Comments by Henry Thomas

Date Article Author
October 9, 2012 Online Gear Calculator Henry Thomas

Hi Jeff,

Welcome to the sport and great to hear that the videos helped. Planning to make some more this summer.

I would advise on getting the Starboard Go. True, the Bic techno is a great and very tough board, but the construction leaves a sharp lip around the outside edge which can cut your shin very easily. My mate Gavin has a Techno 147l, but ended up purchasing a new Go 171l after enjoying using my Go board so many times.

Regarding the Go - what can I say - its big, stable, planes early when you get your feet into the outboard straps, its great for learning and progressing and is still the board I use the most because it reliably handles the broadest range of conditions.

Its only limitation is when it gets too rough on the water, or when waves get too big. Still rough choppy conditions pretty much suck no mater what board you are riding, and you are not going to get any waves on lake Cootharaba anyway.

The only other board you may consider is a longboard like a Starboard WindSUP (10' or 12'). My only criticism of the Go is that it is a bit of a barge, so not very fun in sub-planing conditions. So here is the rub - if you can go windsurfing whenever the conditions are optimal - i.e. you have flexible work hours and an understanding wife, then a short wide board is a blast, however if you can only get out on set days like Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon, then a longboard may be better, because you can SUP, surf, light wind windsurf and plane - all with the same board. Obviously its a compromise all round board, but its still worthy of consideration.

-h

September 18, 2012 How to Plane Henry Thomas

Hi John,

I use a Dakine seat harness. The first one I got was the large size and then I got an extra large. The L was just a bit tight, had to have all the straps in their max position and suck my gut in - the XL though is a bit big, I seem to swim around in it. Best to try them on in the store before you buy to get the right fit. Both om mine however work very well and are comfortable, but can look a bit like a big nappy at times. Its just the way large seat harnesses are, they provide a lot of room for girth and provide support all the way up to your mid back, but this makes them look rather unflattering standing on the beach beside a younger slimmer person in a waste harness ;)

Nevertheless I have tried both a seat harness and waste harness on the water, and I love the extra leverage I get from the seat harness. You just need to make sure you have longer harness lines to compensate for the lower bar position compared to a waste harness.

-h

August 25, 2012 Rig Recovery Henry Thomas

Hi Jacek,

The whole idea is to use the sail like wing - the sail generates lift, and it is this lift that stops you from sinking. Consequently the most difficult part of the water start is when he sail is flat in the water. That's why you work you way up to the tip - its lighter to lift it there - lift the tip of the sail over your head and as long as the sail is orientated perpendicular to the wind, it will fly and generate/maintain its own lift. The challenge for the sailor is to control that lift while you get into position and then have it lift you out of the water onto the board. As you are lifted onto the board, most of your weight should be on the sail, the board will start moving forward, and this combination of factors - board movement and sail lift - maintains the lift to stop you and board from sinking.

August 25, 2012 Learning to Waterstart Henry Thomas

Hi Linas,

Really glad you found it helpful and well done, learning to waterstart!

-h

August 25, 2012 Online Gear Calculator Henry Thomas

Hi Jacek,

With that board you will be able to plane - as you have plenty of volume. With your weight with a 6.5 sail you will need about 20 knots to get planing. So you may want to look into getting a bigger sail depending on what your prevailing wind conditions are like. See if you can find a wind rose chart for where you sail and work out what the wind speeds are likely to be on average. Then use the gear calculator here to figure out what you might need. If you are just learning, the 6.5 is going to be a hand full anyway, so yo may want to just practice getting into the straps etc, then go out on a stonger day. I learned to plane on my Starboard GO with a 5m sail in winds gusting to 26 knots. The great thing about a smaller sail is they are lighter and easier to handle when you are learning.

June 19, 2012 Teaching your Kids Windsurfing Henry Thomas

My daughter was about seven at the time, not sure about her weight - but she was too light to handle the rig on her own. She probably would have been better off with an Ezzy 1.5m kids rig. Nevertheless, my kids will grow into using this gear - there are plenty of summers ahead of us. The sail is 4m - that's about the size I would recommend for your son. Perfect for sailing in light winds (>10kt) and as he gets older he will be able to sail it in stronger winds.

