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Posts by Bouke

Those Small but Significant Differences Part 4: Mast boxes

April 26th, 2020 Posted by Boards No Comment yet

Mast box constructions

Today we are looking at different mast box constructions. Our standard mast box construction, the standard mast box construction of regular production boards and the construction of pre moulded carbon boxes into a PVC block.

Forces
The biggest force on a mast box is vertically from flat landings. Another force can be a pull force on the nut when tightening the mast foot and especially getting washed by waves. As a mast foot is made to bend, there are hardly any leverage forces like on a fin box.

For the vertical down force, it is important that the force is spread out over a big area of the EPS. This is achieved by making the area resistant to bending. And the best way to do this is by having a thicker PVC. The pretty much standard PVC reinforcement block around the mast box already spreads the force out over a bigger area. The wider and longer the block, the better the spread.
Though we have seen some custom brands where the boxes were just put into the EPS and nothing else, sometimes with glass, sometimes even just with resin. Steer clear of such boards.

Both Witchcraft and regular production boards place the PVC block before the sandwich. Like this the inner laminate under the sandwich continues till the box itself, with an overlap of laminate with the PVC block. Boards that use a pre moulded carbon mast box need a much bigger hole cut into the deck sandwich to mount the block after sandwiching. Here the inner laminate is cut through and just makes a blunt connection without an overlap, creating a weak point at this spot. For a sandwich construction both inner and outer laminate are equally important. This weak point is more prone to break when the PVC block is not extended long enough at either end of the mast box and the mast foot is mounted more towards either end and the mast foot does not sit fully on the PVC block any more. Normally an adjustment of a few cm already is enough so we like to keep the box short.


Then, apart from the PVC block, we also put a bigger area of double sandwich around the area of the mast box.

As the resistance against bending goes up exponentially with the sandwich thickness, a double thick sandwich is about 6.7 times as resistant. We also taper the double sandwich away so the inner laminate can be continued and does not need a second layer.

Here the view from our CAD/CAM program showing the reinforcment block and the double sandwich area and in the second all the blocks and inserts, which are all milled by CNC to the 0.1mm exact and saves a lot of measuring time. The asymmetric positioning of the mast box is on purpose as the back part of a mast box can´t be used. There are parts we do not show and also the mast box construction of the HDD and XHDD is very different than this but we don´t want to reveal too much to our competition.

Here is the cross section of a pre moulded carbon mast box:

Here is how the inside of a regular mast box construction looks like:

Injection moulded plastic boxes with a high content of glass fibre are slightly heavier than carbon boxes. We use a pretty short “(ST)RONG” box from Chinook which weighs 65 to 80gr.

The Chinook boxes we use have a high content of glass fibre inside the plastic which is injection moulded under high pressure. These boxes are very though and consistent in quality. There is also more material holding the nut. Chinook boxes have another useful little detail and that is a small notch at the back so that if the mast foot becomes unscrewed a little, it still can´t slide out which can cause some dangerous situations and loss of your board or entire equipment.

Those Small but Significant Differences P3: Rails and Outline

April 18th, 2020 Posted by Boards No Comment yet

This time some differences that are not so small and all the more significant.
I often get asked why the rails on Witchcraft boards are quite a bit sharper than other brands. Then I ask why do they make them so round? Nobody really seems know. Maybe it is “because everybody does them like this” or shapers presume: “wave boards should have round rails”. I really don´t know, maybe no other brand has tried this. Like with our pre-twisted fin system. At least I have not seen any other brand try sharper rails and found round rails are better. Maybe it stems from the often very choppy wave @ Hookipa where you often see the riders bounce down the wave and the wave has a lot of forward speed so you do not have to carve as hard back to the wave. There are only a few other spots in the world which are similarly choppy, in Western Australia there are quite a few and a few other unusual spots like K-Bay in the UK. Most of the time this is due to having off shore reefs where the wind chop can run in a 90° angle to the ground swell. It may also be a back wash off the beach or an unusual rip against the wind. Even an high wind on shore spot like Pozo can be surprisingly clean compared to such side shore locations. Maybe it even stems from surf boards which are hand laminated without vacuum and  some “clever” board shaper found it is easier to laminate round rails and said “this is better for surfing”.

