Expedition board and sail
Given my previous good experiences with Tushingham Watersports Distribution I chose to approach them once again for gear to use on the Windsurf Round Europe expedition. They were nicely enthusiastic and together with Starboard and Severne provided all the windsurfing kit, and a SUP paddle.
Having used the gear for nearly a month here are a few thoughts. Please note that this post is probably of (potential!) interest to windsurfers rather than being of general appeal.
Severne Turbo GT 9.2
An expedition sail needs to work nicely through force 1 to force 5, and be as well behaved as possible beyond that window – and that is a tall order. Severne do produce specialist raceboard sails, but I instead took a punt on the Turbo GT - anticipating lighter handling and more comfort in the upper wind range. Really this sail’s suitability for the job was unknown. Would the gamble pay off?
In short – yes. I am happy to report that the Turbo GT 9.2 is a fantastically good sail. Here’s why.
Genuine range of set
Most big sails work with either a loose leech set or a tight leech set – but this sail can do both. Set for lighter winds with lower downhaul the leech has zero flop – the whole sail is working for you – and (and here is the difference from most other sails I’ve used) the shape in the lower part of the sail stays in the right place rather than moving too close to the mast and causing excessive stress on the battens.
Set with more downhaul the leech opens up nicely and keeps this a very comfortable sail right up to force 6 which is about as far as I’ve gone with it. Even when highly tensioned the cambered battens rotate correctly and positively.
Ease of use
I’m not getting any younger and parts of me will start wearing out if I push them too hard, so I am grateful for a sail that makes life easy. This sail is physically light and feels light in the hands. It is significantly less physically demanding to use than my previous expedition sail (Tushingham Bolt 9.5).
I should point out that my sail is a semi-custom build with x-ply rather than standard monofilm and possibly higher spec material in the upper panels. I can’t comment on the effect this would have on physical weight as I have not seen a standard Turbo GT to compare with.
The sail is light but is holding up well. So far just some rubbing around the luff sleeve where the adjustable downhaul rests. My first impressions were that this is a well thought out sail, and this does seem to be the case.
Rigging / Derigging
Quick and easy (as easy as I can remember for a cambered sail), and doesn’t involve any crunching of monofilm panels.
Cambered sail can sometimes grind away at your carbon mast. Around the lower camber there is a small amount of wear but nothing concerning (and in any case there is a mast extension inside the mast at this point so no chance of a mast breakage).
I can’t comment on absolute speed, upwind or downwind performance but I would imagine it to be a very strong performer in all areas. The Turbo GT is a phenomenally good sail that I would recommend to anyone.
Starboard Phantom 377 Large
In blue with a loud pink/orange stern this is a striking craft! It is a little narrower than my previous (2009) Phantom, has ‘batwings’ and a sloping mast track. I’ve also modded it – adding a front spray deck and a rear barrel carrier – both for gear storage.
What I’ve noticed...
This board performs well downwind. In planing winds the generous nose rocker keeps the bow above the waves in situations where my old Phantom would have been spearing through. The batwings give tail width to achieve comfortable planing in quite marginal winds.
It rails easily. More easily than my old Phantom, so is comfortable to take upwind. On flat water it is very nice. In choppier water it can suffer from nose slap unless you get the rail angle just right to cut through. I take the mast track back a notch or two in these conditions to help lift that bow. It will certainly be that case that nose slap is worse because of the gear I carry on the front.
It gybes very well. The batwings present no problems.
The straps themselves are excellent. However, they come with extra wide plates and have slotted adjustment rather than simple holes. I don’t much like the wide plates - they add 100g to the board and can catch on string, seaweed etc… Probably the old style narrower plates would work fine but I wasn’t willing to test that theory in the arctic wilderness...
A nice fin with a deep tuttle head that comes in lighter than the fin from the old board. It is pretty impossible for me not to grind the fin down, which at least means beach starts are getting easier as I head south.
Works great when I can borrow some silicon spray (Local Contacts?)
The board is quite narrow and loaded with gear it initially felt noticeably unstable. I’ve lost a bit of weight now (carrying less food) and my brain is dialled into the kit more, so the stability issue no longer causes concern. I also make sure my barrel is rotated heavy side down.
This is a damned good raceboard. I feel guilty that it gets treated so roughly: asked to land at places no windsurf board should be asked to land; required to carry more than is fair. My expedition board is a thoroughbred being treated as a mule. Try as I might I can’t avoid daily chips and scratches, and repairs will undoubtedly be needed before too long. On land my loaded expedition board is as cumbersome as a beached whale. On the water - with correct weight distribution – it remains a pleasure to sail.
Starboard SUP paddle – 1 piece
It’s very light, and I can store it in blade first under the spray deck with the shaft running back to the daggerboard. The deck contours of the board mean that it doesn’t get in the way as much as it would on a flatter board. On occasion, it is very useful to have a paddle to get back to shore or through a dead spot in the wind. Right now, it is propping up my sail shelter as I write this in the rain.
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In another post I will explain the modifications I have made and how these are performing, and talk more about various aspects of expedition windsurfing. The easiest way to get notification of updates is to follow on Facebook. Please share if you found this interesting.