Posts by Bouke

How to make a carbon boom go shorter.

March 23rd, 2024 Posted by D.I.Y. Instructions, Tips and motivation No Comment yet

This instruction is about how to make a carbon boom go shorter than original without reducing the maximum lenght. In this case a Pro Limit Team Carbon 140-190, 24.5mm, made by Aeron. With some booms, the end will slide in deeper but there are no more holes. So by adding holes, this boom can go 6cm shorter: From 140 to 134cm. This may not be possible with all booms.

Step 1: Remove the clips with a screw driver.

Step 2: Slide the end piece in one hole so there is still one hole visible.

Step 3: Take a 6.5mm short drill bit and stick it in the open hole to keep it in its place.

Step 4: Use a longer 6.5mm drill bit to drill the new hole. Be careful and drill slowly not to tear out any fibres, especially towards the end. Towards the end, the drill dust becomes white because the inside of the tube is made with glass fibre. Repeat this process 3 times (or more if there is more space to move the end piece in) on each side.

Step 5: Now you have 3 new holes with 6cm difference

Step 6: Drop a bit of super glue on any frayed fibres and drill again to make sure the holes are 6.5mm again. Grate off the frayed top with a conical Dremel bit.

Step 7: Check if the clips fit in all holes

Step 8: To find the final holes easier you can make a mark with a white Posca pen.

How to place footpads

March 16th, 2024 Posted by Boards, Tips and motivation No Comment yet

Replacement pads for Witchcraft boards can be bought from our web shop. There are 2 types old (rounded) and new (squarer) in 2 sizes. Please make sure you order the right type.

Peel off the old pad or use a cutter if it is stuck down too well. Remove any loose bits and rests of pads that are uneven. It is not necesary to remove remaining glue if it is stuck down well. Also, if the board has heel cushions, leave them on the board, just remove the pad on top.

To place the new pad:

Step 1: Remove a strip of the backing paper of the 3M autoadhesive.

Step 2: Warm the glue and the board to activate the glue.

Step 3: place the pad in the correct position. If needed make some marks on the pad and board with a pencil before removing the backing paper. Press or hammer it down with a rubber hammer or your fist.

Step 4: Mark the foot strap plug through the pad with a pencil. This step does not necesarily have to be done with the back pad as the plugs do not disappear entirely under the pad.

Step 4: Pull away the remaining backing paper.

Step 5: warm up the glue and board. Warmth activates the glue better.

Step 6: Press or hammer the remaining pad down with special care for the edge.

Step 7: Use a Dremel with conical grinding stone to open the holes for the foot strap plugs and side fin boxes. Drill any glue, pad rests or other debris like sand (on a used board) from the plugs with a 4mm drill bit. Do not drill the holes any deeper, if needed make a mark on the drill bit with tape at 22mm.

Pre order your 2024 Witchcraft sails now to obtain 12%, 16% or 20% discount

August 11th, 2023 Posted by Sails, Tips and motivation No Comment yet

    The allround Karma, the hard core Slayer or the blasting Elixir

Witchcraft sails stand out for being powerful yet light and soft in the hands with a gradual power delivery and a locked in center of effort. You can rig smaller to have a lower weight, better handling and more durability.
For 2024 we have reworked the smaller sizes to have a bigger windrange and more stability. We have reduced top weight a little more.
Like usual, we offer for each sail type 2 standard colors. See below.

However, new for 2024 is the possibility to pre order sails in custom colors with an extra cost of 30€ per sail. See the possible color schemes below. Total custom colors is also possible on request with a cost of 50€ per sail. Let us know your ideas and we can see what is possible.

There is also the possibility to chose between heavy duty 4 mil Kevlar scrim, 2.5 medium duty scrim or 2mil light duty scrim. Please note that not all colors are available in all qualities. For the Slayer the 4mil Kevlar scrim will be chosen as standard, for the Karma and Elixir, the 2.5 and 2mil.

When pre-ordering sails before 31st of August 2023 you get 12% on 1 sail, 16% on 2 sails and 20% on 3 sails or more.