If you want to get specific, have a look at my windsurfing gear calculator, it has an option for Kids under Activity, so you can enter your child's weight etc. - see what it spits out. However you will probably want to go a bit larger so they don't grow out of it too quick.

The thing I liked about the Aquaglide setup was that I could tag along on the back, give them a lesson and help them out. Its needs to be fun - I have heard stories of kids on their own getting stranded out on the water - with all the trauma that entails - who never wanted to go back out again. Very costly mistake when you consider the investment in gear involved.

June 3, 2012 Board Nose Repair Henry Thomas

Hi Andy,

I just used an auto clear coat I purchased with the auto paint I used. Yes I could have used 2 pack epoxy, but figured that it was a relatively small area and using a spray can just made the process quick and easy - no need to sand and polish, it created a shiny clear coat straight out of the can.

May 1, 2012 Tabou Rocket Mods Henry Thomas

Hi Dave,

To attach the foot straps, you will notice that I countersunk the opposite side to the bolts that attached to the board. So I countersunk bolts with nyloc nuts. The countersunk head was flush with the strap against the board and the nyloc nut attached inside the footstrap. The Tabou footstraps include a plastic plate, but you could also use a stainless steel washer if your footstrap doesn't feature something like this. This helps to keep the footstrap from twisting as you tighten the nyloc nut. Obviously you have to attach the footstraps to the stainless steel straps first, make sure they are tight, then attach the straps to the board - otherwise the countersunk bolt will just spin because you have no way to hold it in place.

April 16, 2012 Easter Mash-up Henry Thomas

Hay Simon, I heard you cracked your knee open out on the water that day - hope it wasn't serious and your all OK now.

April 12, 2012 Easter Mash-up Henry Thomas

Simon,

Its my pleasure. I do find these slow motion videos quite interesting to watch because I see snippets of technique here and there to learn from. I have every intention of creating more videos on technique soon, I am just juggling all the other commitments in my life at the moment.

April 12, 2012 Easter Mash-up Henry Thomas

I could do with some help on a few people's names which are missing ;)

March 19, 2012 Surf Sailing Henry Thomas

My pleasure Mike, glad you found it useful.

February 18, 2012 Rig Recovery Henry Thomas

Thanks Mike, all fixed

December 13, 2011 Tabou Rocket Mods Henry Thomas

Joe,

Given that most of your sailing is done on an 8 metre free race sail, you are only going to get a marginal benefit from a smaller board - as you point out maybe 25% of sessions. Still, when it blowing a gale, you don't what to get stuck on the beach for want of a smaller board. The thing you have to remember is that biger sails bog the nose of smaller boards down - so you may need some smaller sails too.

I have always found that its better to go with a smaller sail and rig it a bit baggy than a big sail that is tight as a drum and over powered. The centre of effort on a tightly rigged sail tends to get twitchy and is less forgiving. Also if you fall on a tightly rigged sail, you are more likely to damage the stitching.

I developed a gear calculator for wind surfers to help estimate the sails for a full quiver. If you type in 100kg for your weight, your 10m and 8m sails are pretty much sport on, but you would benefit from something around the 6.3-6.5m size for stronger conditions, and a 135lt board might be fit for 16-20+ knot winds.

Still, I would highly recommend that you get your feet in both straps out on the rails. You may need to change your sail trim to accommodate sailing in this position. Mast foot in the centre, long harness lines and boom chest to chin high. Start with getting your front foot in, and the back in the middle for control, then as soon as you feel comfortable start trying to get your back foot in the straps as well. You just need to get on the plain, and before you get too much speed up, point up a bit, to take pressure off the sail, slip your back foot in and point your toes to steer the board back down wind as soon as its in the straps -- if you are too slow, the board will keep pointing up and stall, so its a bit tricky to learn, but well worth it. The difference in speed and control is phenomenal.

December 13, 2011 Tabou Rocket Mods Henry Thomas

Hi Joe,

When me and my mate Gavin decided to get back into windsurfing after a 20 year absence, we both purchased large floaty progression boards. I got the Starboard Go 165 (circa 2004) and he got a Bic Tecno 148. I was 110kg when we started and Gav was around 90kg, so both these boards gave use plenty of buoyancy. Nevertheless, my board was much wider, at 91cm which made it more stable. Gavin and I used to share it, taking turns on my board in the early days when we were learning to plane because it was so stable, and much easier to ride.

