Interview - Martin van Meurs
Sponsors: Neil Pryde, JP, van den Berg , C3-fins
Profession: Project developer
Hometown: Leersum, the Netherlands
Favourite surfspots: the Brace, de kwade Plaat
What was your best surfsession of 2008?
Without a doubt my "the Brace" mid summer session. I came back from a leg injury and still had difficulties to walk, but was fully competitive against the other Dutch topriders and set a topspeed on National waters.
What conditions do you need for a new 500m worldrecord speed? sailingangle, curved or straight line, etc...
The WSSRC is surveying 500 meter Outright Sailing Record attempts and has set up the rules. The rules say straight 500 so for an official 500 World Record speed you need to go as fast as possible in a straight line. I don’t think windsurfers will stand a chance in the long run…unless….we’ll see. We’ve got some cards up our sleeves. I am being supported by some extremely talented designers and they truly know what they are talking about. C3 chief designer Boogie is a long time friend of mine and with the support of Ron van den Berg we will start building an all new speed concept board this summer. If calculations are right something interesting could happen. But it’s only fair to say the kiters and some sailing syndicates are extremely fast and the standing record of just over 50 knots is no true reflection of the speeds that are currently possible. If windsurfers want to stand a chance you have to create something with 60 knots in mind as the ultimate goal.
What is your favourite speedboard all time?
Since my main focus is on outright speed that must be the latest and fastest board, so my latest JP proto, built by Ron van den Berg. I am also anxiously awaiting the new JP production speedboards and knowing who designed them without a doubt they will prove to be extremely fast. I am especially keen to see how well they perform in real life speed conditions at strand Horst and one of my biggest aims for coming year is to try and close to a top speed of 50 knots at this given venue. The latest board designs eat chop like never before and hardly slow down in combination with the stable sails we sail nowadays. We designed boards and fins with possible high open water speeds in mind and first tests prove we gained a lot of ground compared to last year.
If you design a new board, sail or fin you expect it to be faster or easier to handle. In real life it isn’t always like that but if things work like planned the satisfaction is huge. The great thing about racing is the fact you have to put your money where your mouth is and only in races against other riders you can tell where you stand. Based on the first tests I’ve got high hopes about this year and we’ll see if my love affair with the latest proto will last.
You have been surfing all different sails last couple of years, Gaastra/ Neilpryde/ Naish/ Maui Sails/ Neilpryde. If I see a Maui Sails TR-4 or a Neilpryde RS:Racing there is a big difference, do you think there are several ways to design a fast sail?
Sure there are. Indeed differences are huge. I love the way Barry Spanier is thinking about sail designs and it’s reflected in the clean look of the latest designs. The TR5 is looking hot and completely different when compared to the Evo 2. Still both designs will work. When I decide to change sails I always try and look at the feel they might give. I love a soft and foregiving feeling which ensures I can stand light on my feet in extreme gusts. The sail needs to think for me. The new NP sails bring exactly and more than what I thought they would bring. It feels as if I wear a handcrafted suit specially designed for me.
What is your favourite sail right now?
I only tested the Evo 2 a couple of times and it beats all other sails I had before hands down. I rigged the new slalom and that one looks great as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if I would love those as well in the smaller sizes.
What is the most underestimated fact in speedsurfing?
How much harder things get when conditions get truly rough. An increase in windspeed from 40-45 knots gives a completely different feel to the runs and people who just add numbers and think, hey I am going this fast in light wind conditions, it must be super easy to go faster in stronger winds will get hammered by nature. Never underestimate the force of nature. True Speedsurfing starts when Slalomsailing stops.
Since we both live in the Netherlands I have seen some ‘extreme’ designs from you and Vandenberg boards, what was the most extreme design you have ever sailed?
That must be an old raceboard I designed together with a friend of mine around 25 years ago. I competed in the Elfstedentocht, a traditional Dutch race over lakes in the North over a distance of 200 kilometer. The board was a single concave raceboard from front to back and I raced against Division 2 boards. At the start it was blowing force 6 and I gained 5 minutes in ten minutes time, but it turned out the board was only good downwind and even with the daggerboard tacking was a nightmare. As the resin was just dry we found out during the race, but that’s part of the fun. Sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t. You build up experience and over time things changed from wild guessing to controlled improvements. I have seen it all from the beginning and it’s one big rollercoaster ride. Great fun, even the projects that didn’t stand the test of time.