Delivery march 2024
To order, please contact us via email



November 2nd, 2022 Posted by Boards, Sails, Tips and motivation No Comment yet
An update on this article as there has been some changes in the world tour. Since 2023 the PWA joined with the IWT and at the IWT contests also smaller brands with a smaller budget can enter. Plus now there are many more contests in different conditions and some of the new venues demand quite different skills and especially gear. The light wind float and ride conditions at Cloudbreak or Pacasmayo demands very different gear, sails with more power allows the rider to get more waves and/or a better wave selection. Boards with a smooth rocker and low drag fins get waves earlier and loose less speed in a turn can just make that difference to not get closed out. But boards and sails that are too big are a nuisance on the wave. Also, in the bigger waves, the strength of the equipment can make the difference in winning or losing a heat. Riders from brands with a bigger budget can still use more specialized gear at the different contests as there still are no limitations on the amount of gear for a rider during a season.
The original article from 2022:
Some thoughts on the PWA. Witchcraft does not join the PWA for various reasons. First of all, it is very expensive, especially for small innovative brands. Secondly I think the way it is done actually harms innovation and sustainability. If brands were pushed to increase the range of their gear more by limiting the amount of boards that can be used during a season, would push to develop gear with a bigger range. Also if a rider was punished by losing points for needing more gear due to equipment failure during a season (including free sailing), would push to develop more durable and sustainable gear. Similar to F1 for example. But as end users actually can buy the exact same gear as the pros, it should be even more strict. This would really help those brands producing higher quality equipment. For a start, they could simply publish a statistic for how much gear a rider would have used during a season (or 2 or 3 seasons for that matter). That would help customers deciding which brand to choose. But they don´t publish these things, everything is kept a secret.
It is easy to make a board just for one special type of conditions. But normal end users usually come across a much wider range of conditions they need to cover with the least amount of gear possible. Also with sails, already in development, PWA riders focus everything on sailing full power for 10-20 minutes and have a whole range of sails rigged on the beach. No normal sailor does this. Normal sailors will sail for various hours on end and rather change the rigging of their sail than to rig a different size. Even some PWA riders swap gear in a heat to first score jumps and then waves. That is even worse for the development of gear.
After 15 years now working with trifins with 3 similar sized trifins and using toe in and pre twist, there are no brands who seem to even have been looking into this. Let alone pre twisted side fins to reduce drag and improve turning even more. But a well set up trifin has by far the biggest range and the best performance.
You can choose between a trailer fin type of set up to be really lose to a bigger center fin for more directional stability. Read more about it here: and here:…/
This is a fine example where the differences come out very clear, Pro sailor against amateur:

First you can see how the pro sailor is more upwind and in a better position but he doesn´t manage to pump onto the wave in spite of his bigger equipment. That is due to having a flat cut sail which in light winds stays flat, just when you need maximum shape.  Then he needs to drop into a steeper wave to get on a wave at all which is more risky and more difficult to position on the wave and after the first turn, he has too much drag to out run the lip so the wave closes out on him. Result: Amateur: 1, Pro sailor: 0.
Also on the construction side there seems to be no developments. If anything there are more un-novations with materials like Carbon-Innegra than in-novations. Read more here:…/
And windsurfing needs progress, innovation and more sustainability. Not a status quo between the cartel brands who seem to want to keep the main market shared between them and try to keep small innovative brands out so they do not have to innovate themselves.
I think for the PWA to play an important role in the future of windsurfing, the PWA should install some rules to force brands to become more durable and increase the range of use of wave sailing gear by allowing riders to just use 2 boards and 4 sails for the whole competition season (or 2 or 3 seasons for me), including training/freesailing and for all the spots they compete at? Anytime a rider wanted or needed to change gear, it would cost some serious amount of points. Outside of the competition season they would be allowed to use different gear for testing/development. End users suffer big consequences when gear breaks as well or when it does not cover all their needs. Maybe it is not what the PWA brands want and it is the reason why there are no such rules. But maybe it is time we should let them know?
Want to let us know your thoughts?:
Answer from Ron Gijzen:

I agree that PWA-rules should limit the amount of board- and sail-types&sizes a competitor is allowed to register for an entire season. This will push to brands to develop gear that suits a larger range of conditions, which is much more relevant for the average customer than squeezing out 5% extra performance from  board/sail custom-designed for one specific set of conditions.

I don’t really agree with a rule that would force competitors to use the same one or 2 boards and sails for the entire seasons and penalize them with points if they have to replace broken gear. It would push the brands to develop more reliable gear which is good, but it would introduce a large factor of bad luck to the championship results.

