4th of July 2008

Pros and Cons for FOD compared to the RS:X

Pros for FOD

- Proven planing in 6 knots with both 9.5m and 11m rigs, and able to use in 26+knots. Can race therefore between 6-25knots, which is ISAF requirement for Olympic class.
- The FOD equipment is 2/3 of the price of the RS:X kit, therefore more affordable for youth and Federations supporting the class.
- The FOD has proven competitive in the open Formula fleets, therefore if an athlete is not chosen for the Olympics, he/she can resell gear much easier, also can go into Formula racing fleets and not have to spend money to be competitive. It also means that once Olympic teams are selected, many Olympians can still train with Formula racers and won’t be stuck without a training partner.
- The FOD kit is much lighter in weight than RS:X, therefore it is easier to fly with smaller equipment that weighs less, therefore costs less in excess baggage. Also the gear will be looked after better because it is less likely to be dropped on the ground as much or dragged because it is too heavy. Women and youth can carry the kit to the water without assistance!
- The FOD sails are lighter to handle than RS:X sails and Formula sails because of the narrow luff sleeve and less cams, therefore easier to tack and gibe, easier to pump to get on the plane earlier, no need to kick cambers after tacks and gibes, easier to carry to and from the water when its windy and there are large waves.
- The FOD Starboard board is really stable in strong winds compared to the RS:X. The board is sitting flat on the water and feels completely safe down wind and upwind fully powered up.
- The FOD Sails/mast is reacting well to pumping when needed. Because the board is planing so early, there is no need to pump much except out of tacks, gibes and through lulls in the wind. The sails will therefore last much longer than an RS:X sail because they don’t need to be pumped up to 12knots before upwind planing conditions. If sails last longer it is again cheaper for the competitors.
- The fin is allowing for super early planing on the board, the lightest wind was 5knots to get planing! The fin is also very stable in strong winds, allowing for the complete ISAF wind range to sail in using the one board, sail and fin.
- There are no adjustables on the FOD, therefore minimising risks with things going wrong, i.e. mast track breaking, ripping out, getting stuck or rope in track breaking. Centreboard flaps can tear or go missing while sailing, and centreboards sliding down while sailing makes it dangerous at high speeds.
- The FOD kit is fun! It is easy to sail, exciting, fast, and easier on the body than the RS: X.
- The Media will be attracted to the FOD class because of the exciting racing.
- The FOD kit is more representative of modern windsurfing today. Most people buy planing boards and don’t go sailing unless they can plane. This kit covers all wind ranges between 6-25+knots easily therefore even non Olympic class racers would buy the kit for recreation.
- Anyone that can sail an RS: X can sail a Formula board. In fact most of the RS: X fleet own a Formula board and regularly train on it! Also the 9.5 FOD sail is easier to handle in strong winds than the RS: X 8.5 sail combination, therefore if a 55kg girl can handle the current RS: X kit, then she can handle the 9.5 FOD kit easier.
- Because the FOD kit is much faster than the RS: X around the course, more races can be done in a shorter period of time. I did a marathon against the RS:X class and finished in 1hour and 3min, with the first long board/RS: X racer at least 30minutes behind me, with the wind ranging from 5-12knots. Also people won’t be so tired from sailing in and out after races because sailing time will be shorter as well.
- Transportation will be easier with FOD. You can pack boards on top of one another, no problem. Packing in coach boats will be easier with smaller, lighter boards. You don’t have to take centreboards out for transportation. You can also travel with 2 FOD boards for the same weight as one RS: X board at the airport.

Pros for RS: X

- The RS: X can race in under 6 knots. Although we aren’t supposed to race in lighter than 6knots anyway, we have been, because the Olympics are in Beijing this year. The other benefit is that sailors can get upwind or back to shore if the wind gets too light for planing by using the centreboard. The FOD kit will be able to sail upwind in under 6knots but it will take longer than the RS:X.

Negatives for FOD

- The FOD sails are a compromise. You have to compromise if you want something that will perform in super light wind and in strong wind.
- The Olympic regattas may not be able to start their scheduled race at 11am and 12am if there isn’t 6 knots, like they are now. They may have to wait for the wind, therefore either having a lay day instead of racing in under 6 knots and doing more races on the other regatta days. Perhaps the race limit should be 4 or 5 races per day, if FOD gets in.

