We have heard all the tips before: "extent your arms", "point your tows", "over hand grip", etc etc. But none of these tips really help if your gear is not trimmed and tuned correctly. Why? Because optimizing your trim for high performance windsurfing is a limitless process. One improvement will result in other trim improvements. Maximizing your trim is the true start of cutting edge windsurfing.
So here it goes:
1) Foot straps: Thou shall show your tows! Make certain your feet have plenty of room. All your toes should stick out, increasing control and stability. Too little room for your foot makes your sailing uncomfortable and hard to control, especially in choppy conditions. Tight straps are an old speed myth
2) Foot straps: Thou shall widen
they stance! Footstrap position determines the sailor’s stance and therefore
the board’s behavior. For chop and high wind conditions, footstraps are
placed forward and farther apart resulting in more control. On flat water footstraps
may be best located further back, though still wide apart. The width between
front and back strap is determined by your own length. Shorter people have them
closer together; taller people further apart. Simple.
For performance oriented freeride
and slalom boards, foorstraps are placed as far back and on the outside as possible.
For maximum speed and performance you should use at least the second to last
pasition starting from the back. If the straps are placed too much on the inside,
the rider won't be able to give enough pressure on the rails and on the fin,
so the power of the sail won't be passed on correctly to the board.
For the beginners and surfers that want to learn to get in the footstraps, the front inwards positions are the best. If you wish to purchase a board as a beginner, you should consider a board which offer inward footstrap positions.
3) Mastfoot position: Thou shall
be in the middle! Well, almost. Again, control is key. So slight forward placement
increases board control by taking the sailor’s weight forward, more onto
the board, controlling the fin. The mastfoot is set slightly in front of the
mast track, which is an excellent position that keeps control in most daily
conditions. Only in extreme light- or highwinds move your mastfoot 1-2"
(2-5cm) forward or backward, respectively.
So, the middle is a good starting point, but there are othere parameters you should consider. For example sail size is a factor which helps determine the mastfoot position. Small sails will require the mastfoot to be placed 1 or 2 cm further back, bigger sails will need for a mastfoot which is placed more to the front. If you notice that your sail is crushed on the deck of your board and that the speed isn't that great, you should move the mastfoot a couple sm backwards. On the other hand, if your board gets really nerveous and starts rising you should move the mastfoot forwards. The extreme frontal or back position on the masttrack are seldom used on most boards. If you feel you should use these positions, it would be wise to check and modify other trim settings (like sail, boom or footstraps).
4) Fin position: Thou shall be forward! At least so much forward that the front/leading edge of your fin is in line with the back of your rear foot strap. It starts to get boring, but this enhances control. It might kill your speed a little bit but that can be compensated using a thinner and straighter foil. Wave sailors would want their fin a tit (~1") more forward so that the leading edge is almost under the middle of the back strap (read food). Speed sailors may want it a tit (~1") more back.
5) Downhaul: Thou shall twist nicely! The basic trim that works for almost all sails is one that shows a progressive leech twist. A negative top batten, with a loose leech around half way into the sail between the top and 2nd batten. This loosness is reduced to max 1/3rd between the 2nd and 3rd batten and the leech is tight below the 3rd batten. This ouhaul setting works in most conditions, assuming a correct outhal and recommended mast. Increase the outhal with increasing winds and vice versa. Very simple. Also, when you are heavier than normal (>75kg = 170lbs) decrease the outhaul a little (increasing low-end power) or use a stiffer mast, for lighter people (<75kg = 170lbs) again vice versa. The adjustment range between ideal low wind trim and ideal high wind trim is often 1-2" (3-5cm).
A perfect trimmed sail. Note
the negative top batten, progressive leech twist
6) Outhaul: Thou shall have enough tension! Make sure you have positive outhaul tension. For modern sails (less than 5 yrs old) that means you set your boom to the required length and pull the outhaul ~1" past the point of first resistance. The outhaul has direct impact on rig performance. Reducing it creates a deeper profile, more top loose, generating power for light winds and heavy weights. Increasing it flattens the profile, tightens the leech, increasing handling, and speed in strong winds and for leight weights. Modern sails are very well trimmed with the outhaul only, once you have your downhaul tuned correctly. Negative outhaul is from the stone age and works only for older (race) sails (mid-late 90ies). Note, skinny masts require an additional 1/2-1" outhaul beyond the recommended settings.
