Friday, November 15, 2013

Mike Burns - Air Funnel, Burner, Burner Soloshot test

So I picked up a Soloshot tripod head figuring I could use it in the wedding world, but you need to be too far away from the receiver to have it work in the wedding environment. But it's perfect for windsurfing!!! It's a little tricky to set up, and I when it was blowing a solid 4.5, it was hard for me to suck it up and get the thing all set up and "paired" with the transmitter. In the end, the soloshot worked perfect!!! I just had a little trouble with one of the tripod legs sinking into the sand while I was pairing the unit so the balance was off and the shot was a little off on the outside. Next time I know what to look for and It'll be perfect!! Oh, and the trip to the Gorge this summer totally paid off for learning how to do burners....... Amazing what a difference a week in perfect conditions can make..... Since then I've just been getting them dialed in.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Gorge 2013

The Gorge has quickly become one of my favorite spots I've ever been too. We were there only once before about 2 years ago and scored 9 out of 10 days on sails between 3.7 and 4.7. This year we hit the Gorge for 8 days. The first five days were on 4.0 (Two days because I didn't have a 3.0) and the last 3 on 4.5. We had wind every day. Christina, my wife, volunteered to pick up the camera a few times and got some classic Gorge type footage. I love watching Gorge videos knowing how difficult the conditions can be, but at the same time always having full power winds. Finally when I got used to going straight downwind all the time just to stay in the same spot on the river it was time to come home. I'm so gonna end up downwind next time we sail here in New York.

The Gorge 2013 - Mike Burns from Mike Burns on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The big 2013 Freestyle Board Review (100 ltr boards)

It was a little over 2 years ago when I decided to share my experiences with different freestyle boards to help give everyone looking for a board a little direction to what would fit them best. Two years later, I'm still getting questions extremely frequently about which board someone should buy, or how a certain board would perform like that person is expecting. Well, in chatting with Pete Dekay over at Windsport Magazine, we decided it was time for an updated list of freestyle boards. A 2013 Freestyle Board test NEEDED to be done. So through all of our available resources we were able to gather a really nice group of boards to test. We were also able to gather a wide range of testers for the official Windsport Magazine test. The results below are based on what I found personally along with talking with other testers. The testing was done in Cape Hatteras, North Carolina which has small chop. Just big enough to catch an edge if the rails are too sharp, and just perfect for for popping some nice height on the moves. The perfect real world testing grounds. No butter flat spot behind a sand bar where you could pop and spin the front door to your house. So the stage was set, and the wind more than cooperated. The wind ranged from low 5 meter sails to very powered 4.5 which would be about 16 to 25 knots. Perfect for the 100 ltr sizes.

So what boards were tested? They were all 2013!!

Fanatic Skate 99 TE

Fanatic Skate 100 Biax/glass

Starboard Flare 101

JP Freestyle 100

Goya AIR 99

Naish Freestyle 100

Tabou Twister 100

I'll start off with a short rundown of the overall performance and my impression of all the boards. Then I'll rate them in order in the different categories that would interest guys looking into the boards, like early planing, pop, sliding, etc. I do have to say that we were all expecting some things from certain boards, but then after sailing got a totally different reaction. So to start off, I'll go with the pair of Skates.

2013 FANATIC SKATE 100

For 2013 Fanatic decided that both of their newer designs were so successful that they would go ahead and just make both! The Fanatic skate 100 is and incredible freestyle board that offers extremely early planing, really good spinning, a very comfortable ride, and maybe the best board to nail your first jibe in all the world. It was by far my favorite board in the last test I published and is still right there in the top of the pack. It's a step down in performance form the 99 ltr TE which is a slightly more radical design. Compared to the 99 ltr which is a more compact shape, the 100 ltr is a more slidey board than air type board. So the 100 ltr really likes the spocks, flakas, and grubbies along with all those carving style ricks like donkey jibes and such. For burners, air funnels, air flakas, ponches, and the like, the 99 ltr TE is the pick for sure.

