webguy's picture

Fun and games with carbon fiber

While I love foiling, it can be hard on your gear, especially if you are pushing the envelope of higher speeds and higher winds. I've gone over the handlebars more times in the last couple of years than the previous decade.

Adding to that, I'm now using a custom board which is well-built but even well-built can't save it from a few hard hammerings from the mast. How hard? How about enough that the ink on the luff sleeve gets imprinted on the board?

So, I've gone into the board repair business. As much because I want to get on the water as soon as possible and not miss any sessions. Few things cause a foiler more anxiety than a decent forecast and the thought that the gear isn't ready for the water. Thanks to the guidance from various sources including the Board Lady, my board builder, Alex Morales and Rob Rock, I've acquired enough knowledge to make a reasonable repair- or at least one that looks okay from a distance. As well, I've also practiced these skills in shortening a few older boards and that practice has helped a lot.

Here's a repair I did recently this spring. I wish I had a picture of the original damage. A day of foiling fully powered (7.7, big wing and gusts near 20) meant that I foiled out (foil lifted too close to the surface) a couple of times. When that happens going upwind, the board then tends to drop hard to the water, trip and stop; and inertia sends you over the front. I've learned since a bit on how to tame that power a bit by moving my back foot and hand up to depower both the wing and sail. The crashes were hard as I was moving along at a good clip.

The impact of the mast crushed the foam inside the board and pushed the top deck down. The exterior crack was actually on the bottom as the top was tougher than the bottom. (If you make something stronger, often, you merely move the point of damage elsewhere which is why when, say, repairing a carbon bike frame, the repair is made no stronger than the original or you risk stressing another part of the frame which wasn't designed for that stress.) I could have just patched the crack but I knew that the interior foam was compromised so any quick exterior repair meant that I was just putting off what really needed to be done- replace the foam, too.

The original damage. It's really not apparent from the top but I took this photo for reference when it came time to mimic the logo. The deck was depressed, the foam inside was soft and the biggest damage was on the bottom of the board where the hard nose pushed down and away from the bottom.

I cut out the damaged foam with a Dremel-like tool and tapered the edges with a grinder and sander to give the new material a surface to adhere to.

I glued in a piece of purple insulating foam. I used this because it was reasonably stiff and easier to shape than styrofoam. More styrofoam was cut out to make sure that the new foam had a good fit and would glue in well. I uses Gorilla glue (polyurethane) because it foams a bit and fills any inevitable voids. It's a bear to sand though as it's really hard.

After it dried, I sanded it to shape. You have to account for the thickness of the PVC foam (I used Divinycell) of the deck sandwich so it has to be some amount below the existing deck.

Next, a layer of glass and the Divinycell is glued in. Divinycell is flexible and can be somewhat molded with a heat gun so you can shape it before applying. I used a poor man's vacuum bag of cling wrap and lots of tape to pull it tight. Don't cheap out like I did - blue painter's tape works better as it releases cleanly. The glass and Divinycell were slightly bigger than the hole so that they would glue to the taper and any extra is sanded off in the next step.

The wrap is removed. You can see where I masked all around the repair to keep any excess epoxy from spreading out on the existing deck and requiring sanding. It also protects the deck when sanding (next step) so you can feather first into the tape rather than sanding big parts of the existing deck and logo. A little prep before hand pays off.

The Divinycell is sanded to shape. Now the nose is starting to look like a nose again.

I glued on a couple layers of carbon fiber, each piece on top larger than the bottom to feather the edges. On top of that is a layer of glass so that any sanding and finishing is done on the glass layer so as to not lose any strength by sanding through the carbon. Lacking a vacuum bag, I used lots of cling wrap and tape. As the top of the deck is slightly concave, I had to clamp down on an extra piece of foam to push down on the concave.

After removing the clamp, you can see the wrap stretched tight over the carbon and glass layers.

The wrap is removed and ready for the final finish sanding and filling of any pin holes. Mixing a "peanut butter" paste of epoxy and glass sphere filler is spread over the glass to fill any larger voids and Bondo Glazing and Spot Putty fills any pin holes.

I finished off with some white primer and then gloss clear coat per Alex Morales's instructions. I used a black Sharpie to recreate the logo so it wouldn't look awful at 100 yds away. Finally, applied non-skid by applying a coat of clear coat, sprinkling on some acrylic non-skid dust (available at your local hardward store) and another layer of clear coat. Again, recreating how Alex did the original board although I think he uses proper auto clear coat which is a little more durable but toxic without the proper breathing gear.

My board nose is now ready for more windy days! Hooray!

Simply majestic...

Phillip Koester at Red Bull Storm Chase Ireland

Philip Koester (GER) in a winter North Atlantic storm during the Red Bull Storm Chase in Magheroarty, Ireland on March 10, 2019.

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gene_mathis's picture

Gene’s Campground Adventure

Editor's note: We thank Gene for taking the time to describe from his experience in the big blow last Sunday

And who came up with all these rules?

Rig for what you got, not what you want or the forecast. When you can’t decide between two sails, go bigger if the sun is shining, smaller if cloudy. (Caps look bigger in the sun, and it was sunny.)