On average, stronger boards & sails will last longer, but in for an individual sailor in a specific season this will not always play out. To what extent you damage your board on the rocks or after a bad landing, or whether you break a mast in a shorebreak, is not solely determined by the strength of the gear. A large part of it is just luck.

The risk on damage is also hugely effected by the spot, so a sailor that trains in a rocky spot ir more likely to danage his gear than one that trains on a sandy beach.

Travel can also cause damage outside the control of the sailor or the manufacturer. Equipment can even get lost.

Some sailors may have 2 or 3 spots where they live and train a lot and will have gear permanently stored on those spots so they don’t have to travel with it.

I guess the biggest difference between the pro-sailor in a competetion and the average recreational surfer is what they expect and need from their gear. There is a world of difference there! Not only the physical fitness and skill-level, but also the complexity of moves, the time spent on the water, the preparation time before a session, …

I remember a test-article in a motor-magazine from a decade ago. They tested a 600cc super-sport roadbike against the fully tuned 600cc racebike based on that same roadbike. The testers were a professional racer and an experienced recreational racer (mid-of-the-pack on national level).

Even on a real racetrack, only the professional racer was faster on the racebike than on the roadbike. The recreational racer was fastest on the roadbike, despite having less horsepower and a bit more weight. The user-friendliness and all-round qualities of the chassis of the roadbike made it the best package for the more ‘regular’ user. If the bikes would have been tested in the real world (the road) the racebike would be far inferior.

I don’t see a way around this; gear will always be optimized for the rules of the competition, whatever they are.

It is the responsibility of the manufacturer but also of the customer to recognize the difference between a competition-environment and a real-world environment.

It is only logical that what is optimal for a competition is almost by definition NOT optimal for real-world use.

That a lot brands market competition-grade equipment to real-world customers is kind of bad but also understandable; many customers choose their gear with their heart instead of their brain, they have a dreamy vision of how they would want their reality to look and brands are eager to sell them that dream.

You see this in all sporting-goods: from tennis to cycling.

Lots of people buy the wrong stuff.

The brands have a responsibiliy to educate their customers but the customers also have a responsibility to use their brain and be realisitic about what they need.

An article like this helps.

But I rarely see an article like this in brand-sponsered media like “windsurfer magazine” or even in the marketing-crap the big brands put out themselves.

This is OK; each brand will end up with the type of customer it deserves.

Answer from Bouke:

It is hard to compare with other sports. Motorbike racing has far less varying conditions plus they use an artificial abundance of power. In windsurfing we use the power of nature so the more efficient you can use this, the better it is both for pro and amateur.

There is no sport where the equipment, that the main brands are offering, has such poor quality for end users, than windsurfing.
Anyone doing the same stuff as you see in the promotion videos of this equipment, will find the equipment lasting less than a year.
I think we can agree that how they promote the gear, you should be able to do this for at least 2 years?
Technically it is well possible. Even going on the rocks is not a major problem. This board missed some paint but did not need a repair:

In most action/equipment intensive sports, it is well possible to buy high tech gear that will last various years even when pushing the limits.
Most masts indeed are made the best way technically possible and they can still break, that is why they should not have to be included in the limitation of gear. Same for fins but that is because they cost far less. Good booms hardly ever break these days. Even when going on the rocks.

A PWA rider would definately benefit from stronger gear with a bigger range because she/he could travel with less equipment and there is less waste. Just by having loads of equipment ready for any change in conditions, they get around this. So there is less of a push to develop equipment that has a bigger range and lasts longer. Just a push for having more equipment, which is a sign of weakness IMO.


Board cost break down

October 8th, 2022 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

What are the differences between the Witchcraft SDT, CBC and HDD constructions? The HDD lasts longer and is more impact resistant but  CBC is lighter and SDT is cheaper, which can be tempting. So what makes sense when it comes down to invest your hard earned cash in a new board? Let´s have a look at the whole picture for different types of windsurfers.

Being an action sport, accidents will sooner or later happen plus over time fatigue can play a role. So, one important factor is how resistant and durable boards are. First of all there is the repair costs of a board at a repair shop. Say on average a repair of a ding costs 150€. The biggest factor that people tend to forget is time. And time is extremely valuable, which should be taken into account when there is damage. The whole process to get a board repaired takes a lot more than you think. I have presumed someone´s time is 10€/hour worth, some people may value their time (much) higher, others less. The communication plus driving or shipping to a good repair shop up and down AND to collect it again, will cost a good few hours in time.