But is that so? First of all sharp rails plane lots earlier. You simply have a lot more planing area plus a clean release. See below comparison table for the average amounts of “tucked under edge” on boards we have measured. In the centre we have measured up to 22mm of tucked on some boards. So there can even be 12mm difference in tucked, meaning there is 24mm (!!!) less width in the planing area.

Here a few measurements on various boards: from left to right: bow, centre, front strap, fins

Tucked under edge comparison in mm:

Still when you have the board on the rail in the bottom turn, you feel the whole width which makes it harder to control and keep it on the rail. So with round rails you have a board that either planes less early or that is harder to keep on the rail.

In the front, the rails should be round, here the water has to be guided under the board and a sharp rail would cause more drag. Airplane wings are round in the front too. But from the centre back, we push down a lot harder on the board and even more so with the G-forces  in a turn. From here the water wants to escape this pressure so flows outward. Once the water is only flowing outward, there is no need for round rails.

Nowadays high tech CFD simulations are getting very realistic and provide very interesting information for a shaper. It allows a shaper to “see” under the board and get information on the water flow and water pressure under the board. Information that was previously pretty much impossible to obtain. Our CFD simulations also show that in the back half, the water flows outward and the second image shows the pressure distribution which causes a board to turn.

And the clear waters of Fuerteventura also allow for under water filming: 

Especially in slow motion you can see a lot more that other wise happens too fast.

Secondly sharp rail also go up wind better so you can get more waves or jumps. A round rail in the back sucks a board down in the water before it releases and stalls sooner when the speed drops.

The Rudder Effect
Then another important effect is for turning, sharp rails in the back half of the board also turn better. When you enter a turn, the taper of the outline works like a rudder. If you draw an imaginary line through the widest point of the planing area (so not of the outline) and the edge of the planing area under the back foot, this line makes an angle with the centre line. So when pushing just a little bit on this rail, the rail “guides” the board in this direction. The bigger the angle of this imaginary line with the boards centre line, the bigger the effect. By weight placement you can also vary the amount of rudder effect, lean more forward and the entry point is more forward leading to a smaller angle with a smaller rudder effect thus less reactive. And by sailing more on the back foot the angle becomes bigger and the board more reactive.
The outline taper is a great tool to tune the character of board for different conditions or types of sailors. I give a board like the Reaper more outline taper to make it more reactive in small waves in spite of its flat rocker line. And the Wave V5 has less because it has more rocker and needs more control in bigger waves. These shape differences are also supported by the foot strap positioning of different shapes.
Here a comparison of the Wave V5, Chakra V3, Reaper against a Stubby:

Also the sharper the rail, the bigger the rudder effect. If you do not have grip with the front wheels of a car, you can´t turn. So the bigger the “rudder effect”, the more reactive the board will be. The only down side can be that a board can become too reactive, for example bottom turning when it is choppy. For this reason, easier going shapes board like the Chakra or to be sailed in smaller waves with more chop like the Reaper have a bit rounder rails than the Wave (V3, 4 or 5), which is made for cleaner waves. What you usually see when waves get bigger, the area in front cleans up when the wave takes shape and gets steeper. Even on shore conditions are usually not so choppy when the wind gets stronger and the  waves get bigger. When sailing in a straight line, rails do not make a difference in handling chop. Also the lower control in chop can be dealt with by using less rocker for example and have an even bigger wind range.

