Downhaul your sail for speed

Every sail is different, so each sail has to be studied by its own shape. There are a very few windsurfers on this planet that are able to trim a sail perfectly onshore, in the Netherlands I have seen Ben vd Steen and Peter de Wit trimming the sails with high precision onshore.

All the others (including myself) have to sail a short distance to feel if everything is OK. My results are directly influenced by the sailtrim, this trim is almost never the same (quite hard to trim a sail 100% like I want it). I am using at this moment the Neilpryde RS:Slalom MK3 series, but for other brands the rules are sort of the same. Only you have to find the "normal downhaul", sometimes this is quite hard.

On Haringvliet I was sailing my 5.5 RS:Slalom MK3 and I got the same feeling as the few days before on the Brace. Something was wrong, my 5.5 did never felt like that. I went onshore at haringvliet and pulled 10-12mm more downhaul, and the fastest sail in the world was back ;). This is one of my weak spots, when I just got the sail I trim it totally like I want it, after a few months I use less and less downhaul...

My maximum downhaul:
On the RS:Slalom MK3 I often overdownhaul a few mm, when doing this the center of effort goes down. In other words the forces generated by the sail are more within reach. I do this to handle strong winds or gusts. There is one problem with overdownhauling... The sail looses efficiency, soo I don't change normal trim unless it is getting nasty. Heavier guys can hold on longer the generated momentum by an higher center of effort, maybe that is why they are sometimes faster ;) (good excuse)

My normal downhaul:
On the RS:Slalom MK3 5.5 the best setting is in my case written on the sail, on the mm precise!! I try to use this setting first, unless I forget thinking about downhaul... With the RS:Slalom MK3 6.2 I use the older X9 mast so the trim doesn't really fit the numbers...

Underdownhaul:
I use this setting much more than I would like to. The sail has a softer feeling with this setting and a bit easier trim on water. However when the conditions are getting really fast the sail is not efficient. With my RSS MK3 6.2 I always use some underdownhauled settings. Not because it is much faster, but since 6.2 is the biggest size for me I need some more bottom-end, and a soft sail pumps easier into gliding.


Strategy 2010:
Since Neilpryde didn't release a new NP RS serie for 2010 it is much easier for me to decide what to do. I want a 7.0 and with this sail in my quiver I hope to solve the "underdownhaul problem". I have to many thing on my mind, soo I expect generaly 1 setting on each sail would work out much better. This setting would be "normal downhaul"

Erik Loots

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.

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