When I arrived it was windy. I checked the launch, super high water, not good but doable. Rhett was planning on his 5.2 but falling off plane a little in the lulls. Maybe 6.0 or 5.2? Then the wind came up some, maybe 5.2 of 4.5? So, put on wetsuit first before rigging to have more time to decide and one last look. Although I had the 5.2 pulled out of the trailer, the last look told me to rig the 6.0.

Anyhow, I was overpowered, struggled a while trying to water start, then decided to just clear the sail and body drag back. That didn’t work well, was going to miss the launch, so shoot for Bozo Island? Got close to Bozo, but not an island, just trees growing out of the water with waves. If I could make it there, I still had to get back to the launch. I was getting a little tired, there is a rule about take your breaks, watch your energy level, but this is hard to do in the middle of the lake. Also a very important rule is stay with your board. You don’t want to give out and not be able to hold on to the board. Also, remember, don’t panic. I remembered years back when David W and I took our trip to Bozo, instead of struggling; we sat on the boards and let the wind blow us down wind (to Bozo Island.) So I sat on the board and headed for the campground. Know your take out points. Years back, I ended up at the campground after breaking a mast. Not that big of deal, but, you have to breakdown your gear and tote it to the locked campground entrance (hide it) and then hitch a ride back to Van Pugh. Then you have to drive back to get your gear. All this can add a couple of hours to a not so fun day, and if it’s cold, it’s cold. I was dressed in my warmest wetsuit, better to be too hot than too cold, you can always cool off, so I really wasn’t that cold.

Once at the campground, it was tuff trying to get ashore due to the high water and I was glad to see the Hall County Rescue guys. I’m not sure they were looking for me (although I think Barret had called them) because they asked where the second person was. Then we saw the 2 kayakers stranded at the campground (they were definitely cold, having no neoprene.) Hall County took them back while I stayed with the kayaks and broke down my gear, then they came back and hauled me and all the gear back to Van Pugh. (I think the coast guard will not rescue gear.) I really did appreciate their help. I think they had a good time too as it does look like a fun job as long as no one dies. We probably should only call them as a last resort when someone is in real trouble. We don’t want to get a bad rep or get windsurfing banned. But it’s hard to tell if someone is in trouble when they’re far away. I used to keep cheap binoculars in the car to search for people; this is probably a good idea. Also, remember the universal distress signal. And don’t turn down help. I’ve hitched a ride with fishermen ( kiting) and on David W’s jet ski (kiting), had a nice ride in a pontoon boat (broken mast) and have hitch hiked a ride (in a wetsuit) from Aqualand (pulled muscle ) and from the campground. It seems people don’t mind picking up hitchhikers dressed in neoprene, I think they’re curious.

I guess, even when you take your time, think about what you’re doing and try not to do anything stupid, sometimes, stuff happens.

Gene Mathis

Maui - Behind the Scenes

Maui, after all these years, remains the emotional center of windsurfing. While windsurfing's popularity is higher in Europe, Asia, Oz/NZ, Africa - well pretty much most places - than the U.S., Maui is the place that is the Mecca for windsurfers: the place they should visit at least once in their lives. There are other places that areas windy or windier. There are other places that have sweet waves (Margaret River, Cape Town, Baja). Yet, Maui and its iconic launches, especially Ho'okipa, are perhaps the most widely recognized and photographed. Just about every major windsurfing manufacturer shoots at least part of its catalog there.

If you look at the photos long enough, you know the layout, the rocks and the way that every wave is sailed on port tack and sailors go to the right on the wave. And, the wind. It's always windy. It has to be as the wave sailors are always using 4 to 5 something meter sails and just ripping down the faces of those waves. Right? Well, I always thought so until drones came along.



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Before the widespread use of drones, most of us had just seen just quick clips of the best windsurfers performing their best moves. Outside the rare helicopter shot, most of what we saw was taken either from shore or in the water. If you were like us, you just assumed that windsurfers there got on their 95 l. board and 5.3 sail, ripped out through the surf, jibed and then screamed back through the waves. Probably a lot of this is how unfamiliar inland and intermediate sailors are with the mechanics of wave sailing. We associate waves with wind but in a place like Hawaii, where the waves often come from weather events thousands of miles away, that's not necessarily true.

The other day I clicked on a blog post from the Cammar's (Giampaolo Cammarota) Maui Surf Report which I do from time to time. You can see his new posts pop up on our feeds on the front page on the right hand side. He often posts shots and videos taken by himself and other locals. He windsurfs, windfoils and surfs so quite often there's something fun to see.

The previous day there had been a good swell and he posted some nice pics including the one above. By chance, I was killing time on Youtube later on in the day and came across this video by Matt Holton who shoots some good stuff in Maui. Probably one of the best things he does is just long cuts so you get to see the actual process of wave sailing there. It's not just bam, bam, greatest hits. You see people going off the shore, getting worked in the surf heading out, good moves and moves that don't end so well. Most interesting was that the video was shot the same day.

Now if you just look at the pics, it looks like a screaming day. Spray is coming off the wave tops. But, then you watch the video and realize that all that power is the wave, not the wind. In fact, the sailors that day were just shlogging, not planing, out through the surf.

Take a peek here at 1:43 in the video. Not a white cap in site and someone finally catches a ride by pumping like mad and being on the right spot on the wave. His/her buddy right beside doesn't even get going. It's fascinating.

Bonus: here's a short clip of Cammar windfoiling yesterday

Ed. note: Yes, we know that on other days, it's cranking there.

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