2013 Fanatic Skate 99 TE

What can I say.... The 100 ltr was my past test favorite. When Fanatic updated the design to the 99 ltr it only got better! This board was the earliest planing and one of the most comfortable to ride board in the test in a straight line. The pop and sliding of the 99 ltr is just incredible! Double and triple moves are ready to go on this board if you're up for it. Even if you're not up for bouncing around more than once per trick, the 99 ltr will slide like a dream for the vulcans, then it will spin through a spock without catching a rail even with some chop. The balance of the board is perfect. So when you're rotating, whether it's in sliding across the water, or spinning through the air, the board won't pull you forward or back, and the wider nose keeps it from getting buried if you get your weight too far forward which was happening on some of the other boards. Even though the 99 ltr Skate was ready for well.....Gollito, those that were only interested in going back and forth with some jibing found it to be among the top, if not the best in the test for that too. I should also mention that the 99 ltr was the easiest board in the test to maintain speed on while going for switch stance tricks, which didn't surprise me since it was also the earliest planing and one of the fastest boards in the test. After falling in love with the 100 ltr skate from a few years ago, I was afraid that Fanatic was about to mess up something magical when they announced the re-design to the new shape. But from my first few runs on the new skate, I could tell it was another step forward. The shape was changed in 2012 by the way and for the most part carried over to the current 2013 board. The 99 ltr Skate is my pick of the test for not only being able to perform the most difficult moves with ease, but also being one of the most user friendly boards for just going back and forth on. That "easy high performance" formula that has been working for Fanatic has only gotten better. If you're shopping, grab one of these boards while you can!!

Goya Air 99

This was one of those boards I wasn't expecting all that much from. Goya's got some killer wave boards (from what I've heard) but hasn't been in the freestyle seen all that much. My first run on the 99 ltr Goya was when a really strong wind surge came through. I rigged the 4.5 and was very, very powered, right at the edge of out of control. I got on it and just couldn't help but think, wow, this is way better than I expected! It actually feels just like the Skate! Then I went for an air funnel. Bang! Right around just like the skate. On the way back in the slidey stuff is when I noticed the first differences between the Goya and the skate. The Goya slid ok, but gave a little hesitation going around in the full 360 for the spock. Then back out for an e-slider, no problem. But coming in again, time for a double flaka, and it was still hooking up and the nose was going under. The real difference in this board appeared when the wind started to back off to "normal" amounts of power. If the Goya isn't extremely powered, it's really hard to keep it at full speed. So setting up for switch moves, the board would just die while changing my feet. Also, while having what would be plenty of power in the sail to get the Skate, JP, or Starboard up to speed, the Goya was still just poking around, with not enough speed to hit any of the advanced tricks. All in all, you need a .5 meter bigger sail and much more power to make the Goya perform to it's ability. But as any freestyler knows, any trick is easier with a board that holds it's speed with less power in the sail. Definitely better picks out there for any level of sailor.

JP Freestyle 100

This was another one of those boards that I didn't expect much from. The last test of a JP that I did in the 100 ltr size (98 ltr I believe) was a major fail. That old board, didn't pop, spin, or really do anything a freestyle board should. So I sucked it up and stepped on the 100 ltr JP with very low expectations. "Well, this is much better than that old piece of junk," I thought to myself as I planed away from the beach. Again, first trick in the bag was an air funnel on the way out, and holy cow!! Kiri Style!! I got tons of pop out of that one. Coming in I go for a shaka. No problem! In fact, I had so much speed on the landing that I just popped it through to a shaka-flaka. Then I thought, "this thing actually spins faster than the skate." The ride wasn't quite as comfortable as the skate, but as far as fast spinning and double moves, the JP takes the cake. My first flaka attempt coming in turned into flaka bounced into a second flaka and spinning right through a third. The JP is a multi move machine and is the first board I can say actually holds it's own against the skate. But the JP is for the extremely advanced rider. It wants to spin one speed. Fast! A super fast spin is great for me, but maybe not so much for the first time spocker. Still, the JP is one nice board that planes early carves really good, and if you want a double move, this board is right there with the skate 99. The skate planes up a slight bit earlier, but the amount of early planing you give up in the JP from the Skate is equally gained in access to the double move pop. That said, there wasn't anything I could pull off on the JP that I couldn't on the Fanatic and vice-versa, but man that Jp can spin!!

