Well what a bit of luck I’ve had! for the longest time I have been looking in to buying a board suited to light winds due to the fickle nature of the Stockholm weather and for a while I have been putting together a blog post about lightwind boards (still unfinished however I’m not sure how much more I can add than this average Joe windsurfer, he’s tested all the low wind boards http://joewindsurfer.blogspot.se/2013/03/jp-slw-vs-sb-us.html).
The problems with these boards are three fold, firstly they are insanely expensive to buy new, secondly they are massively expensive second-hand, and thirdly in all the time I have been watching the European second-hand market I have only seen a couple in the UK and one in Germany. I have also been keeping an eye open for a Starboard Ultrasonic or an RRD Xfire lightwind, but I’ve only seen one ultrasonic in the UK and one in Sweden and I’ve never seen an RRD second-hand, so to put it mildly they are exceptionally rare! So imagine my giddy excitement when I saw a 2012 JP Super Lightwind turn up on a online second hand marketplace, not only for a comparative price compared to getting it shipped from the UK but also as a bonus a pair of 7.5 and 8.5 lightwind sails, a pair of Neil Pride Helium’s!! The only catch was that it was in Gothenburg on the west coast and I am on the east coast, what to do!?! I knew I had to act fast, I got in touch with the seller and arranged for him to hold it I then got in touch with Andy, picked him up to ride shotgun and we set off for a East Coast – West Coast – East Coast dash, a round trip of 12 hours and around 1000 km, in our haste we had no time to prepare, so for entertainment we had to resort to rummaging around in the boot of my car for ancient scratched and neglected mixCDs of REM, Blues Brothers, John Bonamassa…. .again and again and again………. the white lines, flashing frantically, rhythmically as the headlights caught them in the darkness, slowly hypnotising us in to screaming out loud along with the songs in a in a caffeine induces state of mania shouting out in to the stretching highway, the endless, endless abyss “WHATS THE FREQUENCY KENNETH!!! IS YOUR BENZEDRINE, UH HUHH!!”
So after a round trip of 12 hours we got the board back to the big smoke and the first slightly windy day Jukka and I sloped off down to Dalarö.
The first thing that you notice about this board is its size, it is enormous, there is no room on the roof rack for anything else, it takes up every inch rail to rail, it kind of looks like an ultra-ultra slim roof box perhaps for a really wide pair of skis. The next thing you notice is that it weighs next to nothing, it’s under 9 kg, to put that in to perspective the board bag weighs adds 10% weight to it, it’s seriously light, the board bag has one handle in the middle of the upper face and it’s no trouble to pick up one handed at arm’s length. It makes getting it down to the beach much less of a hassle than you would at first assume, I remember my first beginners board, it was of similar volume but was a real pig to get it down to the same location. Its vast width, 90cm, is equally matched by the size of the fin, 66cm, and that seems to be for all sail sizes, I can’t find any meaningful fin guide for it, which presented a problem at Dalarö firstly you have to get it out past the shallows that extend 20-30 meters from the shore line, then you have to have built in physic sonar to avoid the rocks that loom menacingly in the inner bay (cue the jaws music). I rigged the 7.5 m2 helium and headed out in to a 6.5m/s wind. The Helium sails have a very stiff leach and cambers so it doesn’t spill wind you get all the power! So almost instantly I almost got the board planning, the board was begging to plane if I had rigged the 8.5 it would have been skipping along! Due to a combination of the wind here and work I rarely get a chance to get out in winds that are good enough for planning and this looks like it will be the board that allows me to train my skills in the summer lulls. The position of the built up foot positions are perfect, my feet fell exactly where the straps are it has massive stability so it’s incredibly forgiving I can make horrendous errors in balance and timing that my 125 Excocet Nano would have catapulted me for. I’m positive that this will be the board that allows me to get in to the straps! Yet although it’s got massive lateral stability it is easy to gybe, it swings readily through the dead spot especially if you take a well-timed step back on the board to pivot it through the deadzone, Could this be the board that gets me power gybing?
The rest of the session, like many sessions In the archipelago was a bit of a wash out the windspeed dropped even too low windspeeds for the low wind board, but I’m very impressed, it almost got going in winds that would have left me trolling back and forth on by 125L, getting it too and from the beach was a breeze, it was harder work carrying up the wet bag with my wetsuit/impact vest wet gear in it. I can’t wait till the next time I get a chance to get out on it. Still even though the water temperature was gaspingly cold, the sun shone and if you didn’t fall in you could almost fool yourself in to thinking that summer has finally arrived.