One important factor is if you have a good repair shop close by or not but since there are not that many, let´s presume there is one at 50km distance. Meaning you will have to drive 200km to bring the board and pick it up. For some this may be a lot more. With all the costs of driving a car costs, insurance, loss of value, repairs, fuel, the total costs add up to around 0,50€/km.

Also a repair causes a loss of resale value of a board, which also needs to be taken into account.

Plus, because of the repair you will likely lose time on the water: Equipment usually does not break when there is no wind. You will likely miss time on the water when the damage occurred and you have to stop sailing. And during the repair time of say 3 weeks you may miss two more sessions. With a session of on average 2.5 hours lets presume you miss out on 6 hours of sailing, causing an additional damage of 120€ on average. This can become a lot worse when such a damage happens when you are on holiday. If you are lucky you may be able to rent a board but also that costs. Now you can say, I have a spare board, but also that costs, is usually not the ideal board, thus less fun to sail, you will need to store and transport it and may get damaged as well. Some may say that they can repair the board themselves. However this also takes time and the quality is usually less so the loss of value is higher.

What also matters is how the equipment is used and how frequent.

There are different types of windsurfers who will treat their equipment different. So let’s look at 3 different categories of our customers:

Sailor type 1 is the careful windsurfer. Mostly or always sailing flat water with maybe the occasional jump/chop hop. He will hardly have any accident/impact apart from the occasional catapult nor does the equipment suffer from fatigue much. Probably around 20% of our customers are in this group. From our experiences and feedback, this type of sailor will have 2 repairs on a CBC over a 6 year period and none on a HDD. The resale value of a CBC after 6 years will be 800€ and of an HDD 1000€.

Sailor type 2 is the average wave sailor. Sailing in waves but usually at beaches without rocks, jumping, maybe even some looping, wave riding. The equipment will get washed in wave and there will be some flat landings as well. Around 65% of our customers are in this group. This type of sailor may have 6 repairs on a CBC over a 6 year period. None on an HDD. An But a board will need a bit of an overhaul (new non slip, new pads) after 5 years. However an overhaul can be done in a period when there is no wind and maybe one drive to the repair shop can be combined with something else. A CBC will be worth 700€ after 3 years and 300 after 6 years. An HDD will be worth 1300 after 3 years and 800 after 6 years.

Sailor type 3 is the radical hard core wave sailors. Looking for more powerful waves to make aerials or jumping higher. He will prefer reef breaks with rocks. The equipment will get some severe impacts and suffer from heavy flat landings as well. Around 15% of our customers fit in this group. A CBC may need 20 repairs in 6 years but with the use of superglue will manage to only need to go to the repair shop 10 times and an HDD none. After 4 years, the HDD may need an overhaul. After 6 years the resale value of a CBC will be zero and of an HDD 600€.

See the spread sheet further below. I have presumed that all 3 types sail equally frequent, in reality this may vary but depends more on someone personal situation.

This is an extreme demonstration of the durability of an HDD that was used for 2.5 years at Jameos by Tim. Jameos is already quite a demanding spot but Tim likes more hollow clean waves and prefers to sail at El Cartel around the corner of Jameos where the cleaner more powerful wave breaks closer to the rocks. He said the board must have been washed on the rocks over 20 times. There are over 100 paint chips and dents but not one single hole. Now we can heat the dents out and repaint it and it will be like new and has many more years of sailing fun in it. Even when a CBC board is still somewhat more impact resistant than most boards, it would not have survived such treatment.

Another extreme case is our team rider Nestor in Pozo. His HDD board lasted 6 years, with on average 120 session per year and 20 jumps (back loops, push loops, forwards) per session makes around 14.000 jumps. A CBC board lasted 2 years with him. Being used to Pozo, his boards hardly get any impacts from the stones but any one who has sailed there knows it is not easy to get into the water over the slippery round stones which are rolling around in the surf combined with gales force winds and it is easy to slip and ding your board.