Later we discovered that once you progressed to outside foot positions on the Go, it was actually a very fast formula style board. Perfect for light wind sailing yet very forgiving. Gavin ended up purching a Starboard Go 170 more recently because he enjoyed sailing my board so much.

Experiences that influenced volume decisions

When it came to choosing a volume for my next board there were a few experiences we both had that played into the volume decision. We were both pretty reckless when we started windsurfing - we were so keen to go out, we often didn't do a great job of judging the conditions. One time Gavin had a rig failure - I think his boom broke -and drifted out to sea with the tide, so he had to ditch his sail and paddle back in, which was a huge loss. I also had a few mishaps, perhaps the worst was one time before I learned how to waterstart, I got into some trouble uphauling at high tide in a heavy swell and also got washed out to sea, I ended up getting sea sick and throwing up - not pleasant. Fortunately for me, a guy on a jetski saw me out there in trouble and he and a mate rescued me - and my board and rig - which was very fortunate.

25-30 litres positive buoyancy for intermediate progression

After those experiences Gavin and I were a little more cautious when it came to purchasing our next boards. We both decided to progress to smaller volumes that still provided enough buoyancy to uphaul if the wind died. I opted for the Tabout Rocket 140 and Gav ended up getting a Starboard Kombat 117. Essentially we were both looking for around 25-30 litres of positive buoyancy.

Most of the really light weight windusrfers we know (75 kg) have three boards, a 80, 90 and 100. They rarely get to use their 80 litre boards. So they have 15 and 25 litres of positive buoyancy in their main two boards. However they also sail smaller rigs that tend to be several kilo's lighter than ours - so you have to factor that in as well.

Smaller board need more wind to be fun

What we both discovered was that as heavy weights, the boards we ended up getting were no fun under 16 knots. In light winds you are just working all the time just to stay up and it is exhausting - its better to come in and wait for the wind to pick up. These boards really need 16-20 to get going, and over 20 is the sweet spot. On our big Go boards, 12-16 is plenty, and in light conditions it is still fun to slog around and goof off. We used to always wonder why when the wind dropped off everyone else came in, when we didn't - now we know.

In an average year, over 50 percent of my sessions are on my 8.5m or 11m sails with my Go board. Another 15% are probably still better on my Go using a 7 and only 35% of sessions are really suitable for my Tabou Rocket, using a 7 or a 6. I almost never get to use my 5.1.

One thing I would also mention, is that once planing, the Rocket 140 does feel like a smaller board under foot than it actually is - at least that's what other sailors who have had a go on my board report.

What board size do I recommend?

Based on my experience I would look up the weather statistics for your area like I did (See Predicting the Wind). What you really want are the wind roses for each month. These will give you an idea of the extreme wind ranges and how prevalent they are. From this you can make a judgement call on how small you want to go.

The other thing is to make sure you really are getting the most out of your current board. Push it to the max - set the foot straps to the outer positions, learn how to get you feet in them, right out on the rails and see just how fast your current board can go.

All that being said, for a heavy weight sailor I would recommend a minimum of 20-30 litres of positive buoyancy for an intermediate progression board. The difference really comes down to the size of the sails you plan to use on it - which depends on the dominant wind speeds in your area. If your sail a 6.5 or smaller, I would go with 20-25 litres of positive buoyancy. If you sail larger than 6.5, I would go with 25-30 litres of positive buoyancy.

Don't get fooled into going too small

I think the whole windsurfing industry has a lot to answer for. All the magazines are full of pictures to pro's sailing at places like Maui where the wind blows 20+ knots day after day. So they push this image that smaller boards are more fun, extreme and thus way more cool. In the real world where most of the rest of us live, this is an absolute crock of s**t - and to many people get conned into making very poor decisions about boards and sails because of it.

As I said earlier, the light-weight sailors I know who have 80 litres (extremely cool boards) rarely ever get to use them. So you either have a cool board and quiver, and rarely get to windsurf, or you get real, and muck-in when ever you get a chance and simply make the most of it, and choose appropriate gear to match.

