Thursday, September 9, 2021

Two days, three foils

The last couple of days were great for foiling. On Tuesday, we got WSW wind with averages between 18 and 23 mph, and gusts to 29. Since strong WSW wind means plenty of chop, I went out on my Slingshot Time Code 68 wing, which is my favorite for playing with swell. I though the swell was rather unorganized, but it was still plenty of fun pinching upwind and writing squiggles into the swell back downwind - here are the GPS tracks:

Our friend Joanie was out, trying to learn winging, and it looked quite hard to stay on the board in the chop. So we figured we'd head to flatter waters the next day, when the forecast predicted more southerly wind in the high teens: Waquoit Bay. The water in "Wacky Bay" is nice and flat since it is protected from the ocean chop:
Here is the speed graph for this session:

Since Wacky Bay has so little chop, the water was warm, and the wind just right, I decided to give winging another try with Nina's 6.0 m wing and the i84 foil on my Stingray 140. I managed to get up onto the foil quite quickly, and then had a 2 minute, 600 meter run where I stayed up on the foil and even managed to go upwind nicely. But it was a lot of work - it seems foiling uses some muscles I never use any other time. It also felt very slow, and the speed graph confirms that my speed mostly remained below 10 knots, which is the slowest I have foiled in a couple of years. By the time I turned around, those newly discovered muscles started to hurt, and I did not have the energy to pump back up onto the foil. This seemed very much like work to me, not like fun, and I decided that winging is definitely not something I want to do.

Once back on shore, I rigged my 5.6 m freestyle sail and moved the foil back a bit, and went out for some windfoiling. Now that was an awful lot of fun! The flat water made jibes super easy, so I pretty much foiled through almost all of my jibes. My typical speed now was around 13-14 knots - about 50% higher than it had been on the wing. But since I was well powered and the chop was almost non-existent, I figured I had to also give my freerace foil a try.

So I went back and switched to my Starboard GT-R plus foil with the 95+ fuselage. I picked the short (75 cm) mast since it was shallow near to shore, and I did not know the water depth in other areas. I also put the cheap phone with speed announcing software on, so that I could hear how fast I was going. Since foiling is so quiet, that works well using the phone speaker, whereas windsurfing usually requires head phones. Right away, I heard 17 and 18 knots - speeds that I often don't reach at all in sessions where I use my Slingshot foils. And I was trying to go slow!

This was an entirely different feeling - whereas the slow freeride foil is pure, relaxing zen, this one was adrenaline! But on the flat water, the foil was quite easy to keep under control. The first big surprise was how easy it was to get going. Even though I need about 12 knots speed to foil stably on the 800 front wing (that's only 40% of the surface area of the i84!), and even though I had used this foil only 3 or 4 times (compared to more than 200 times for the Slingshot foils), it was at least as easy to get going. The next surprise came when I tried jibing the foil, which I had not tried before on the GT-R+. The very first jibe was not just dry, but I kept enough speed to pop right back up onto the foil without pumping - nice! I had entered the jibe quite cautiously, and had set the board down onto the water mid-jibe before switching the feet, but the board seemed to be loosing a lot less speed than I was used to.  

I remained cautious in my jibes for the remainder of the session, and tried out different things that I "learned" to screw up jibes, but the foil seemed to insist that, being a race foil and such, it should keep speed. Looking at the minimum speed in the jibes, I ended up with my second-best ever foil jibe, keeping almost 10 knots speed of my 17 knot entry speed. Here's a boom cam video of this jibe:

Compared to some of my better jibes on the i84 foil, it's really not great - the board makes a lot of contact with the water for a relatively long time, and more than once, but all that barely slows things down. I had read about high aspect foils, and in particular race foils, keeping the speed better in jibes (and lulls), but seeing and feeling it happen was still pretty amazing. The short 75 cm mast worked well enough on the flat water, with only one memorable crash when I tried to push the speed a bit ... with enough success that I could not stop the upward tendency from the higher speed in time, and overfoiled.

Two days of windfoiling, great sessions on three different foils - I think I'll be perfectly fine without winging.