If you take a look on the dayrankings or yearrankings at GP3S you mostly notice that these speeds are done with the newest equipment. That’s no surprise because the top guys are nearly all sponsored and hence are able to get the newest stuff, but how important is it to have up to date sails and boards?
Of course the latest sails and boards shouldn’t be slower or worse than their forerunner, but not every update is a quantum jump. Needless to say that some brands made big improvements in the last couple of years like Severne with the step from Code:Red to Reflex. On the other hand you have for example Fanatic with the Falcon Speed which was introduced in 2006 and not changed until 2011 and still competitive. Maybe these two examples are special, because many other brands like Neilpryde are on top since many years and still updating their sails/boards nearly every year.
So regarding to the whole market the importance of getting the newest speedstuff is not easy to evaluate.
In my opinion it is obvious that older stuff can be highly competitive, for example Martin van Meurs achieved 50knots “years ago” in 2007 with a Mauisails TR-3 and Chris Lockwood in 2008 with a KA Koncept from 2007. Since this time a lot of development was done, but 50knots are still the magic barrier.
Okay this should not say there was no real development, during the last year there were hundreds of 40+knots averages and especially the performances in lighter winds have improved. Therefor for the top riders it makes 100% sense to have always the newest stuff to be highly competitive in every kind of conditions.
But what about the “normal” speedsurfers? New stuff means often to start searching for the perfect trim, not every board or sail is plug-and-play! With 100days of surfing a year and 20days on the speedboard this is no problem. But with for example 40/8 days a year it is not so easy and in worst case a perfect day gets blown away…
From my point of view the latest boards and sails are not always the best choice for everybody, because maybe less time on the water avoid that you use the full potential of this high end equipment …but maybe one of the top riders can help you with your new stuff ;)