Have a look at the total break down of the costs in this spread sheet:

Board cost spread sheet

Board Use cost tableBoardAverage amount of repairs in 6 yearsAverage repair costsTotal costs Repair shopAverage distance to repair shop x 4 in kmtotal kmcosts per kmtime to repair shopTime on water losthourly ratetotal costs of repairs
Sailor type 1Witchcraft SDT1.5150 €225 €503000.50 €5610 €485 €
Witchcraft CBC1.5150 €225 €503000.50 €5610 €485 €
Witchcraft HDD0.5150 €75 €501000.50 €0010 €125 €
Sailor type 2Witchcraft SDT3150 €450 €506000.50 €151810 €1,080 €
Witchcraft CBC3150 €450 €506000.50 €151810 €1,080 €
Witchcraft HDD1150 €150 €502000.50 €2.5010 €275 €
Sailor type 3Witchcraft SDT6150 €900 €5012000.50 €506010 €2,600 €
Witchcraft CBC6150 €900 €5012000.50 €506010 €2,600 €
Witchcraft HDD1.5150 €225 €503000.50 €2.5010 €400 €
New value plus delivery +/-Resale value after 6 yearsLoss of valuetotal costscosts per year
Sailor type 1Witchcraft SDT2,600 €500 €2,100 €2,585 €431 €
Witchcraft CBC3,000 €800 €2,200 €2,685 €448 €
Witchcraft HDD3,000 €1,000 €2,000 €2,125 €354 €
Sailor type 2Witchcraft SDT2,600 €200 €2,400 €3,480 €580 €
Witchcraft CBC3,000 €300 €2,700 €3,780 €630 €
Witchcraft HDD3,000 €800 €2,200 €2,475 €413 €
Sailor type 3Witchcraft SDT2,600 €0 €2,600 €5,200 €867 €
Witchcraft CBC3,000 €0 €3,000 €5,600 €933 €
Witchcraft HDD3,000 €600 €2,400 €2,800 €467 €

As for the difference in weight, CBC is a bit lighter and thus a bit more more fun to sail. To our experience however, the difference is just a feel and not measurable in any way in early planing or better turning. On the other hand, having to be more careful on the water can also reduce your fun on the water. So even if there is a temptation to chose the CBC for it´s lower price and lighter weight, it does not offer the best FOI (Fun On Investment) ratio.
Plus, even if “protecting the environment” is misused for other political goals these days, I think it is clear it is also beneficial for our planet to reduce the amount of waste we produce, not just our own wallet.

Anyone can also do such a calculation for their own personal circumstances and equipment and see what comes out.

How to tell from what Year a Witchcraft board is.

August 16th, 2020 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

How to tell from which year a Witchcraft board is. As we do not work with different shapes or graphics each year, it can be hard to tell how old a Witchcraft board is. At times we get requests from people asking us for more info about a used Witchcraft for sale on the internet, and a bit too often we found out that the Witchcraft in question was up 3 times older than the advertised age.
And also we had customers saying: “My Witchcraft is now 4 years old so I was thinking it is time to replace it.” Hmmmm, I just checked and it actually is 7 years old……. So a few years ago we started writing the month and year a board was made on the custom boards. If a board on offer does not have this information, feel free to ask us.
Our semi customs do have a serial nr. which includes the month and year it was made. See the image what it means. The serial nr is laminated into the board below a layer of glass fibre so pretty hard to remove.

Testing, Testing

July 19th, 2020 Posted by Boards, Sails, Tips and motivation No Comment yet

Testing, Testing

Testing is off course essential for the development of equipment. First of all you need to go out sailing to get new ideas. And these new ideas will also have to be tested properly before they are sold to customers. But there can be big differences how, what, where and who does the testing.

For testing new products, you have various stages. Many products can be tested in laboratory conditions, which give the best and very accurate comparisons. Testing in windsurfing can be very difficult as the conditions we encounter are always changing. Having laboratory like conditions are very useful, especially for testing new designs. The use of CFD (Computer Fluid Dynamics) have indeed given us this possibility. By simulating various critical situations in wave sailing, we can learn a lot about board lift and drag and fin lift and drag. Results come much quicker and far more accurate than you could ever realise even after years of testing in reality. CFD does not only give you lots of data on lift and drag of the board and each individual fin but it can also recommend what to improve. Still, despite all these possibilities, CFD is hardly used in windsurfing, only for slalom fins or foils, which are much easier as the effect of the board or water surface is not taken into account. We at Witchcraft have taken into account the effects of the water surface, the effects that a board is partly in water, partly in air and the effects of the board to the water flow underneath. We have also been filming under water to compare the flow with the CFD results.

