firstly if you believe everything you hear in the magazines then you should stop reading here……….!
Ok so for the people that are left i will try to explain what goes into testing and the development of windsurfing gear. Nik and i have been testing for a very long time, for me i was around 14 when i was helping Tushingham with its development and Nik was at A.R.T Fanatic testing in Tarifa and racing on the world tour, it was hugely different for us as Nik was competing week on week and i was just doing UK series and cruising around at home. the first time i was pushed in to the front of the development was at Naish Hawaii with Robby and Don Montague in Maui when i was around 18, we used to test everyday of Ho’okipa which was gnarly as the waves and conditions are pretty unforgiving, but the beach was the closest to the Naish factory in Haiku, so thats where we went. For this time at Naish we just went about our own way as Naish sails had a niche market and just loved whatever we did.
After 2 great years with Rob and co. i had an amazing offer from a little known brand Arrows which came with F2 which was a power house in that era, so after great discussion i made the call to Mr Naish (hardest of my life) explaining why i was swapping brands then off to work i went. Martin Brander is German and from my cruisey time at Naish i entered the world of pain as we were testing everyday and even had a design brief which we had to hit exactly otherwise we got a bollocking, needless to say to start of with i got a lot of bollockings!
Back in those days it was freeride, wave and race sails but as a smaller brand we had a small budget so we only moved forward a little each year. my first 4 years at Arrows we had old Neilpryde designs that we re-cut to suit our masts and a little tinkering to get a bit better, then as we started to sell more gear our budgets grew and we took on Willie Blaauw and had to design from scratch each and every year which brings me to my story about gear.
we had 6 sail ranges with around 7 sizes in each range which is 42 and you have to make 2-3 of each size and you only have 3 months to test and develop the whole range…… which means you cant change every sail every year without going backwards, so we had to pick key sizes in each range and work with them and just change the graphics on the others, this is really funny as one year Volwater and me where in Aus testing for the winter and on this week we were on the Impact which was doing really well for us but we were running out of time and budget so we were just going to keep the sail the same and change the graphics, Willie and i decided to test our theory that no one would know the difference by giving 2 identical sails with different graphics to Pete V and see what the results where. On a perfect 5.0 day at Scabs (Scarborough Beach) we went down and got out there and then as normal separately wrote our test reports, and they were so different from Pete, he loved the new sail and couldnt believe how much of a change we made. To this day we havnt told him the sails were the same.
The team riders test done but we still had to get it by the magazine test team, the year before we got 4th……. with the same sail we got 2nd the following year and the report was totally different 🙂
no sail brands are more up front with the products saying that they are running over 2 years which i think i great as its so hard to make a board any better over 1 year if its done correctly. which brings me to what written in the mags, maybe i shouldnt 🙂
have a good evening and see you tomorrow!