So both these features help to enter the turn, Then once we have entered the turn, we engage more rail and the rocker takes over the main role for turning. By leaning back or forward you can use more the taper or the rocker to adjust the turn.
Here is Will craking a tight bottom turn:

Grip
Grip is king, an F1 car on wet grass would be all over the place. After all, we are sailing on water, not tarmac, ice or sand so high grip is still relative.
When having the board on the rail, a  sharp rail also has many benefits: Less rail slip, more grip and drive, more precision. You can sit higher on a steep face, get more speed out of a wave and keep more speed through the turn.

Like the Boards.co.uk test team already wrote in 2007 when testing the Witchcraft Wave : “the rail bites beautifully and accelerates you hard into the wave”.

And www.windsurf.co.uk in 2011: “On the wave it has a versatile carving style and it is able to hold its speed incredibly well through the turns”.
And a high grip is also very usefull when cranking top turns:

And when you keep the board flat or look for some foam, it is still easy to lose the tail, as Will is demonstrating here with a lip slide and a taka:

Wind range.
Apart from for turning, having more outline taper also gives a bigger wind range, you can adapt the needed planing area better to the amount of wind power there is. Wider in the front to get planing and the faster you go the more you can reduce the wetted area to have more control and top end speed once planing. Boards with parallel rails miss out on the increased wind range and reactivity of a tapered outline.

Those Small But Significant Differences. Part 2: Dyneema (is not always Dyneema)

April 10th, 2020 Posted by Boards No Comment yet

Our back yard is the North Shore of Fuerteventura where, within a 10 minute drive from our R&D centre, we can find many world class wave sailing conditions. We have spent over 25 years of testing in some of the toughest conditions you can find, repairing damaged boards and developed composites engineering techniques to perfect our constructions. When you have demanding conditions at your door step you get to see frequently what works and what doesn´t and learn a multiple times faster than in locations without such conditions. Throughout our boards you can find intelligent but still very logical and practical solutions, using the specific qualities of the various materials there where they are needed most.

Witchcraft is famous for the “bulletproof” HDD (Heavy Duty Dyneema®) constructions. Not in the least because of this video: The Witchcraft Hammertest. Also visitors to our rental centre and custom board factory on Fuerteventura can do these tests themselves and many already have.

Dyneema® is also known as UHMWPE or Spectra. We have been working with the fibre since 1994 and know all the do´s and don´ts of this high performance fibre. Till today there is no stronger fibre.

Here some images of boards that were battered on rocks without any hole:

Dyneema has some very good properties such as tensile and impact strength but also not so good properties such as compressive strength, sandability or bonding to resin. Over the years we have found ways to solve these problems  and still come out with a better board. We have tried various high tech treatment methods till we found the right one and have our Dyneema specially made to our specifications.  Another trick is to use each material there where their properties are most needed.
See comparison table of properties*.
Since the properties of Innegra are far worse, we do not use it. But also Aramid (Kevlar, Twaron) does not bring any advantage over Dyneema so we don´t use that either.

Stiffness
Now what is very important when combining different fibres is to compare stiffness and elongation at break of each fibre. The stiffer the material the more force it will take. When you want to combine materials, the stiffness should be as similar as possible so the co-operate OR you take care the stiffer material alone is strong enough. For this reason a material like carbon-kevlar is pointless. You think you have the best of both worlds but in the end you only have 50% of each. The carbon will take the most force but there is only 50% of it. When that breaks there is only 50% kevlar left and even if that wouldn´t break, the board still needs a repair which is very difficult with the carbon and kevlar woven into each other. When you have a block of concrete of 100kg and a  steel cable that can lift 90kg, what will happen if you add an elastic that can also lift 90kg? First the steel will break and then the elastic. Had you used either steel or elastic that can pull 100kg by itself, things would have been fine. For this reason simple glass is just as good as carbon-kevlar but lots cheaper and easier to use and repair. Carbon-Kevlar (or carbon-Dyneema or carbon-Innegra) only serves marketing, you think you buy something high tech and durable when in fact you do not.