As far as I know, no other brand has done anything like this ever. None of the bigger brands with a much bigger budget. Anyone who has tried our fins know that it certainly has paid off.

Then having laboratory like real life conditions is very useful to double check the CFD results. For stuff like lift, drag, grip, tight turning, keeping speed, the best is to have clean light wind conditions in such conditions a good sailor who is pushing, feels even small changes. The North Shore of Fuerteventura is known for its clean and predictable waves and at times perfect float n ride conditions unlike pretty much any location in the world. For this kind of testing it is also important to have very skilled riders who can reproduce the same turns over and over again and feel very well what the equipment is doing.

And for each comparison, it is essential to be changing just one parameter at a time. You hear sometimes riders say: “I tested fins with toe-in but they did not work”. So I said, these fins, did they just have toe-in or also have an asymmetrical profile? “Both.” So how do you know it is the toe-in or the asymmetrical profile? Any hydrodynamic expert can tell you that when you change the asymmetry of a fin profile this has an influence on the angle of attack and you need to add more toe-in than for a symmetrical fin. CFD also shows this. There is a lot more going on below a wave board than what you´d think. You even see surf fin manufacturers and/or universities, who spend a good bit of cash on research, testing just the fin in a water tunnel, without a board attached, thus not taking the effects of the board to the water flow underneath into account, so straight away you can throw all your results in the bin as the fin will behave differently when mounted under a board. Quite essential I´d say.

After this kind of important exploring research, you get into the more real world testing. A big argument by the “big” (big is relative these days) brands and their customers is always that their products are tested by pros and in the PWA. But is this really representative for end users? Pros who sail all over the world usually there where it is windy in that period and who have a far bigger quiver than most end users. Boards for on shore or side shore, for light, medium and strong wind, for jumping or riding. Sometimes even light boards for competing.
If boards, developed by pros, were so thoroughly tested, should they not look a lot more similar? How often have we not seen new models appearing on the market with a lot of hype but then being discounted by 50% after 6 months and disappear the next year?

Verstappen says new Red Bull is “fast everywhere” - Motor Sport ...

The Formula 1 circus is a big comercial circus in a way. But there are things they do which eventually have benefitted the every day cars you can buy. By giving penalties for each time a team needs to change an engine or other parts, they force competitors to become more durable, by limiting the amount of fuel to be used they improve environmentally friendlier engines.

So if the PWA would take an example from F1, and, for example, allow for a 3 month period to experiment with a variety of equipment but then during the whole competition season put a maximum of say 2 boards and 5 sails to be used, both for competing and training. Then, like in F1, if a board change is wanted or needed, this would cost the rider points, then it would be a lot more similar to how end users use their equipment. This would give a great boost to development which would actually be beneficial for end users: more durable, environmentally friendly equipment with a bigger range.

Now that there is no PWA this year, I get the impression more people are starting to see there is more than the PWA and the brands involved.
I would say this would be a good opportunity to reset the PWA, to change these rules for the benefit of the future. And such a set up would certainly be a lot more interesting for Witchcraft to join in. But I doubt they will even consider this. The PWA is more a marketing tool for them than a way to actually improve development.

In Slalom sailing, is the end user a fully muscle packed pro, who sails full power with a heartbeat of 180 just for 10 mins? Sailing just down wind legs of a few hundred of meters and each time having to jibe and accelerate again? No, far from that. But with the pros being forced to use production equipment, equipment ends up being tuned for the pros and not the end user. Nowadays with GPS any sailor can compare their speed with others on the beach, swap boards and try again.

Another problem such brands face is the delay in feedback from end users. The usual process is that a new shape needs to be handed in by the end of December. After that, moulds are made and first samples are made to be tested. Then when everything is approved, production needs to start to be able to deliver new models in shops in August. From then, the first end users (often national team riders or fan boys) who bought them only have a short time left to deliver feedback and let that flow into the new models. This period is far too short for any thoroughly testing. Magazine tests will usually not appear till spring and in the end do not count. No matters what magazines say in their tests (if they say anything meaningfull at all), it is the end user that counts.

