Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dialing in the slalom stuff

That s&^t-eating grin on my face to the right (as captured by Shawn Davis)  pretty much says it all - I'm pretty happy with my slalom gear this year. I got my new Exo 71 just before my trip to the Bay Area, where it got put to good use on both the 7.1 and the 6.0, and since coming home, I've been able to sail it with the new 8.2 a couple times.

Some observations:
  • The board is almost stupid rangey - 8.2 feels really comfortable, and I'm sure it can easily pull off a 9.0. And it's really tuneable - when sailing it with the 8.2, the biggest fin I had at hand was a 42 (very sweet Finworks slalom fin - keep your eyes peeled for more on these soon). That's a bit small, but just moving the base forward an inch put everything into very nice balance. The board shines in 7.1 conditions - chop is eaten alive, and you can just keep on pushing. It's everything that I loved about the 67, but even more point and shoot.
  • The new 7.1  Sailworks NXsl is sweet. The previous 7.2 was an amazing sail. The 7.1 takes that to a higher level. It's still got the same range, but even better control at the high end, and more potential to juice it up for when it gets a little lighter. It's definitely an evolution on the 7.2, not a radical departure - and that refinement really shows. This is my go-to slalom size (last year, I raced all slalom on my 7.2), and I'm really stoked about this one. I'm surprised by how tuneable things are on the downhaul - the sail doesn't get all draggy if you let out a 1/2" of DH - it just powers up more. Lessons learned from the Hucker, I guess. And when you flatten it out for high end, it gets super slippery - but remains pumpable out of the jibes.
  • The 8.2 NXsl is remarkable. I've had a ton of fun on it in pretty marginal conditions, but when the wind picks up a bit, it doesn't feel that big. It's got the same happy demeanor as the 7.1, just in a bit bigger. This is a great companion for the new breed of bigger slalom boards. I was a bit surprised that I actually found some speeds around 32 knots in my track log - not bad for an 8.2 and a 71 liter board in open water, I'd say (especially since I wasn't really doing speed runs - this was just letting it fly off the breeze a bit on the way back in). This sail, together with the 118 liter Exo, is fully raceable in conditions that, if on formula, would still see me on my 10.8. 
This Saturday is the first Gorge Cup - or maybe I should say, this Saturday might be the first Gorge Cup, as the current forecast is for light Easterlies. Hopefully, that will change (fronts move fast this time of year). Cross your fingers for raceable conditions.

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