Comments in Gear head

Date Article Author
August 31, 2013 Board Nose Repair Francois
Hi Henry, very good job !! Motivated to do my first repair on my Tabou and I found your experience. I have 2 questions : - did Autobarn give the mix and quantity of paint to obtain the blue one ? - do you think without vacuum pump but with tape to make pressure, it's possible to have a good fill for a smaller surface ? Francois
June 9, 2013 Tabou Rocket Mods Joe windsurfer
Just to complete the story from my side... I still have my Fanatic Ultra CAT longboard and now also have a BIC Techno Formula which is 94 cm wide. With my 95-100 kilos i can plane from about 10-12 knots using my 10-oh. Between these two(2) boards - over 80 % of my sailing is covered. I have started to use the 8.4 on the Free Formula , which means we are approaching over 90 % of my sailing with the 2 boards... I am now considering selling my 160 litre/79 cm board. That is - once i am proficient with my 7-oh on the 124 litre board. As you say - GET REAL - and rig for the local conditions. Some locals only go when 20 + knots and are wind chasers. I am happy for them, but that does not work for me .... Hope others are learning from our perspective on this !!! good winds joe
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.

June 3, 2012 Board Nose Repair Andy
Henry, what you use for the clear coating? Was it an expensive two parts epoxy marine paint? Eva's site is an excellent source of inspiration. The only part I find not clear is what paint to use. The automotive paint should be good,, however it gets cured at really high temp. Thank you, and yes, excellent job. I will try to fix my Tabou's nose too. Andy.
May 1, 2012 Tabou Rocket Mods Dave
Ahh thanks for that, I missed that detail, great thanks for that I will start on this ASAP
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.

May 1, 2012 Tabou Rocket Mods Dave
Hey I am looking at adjusting the rear foot straps like you have, great idea, just 1 question how did you fasten the straps to the stainless steel? I didn't see a thread in the stainless steel mount you made up, I don't think that there is holes in the board in this position to screw the straps into is this right?
April 10, 2012 Swimming with Turtles Marie Dale
What an awesome video of your holiday. Mercedes and Stirling will never forget this adventure with you Henry. When I spoke with them on your return I could still hear the adrenalin rush in their voices. I must get to this Island and experience these turtles myself.
February 19, 2012 Change is the Only Constant Nightskye
I remember the river in the early 1980's and the rivermouth was deep and very dangerous.
December 13, 2011 Tabou Rocket Mods Joe windsurfer
thx again. I do have am okay 7-oh with cams and an old 6-oh that i use for ice windsurfing. The smaller sails - even 7-oh mean i am in choppy conditions. Thus the need for a smaller board - probably 135 would be ideal as you say - this is what Tinho Dornellas was suggesting as well......As you say, the most important next step is "get in the straps".. Wish i had seen your videos sooner. Better than Jem Hall !! :-) thx again
December 13, 2011 Tabou Rocket Mods Henry Thomas


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 Joe windsurfer
Hey Rig Geek Thanks for your prompt and thorough response!!! Like you, I have discovered that I truly enjoy the lighter winds. Anything over 20 knots starts to feel a little intense. Not to say it is not fun. Just like to avoid some of those situations you mentioned. Gear problem is one thing, but weather, water and/or fatigue can get serious quickly.. So, what I have done is purchased a 1990’s Fanatic Ultra CAT this summer and was out planing one day with my MS-2 8-oh while all the kites and boards sat on the beach !! This board goes well with the 8-oh and cruises nicely with my TR-4 10-oh. Once the wind hits 15 knots, I start to consider the AHD 160 with the 8-oh. I can push the board hard and my feet are on the rails at the straps. I have a strap phobia -- straps are at the inward position and I am now considering moving them out since that is where my feet are already! I also purchased a 2000 Fanatic BEE 124 LTD last fall. It was NOT expensive and I wanted to see how I could handle the volume. I can actually uphaul the 8-oh and even schlog home if need be. Wrote a small piece on my blog about uphauling on smaller shortboards … However, there were not many winds to use that board this year. That is why I was wondering if it is worthwhile to have a board inbetween with more flotation. This summer was such a write off !!! Had about 60 outings with over 50 % on a longboard (have a BIC Dufour too – used b4 the CAT) and over 85 % were with the 8.0/8.5!! The 124 is to have me practice shortboard skills and whether there needs to be a board with more liters and width. Think we are in the same category – “older” heavyweights with not too many years on the new shortboards. I weigh 100 kilos, am over 50 and have had what I call 3 good shortboard years – the first one did not count. What this sport brings to us is sport, fun, camradery, and health conscience. I lost about 25 pounds since I started and still jog inbetween summer and winter windsurfing. Yes, I windsurf on ice and snow  Broke my left shoulder testing my first prototype … Now all I gotta do is move where I can windsurf year-round too… Keep up the words and videos !!! joe windsurfer
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 12, 2011 Tabou Rocket Mods Joe windsurfer
You say that you read many reviews on the Rocket before purchasing. But how did you decide on the volume? Is 160 to 140 not a very small drop ?? I too am a heavyweight at 100 kilos and use an AHD 160 liter 79 cm wide board. It is best with 8-oh/8.5 sails. Some have suggested I go to 125 liters from 160. So, how did you decide on 140 and are looking to go even smaller? thx joe windsurfer ntw nice site and vids
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.


November 23, 2011 My GPS Setup Rod
Does any one use the speed puck from velocitek?
November 19, 2011 Possible Irakandji Sting? Mike
A spider in your wetsuit maybe?
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.

September 28, 2011 Nevs board repair - PART 2 Wardy
I've got heaps of vacuum bagging sealant if ya ever need any.
September 26, 2011 Nevs board repair - PART 2 Eva Hollmann

Get yourself some mastic! Its kind of like sillyputty or Playdough, except that it sticks better. It will conform to all manner of uneven surfaces and seal really well. If you can’t get it from a hardware store (its sold there for the purpose of sealing between metal panels), try the stationary store, where it is sold as “Readytac” or somesuch, to stick posters to walls.

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