Tabou Twister 100

Now here's a board that going in I heard so many good things about. Looking at the giant tail you think that it would spin like a dream and plane up super early. Sitting on the beach it was voted most interesting graphics to look at while waiting for wind. Stepping on the Tabou and getting in the straps I noticed that the footpads were extremely comfy. But the neat graphics and comfy deck pads were all that the twister 100 has going for it. It was one of the most interesting boards to look at on the beach, but once it hit the water, everyone felt basically the same thing. It's slow to plane,slow at speed, extremely uncomfortable to schlog, and not much pop. I didn't think it spun that good either for spocks, but someone else thought it was ok in the spocks so putting the spinability at the middle of the road of test boards would be a gift. I've been doing flakas for about 6 years and for the first time I actually pearled the nose while carving into a flaka, not once but the first 2 times. I had to back off the speed to get the flaka. So this is a board that like to go slow, so maybe it's ok for someone doing their first attempts because it has to go slow. That's not to say that the skate, JP or any of the other boards won't go slower if you wish and still be just as effective. This was my least favorite board in the test and really took away any sort of confidence going into tricks that I had after pearling the nose twice while just setting up for a simple flaka......

Naish Freestyle 100

This is one crazy looking board. It's got some funky rail and tail shapes going on. The deck is also as flat as a pancake. I was really curious as to how it would sail. Getting on it, the board got moving just fine, but it hits a wall in the speed department pretty quickly. The flat deck and I mean flat like you're standing on a piece of plywood also makes the ride in a straight line kinda tiring on your legs. On the way out, again, right into the air funnel and the Naish banged it right out. It takes a little more effort to hold the speed, but it was definitely capable. On the way in, it was time for a spock that the Naish had no problems with. It actually rotated really well through the spins. I just wish it had some more speed. It was too slow for me to pull off any multi-spin moves, but for the single spin tricks it does what it's supposed to. If they just fixed the deck and made it a little faster it would be a board worth having. I was actually surprised how good the board was in the middle of the tricks while at the same time being kind of uncomfortable to set up for the tricks.

Starboard Flare 101

The starboard was another one of the test favorites among all levels of sailors. It planes up easily, and has great speed like the pair of Skates and JP. The ride is nice and lively and feels really fast. The lively direct feel is something that I really like in my boards. The flare was also king of the carve and a power move monster. So for carving into a shaka, the Flare would set the rail and never trip or slides out. It's got that same sure footing as the 100 ltr skate while going for a trick that you need to start with a quick carve like a shaka or ponch. For the new school power moves it doesn't lose any speed while switching your feet just like the JP and Skate 99. One thing I did notice is that the mast track was placed a lot farther forward on the board than all the other boards in the test, so I kept missing the footstraps when I was trying to get in them. That's simply a mater of getting used to the strap positions though. The one big negative of the Flare is that the rails are really, really sharp and catch the chop too easily. In the chop it was more difficult to rotate through double flakas and the Flare catching on chop would stop a few moves from being completed that would have otherwise been made on some of the other boards like the skate, JP and Naish. The ride can also get really bouncy in the chop compared to the other boards. But even with these drawbacks, the Flare overall, is a really, really nice board and would be one of 4 boards in the test I wouldn't mind owning.

So now that we know what to expect form the boards, how do they directly compare to each other? Here's a rundown of certain performance aspects we expect form a freestyle boards and how they directly relate to the other boards in the test. I'm going to rate each quality as to how the board does that specific task from 1 to 7. There are 7 boards in the test so 1 will be the best, 7 will be the worst. It's not a scale, it's a direct comparison and it's the direct place that the board falls in. If there's a tie for certain placement then all teh bards that are even will appear in that place. Keep in mind there are 2 different skates in the test. So....drumroll please.....

Early planing

1) Fanatic Skate 99 TE

2) Fanatic Skate 100, Starboard Flare 101, JP Freestyle 100

5) Goya the Air 99

6) Naish Freestyle 100, Tabou Twister 100

Top Speed

1) Fanatic Skate 99 TE, Fanatic Skate 100, Starboard Flare 101, JP Freestyle 100

5) Goya

6) Tabou

7) Naish

Maintains speed while in lull or while switching feet for switch moves

1) Fanatic Skate 99 TE

2) Jp Freestyle 100, Fanatic Skate 100

4) Starboard Flare 101

5) Goya Air 99

6) Tabou Twister 100, Naish Freestyle 100

Carving tricks like donkey jibes, carving 360s, and other classic style moves where the board doesn't leave the water

1) Fanatic Skate 100, Starboard Flare 101

2) Fanatic Skate 99 TE

4) JP Freestyle 100

5) Goya Air 99, Naish Freestyle 100

7) Tabou Twister 100

Tricks that require a quick carve to initiate like a shaka, ponch or kono

1) Fanatic Skate 100, Starboard Flare 101, JP Freestyle 100

4) Fanatic Skate 99 TE, Goya Air 99, Naish Freestyle 100

7) Tabou Twister 100

Pop - how readily does the board want to leave the water without a ramp

1) Fanatic Skate 99 TE, JP Freestyle 100, Starboard Flare 101

4) Fanatic Skate 100

5) Goya Air 100

6) Naish Freestyle 100

7) Tabou Twister 100

Sliding Control - This means the amount of control you have to alter your sliding rotation speed and the forgiveness the board gives while sliding