Here is also a nice explanatory video on the subject: Why you SHOULDN’T wrap Fiberglass in Carbon Fiber!

So what we do is to use a full laminate of Dyneema, both on the deck and the bottom, overlapping on the rails. To be able to finish the board, the Dyneema needs to be covered with carbon or glass. As glass has a much more similar stiffness to Dyneema and is twice as impact resistant as carbon we use glass. The main part of the problem of the lower compressive strength of Dyneema is solved in a secret way. And then on top of that we reinforce the areas that are under high compression loads with carbon. The bottom is especially under high compressive load when landing flat. See image below of the forces on the bottom of a slalom board in chop (image 1). The forces when landing flat with a wave board are similar but higher. The bottom sandwich is compressed from the front and back and the water pushes up. As long as the bottom sandwich stays stiff and does not flex, the forces are spread more equally (image 2). The more the sandwich can flex inward, the less favourable the situation gets and the load on the outer layer increases quickly. (image 3)

Hence the main cause for breaking a board is when the bottom can flex inward and finally the outside laminate creases. Carbon UD is the best material to resist compression and creasing.

With carbon we are always taking care that WHERE we use carbon, we use ENOUGH to take the whole load and that where it stops we make the transition very gradual, to avoid sudden differences in stiffness which create weak spots when the whole board is flexing like upon flat landings. Like this the high impact areas such as the nose and rails are just Dyneema or double Dyneema covered with glass. Carbon is the worst material for impact. Also keeping carbon away from these areas means we still allow for some flex in the board, absorbing peak loads. As the saying goes: What bends doesn´t break. If you look well, you can see the carbon UD on the deck and bottom on this board below. The deck does not need much as a compression load is rare and lower.

Repairability
In the whole of the board construction we always think of repairability as well. No matter how impact resistant a board can be, rocks are harder. Since a board made out of rock would be slightly on the heavy side, we have to live with the fact that damages still can occur but we try to limit the damage and make it easy to repair by keeping the damage superficial as much as possible.
Where carbon is needed for its higher compressive strength, it is placed on the outside so that if it damages, it is easily repairable. The Dyneema underneath will still prevent further damage inside. Delamination of Dyneema can occur as the available resins today are simply not as strong as Dyneema. However delamination is easily repaired by injecting a bit of resin with a bit of heat to make the resin more liquid.
We use a sandwich material that is especially for dynamic loads and has memory, between 80°C and 100°C it comes back into its old shape, allowing for dents to be heated out.
The nose is also made with Dyneema under the sandwich and 6 layers of high grade glass fibre to prevent impact damage of the mast. Some people seem to think that if you can hit a board with a hammer, it should also resist a catapult on the nose. However a rig weighs +7kg with a lot of leverage when hitting the nose and a good RDM mast has 4mm thick pre-preg carbon with a round shape. The impact between mast and nose can become so big that something has to give. Either the nose or the mast. Take your pick. If the mast breaks you will have to swim back and the damage is far more costly as masts can´t be repaired and usually leads to damage of the sail as well.

The result: The Witchcraft HDD construction is the best construction for wave boards money can buy. It can´t technically be improved, even if you would want to pay double. And this also means it is the best for the environment and your wallet.

Dyneema is not always Dyneema.
As Dyneema has gotten a very good reputation for impact resistance we also see other brands using it now but often in such a way it completely misses the point. We had one board in for repair with various holes from small impacts which had visibly a full but thin carbon BIAX laminate on the deck and bottom. But the owner said it was Dyneema and he was wondering why it got holes so easily. It turned out it did indeed have a layer of Dyneema covering the carbon but it was very thin, about 1/3rd of what we use. Dyneema is not rubber, any impact will get passed on to the carbon 1:1. With the hard and brittle carbon underneath, this thin Dyneema still could not absorb the little impacts and got punctured. Also in places where it wasn´t punctured but had received compression dents of the mast, the thin carbon underneath had broken, which could not be repaired without removing the covering Dyneema over a bigger area, which then can´t be repaired again because of its poor sandability.
In such a lay up, the use of Dyneema is actually making things worse, it would have been better without Dyneema. Just with carbon it would have been as strong but lighter, cheaper, easier to make and easier to repair. Or even having it made with simple glass fibre would have been more impact resistant, with the same weight, as strong, lots cheaper, easier to make and easier to repair.