Custom brands usually have a much more direct contact with their customers. Especially if they are based in locations with a high frequency and wide variety of conditions, there will be locals with a high skill level as well as with a medium or lower skill levels but who just love to windsurf. And the shaper and workers at the factory will also be able to test their own creations frequently. And these locations will have many locals who especially moved there to live for windsurfing. And will be a known windsurfing holiday destination where visitors also provide feedback, even if it were just to see how other equipment works and lasts. Frequently having to do repairs on other brands stuff can also be informative, even if it is just to see what doesn´t work……

But you also see custom factories appearing in places far from frequent and a variety of conditions. With all respect but if you are a keen windsurfer and an ambitious shaper or sailmaker, would you not want to move to a location where you can test frequently in a wide variety of conditions? One of the benefits of the EU is to be able to move materials and people to such locations. But you still can´t transport good windsurf conditions elsewhere…..even less to the middle of Europe.
And it simply is a lot more fun too to live somewhere like that rather than being stuck somewhere hours away from some infrequent mediocre conditions. And without being able to test frequently and thoroughly, development can only happen at a fraction of the speed. With the only other option left is to try to copy what you can but this means you will always be running behind without even really having a clue whether it is good or bad what you are trying to copy. It would not be the first time that brands, desperate for something new, go the wrong way and others still follow. In recent years Stubbies or 3 batten sails come to mind.

And basically all these things count for sails as well.

Witchcraft moved from Terschelling, a dutch North Sea island (not that bad at all for windsurfing) to Fuerteventura in 1993, simply to windsurf a lot more frequently in better conditions.
Terschelling 1987:

Fuerte 1996:

Here on Fuerte we have a wide variety of all kinds of conditions, right in our back yard and a good variety of local riders, including the people making the equipment, getting a lot of added and
direct feedback. We regularly have clean laboratory like conditions but also choppy waves, long soft waves, hollow waves, on shore waves, off shore waves,  close out waves, Jaws like conditions, flat water or B&J. We have light winds and high winds plus added conditions at Sotavento, Lanzarote or Pozo. We have shallow waters, rocks, sand and UV light attacking equipment during sailing and rigging. Material wears down 4 times faster here so you know lots faster what is good or not. All this forced us to quickly improve loads right from the beginning and has continued to do so over all these years.
I am sure that even a small thing like the slot box would not have made it into production if it had been tested by the locals here. Various have tried to set up business here but only lasted a few years and in the end couldn´t even sell their stuff for 1/3rd of the price. And for sure not materials like Carbon-Kevlar or even more stupid constructions like putting thin Dyneema over carbon. Even if your engineering skills lack and can´t figure out before hand why this is a bad idea, after one time being washed on the rocks and having to repair it yourself, would have made it clear it´s a worse solution than plain glass fibre at a fraction of the cost and it would never have ended up with an amount of customers who were told they bought something strong “as it has Dyneema”.

You´ll struggle to find any location on earth offering such a variety of conditions within a short drive and amount of sailable days over a year’s time. Locations where up wind ability and early planing is very important to get on a wave first but then, once on the wave, turnability, control and keeping speed is also very important. This has also led to the development of our pre-twisted fins and the flex tail.
Our working hours and the short drive allow us to sail every single day there are conditions, which, with foiling and surfing included, is at least 300 days per year if you want to.
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Then we also get feedback from an international team of riders of different levels. And sailing in different locations along the coasts of most European countries and travelling abroad. Using just one or 2 boards and one set of sails, just like most end users.
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Plus, as we have direct contact with most of our customers, they also provide us with valuable feedback, they can contact us directly with any problem, question, suggestion or simply say how happy they are. In the end, a happy customer is the best promotion.

And maybe you may still think, well I do not sail that frequently in such demanding conditions. Well first of all, if you do not have such frequent conditions, any windy day is even more valuable and any day lost can´t be made up for, ever. Secondly having better developed equipment with a wider range simply gives more fun on the water. Thirdly having more durable equipment pays of in the long run, it has a higher resale value if you want to renovate, it allows you to plan equipment renovations better and you will not be forced to buy something quickly that is less value for your money and may not be exactly that what you were looking for. And last but certainly not least, it is better for the environment.

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.

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

And 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.

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.

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.