What Gavin and I discovered it that while the big days can be fun, the water is rough, the wind is gusty and the sessions sometimes brutal. Gear gets trashed, and its pretty stressful - but its also is also such a rare event, we take on the chin and just go for it.

By comparison, the 12-16 knot days are common, and if you judge the conditions right, you get beautiful, serene blue sky days and flat water. Hiked out on the rails blasting around in 12 knots is like the Zen of windsurfing and it gets pretty addictive. Those are by far my most favoured sessions.

Are you looking to go even smaller?

Yes and no. I would really like to get a wave board - one with rubber shock absorbers under your heals. So I am looking for a big wave board. The best I have found so far is the Exocet Kona Mini Tanker (which in 2012 is called the Exocet Carve 120). I like the compact wide shape with the duck tail. This is the bigest small wave board I have been able to find, (without going to a true long board) so my plan us to loose 10 kg over the summer so I can essentially fit into it ;)

This raises another issue you really should consider when choosing a board. Make sure you can handle the narrower widths. I can't really go much below 65cm planing from a water start, and 75cm is really my minimum for a beach start or uphaul in marginal conditions. At my age, I am just too uncoordinated to go any narrower.

Final thoughts...

Sorry for such a long post to answer your question, but choosing a new board is a serious undertaking, and you kind of get stuck with it once you have made your purchase - particularly if you buy second-hand gear off eBay or Seabreeze. So its a decision that requires quite a bit of deliberation and research.

My key recommendations are:

  • Figure out what you enjoy most about windsurfing.
  • Understand the range and likelihood of conditions you get at your favourite launch site.
  • Decide on the amount of positive buoyancy you will need for your skill level and future skill progression - but as I have pointed out, be realistic.
  • Arrive and some critical numbers for volume, width and length.
  • See if you can get along to a demo day to try out some boards. Be sure to ring them in advance to make sure they have a few boards in the volumes you are after - even 2nd hand trade-ins they might have on the floor. Alternatively go for a holiday somewhere you can hire a board in the volume you are interested in buying.
  • Figure out your budget, and start looking for boards that fit the bill.

When you do get a new board, make sure you push it to the max, get right out on the rails in the straps, before you make any judgements about whether you really like it - or not. I really felt pressured to progress from my Go 165, but every-time I am blasting along in ideal light wind conditions while everyone else in sitting on the beach, I just smile and think who is fooling who - this industry really needs to get real and let people know that a lot of fun can be had in places that are not like Maui by not being extreme ;)

December 11, 2011 Slow-mo Windsurfing Henry Thomas

Yeah, its pretty neat. I am looking forward to trying it out on some of the kitesurfers. I caught a few jumps in the video, but was mostly focused on Ken and Nev. The image stability is pretty amazing for such a long zoom lens.

November 24, 2011 How to Ocean Waterstart Henry Thomas

Hi Simon,

Yes we are pretty lucky over here, even in the middle of winter all I need is a spring suit, the rest of the time the sun is hot and the water refreshing - pleased you found the videos helpful.

November 23, 2011 My GPS Setup Henry Thomas

Hi Rod,

No, I was not aware of the Speed Puck - it looks like a really cool unit. Only concern I would have is how and where you would mount it. I guess you could attach it to the mast above the boom, assuming there was enough space in the mast sleeve gap. Not sure if the units heading reading is effected by the unit turning, or just by changes in trajectory - if the former, rotating the rig, which you do constantly would give you erroneous heading readings - if the latter, then it would be a pretty interesting device for windsurfing.

It would be pretty cool having a speed on our mast, because you would see it all the time, because that is where you are facing most of the time.

-h

November 18, 2011 How to Ocean Waterstart Henry Thomas

Generally, you will need to be out in conditions you can plane in. If you are not sure what these thresholds are, try my windsurf gear calculator. But assuming you are of average weight, you would need about 16 knots to plane on a 5.3m sail. Its easy to tell when its blowing this strong, because dry sand on the beach will start to lift. Its also fine to go out in lighter conditions to practice, but you really need planing conditions to be able to lift you up out of the water and perform a water start. Beach starts can be don in any conditions. I will post a how-to video in beach starts soon.

-h

October 5, 2011 Nevs board repair - PART 2 Henry Thomas

Thanks Andrew, I may take you up on that offer if I get more requests for repairs.

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