7) Outhaul/Battens: Thou shall not stick out! A great outhaul reference is the forward end of the 1st batten above your boom. If the forward end passes the mast without touching the mast the outhaul is set well for medium-to-high winds. If this batten end makes mast contact during rotation the outhaul is set for light-to-medium winds. If this end sticks out in front of the mast, the outhaul needs to increase. Note, downhaul will influence this reference as well.
8) Batten tension: Thou shall not wrinkle! Batten tension is simple, but overlooked by many windsurfers. Battens are the "ribs" of your rig, and keeps it stable (controllable). Tension the battens until the sail becomes visibly taught, removing wrinkles. Warning: severe over tensioning will cause asymmetric profiles and affect batten rotation. We think cambered sails are of the past and/or only to be used by serious professional racers and we advice against using them for average recreational usage. Modern 6-7 battened no cam sails are very stable, easy to rig, easy to sail, very fast, cheap, durable and thus more FUN! Stick with the fun factor!.
9) Boom height: Thou shall be chest to shoulder heigh! Boom height is VERY important as it impacts overall performance directly, but it is too often disregarded. A very good position to begin with is chest/shoulder heigh. We suggest rather high than low. A higher boom keeps your rig more upright, more effective, places more of your weight onto the rig and less on the board, causing early planing. A low boom will make initiation of planing difficult, decreases control, and maneuvrability. A high boom promotes earlier tail walking; but only in high winds. In very light winds the boom is best raised to assist in planing. If the wind is very strong, lower the boom 1-2", your weight becomes more on the board; increasing control. Myth: Higher booms make maneuvers difficult. The opposite is true: most maneuvres require you to pull down on the boom (gybes, turnes, carves, spocks, grubbies, flakas etc. etc.) not pull up, with a high boom this goes automatic.
10) Harnesslines: Thou shall be long! Well, as long as your under-arm plus handpalm to be exact. Long harness lines come from a high boom. You see, everything connects with everything, and lines are equally important as any thing else we mentioned before. Harness lines are your power transfer: their position and length will affect the rig's, and your, performance. Period. Assuming you have found the correct position (on land: place your lines around the spot on the boom where you can hold your sail with one hand in the wind. on water: when the lines are placed correctly you will be able to sail for long moments with no hands), place the lines no further than 3 to 4" appart, preferable 0 to 1" only. This will transfer the sail's power to you more directly. Then make sure your lines are of correct length, well actualy you find that out first... For most windsurfers 24-26" lines are a good length. Shorter lines will limit control, speed and your reaction time to adapt to the changing wind and sea conditions. Overly long lines (>36") may cause arm fatigue and frequent contact with the water. The under-arm plus handpalm length garantees perfect grip when hooked in.
11) Pro windersurfers: Thou shall listen and learn from them! Ask the real guys and girls, the pro's, those who windsurf to make a living (or because they can't do anything else...). They are on the cutting edge of windsurfing, know exactly what works and apply that. Not surprisingly all of our 10 Commandments are used by the pro's too. We ask, listen, learn and apply. Not blindly, but wisely. Look at how they rig, and how they sail. If it's good for them, it sure is good for you. Think otherwise? Well ask your self: If a race car driver puts rain tires under his car because it's raining, would you question that? Nooo.... Oh and ask those who know. Trying to learn a spock from somebody who cannot do a spock will not bring you far.
The ten golden slalom trim rules
Discover the hidden potential of your slalom equipment with 10 easy and practical golden rules!
