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JP Australia Freestyle Wave 2014 vs Starboard Kode Freestyle Wave 2014

13.10.2013 Posted in Boards No Comments
JP Australia Freestyle Wave VS Starboard Kode Freestyle Wave

Since my old JP Australia Freestyle Wave Pro board (2010 model) received structural damages a month back, I have been doing research on which out of the newly launched 2014 boards I should buy as a replacement. Tests of 2014 boards are rather sparse at the moment, since they were launched to the market just a few weeks ago. The magazines that have had a look so far tend to reproduce the exact words from the manufacturers’ catalogues or websites, so they can’t really be trusted as neutral third parties. No head-to-head tests for relevant 2014 models exist yet either.

JP Australia Freestyle Wave 2014 vs Starboard Kode Freestyle Wave 2014

Based on a rather thin basis, and without the possibility to test a boards’ performance before purchasing, taking a decision will have to be based on other factors than reviews. Therefore I quickly narrowed my alternatives down to JP Australia Freestyle Wave 2014 vs Starboard Kode Freestyle Wave 2014.

These are the two most profiled brands and their lead shapers, Werner Gnigler and Svein Rasmussen, seldom design boards that perform poorly. This does not mean I am claiming there are not other very good boards out there, but buying one of these is the same as being on the safe side.

Looking at their 2014 catalogues, I found that the specs are fairly similar. I originally wanted 82-84 liters, but it seems like I have to settle with a board with a few litres more volume. To be more precise JP’s 85 litres versus Starboard’s 86 litres. A couple of extra litres is not necessarily a bad thing when winter season is coming up and the extra buoyancy is great to offset wet suits full of water, and make the board a bit less of a sinker!

The head to head specifications and details of the boards are as follows:

Board
JP Australia Freestyle Wave Pro
Volume
85 litres
Weight
6.1 kg
Length
234  cm
Width
58.5 cm
Default fin setup
3 fins
Shaper
Gnigler
Price
~1750 €
Board
JP Australia Freestyle Wave FWS
Volume
85 litres
Weight
6.4 kg
Length
234 cm
Width
58.5 cm
Default fin setup
1 fin
Shaper
Gnigler
Price
~1450 €
Board
Starboard Kode Freestyle Wave Carbon
Volume
86 litres
Weight
?
Length
232  cm
Width
59  cm
Default fin setup
1 fin
Shaper
Rasmussen
Price
~1650 €
Board
Starboard Code Freestyle Wave Wood
Volume
86 litres
Weight
?
Length
232  cm
Width
59  cm
Default fin setup
1 fin
Shaper
Rasmussen
Price
?

Due to the conditions of my local spot I want a single-fin setup board, for earlier planing. Three fin setup boards are great in challenging conditions with greater waves, but with such waves being seldom at my local spot I prefer the earlier planing options. Besides if I wanted a board for waves I would have bought a pure wave board, not an all-round board like the freestyle wave boards are.

I must admit that the JP Pro was my original first preference due to being very satisfied with my previous board. But buying a separate fin and customizing it to a 1 fin setup makes it a rather pricy option.

Besides the fin setup, my second criteria was how the different materials actually perform. I love ultra light boards and the wood versions tend to be slightly heavier. As for Starboard’s Technora edition (not listed here) I really do not know what to expect.

So based on the above considerations, and the fact that my predetermined favourite the JP also comes in a FWS edition with a 1 fin setup, I have taken my final choice:

Conclusion: The Starboard Kode Freestyle Wave Carbon 86 litres is the winner!

Hopefully I can test my new Starboard in a couple of weeks time. Needs to be ordered though, as my local retailer didn’t have it in stock.

Catch you on the water!
/Alex

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The Red Bull Storm Chase missions – organised #insanity

4.10.2013 Posted in Windsurfing clips No Comments

The Red Bull Storm Chase - mission #1 Ireland

I follow the Red Bull Storm Chase missions with fascination. I can’t imagine myself going windsurfing in force 10 and beyond, but these guys do. The heights of their jumps are unbelievable. Everything about it is #insane

3 fat storms above 10 Beaufort, 10 sailors, and the entire planet as a stage. These are the breathtaking ingredients for the most challenging windsurfing contest of all time. To guarantee raging conditions, Red Bull Storm Chase is mobile to the max, with two waiting periods and just 48 hours to mobilize competitors and global contest crew on-site before the storm strikes.

If you haven’t seen the videos yet yet, here are the clips from the two first rounds. They are a must to see:

Red Bull Storm Chase: Mission 1, Ireland

Watch the clip here, or take a look beneath the embedded video to find the YouTube link.