So if you see a board that says Dyneema but looks like it has full carbon, don´t buy it. Even if we have spent 20+ years to give Dyneema the reputation it has today, if used by inexperienced people in the wrong way, the outcome may actually be worse. Dyneema is not always Dyneema.

 

Those Small But Significant Differences, Part 1: Fin Boxes

April 3rd, 2020 Posted by Boards No Comment yet

Our back yard is the North Shore of Fuerteventura where, within a 10 minute drive from our R&D centre, we can find many world class wave sailing conditions. We have spent over 25 years of testing in some of the toughest conditions you can find, repairing damaged boards and developed composites engineering techniques to perfect our constructions. When you have demanding conditions at your door step you get to see frequently what works and what doesn´t and learn a multiple times faster than in locations without good conditions. Throughout our boards you can find intelligent but still very logical solutions, using the specific qualities of the various materials there where they are needed most.

One example are our fin boxes. Experience shows that the biggest forces on a fin box is when hitting bottom. And experience tells us that sooner or later prtty much anyone will hit the bottom with their fins.  When we started using multifins we thought we can sail in shallower waters and still hit the bottom.
The best way to place a fin box is to first place the reinforcement block together with the sandwich so there is a big connection area between block and sandwich with laminate in between. This even saves time. Also the harder sandwich sheet then sits directly against the box without the slightly softer reinforcement block in between.  After the reinforcement blocks and bottom sandwich, the cavities for the boxes are milled by CNC, this saves a lot of measuring time and is accurate to the 0.1mm and 0.1° of toe-in angle.

The Chinook Strongbox US box we use is made of very tough plastic reinforced with a high percentage of glass fibre. Glass fibre is twice as strong against impact as carbon and the high pressure injection moulding technique used ensures the fibres are in every corner and the automated production process is failure free. The thicker walls of the Chinook Strong box also provides a bigger area to take the impact from hitting the bottom. We mount the boxes with various layers of high grade glass fibre which is then smoothly guided over into the bottom sandwich for the best load distribution.

As a comparison here is also a carbon slot box, pre moulded into the reinforcement block before mounting into the board. The box needs to be placed after the sandwich, for which the hole cut into the sandwich needs to be a lot bigger. The carbon box is lighter but carbon is also very brittle and does not handle impact well. Carbon is especiall brittle where it is making a sharp corner. Reinforcing with Dyneema or glass is pointless, as carbon is a lot stiffer, it will take all the force and the glass or Dyneema will not do anything until the carbon is already broken. Also the weight saving is done by using a thinner wall, causing the area to take the vertical load from hitting the bottom to be much smaller. The screws of slot boxes are also not ideal to take the load from hitting the bottom. The angle is far from ideal plus there is little material to stop the screw from breaking out.

 

Then you also get the more products from factories aimed at bigger quantities which often do not work as accurately. This can lead to production mistakes likes this where the fin box and reinforcement block are more or less floating inside the reinforcement block. This is likely to break easily when hitting the bottom but it may be hard to get guarantee after hitting the bottom, if you are still within the guarantee period at all.

Haka ST 90L – personal review

February 17th, 2020 Posted by Boards No Comment yet

Haka ST 90L – personal review

Haka ST 90L and Slayer 4.2m2 offshore Levante in Valdevaqueros – Tarifa

 

Last summer arrived my fresh Haka ST 90 liters. After one season I feel like wanting to share my personal opinion about it. I will not tell about the technical matters, but about what I feel on the water so give a personal feeling release.

