The Witchcraft Flex Tail
The Witchcraft Flex Tail was invented from a desire to have a light wind wave board that would both excel in on shore and side shore conditions. In lighter winds everything gets more difficult. When riding a bigger board, to get it to turn well, it needs rocker. However this is like sailing with the hand break on, it is hard to get planing. When sailing in on shore conditions, it should plane early so it needs a flat rocker line.
A Flex Tail has a flat static rocker and gets more rocker when needed. The first Flextail was invented and patented by Mike Tinkler in the 80´s. The patent was bought by Mistral who brought out a production flex tail with exchangable tails, the Challenge Flex. However it never caught on and disappeared after a year again. More shapers including myself made various attempts in different variations of the concept over the years but all disappeared again. In 2010, wanting to make a new light wind wave board, I was again confronted with the dilemma of the amount of rocker and this got me rethinking the flex tail. I remembered the versions I made before in the 80´s and 90´s with a flexible plate sometimes gave strange effects, not wanting to turn but break out. So maybe such a flexible plate maybe did not flex in the right direction and twisted rather than giving more rocker. So I thought I should make it so it could only bend in one direction by making “hinges”. By cutting wedges out of the deck I could also limit the amount each wedge could flex to stop it from breaking. The first prototype worked quite well. After filming with a Go Pro on the tail I noticed it flexed less than expected so started to make it more and more flexible, getting better results. Attempts to adjust the flex by air pressure failed, too complicated. And basically it worked good as it was. A few other problems occurred with other sailors. When freestyling in waves and sliding backwards down a wave, the tail catches and wants to bend down and broke the tail right off where before it was lasting fine. So we put a strap on the top to stop the tail flexing down.
How does it work?
When getting planing, you give mast foot pressure and lean forward, the tail stays straight and gives more lift without drag. As long as you are hooked in, you are applying more pressure on the mast foot. When you unhook, your weight on your feet increases, the tail starts to flex. When you enter a turn, G-forces increase the pressure on the tail and bends more to turn tight with the flexail thrusting one forward, you actually accelerate in the turn. In a top turn, the sail helps to give more pressure on your back foot so give the most rocker and tightest turn. Basically the flex tail works by itself, the way we sail with a normal board makes a flex tail work, increasing the normal movements we make increases the effects of the flex tail .
A flex tail gives the most benefits for light wind wave sailing when the compromise between early planing and turning (on a bigger board), is the biggest. With a flex tail you have 2 rockerlines in one board and it adapts itself to what is required in each situation. It planes like a free wave and turns like a full on wave board. It is very forgiving and allows for mistakes. In theory all this is beneficial for any wave board but there are also some downsides:
-Durability in very rough/extreme jumping conditions. Backloops and table tops are no problem. Brainless high forward looping can occasionally cause a problem over time, but all well repairable.
-there is a split second delay in reaction against a highly rockered wave board
A flex tail is not needed (but still does not harm either) when:
– tight turning is not important like in flat water sailing, B&J.
-early planing is not important, for example if the wind is strong enough to plane well with a highly rockered board or if the wind is so light in float n ride conditions that you would not be planing on a flex tail either. But once coming back in and getting on a wave, a flex tail will pick up waves earlier and once you are on the wave, get around parts of white water easier, keep speed better and turn tighter.
-it is not suitable for freestyle.
If these restrictions are not relevant, the flex tail is brilliant and we have customers who also have their medium and high wind boards with a flex tail.
I have been 6 times on the water with my new flex tail and think I know the flex tail quite well now. I did not have a big side shore day yet, but everything else has been very promising. Sailing it against the 90 liters Board of Michael, the Flex tail that much better, especially when turning. Also, the planing is very quick and easy to control. A truly successful concept. To make such a big board so radical and still to have a early planer at the same time is already great. Now it just has to last 🙂 (it still is fine now in 2016)
I was able to test both new flex tails properly and extensively now, so far we had a super windy summer. I can make it short, both boards are a significant improvement to my old and both boards are even better than the 89L which I did not even thought to be possible.
I noticed only now how far the “Bevels” have moved backwards. I suppose this is the reason why the front foot sailing has improved once again, I’ve already landed back loops with both boards and both boards go super both frontside like backside. Amazing how fast the boards are and how well they plane through lulls. The planing is still way good enough in spite of the extra rocker, I can point extremely high and down wind the boards are better to control than before, I think that also gives the higher speed together with the fins. I’m skeptical about G10 fins but these fins are clearly the best that you have made so far. They give an incredible amount of drive, keep a lot of grip in the turns and are super fast.
I’ve always been a biggest a fan of your boards and rightly so, but with this shape you have surpassed yourself, so balanced, easy to sail, radical and comfortably long to control, amazing.
I’m really impressed because I did not think that once can again improve the shape of my 89L Everyone, including Timm and Kai and Michael are very enthusiastic.
That had to be said!
Thank you !!
I have been sailing the new 90L flex tail in various conditions:
At Friday at Valdoviño with 4.7 and good waves. I liked it because it was not too big at any time. With the ST87 I would not have been comfortable and with the Goya Quad 92L even less. When you go fast and want to tighten up the bottom turn, the board reacts super well on the back foot.
And on Saturday I was in Viana do Castelo with fast head high waves and cross off shore light winds. We were only 3 in the water, you had to surf the wave to keep speed as the wind was light and the board did this very well. I found it to help keep the speed up by pumping the flex like a polyester surfboard (these flex too and you can pump them well).
Sunday in Moledo in on shore conditions tried it with a little wave but with very light wind so I rigged the Ezzy in tractor mode. When I went out they said I would not be planing, that it would not be enough….. I did not take the feet out of the straps in 3 hours and it surfed well in side onshore.
In short, for now it exceeds expectations ..