Here is the YouTube link for the Red Bull Storm Chase mission 1 to Ireland.

Red Bull Storm Chase: Mission 2, Tasmanina

Watch the clip here, or take a look beneath the embedded video to find the YouTube link.

Here is the YouTube link for the Red Bull Storm Chase mission 2 to Tasmania.

Red Bull Storm Chase: Mission 3, destination yet to be decided

The Red Bull Storm Chase is currently on a break until October the 6th, due to PWA wave events. Possible destinations for the 3rd mission are: Japan, Iceland, USA, Spain and France.

I must say I am looking forward to the continuation! #insanity

/Alex

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Is windsurfing with a sprained ankle a good idea?

1.10.2013 Posted in Windsurfing blog No Comments
Is windsufing with a sprained ankle a good idea?

My hypothesis:

If I patch and support my sprained ankle enough, it will be okay to go go windsurfing!

To spend 2 weeks injured with a sprained ankle is rather boring. When in addition you are missing good wind and super wave conditions it becomes unbearable. So finally being able to walk almost normally without pains, it was time to test how the ankle would perform on the water.

I started by putting a supporting bandage forming a “number eight” around my ankle. Afraid that it would fall off after a while on the water I added a few lengths of the windsurfers number one utility tool, the duct tape, to secure it. Ready to go!

The conditions were more than good. A nice on shore wind of force 5 combined with some pretty decent waves, bore the promise of a fun day on the water. After a couple of tacks, passing the breakers and the unstable wind near the beach without problems I was in the zone. My ankle seemed to have taken no damage so far, and frankly it seemed to work like before the injury.

Unfortunately, and not so surprising, windsurfing with a sprained ankle did not feel too good. Although I got my injured foot in the straps with little effort, it turned out that doing the small movements and fine adjustments you do all the time as normal was rather difficult. It might have been 80% mentally caused, but I felt I needed to place my foot in another angle in the strap to be sure it would be alright. To compensate my other foot automatically took a non-natural stance, with the effect that my whole body position was wrong.

Going high speed was scary, and being airborne was just out of the question. So the whole session turned out to be a session of what I like to call “chicken sailing” – where you do more to avoid waves and gathering speed, rather than going for it. Typically this happens when you are scared, and I guess it was down to that. I was scared that my ankle would not be able to stand the impact of landing a jump or nose-into-the-water catapult. I returned to the shore after 30-40 minutes, not feeling very excited.

My conclusion:

It was okay to go windsurfing with a sprained ankle, but unfortunately it took most of the fun out of the experience.

/Alex

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How to describe wind strength

29.09.2013 Posted in Wind & weather No Comments
What is the wind strenght?

When preparing to go windsurfing it is essential to know what the wind strength is, as well as to describe it to others. This helps you choose the appropriate equipment and also prepare mentally as to what conditions you will meet on the water, and communicating conditions helps your mates do the same. As you might know there are several units that can be used to describe the strength of the wind. But which out of them should you use?

Which unit to use to describe wind strength?

There are several units that can be used to describe the strength of the wind. Windguru for instance allows their visitors to choose between the following units when displaying their wind forecasts:

Which one out of these you choose is not significant in it self, the important thing is that you understand the unit you have chosen well enough to adjust choice of equipment and behaviour on the water accordingly.

Myself I prefer to use the Beaufort wind force scale. The reason is simple – it is due to personal preference and practicality:

  • My forecast sources use the Beaufort scale
  • I have over the years learnt how to quite accurately tell the current wind force by looking at and sensing my surroundings
  • I have established easy to follow rules as to what equipment to choose for each level of the scale
  • It is easy to communicate to, and understand for the other guys I go windsurfing together with
  • I find it somewhat simpler to understand and use than the alternatives due to a limited number of levels with easy to remember descriptors

If all your windsurfing mates are using another unit, or forecasts are available in one specific unit, there is no reason for you to chose another unit than that as your basic scale. Anything else would be a source of confusion and misunderstanding.

Using the Beaufort scale

If you still are not sure as to unit choice, my advice would be to go with the Beaufort scale. Although it is not considered modern, I find it’s number of levels manageable and it’s levels’ physical descriptions quite easy to remember.

The  Beaufort scale was originally developed in order to describe wind strength and the effect it had on the sails of a frigate. It was divided into 13 forces and used in a qualitative manner to describe the wind strength. From ”just sufficient to give steerage” to “that which no canvas sails could withstand”. Modern versions of the scale have a mathematical relationship with the metric system, and also include levels 13 to 17, but trust me – the latter are conditions you would never dream of windsurfing in (unless you are a part of Red Bull’s Storm Chase)!

