Yes, I did ask for it, didn't I. First, I believe that even if you get a rather good understanding on how different aspects of a shape influence the ride, the most important thing is getting everything to "fit" together. This is what creates the really good boards. And like Cammar point out with his fabricated (but realistic)Thommen quote, it is probably impossible to "see" this "holistic part" by just quantifying in number or by looking at details. And I would even go as far as saying that very few shapers could take a shape that is not their own, copy it and then change a specific aspect of the ride without messing up the rest. If it is their own shape from the start, they have a better idea of how it works though, but even then there is often a bit of luck involved with the truly best boards, I think.
But details can still be fun so here we go again:
“Soft vs. Hard”
Is this primarily a function of rail shape?
Rails, rocker and bottom shape (concaves etc) are probably the most important parts.
“you have fast or turny rockers”
Is it correct that more rocker is turnier and flatter rocker is faster?
Right, but it is very difficult to quantify a rocker. The actual lift in mm or inches does not say much, it is the shape of the curve, or more exact, the flow of the curvature.
Is it true that wider is slower and narrower is faster, but this is not as significant a factor on speed as the rocker?
Right. Just looking at a modern slalom board is enough to understand that wide can be fast. But for waves we have to be careful as we do not only value speed in terms of low drag rockers but also ability to still turn at speed which puts more emphasis also on the outline.
“(slow 04/05) EVO 80 shows that in some circumstances (like when "waiting" on a wave and in slower wave riding) the wide plan form can be a real help.”
This is personal preference. As long as the board is fast enough to catch a wave it is fast enough for me. I believe that you or others have called the A117 slow as well. This is not my opinion. I now only sail it only with my 8.0 and 9.0 and the only time I found it slow was when I lost my common sense and was in over mast high waves. This was scary but it happens so rarely that it is just not an issue. What is really important to me is that I can keep a board planning in the lulls and when waiting on a wave without having to get in and out of the footstraps or worse sinking.
Is it correct that a board’s ability to stay on a plane in a lull is the same as how “early planning” it is?
That is important to me but it seems to have some complications. I believe that you called the Aero a “technical board that needs to be worked to get it on a plane.” Pumping my 8.0 and 9.0 is no fun. I just sheet in and wait for the wind to do the work. No problem; and it is so wide that it glides very nicely through the lulls.
The A117 actually has a fast wave board rocker (I even believe some crazy person did over 40 knots on the thing in Australia) so in this absolute sense it is not slow (rails are not that fast though). However, the width and outline makes it not handle speed in the turn. So in that sense it is a "wave board for slow riding". EVOs have a much slower rocker but handle higher riding speeds better.
Keeping speed is not the same thing as early planing and this holds especially for sailors with less technique since some boards need some tricks to get going early but are rather easy to keep speed on once planing. And keeping speed through a lull is not the same thing as keeping speed on a wave.
On the Aero, it seems you use sheer sail power to get it going early. This is possible due to the size of the board. But to get the Aero going really early with smaller sails, you have to be a bit more technical and light footed. The reason is mainly its rather short length which makes the mid "planing part" of the rocker shorter. If you don't have lots of power at hand, you need to "trick" the board up on the mid part of its rocker. Once there it will glide through lulls very well though. The Aero is and interesting board to discuss since it is so extreme. Many people think its a "big EVO" but it is actually more a super blown up Acid.
Being able to "wait in the straps" is mostly a function of a wider tail and/or a more compact planform which puts more volume and surface area further back (and of course more volume helps too)
“you can make a relatively wide and fast rockered board turn reasonably well at slower speeds by having lots and lots of outline curvature.”
Am I misunderstanding you here? I find that the narrower or sharper tails have a shorter moment arm so they are easier to tilt and dig in the rail to turn them.
Right, but again it depends on what we find hard. If one has problems entering the turn, then width will not help. But the problem in slower waves (or slower riding) is often that the board might stall and then lots of outline curvature helps. It keeps the board "loose on its rail", ie there is no stiff spot on the rail on which the board settles. Instead it becomes free to "roll on the outline". Kind of hard to explain...
The "tilting and digging" you describe is something I associate with comparatively higher riding speeds and the faster you go, the narrower you have to go if you still want to really dig that rail. In fact, at slower speeds it becomes the opposite, if you still want to carve hard and lean in aggressively (to gain speed) you NEED some width or you will simply overpower the board.
“Width helps you keep speed in slower waves”
Ok, now is this really width or actually volume and it is safe to say width as the 2 are usually related?
If keeping speed is the same as early planning, are you saying that more width (and/or more volume?) helps in early planning?
I would say keeping speed is more of a width thing, ie wide and thin will do a better job at keeping speed when you're out of wave and sail power than narrow and thick will. Keeping speed and early planing is not the same thing (as discussed above). Early planing is often helped by more width and sometimes by more volume, but if you're on a "reasonable volume" from the start, more volume mostly help when you want to add more sail. I would say that for most people in waves, it makes more sense to stay on smaller stuff and work on the early planing technique. The reason is that is get progressively harder to make the stuff maneuverable enough when you go bigger and bigger. You have proven that it is also possible to go for the up size route. In some circumstances this makes sense, but as I think this thread shows, it is not easy to design such a big wave board. You have to induce some extra compromises and in the end you get a board with a narrower range etc.
” BTW, you can see some of the "Aero thinking" also on the much more radical Pure Acid 74. This is much, much smaller board and hence oriented towards much faster riding. Rocker, rails, v layout are all optimized for fast riding, but this is compensated with a rather curvy outline which extends the performance of the boards towards slower riding while only taking very, very little away from the fast riding performance.”