Haka ST 90L and Karma 4.7m2 small waves in Canos de Meca.

 

My profile: I’m an experienced windsurfer and windsurf coach since 25 years on high skill level. I used to freestyle in combination with waves, so I windsurfed with freestyle boards 90-100 liters in waves for many years. The past 10-15 years I focused only on wave windsurfing on small and larger wave boards, with some remains of freestyle moves in between.

I weigh 76-77 kilograms and my height is 182 centimeters.

When I hesitate about what sails or board to use, I mostly choose for a smaller sail on a larger board, so the 90L had a lot of sessions in many conditions from 5.3m2 in very light wind, 4.7m2 light in larger waves 2,5 meters in Tenerife to even 3.7m2 gusty with small waves in Tarifa. I experienced a lot of different conditions on several spots.

Haka ST 90L and Slayer 3.7m2 in Bolonia

 

My general opinion and feeling: with the larger volume for a waveboard, 90 liters sounds a lot, but it works in so many conditions. The stability with 5 knots is difficult, but once you get 10-12 knots you can float and start to make some speed and height. Despite the pretty small fins, it starts planing extremely fast from 15-17 knots in combination with the powerful Karma 5.3m2 sail that gives an incredible push and a fast acceleration, so I can windsurf as fast as when the kiters start not losing their height. Giving pressure on the feet and pumping the Karma give an amazing energy shot! Sailing the Haka ST 90 liters in combination with 4.7m2 Karma and 4.2m2 Slayer with waves 1 – 2,5 meters always works incredibly good. In wind drops I just need to stand a little bit more straight above my gear to keep the planing. In stronger gusts it’s just the opposite, it never loses the calm and fast contact with the water. Side, of, on, strong and constant, gusty, any wind, … for jumping you just need to push a little bit, it easily accelerates so flying is a true pleasure on any wave size or direction. This is very important to me, because jumping is my number one thing. Same feeling for waveriding. Once you are used to the board and knows where and how many pressure to give, this board gives a boost in 1 meter waves to big and pushy waves in onshore wind. It turns smooth or fast down the line and is performant to take aerials and very aggressive short turns on any lip. Even when there are no waves, I like to sail around for performing my windsurfing lines towards the wind and downwind, and the Haka ST 90 liters give me an impressive upwind and downwind performance, especially with the small wave fins and in combination with the powerful Witchcraft sails. Working on my body positions give me the feeling of windsurfing in a slalom or race event, cruising and enjoying the sun or the scenery. And this exercise helps me out to perform better in the waves.

 

Haka ST 90L and Karma 5.3m2, choppy waves in Normandy

 

Any less points? I don’t feel the inspiration to take out with my older freestyle moves. Popping up and sliding are more difficult, but I don’t mind because I look for more waveriding and jumps. If you look for a more performant board with freestyle capacities, it’s better to take the Reaper or Ouija. When the wind is above 35 knots and pumping harder it still works pretty well, but I start to make mistakes and a smaller board is much better.

Haka ST 90L and 4.2m2 Slayer, powerful big waves in Wissant – France

 

Conclusion : Wauw! The 90 liters Haka ST is incredibly performant and ready to use in so many ways. It gives a lot of possibilities for windsurfers in flat, choppy, small and big waves.

I really love it and would like to let it try to everybody. Everybody that tried the board for so far, had the same feeling. It gives an impressive dimension towards comfort, fun and performance in windsurfing!

 

Fabrice Devos

Haka ST 90L and 4.2m2 Slayer Wissant – France

Internship 2017

December 30th, 2015 Posted by Tips and motivation, Uncategorized No Comment yet

For 2017 we have an internship placement available for coming engineers. One project is to do a full research on the total environmental impact of windsurf boards, comparing various production and construction methods including the new bio resins and foams.
Also we have an internship available for web and social media marketing students.