Thursday, July 2, 2009


Had a short session on the lake today. No whitecaps in sight; at the end of the dock at Lakewood, I measured right around 8 knots. Took the 10.8 and my Finworks LT, and wouldn't you know it, with a bit of pumping, I popped onto a plane and was able to go upwind at a pretty good angle. There were a number of people who couldn't believe it (a bunch of dinghy racers and sailing instructors, who all have dabbled in windsurfing or maybe are even teaching it). When the wind picked up another knot or two (now you could actually spot the occasional whitecap if you looked upwind, especially since it was so sunny), the whole thing turned from being work to being downright fun.

I'm often told that Formula sailing isn't real windsurfing. But the amazing efficiency of the gear (and it's ready and very reasonably priced availability in gently used form) sure makes it a pretty compelling thing to do in those nice light summer thermals. Other than an 18' skiff or similarly technical (and expensive) performance boat, I can't think of anything that's faster or more exhilarating to sail in the kinds of conditions most of us get most of the time.

And that efficiency provides its own thrills - it's fast, fun, affordable. And no matter how far modern slalom gear has come (or modern freeride gear), none of it can provide that sensation of power in that little wind. Racing the stuff makes it even more fun - but just going out for a cruise is pretty sweet as well.

The picture was from last year at Squamish, in similar wind speeds (courtesy Gwen l'Hirondelle). Yes, if I raced in these kinds of conditions, I'd probably get a 12; but just to get planing and go upwind, the 10.8 is already pretty optimized. Yes, I like stand-up paddling. I also like longboard sailing on my Kona. And I can even see teh appeal of light air freestyle. But given that I like going fast, in light air, there's just no substitute for formula...

1 comment:

James Douglass said...

I'm right with you. Formula is an amazing and totally neglected type of sailing / windsurfing, and with used stuff it's totally affordable.