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WINDSURFING TIPS

Use a fin that’s large (or efficient) enough that you aren’t spinning out even when under or over-powered and you don’t need to point your toes to keep the board flat, and small enough that you can keep the board flat with heel pressure when over-powered.

1. Start with a fin within the fin manufacturer’s recommendations for sail size. Like boards & sails, if you’re bigger, go more efficient (or bigger - even beyond their specs) & vice versa. It should be large enough that you aren’t spinning out even when over-powered or under-powered pointing & don’t need toe pressure to keep the board flat, and small enough that you can keep the board flat with heel pressure when over-powered. Usually you’ll need to increase fin area a bit when increasing sail area. Compromise: larger fins will make the board plane sooner but are less maneuverable & vice versa.

2. Start with the mastfoot in middle of track. Set so foot of sail just touches deck when you’re sheeted in (nearly all the way to centerline) with board flat. If there’s a gap under sail move it forward. If sail drags on deck or water move it back. Usually move it forward a bit for lighter wind, regardless of sail size but you’ll lose maneuverability & bend front leg, so you may want to compromise (see #8,9&10).

3. Start with enough downhaul so leech is loose a third of the way to mast when you pick up the mast base so leech rests flat on ground. Tighten downhaul if you’re overpowered, loosen if you aren’t powered up. Ignore manufacturers specifications & recommendations. The real limits are: 1) so tight that leech is loose nearly to a straight line from mast tip to base, and 2) so loose there is no looseness in the leech, & sail gets horizontal wrinkles, or non-cam battens pull away from side of mast. Either extreme will limit gust-handling range (& may need outhaul tuning to stabilize draft), and very low downhaul tension will limit top speed (but at least you’ll be planing earlier) but there’s alot more range than most people think. Usually downhaul will move center of effort back & vice versa (see #5). Keep sail as close to board as possible (for gap-closing/wind range) & extension as short as possible (least mast sticking out top).

4. Start with front of harness lines near a straight line from mast tip to base, & rear between 1 & 2 handspans from there. Move both towards arm with most effort. It’s easier to sail with them too far forward than too far back (but you’ll lose endurance & top speed).Length/spread will change with boom heigt but not with sail size, and should be such that they’re tight when legs, waist, back & arms are all straight. Usually move them back for longer boomed sails. Mark positions with tape on sail.

5. Start with outhaul about “neutral” (no tension positive or negative), generally go tighter (less negative) for 1 cam, looser (more negative) for 2 or more cams. Tighten if effort moves back in gusts, loosen if effort moves forward in gusts. It may vary slightly with downhaul setting (see #3) but you should find one setting for each sail that’s only very slightly too tight in light wind (with light downhaul) & very slightly too loose in high wind (with high downhaul tension). Keep boom end as close to sail clew grommet as possible. Mark boom length with marker on sail (marks wear off booms).

6. Tighten battens only until there are no vertical wrinkles in sail, or looseness in luff sleeve (at cams).

7. Adjust cambers narrow enough to rotate easy even in light wind with tight battens & light downhaul.

8. Start with boom low enough that arms angle down slightly relative to torso when sheeted in (see #2) & powered up. Keep lowering (& shortening harness lines - see #4) until legs get tired before arms, or you start to come unhooked (from shortened lines), or front leg gets bent (see also #2 & #9).

9. Start with front & rear footstraps in middle positions. Move 1 or both toward leg that is most bent. It varies with wind speed like mast foot but is usually hard to adjust, so set for medium-strong wind since it’s not as uncomfortable to be slightly off in lighter wind. Compromise: usually, the greater distance between straps (or fin) & mastfoot, the less maneuverable (see also #2 & #10).

10. Start with fin at middle position (Bic, Fanatic, & older boards). After everything else is set (as above) move fin, mastfoot & footsraps as a unit. Further back to raise board’s nose, & vice versa. For best speed aim for an average 5 degree angle between planing surface and water.

* NOTE: EVERY setting is interrelated, so any one adjustment may require additional trimming before the rig becomes completely balanced. You may need to repeat the entire tuning procedure several times before it’s perfect for you.
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