Setting Up For Wave SailingThe concept of a convertible windsurfing board is nothing new, but the latest crop of freewave and freestyle wave boards, are exceptional. The ability to change their ride characteristics with different foot strap positions and fin set ups means that one board in your quiver can cover waves, bump & jump and flat-water windsurfing.
In this second part of our mini-series we look at how to enhance the wave sailing performance of your freewave board. Our test board is the popular RRD Freestyle Wave 104. This board comes equipped as standard with a 30cm plastic freewave fin and three inboard foot straps.
With a little adjustment and a few minutes of your time, you can unlock wave riding performance with 4.5 – 5.5m sails, something which would not be possible upon unboxing.
While we are using windsurfing coach Jem Hall’s boards for this article, the same rules apply to any similar board from a range of board manufactures.
Other suitable boards include:
Step one: Change the foot strap positions.When windsurfing in waves, jumping and riding with smaller sails, you will be sailing a little more upright and inboard, you need to stay more agile and ready for anything.
A three strap set up is preferable for wave sailing. Set up the front straps on the inboard set of plugs and move your rear strap as far back as it will go. This puts your foot over the leading edge of the fin giving you more leverage and loosening up the feel of the board significantly. A wider stance will help you control the board during turns or in the air, especially if it is windy and/or choppy.
During testing it was amazing to see how well this board turned with this set up.
In waves I would suggest slightly looser straps, this brings your weight closer to the centerline of the board helping to give you a little more leverage when you initiate a bottom turn. It also makes it easier to eject when you crash.With the right tools, it’s about a 5-minute job to adjust your straps for wave sailing. Just moving the rear strap back will make a noticeable difference.
Time to change: About 5 minutes.
Cost to change: FREE
Step two: Small & curvy fin(s).To promote turning a smaller fin with more curve will help you carve tighter. This is an excellent opportunity to try out a 3 fin thruster set up.
While slower than the single fin option, thruster fins help to maximize the turning ability of your freewave board, which has a straighter rocker line compared to a full-on wave board. The Freewave Thruster fin set will be ideal, choosing the right sizes will depends on your board, weight, sail and conditions.
The individual fins are the same design as our thruster wave fins, but in bigger sizes and combinations. The size guide is optimized for this type of sailing with higher volume, flatter rocker boards and more powerful sails.
When sailing predominantly in onshore winds and at beaches with strong currents, choose a bigger set of fins than you would use in side shore conditions. If you are used to the feel of a single fin then start off with a larger rear fin and over time you will get more comfortable with a more balanced set up.
Bringing your fins closer together will make the board looser, whereas moving them apart will increase grip and make the board feel stiffer.
It is a good idea to have one set of front fins and two rear fin options, this gives you maximum tuning range.
The extra wave performance of thruster fins will enable you to turn and pivot your board faster, remain in control in high winds and get to grips with wave riding.
Need help choosing?
Time to change: About 5 minutes.
Cost to change: From $235 per set
Step three: Invest in a wave sail.To complete the transformation of your freewave board for wave sailing, it is worth investing in a suitable wave sail with 4 or 5 battens. This will enable you to maintain control and be more agile with your rig.
The higher cut foot, lighter weight and more responsive feel is quite different to the locked in feel of a bigger sail with more battens, longer boom and lower foot.
Depending on your weight and size of your board you will want to choose a sail between 4.5 and 5.5m.
There is no need to go for the latest, most expensive rig, there are plenty of great used or past model year deals around which would be ideal for this set up. Remember this is all about having fun and maximizing your opportunities on the water with minimal ease.
Ideal sails for this new set up would include:
Time to change: No extra time.
Cost to change: $300 – $800 depending on choice.
Jem’s Top Tip
“Bring your mast foot back as far as possible, this helps to keep everything balanced with smaller sails. With the mast foot closer to the straps and fin, the board will turn easier.”
ConclusionIn less than 15 minutes and minimal cost you can transform your freestyle wave board into a wave sailing ripper, ready for jumping and wave riding in stronger winds and with smaller sails. Put simply, with these adjustments, you can have more fun in a wider range of conditions.
Thanks to Second Wind Maui for the loan of the board for testing and pictures.