When I speak for myself I always have a hard time when the windstrenght goes past 40kn, but you always seem to be in control. How did you learn to keep in control?
Experience and I think speed is in my veins. It has always been like that. In my longboard period (a long time ago) I once got in a second place in a heat when it was howling force 7, the wind dropped and I got in second to last in the next heat haha. I fall asleep when the wind is below 30 knots and the stronger it gets the more exited I get, but at the same time I am trying to go for the calm in the storm. When nature wants to play with us mortals and runs can get truly fast, I mostly get in some kind of Zen and it is as if everything comes together in that given moment.
What is your comment on age vs experience? It seems that experienced speedsurfers are often way faster than young full-trained speedsurfers. Do you think speedsurfing is in the end more like a strategy game?
Strategy and staying calm in your head is a very important part of speedsurfing when things get rough. Getting used to given speeds and conditions is also very important. A couple of years ago my body got tense when I got close to 44 knots, now I start to enjoy things from 44 knots onward. I am not scared anymore and can look further ahead, this is an underestimated part of speedsurfing. The faster you go, the further you have to look ahead but that’s truly scary as all you see in the beginning are the whitecaps in front of you. You really need to dare and get in some high speed crashes first and I’ve had my share of them haha. You need to respect nature but overcome your fear, I guess that comes with age and training time in extreme conditions.
On http://www.blogger.com/www.c3-fins.com I read you are chief tester, could you give us a top 3 of your favourite c3-fins, why you like them?
I really love my old X fins. Those were the first ones Boogie designed basically especially for me and my sailing style. When put upright the fin was so powerful I could go upwind like a formula board. We adjusted rake angle and it turned out to be the most foregiving speedfin ever but you need to sail it light on your feet otherwise you loose momentum and the fin tends to slide away. When sailed properly it’s probably the fastest fin ever made. The fins are full carbon, razorsharp and super thin and the only downside is that they are very fragile when hitting a sanbank.
The new asy strike fins offer more security without giving in on endspeed and are the first fins to match the X fins in ednspeed. The main advantage is that you can go truly small on the fin, they are made out of G-10 so they don’t scratch as easily and you can push endlessly. Spin-outs are no longer occurring and the faster you go, the more secure you feel. The Strike fins will help me for sure to try and get averages over 50 in when conditions are epic.
The Venom fins are pure slalom fins. I talked a lot with Boogie on the need for foregiving slalom fins which high speed potential. The main aim in slalom/speed conditions is to get enough length and surface in to go upwind well but at the same time try and keep speed as high as possible on a downwind run. With the Venom fins you can and need to go 2-6cm longern compared to other fins to get the best out of them, but even at high lengths control is insane. Because of my leg injury of last year I didn’t get to properly test the longer sizes, but I hope to be able to do that this year. If you look at slalom results sailed with the Venom and hear the raving reports from the riders it’s obvious Boogie has done it again. I am really keen to give them a go in moderate conditions.
I read somewhere you are focussing nowadays for a single top performance, will this be 1x 10s run? Or will this be a 500m run?
My main focus will be on our 5x10 rankings. They are the most fun to do 99% of the time. Only if conditions get truly epic I will do all I can to get in the perfect 1x10 run for our new records. Fivehundred is still very tempting but WSSRC attempts are extremely expensive and time consuming since they are related to single spots. I’ve driven so many times in vein to the South of France when it was howling in Holland I don’t think I will do it many times again. Still the hunt for the WSSRC Outright Record is truly inspiring so who knows. Realistically seen though the Outright will be in the hands of kiters the coming years, but on the other hand, they force us to think outside the box, hence our project. Basically I love every aspect of speedsurfing, and it only gets more interesing every year.
Thank you Martin for this interview!
Other intresting articles/links about Martin van Meurs:
Erik is windsurfer for 10+ years. In his daily life he is professional in construction dewatering, advisor, troubleshooter. Erik likes adventures, explore and to challenge himself. During his life he is trying to get the best out of it and have respect for the earth, nature and future generations. The modern world is about sharing, in this blog Erik shares his experiences, selfreflection and lessons learned.
"Independent Guide for your Dewatering Site" Bemalingsadvies, Construction dewatering engineering and troubleshooting, Bronbemaling
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