1) Fanatic Skate 99TE, Fanatic Skate 100

3) Naish Freestyle 100

4) JP Freestyle 100

5) Goya Air 100, Starboard Flare 101, Tabou Twister 100

Sliding speed - The speed of which the board will rotate while planing across the water through a funnel, spock, flaka, etc. 1st is fastest, last is slowest

1) JP Freestyle 100

2) Fanatic Skate 99 TE

3) Fanatic Skate 100, Starboard Flare 101, Goya Air 99

6) Naish Freestyle 100, Tabou Twister 100

Double Moves - Shaka/flaka, double flakas, double spocks, and anything else where the board needs enough speed, and pop to get more than one rotation out of a trick.

1) JP Freestyle 100

2) Fanatic Skate 99 TE

3) Starboard Flare 101

4) Fanatic Skate 100

5) Goya Air 99, Naish Freestyle 100

7) Tabou Freestyle 100

Balance - how the board feels when in the tricks. Is it front heavy, back heavy, does the nose get buried or does the tail always want to go under? 1) = most balanced

1) Fanatic Skate 99 TE, Fanatic Skate 100, JP Freestyle 100

4) Naish Freestyle 100, Starboard Flare 101

6) Goya Air 99

7) Tabou Twister 100

Forgiveness - How much room for error do you have when sticking that new trick

1) Fanatic Skate 99 TE, Fanatic Skate 100

3) Starboard Flare 101, JP Freestyle 100

5) Naish Freestyle 100

6) Goya Air 99

7) Tabou Twister 100 So after all this info, what board do I want to own? For me there are 2 winners this time. the Skate 99 and the JP 100. I'd be perfectly happy on either one. The thing is what would you guys be happier with? The Skate is a little more forgiving because you can control the spin and has a really nice ride for anyone, not just the freestyler. Anyone whether they want to try freestyle or not will enjoy the skate. The JP is the king of double moves for sure so at the Pro-level, the JP even outshines the Skate. I think the Skate will be the best choice for 99% of the sailors out there though for it's ease of use and early planing. The other notables would be the Flare 101 and Skate 100. The Skate 100 is a little better in the chop than the flare, but the flare is a little bit livelier of a ride. The Flare does suffer though in the chop because of the bouncy ride and sharp rails sticking in the chop. Happy sailing, Mike

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Long Island is back!!!

After the past 2 relatively windless years on Long Island, I was beginning to think that the good old days of day after day of Southwest thermal action were long gone. I was beginning to think that the only time we'd be getting wind again was while we were wearing drysuits. But this spring and now start to the summer has been more than making up for the windless years of the past. I just hope I'm not jinxing everything with these comments. Official spring on Long Island starts for me when we get back from Cape Hatteras at the end of April. Last year and the year before we found ourselves writing about how long it's been since our last session. Last year I went a full month to the day between sailing sessions in June. This year however is totally different. Not only is there more wind, but it's really close to being able to plan a trip to the beach to windsurf like you would any other sport. In may we had two different 6 or 7 day consecutive stretches of 5.0 and down sailing with many more days in between. I counted 20 days of 5.0 and down at Heckscher in May of which I managed to grab 11 (would be 6.0 without the Fanatic skate and Northsails idol combo that I'm using) June hasn't been quite as windy, but 12 or 13 days of sailable days wouldn't be a stretch. Unfortunately most of them were days I was working but I still have 5 days in June under my belt and the month isn't over! It's been blowing since last thursday and has been blowing 5.0 for at least a couple hours every day since. And it looks to be windy for as far as the forecast can see! Also, I should mention that to catch these windy days at Heckscher, one needs to totally disregard iwindsurfs botched forecasts. They don't have any local forecasters and are spread too thin as the forecaster is doing the entire eastern seaboard. They haven't called for 20 mph winds a single time in this last stretch of 5 or 6 windy days in a row. 10-14 is usually their call. Best bet is to check windfinder for a good forecast and compare that to the NWS marine forecast. Joe's beach is right on windfinder now for one of the forecast spots and the forecast is really, really good.