Joanna tested Jennifer Henderson’s used 60 something liter Diva which that year was based on the Acid and she found it terribly slow, "like it was dragging an anchor”. (She ended up with a JP rad wave 64 which IMNSHO does not hold a candle to the E70.) Is your comment size or year specific?
Older Acids are a completely different thing. The first ones of the new, fast generation is the 06 Pure Acid 80 and 86 and then the PA 74 and 68 followed in 07. BTW, the Kombats from 07 and forwards are VERY similar to those Acids with mainly wider tails and wider shoulders differing
“For most wave sailors, the crucial point in wave riding is when exiting the bottom turn and going into the top turn.”
My Achilles heel is definitely the initiation of the bottom turn. With due appreciation to your analogy to skiing I got it a lot better, but it is still the weak link. If I nail that the rest seems to follow quite well. My difficulty with the Aero and to a lesser degree with the Evos is initiating the bottom turn – tilting the board, setting the edge (digging in the rail) and leaning forward into the turn. I find that the wide tail is so stable that it is hard to dig in the edge. I put the rear strap on the Aero off center which helps a bit, but I was hoping for more. Now of course I want this “improvement” without having to compromise on the many positive aspects of these boards. As I said in my first post I find this easier on the R92, but the price that I have to pay is getting out of the straps and forward sooner in the lulls. For me, for this size only, I find it all in all a better compromise. I also tried an OES Xcross 66 which has even more of a compromise. I find this unacceptable on a 123 liter board. I’d rather have my Aero. On smaller sizes I think that this would be a real concern.
Good that old skiing analogy helped. One reason the transition is not a problem is that you sail Maui (Kanaha, right?). Few places are so "easy" since waves are good and powerful but not too fast and powerful, winds is generally sideshore etc etc. All this makes the transition part and getting vertical easier.
I think that offsetting the strap is really a sign that the turning technique is not the best. In fact, with wider tails, I think the top turn get more problematic and then you would not want your foot leewards. I think what you are saying actually indicates you are on a bit to big boards relative the conditions (or relative the riding speeds). From the sound of it, it limits your wave riding a bit, but on the other hand you also praise the benefits by the size and style of boards. The problem is that if you want to keep the "stubbie planform" with its benefits, you need to sacrifice some volume when sailing a performance wave. The alternative is getting a more traditionally shaped board where you can normally squeeze in some more volume and also give it a bit flatter and more "effective" rocker and still keep the performance on a faster wave. With EVOs, as long as the riding speed is rather slow, you can almost go as big as you want (even I can sail the EVO 100 monster rather well in slower conditions despite being sub 70 kilos) but as riding speed increase, it gets more and more important to be on a smaller board. If we compare with a Pure Acid, you can often keep some more size in faster conditions, but on the other hand when you go to big its problematic even in slower waves.
On the Aero, its also a function of how the board is designed - wide tail and fast rocker. Making it heavier rockered would probably make it to slow and ineffective for you needs, so in a way its the end of the road (but of course it can still be improved a bit like all boards).
"pocket style" board
Would you please define this?
Its just a loose term for boards designed to excel when going vertical and staying close to the "pocket". The opposite would be boards the excel more at flat out carving. In reality all boards do a bit of both, as do most sailors. I sometimes use a few images from Guincho, Portugal as examples: http://www.olah.se/Windsurfing/Guincho-06/index.html The first sequence (pic 2-6) shows a more vert pocket style and pic 7-12 a more open face carving style.
“Conversely, a board like the EVO may require more "user competence" in some circumstances, but they unquestionably are super loose and easy in the transitional part.”
I am not so concerned with this transitional part. But over time as I improved I find the Evos a bit mushy on the bottom turn. The R92 is sharper, more precise, like a hot knife through butter. I think that your terminology is to call this hard vs. soft. Is that correct? Would you call the Evos soft? Would a harder Evo in the smaller sizes be what I am looking for?
Yeah, hard vs soft is pretty describing. And yes, I think EVOs are soft in character. The reason I personally like this (and am willing to sacrifice that more direct and precise feel) is that the softness makes going though chop on the wave easier and also typically gives the board a wider riding speed range. The softer and rather forgiving nature simply makes it easier to go where I want. I prefer to get my "fix" from hitting the wave just like I want instead from having the board "feel" in a certain way while doing it. And the "mush factor" of the EVOs is mostly a feel thing. When you just let them run they carve very precisely - its just that they filter out that precise feel before it reaches the sailor.
If you're looking for a "harder EVO" I suggest you should take a spin on one of the Tabou Pocket waves and see how you like that.
“I'm closer to my limits when it’s bad.”
I’m not in your skill level so I am always closer to my limits. That’s why I don’t have different gear for different experiences. I just want the single best gear that helps me the most do what I want to do.
Well, ideally, we should all ride at the limit always. Regarding gear, something which have helped my sailing the last few years is go outside of my preferences a bit. I nowadays both sail different types of boards and to an ever bigger extent I sail big boards in conditions where I would normally sail a small one and vice versa. Not only does this help me understand the limits of the boards I sail better, it has also made me improve different aspects of my technique. For example, going for bigger boards means I must nail the turn initiate and generally use more power in my sailing. Going for smaller boards means I have to work finding the line on the waves which generate the speed the small board needs to work. Then I can try to incorporate both things when I sail on the "right" size. Similarly, when sailing a different type of board, I try to find what this board is especially good at and then try to use the board to the max for "that thing". Then, when I'm back on my normal board, I try to do the same move despite that it may take more technique do to it now. One can say that I try to use the "different" board to place a certain feel in my head which I then try to keep with my own board.
There is more to say but, well... I'll think I'll stop here.