall enough without making things more complicated.

 So many factors influence people who leave us and go to the dark side, kiting. Odd when its really windy they didn't kite, they sailed,  thats changed some now with the advent of  user friendly  kite designs. 

 Kiters have saved me on 3 occasions from perhaps a serious episode, so I LUV em.

this is rather nit picky but since I went to the expense and effort to create the US1111

sticker shown ( available I add)

its ROBBY NAISH, Robby

Nice van set up! I now have the F-150 and It is set up pretty good,(still working on it) but I miss my Ford Freestar  (aka Deathstar). When Annabel was not with me I just put the front seat flat and after a session through all the boards inside instead of on the roof, simple!!

Last summer I was sailing here albeit on 6.5 but well powered on St. Clair in a North wind ripping it up along the shoreline. Chris Mingay from Urban Surf Stand Up Paddle was out that day on his paddleboard and I sailed up to him and he said Holy Crap I can't believe nor did I realize how fast you guys can go on those things, I would really like to learn how to do that!  So this is what  a younger generation not having been exposed to windsurfing does not realize!

And I may have a part time job teaching windsurfing this summer with their shop!



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