The “Maza Fish”
If you’ve windsurfed at any of the main Cornish breaks you’ll have noticed just how gusty and full of holes the wind tends to be. UK frontal winds are gusty at the best of times but ask this already gusty wind to cross over the Cornish peninsular and blow into the top spots in Mounts or St Ives bays from a side or cross off direction and some seriously unstable winds result, not simply gusty but also full of major holes. When I first sailed here on my smaller Sussex coast equipment I found it maddening, sail, sink, sail, sink, wave…. it was like learning all over again. I’m 90kg and used to be pretty happy sailing 80ish litre boards much of the time but now, here, I’d reserve a board of that size for 4.2 weather and even then sailing could still be too start/stop for it to be that much fun. Of course there are many options and some wave purists choose to put up with very difficult slogging out with little or no jumping for the pleasure of wave riding a smaller board. I mostly prefer to be sailing, not sinking, and indeed one of the great bonuses of windsurfing over surfing is how much fun the heading out part is compared to duck-diving and paddling. For me the holy grail of board design is to create a bigger board that feels or behaves as responsively as a small board or vice versa.
Most of the standout sailors in these parts are riding gear of a volume at least equal to their kilo weight in litres and very often 10+ litres floatier. Local Goya team ripper and extreme jumper Andy King (84kg), for instance, is frequently seen riding 100lt+ freestyle or freewave boards to devastating effect on the more mundane days. The gust tolerant early planing qualities of these boards mean he gets way more jumps and waves than the “slog and ride” brigade; he’s just all over the break, having heaps of fun and instantly stands out from the rest.
With multi finned boards it is possible to build a bigger board that handles more like a smaller board and that is the intention with this design. I get the benefits of the easy planing lift of a wider, floatier, straighter rockered board but with less of the stiffness associated with a single fin board of similar design. With a large wide tailed single fin design the board turns around the centrally placed fin but with a twin or quad the board turns a tighter radius around the fin(s) on the inside rail and feels looser. Smaller fins positioned off centre also reduce the rolling resistance of the board from rail to rail when compared to a bigger single fin which again frees up the board. The main down sides compared to a single will be lower top speed and less instant low speed bite and drive, particularly in foam, but I can live with that for a more chuck around manoeuvre oriented feel.
The board has a “fast tail” type of rocker where the section from a little aft of the front foot straps straightens along the centre line of the board into the tail. This promotes speed, early planing and drive through turns as it far less “sucky” or drag inducing than a tail kick type of rocker but to avoid the board feeling just too stiff and pivotal more rocker is introduced into the rail outline through the use of vee that increases into the tail so that as the board is banked into a turn more rocker curve is presented. Through the mid sections my preferred double concave with a slight vee profile is used to soften the ride and promote control with good planing. The curvaceous outline presents a shorter rail waterline when the board is banked promoting tighter turns. I’ve carried plenty of volume into the tail to help the board keep going through lulls and low speed turns knowing that the added bite provided by the multi fins and swallow tail will help reduce any tendency for bouncing out in chop.
So we have a quick, responsive, compact and floaty, wave board perfect for gentler summer swells in Cornwall and spots like Marazion (aka “Maza”). I’ll call it the “Maza Fish” and just for fun lets put a mermaid on the bottom (Design by Rosamunde Parsons). Construction is full carbon/dynema PVC sandwich bottom with a paulonia wood carbon/dynema glass sandwich deck and carbon rails. At 7.5kg bare its still heavier than I want but super tough and tough is good. It also gives me a versatile platform for experimenting with different fin configurations and I’m particularly keen to try some asymmetric options.