Tech out: 

    One of the grails I’ve been seeking the last twenty five years or so of my windsurfing experience is a wave fin that’s big enough to hold a large sail yet still turn unreal.  And it has to go upwind like a bat.  And it has to have madd grip.  Sure it’s a tall order but I had an intuitive sense it was possible.   I had a GFC fin from Bill Klein that I liked a lot.  It held and went upwind pretty well.  Not so loose though.  Just too much cord length through the body of the fin I guessed.  And my experience and experiments with fin shaping and design over the years has led me to prefer some flex in the tip to provide forgiveness at bad angles of reentry and to better blend into the arc of the turn.  So it seemed logical to take the area from the center third of the fin to help induce twist in the tip while contributing to the turn.  This strategy conserves lots of base cord to push off while pumping up on a plane or schloging against current.  I have to think it’s the best of all wave fin worlds.  For those that might think it’ll break right off, this fin is over three years old and I’ve been sailing it a lot.  Overpowered too.  It holds.  And if I did break it off hitting something, better the fin than the fin box I say.   Though I would still be sad.   I really am loving this fin.   It’s pure magic.

    It has so much magic that I’m thinking it might even be the answer to that rather vexing twin fin issue of wanting the crazy loose feeling but not wanting to have to be so careful about spinning it out or even have to put a couple more boxes in there to quad the thing.    My preliminary experiment, while primitive in foil and their look, had madd grip and were working unreal until I ruined them trying something else out on them.  I’m way optimistic I’m on to something with this concept.  I’d love to hear what you think and what sort of luck you’ve had with your ideas and if you might like to try one of these.  It’s another way to recycle an old fin you might be holding that is just a little too stiff in the turn or just too old school for you to want to be seen out sailing on.   

    My basic steps are to draw out the new template, cut it with a jig saw, draw the center line onto the edge then rough out the shape with a file.  Then I come at it with a wet/dry 80 grit wrapped around a hardwood block and worked out the file marks.  Following with 100 and 120.  You can go to 220 if you want but I hardly ever bother.  And if I do, mostly just on the leading third or so. 

    My latest OCRD Therapy:

    And here’s another one for all us compulsives with Obsessive Compulsive Rigging Disorder and a little time to spare.   So if you are using a Roller bar with the aluminum frame, doesn’t it seem kind of sharp on the upper edge where you are most likely to be trying to punch it through the foot or body of the sail as you are going over the falls with your stuff?  Or even on just a simple catapult.  As I was going through my gear thinking about what I could do to get dialed in for the big wave season, this kind of jumped out at me.  A quick file job then some wet dry wrapped around a block to smooth it down and I’m feeling more confident already.  

    The paint was chipping off mine and even if it hasn’t yet on yours, it won’t be long so no worries about that.   I mean maybe the powder coating will last if you sail fresh water but then you don’t really need the paint protecting the aluminum.

    And here’s something I found at a Surf shop

up in Newport.  Soy based Skate wheels.  Since

the typical Urethane based skate wheels are rather

something less than totally eco friendly, I thought

I’d give them a try and must say they’ve been holding

up in stellar fashion.  Madd grip and I’ve been loving

them.  “Biothane” from Sector Nine.

    Sure this may seem a rather pathetic contribution

to offsetting my carbon footprint in the context of

all the petrochemicals used in the manufacture of our

gear but I’d like to hope every little bit helps.  And I do

go through wheels.  I haven’t added up the skate days

so far this year but I’ve been averaging about seventy

a year -- as the skateboardsailing really is the best

possible x-training for the windsurfing that I know.   



    Before you get into this next piece, perhaps I should mention that I happen to be sponsored by Dakine  --  the designers and producers of the Mono.   And that I occasionally receive product from them for use and testing.  They did not however suggest, approve, compensate me for or even know about this following gizmo rant. 

         So the Mono is still by far my favorite new gizmo.      