Below are listed some of the most classical issues when sailing with slalom gear. Often this more technical gear does not allow us to feel comfortable and relaxed when surfing. Therefore we are now going to give you the answers to the most common problems. Give priority to modify the trim of the gear, starting with the first solution given. If this does not work, continue to the second listed advice and so on;
1-Sail has too much pressure on back arm:
Move the harness lines 2 cm backwards along the boom. The body weight will help you to better close the sail trough the harness lines.
Pull extra 2 cm outhaul. It eliminates the back hand power.
2 - The sail feels heavy:
Downhaul the sail an additional 2 cm. the sail will increase its loose leach and thereby allow the wind to exit the sail faster: better acceleration, and therefore lighter feeling sail.
Mast carbon percentage; a 30% Carbon mast is not very responsive and the sail becomes heavier.
Is the mast the original mast? If the mast has a wrong curve, to the one advised, the sail may feel unstable and heavier.
The IMCS does not represent the curve of the mast, but only the stiffness. This means that even if the IMCS is correct the curve could still be different, and give problems.
Using a size shorter mast than advised, combined to a long extension, will make the sail feel lighter, as the IMCS of the mast is lower by normally 2 points.
3 - The sail is unstable:
Release the sail by 2cm at the outhaul. It creates a deeper profile, and gives a better pressure point in the profile which equals stability.
Pull the tack strap by the mast foot tight, and tension the lower 4 battens of the sail.
4-Too much pressure on the back leg:
Lower the boom. The body moves forward and displaces the weight onto your front leg.
Lengthen your harness lines. It will be become easier to get to have a better grip in the front foot straps, and release pressure from behind.
Move your mast foot 1cm forward. This reduces the power on the back leg.
5- The foot exits from the front strap causing us to catapult:
Put the foot straps in the outer position on the board. The foot might have found a good stable point on the rail of the board, and the strap is too far inward to give a good lock in position. Therefore by bringing the strap closer to the foot will give further security whilst sailing.
Move mast foot forward; when doing this, your whole body moves forward and thereby bringing your front foot closer to the front foot straps.
Lower the boom. This again will bring your front foot forward as the whole body gets closer to the board. This also gives more control in high wind.
6- The fin spins out:
Move mast foot forward: this reduces the pressure on your back foot that otherwise pushes your fin into a spin out!
Move your foot straps one hole forward, but bring back the mast foot by 1 cm: this decreases the pressure on the fin.
Use a 2 cm longer fin. It will hold more pressure from your legs.
Change the fin if you still have problems.
7- The nose of the board lifts up continuously?
Move the mast foot 1cm forward; The weight of the sail will keep the board down.
Lower the boom; This will help the sail to stay upright, more at a 90 degree angle to the board, and this allows less power, less lift which can be good to have in lighter winds, but not as the wind increases.
Decrease the fin length by 2 cm.
Release the downhaul by 2 cm; lesser loose leach will lower the trim of the board in stronger winds. It will offer more control in very strong winds.
8 – The board is glued to the water:
Move back the mast track. The nose of the board rises.
Raise the boom by 2cm: This creates more pressure through the legs on to the fin by keeping the board more on the rail, and the board nose rises.
Use a 2cm longer fin: A longer fin gives more lift and allows you to put more pressure on your legs.
Shortening the Harness Line will help in the same way as raising the boom height.
9 - Not able to close the gap between the sail and board?:
Move the mast foot forward. Closing the gap will become easier
Lower the boom. The boom has a shorter distance to travel in order to close the gap with the deck of the board.
10 – They are faster then you??:
Do you have a slalom board and sail? If you do then read the points from 1-9 very carefully and trim you gear.
Remember that slalom sailing is not just hanging into your harness and relaxing! You will need to be slightly overpowered and push the board to the limit without any fear.
Be ready to change your settings as the wind intensity changes.
Longer harness lines, mast foot moves forward, smaller fin and lower boom.
Shorter harness lines, mast foot moves further back, longer fin and higher boom.
Find the right compromise in order to be the fastest one out there, and always try to keep some pressure on the back arm in order to have this extra power as an accelerator when needed.
Thanks to Cobus Windsurfingworld website en Marco Baaijen (NED-1128) and Boards magazine for these Tips