The following table has been borrowed from this Wikipedia article. The best way to get accustomed to it is actively to start determining the wind strength whenever you are outside. Use all your senses and try to recognise both the land and sea signs described in the table. After some practice you will notice that you automatically will have classified the current wind’s direction and force, even without having thought about it first!

Force Wind speed Description Sea conditions Land conditions
0 < 0.3 m/s Calm Flat. Calm. Smoke rises vertically.
1 0.3–1.5 m/s Light air Ripples without crests. Smoke drift indicates wind direction. Leaves and wind vanes are stationary.
2 1.6–3.4 m/s Light breeze Small wavelets. Crests of glassy appearance, not breaking. Wind felt on exposed skin. Leaves rustle. Wind vanes begin to move
3 3.5–5.4 m/s Gentle breeze Large wavelets. Crests begin to break; scattered whitecaps. Leaves and small twigs constantly moving, light flags extended.
4 5.5–7.9 m/s Moderate breeze Small waves with breaking crests. Fairly frequent whitecaps. Dust and loose paper raised. Small branches begin to move.
5 8.0–10.7 m/s Fresh breeze Moderate waves of some length. Many whitecaps. Small amounts of spray. Branches of a moderate size move. Small trees in leaf begin to sway.
6 10.8–13.8 m/s Strong breeze Long waves begin to form. White foam crests are very frequent. Some airborne spray is present. Large branches in motion. Whistling heard in overhead wires. Umbrella use becomes difficult. Empty plastic bins tip over.
7 13.9–17.1 m/s High wind, moderate gale, near gale Sea heaps up. Some foam from breaking waves is blown into streaks along wind direction. Moderate amounts of airborne spray. Whole trees in motion. Effort needed to walk against the wind.
8 17.2–20.7 m/s Gale, fresh gale Moderately high waves with breaking crests forming spindrift. Well-marked streaks of foam are blown along wind direction. Considerable airborne spray. Some twigs broken from trees. Cars veer on road. Progress on foot is seriously impeded.
9 20.8–24.4 m/s Strong gale High waves whose crests sometimes roll over. Dense foam is blown along wind direction. Large amounts of airborne spray may begin to reduce visibility. Some branches break off trees, and some small trees blow over. Construction/temporary signs and barricades blow over.
10 24.5–28.4 m/s Storm, whole gale Very high waves with overhanging crests. Large patches of foam from wave crests give the sea a white appearance. Considerable tumbling of waves with heavy impact. Large amounts of airborne spray reduce visibility. Trees are broken off or uprooted, structural damage likely.
11 28.5–32.6 m/s Violent storm Exceptionally high waves. Very large patches of foam, driven before the wind, cover much of the sea surface. Very large amounts of airborne spray severely reduce visibility. Widespread vegetation and structural damage likely.
12 ≥ 32.7 m/s Hurricane Huge waves. Sea is completely white with foam and spray. Air is filled with driving spray, greatly reducing visibility. Severe widespread damage to vegetation and structures. Debris and unsecured objects are hurled about.

Source: Wikipedia

/Alex

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Freeriding, freestyling and freewaving

25.09.2013 Posted in Various No Comments
Alex of Freesurfer.com

Welcome to Freesurfer.com! I am Alex, the guy behind this new blog dedicated to the art of windsurfing. I simply love the sport and the challenges it offers, even after nearly 16 years on the water. There is always something new to learn!

I would  characterise myself as an advanced freerider and bump & jumper, but want to progress in order to be able to call myself a freestyler and a freewaver, hence the name freesurfer.com - to cover all three disciplines.

My favourite and home spot is Schinias / Marathonas beach (map), a short drive north-east of Athens, Greece. It is a significant historic place, as the Battle of Marathon, 490 BC , took place in the bay and on the shores here. The spot is pretty good for freeriding and bump & jump, but waveriders will be rather disappointed, as the topography of the bay effectively hinders bigger waves in most wind directions.

As this is my first post, and no pre-written content exists I am curious as to where this will lead. My plan at the moment is to document some of my progress, and combine it with everyday windsurfing tips, tricks and observations – useful for the experienced (but probably not for the professional) windsurfer. Everything based on my own experience.

I hope you as a reader will find my blog interesting, and I want to make this blog as two-way as possible – so questions, comments, corrections, tips or anything on your mind will always be mostly welcome!

Make sure you catch my next post, either by subscribing to my mailing list or RSS-feed.

Catch you on the water!

/Alex