    I had already been running my lines just a couple inches apart to make for finer sheeting sensitivity and line placement.  And I’ve been using roller hooks since Reactor brought them to market as they also promote sheeting sensitivity and go easier on the lines.  So when I saw the Mono, sure I wanted to try them.  But I had no idea they would be such a sweet upgrade and make such a difference.  And what a pleasant surprise to have the board feel looser during hooked in sailing.  I'm not exactly sure why, and we should bounce this around on the forums, but I do have a theory.  That it's the improved efficiency and balance of a rig with perfect line position and no line input along with the single hinge point letting you impart far more rig leading to the board.  

    The Monos do demand that you move them to the perfect balance point.  There’s no faking it.  And no wearing yourself out fighting a rig that you don't even realize is out of balance.  Much more than a quarter an inch off and you are gonna know it by the discernable pull from the direction you need to shift the line toward.  I suppose a draft stable sail is a bit of a prerequisite and I do love the Robechaud battens in my Northwaves.  In my quest for ever more perfect groove out there, I've even taken to measuring the line placement along with the other settings after particularly dialed sessions and keeping them in a book.  From my notes I made a magnetic crib sheet to go on the back door.  Now, assuming that hasn't blown away or if the book is at hand, I can cruise through rigging without pause and hit the water with total confidence that at least my gear is ready.  Yeah, why risk being less than dialed on that all important first run of the day -- as it so often sets the tone for the entire sesh.    

    Sure I was cussing them at the first couple unintentional hook-ins.  And I was prepared to continue hating them since I'd been using swinging lines for twenty-five years and the Monos don’t swing at all.  But those hook-ins were just operator error and by the end of the first day I was all about putting Monos on my other boom too, swing or not.  And it wasn’t much longer before I not only got used to the non-swing action, but started kind of liking the precision of having the line exactly right there when I’m ready to hook in.   I was just needing to cinch the velcro tension on the boom straps a little more (after arriving at perfect placement if you prefer) to keep the lines aimed downward at the preferred angle.  Since that little epiphany, I've been getting in and out with precision and hardly ever suffer the dreaded UHIs I used to get with swinging lines in the jibe. 

    I was also interested to find out the Monos aren’t just for the people who are already running their lines close together.  I had encouraged a couple of my fellow students who were running their lines farther apart to try them, and they both now prefer and use the Mono after much shorter adjustment periods than I had.  These experiences convinced me the only two prerequisites for getting on them are an open mind and a reasonably modern sail that’s rigged to be at all draft stable.  For you junk riggers out there -- read a little DOWNHAUL please.  

    And it might also be worth mentioning the line placements may well be a little asymmetrical.  Variables like the current's relationship to the wind, sailing stance and degree of reach seem to have a noticeable effect.  

    For those that may be concerned that the single point loading might be hard on the boom, I wondered about that a little too.  So I checked with the guys over at Chinook who make my booms.  They're not worried.  They haven't seen any failures from the lines and their carbon tubes point load to eight hundred pounds.  I guess if you've been out trying to stick monstrous one handed forwards or back loops hooked in -- or have an old beater aluminum boom that’s looking a little powdery from too much time in salt water -- hey you might want to stick with the conventional lines.  Maybe even spread them a little more.  But I’m not exactly easy on my stuff and I've been yarking on mine heavily for about four years now, on the southern Oregon coast, with no problem.  

    While this is definitely one for “The top ten things I wish they'd thought of sooner”, the immortal Mr. George Greenough pretty much did.   He was already on to this when I started windsurfing in '84.  Sure his system wasn’t quite this clean, but he totally had it going.  Among all kinds of incredible innovations like those low volume spoon boards, his fins, skinny masts and a one piece carbon boom, the dude had made himself an ultra cool harness hook instead of using lines.  It was a stainless steel hook threaded into a piece of hydraulic tubing threaded to a plate molded into his harness.  The hook went right over the boom and settled into the knobs of the mountain bike tread glued to the inside of the boom.  I’d always wondered about what was up with that, but never got it together to rig something up.  I get it now though.  Mr. Greenough really was so freaking far ahead of his time that we are still trying to catch up.  And my humble thanks to DaKine for doing their part to help us get there.     

    So I have to think you might want to give them a try.  But don't thank me if they change your life.  Thank Kiting since the Mono would seem to be trickle down from what they designed for kite bars before they switched to center lines.  It was all about eliminating harness line input to the bar and certainly was one of those happy accidents.