Negatives for RS: X

- Ever since the RS: X became the Olympic board, there have been changes. Not only was the board completely different from the one we tested in Lake Garda and UK, but it was 7kg heavier, longer, and the fin was 60cm for women, 66cm for men, when the fin we tested and chose was 70cm.
- Because the board is so heavy, most girls and some guys, particularly youth, struggle to even carry the board to the water.
- Because the foot straps weren’t padded enough and the board is so heavy many athletes including myself experienced injuries with lumps growing on our feet and really bad leg and feet cramps because of the force through the ankles, knees, shins and calves trying to lever the board up on the rail in light winds.
- All of my boards delaminated within a year of owning it, therefore I couldn’t even sell them once I bought a new board.
- Centreboards broke during major competitions.
- Centreboard flaps were tearing and sometimes would go missing while sailing, or just flap under the board
- There have been 3 generations of sails.
- Battens and cambers break all the time.
- Difficult to get spares because of limited distribution and availability. I had to buy all my gear through the German importer.
- Expensive to travel with such heavy gear, and some planes don’t take this sized equipment.
- Difficult to pack RS: X’s into coach boats and into cars for transport. Must remove centreboard every time which damages screws and inserts.
- Have to remove chicken strap every time you want to take out fin, also stripping threads.
- Have to remove half of centreboard top cover just to take centreboard out each time.
- The vast differences in boards, fins, masts and sails meant that you have to buy quite a few of each to find something that is fast.
- Clear clip on front end of boom would always crack after a few weeks and break.
- Mast track ropes break, especially if sand gets in there. The lips on the track also bend under extreme pressure.
- Because the board wasn’t tested for long enough before production, the two mast track positions at the back were never used. This was wasted space which could have given more space for the centreboard to be moved further forward, or not have the extremely hard to handle ending over the pedal that moves the mast track.
- Upwind performance in under 12knots is not as good as the old long boards. Upwind performance in over 8 knots (planing conditions) is not as good as a Formula board. Women RS: X sailors can’t plane upwind until 12knots because the board is so heavy, the fin is too short and the sails don’t have enough power to accelerate the board.
- If there isn’t enough downhaul on the sails the cambers pop off, and battens can break.
- Masts were breaking through the tops of the sails.
- RS:X sails are not competitive after a month of hard (pumping) sailing, they stretch and lose their speed; therefore if you want to be competitive you need a new sail every month or two months!

Main concerns/questions people have concerning the FOD

- Will the FOD be able to race upwind in 6 knots?
Yes. It has been proven in 5 international regattas so far, with both 9.5m and 11m sails.
- Will the FOD be able to race in 6 knots with 40-50 boards on the line?
Yes. The FOD has raced in large fleets in light winds and got off the line well with Formula sails much bigger than the 9.5. It could be recommended that the racing format be changed between 6-7knots to a slalom race, if they are desperate for races.
- Will youth and women be able to handle a 9.5 in really strong wind?
Yes. It was proven in the UK that the FOD kit can race in 26+ knots. It was proven at the USA Nationals that the FOD kit can race in 40 knots.
- What about all the money spent by Federations on the RS:X equipment?
Most RS:X gear will not last more than a year. If Federations have to replace gear in a year anyway they might as well replace it with the FOD kit which is 2/3 of the price of the RS:X. The FOD sails will last longer because they won’t need to be pumped so much, therefore not wearing out as quickly. Likewise with masts and booms.
- What about places or countries that don’t have much wind or lakes that have really shifty conditions, i.e. not good for Formula?
Most places have at least 6 knots some time during each day. Places that don’t have the conditions for sailing will need to travel (eg: Australia doesn’t have great skiing conditions therefore athletes travel to train overseas!) Most top Olympic class sailors will travel for training partners and competition for most of the year anyway.
- There aren’t any single handed sailing classes that are good for lighter athletes to be competitive, except for the RS:X class, therefore in the FOD, the RS:X 55kg girls and 70kg guys may not be as competitive in a fleet made up of a larger weight range.
In FOD, the competitive weight ranges will be from 55-70kg for women and 70-85kg for men. Surely this wider weight range is fairer for the sport and all windsurfers who surely should be able to consider themselves a potential Olympic windsurfer. This should entice more people into Olympic windsurfing, instead of just those who fit the narrow weight band in the current Olympic class. The lighter athletes will be faster in light wind and the heavier will be better in the stronger winds, however tactics, reading the conditions correctly, windsurfing skills etc will still play their part. If Olympic class regattas continue to run races in such light wind, then the lighter competitors will have nothing to worry about!
- The RS:X is very technical and difficult to sail, so will we lose all the tactics and skill if we go to FOD?
In fact the best tactical, technical sailors will still be the best in FOD, not just the guys that have good speed. Most of the race is won and lost on the start (like RS:X races). If you don’t strategise, plan your upwinds, hit the right lay lines, work harder on the downwinds, play the wind shifts, then you wont be the best. You will still have all the same aspects of sailing but in fact be more tactical without the physical exhaustion from excessive pumping.
- What about the media, and having scheduled start times for them?
The media have only been interested in the medal race, however that should change with FOD racing because it will be more exciting to watch. All the preliminary RS:X races have been sacrificed to early start times when there is usually no wind for the sake of the media, and the media haven’t been interested in these races anyway. Why not wait for the wind, race in the afternoon when the breeze is up and the media will have more spectacular racing to report on? If a scheduled medal race is necessary, then the forecast should i.e. above 6knots, should be a determining factor!
- How about the availability of the FOD kit to buy?
From what I understand, it won’t be a problem to have the distribution of the FOD throughout the world quite quickly. From feedback I’ve received, with the Starboard 162 already available, people are looking to get the gear early.

Join the discussion

Anonym | 5th July 2008 (07:00:48)

who wrote this?

Bruno De Wannemaeker | 17th July 2008 (11:45:51)

Who asked this anonymous question?

Anony | 29th September 2008 (19:04:39)

Bruno, your question is a bit ridiculous.

It's perfectly logical to ask who wrote the piece, and an anonymous question is a lot smarter than an anonymous article claiming to have information and experience about the FOD

Bruno De Wannemaeker | 30th September 2008 (13:23:35)

I did not write the article, I presume somebody from the FOD steering committee.
I strongly believe that if you have something to say/ask you should not put on a mask.

K. Engin | 25th October 2008 (13:54:56)

I agree with Bruno, if you ask a question, at least have the decency to let people know who you are.

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