The first thing I would say is that no one should be scared of riding big stuff when they are sailing onshore places. It is very different from Ho’okipa or Cape Verde, where you almost want to be underpowered on the sail. For Tenerife I always like to sail with big enough gear that I am pretty much a bit overpowered on the outside and so like that I would feel comfortable wave riding on the inside. Also, I tend to scale up my board sizes. I would ride an 84 litre from 4.0m to 4.7m and 94 with 5.0m and 5.3m. Usually at Ho’okipa I can ride 84 with 5.0m no problem. In those conditions I also try to use faster/straighter fins that get planing earlier and also pivot a bit more. As for Ho’okipa, I ride fins with more rake and a longer/narrower setup that helps to draw out bigger turns.
Off the water training I just try to keep my joints strong to avoid injuries by doing yoga, cycling, surfing and gym. I also try to stay as light as I can, especially if I’m going to a light wind spot. I feel like for wave sailing, in general it helps to be lighter instead of heavier.
On the wave my tips would be to really pick the good part of the wave, and stay high and close to the wave, to use the power from it to generate speed. Making sure to really open the clew on the bottom turn is also very helpful, as it allows a bigger range and helps being able to get more vertical. The bottom turn is also a bit different, almost a two motion thing. I first try to set the front rail of the board, and than open the clew to see where I am going and to avoid getting back-winded.
“ I tend to scale up my board sizes.”
JASON DIFFIN – GOYA SAIL DESIGNER
On the sails, the key point to generating speed is to have plenty of draft shape, or profile in the sail. This shape will help generate more lift and speed to help drive you and the board through the water. In onshore or light conditions you really need to have that power to keep you moving. On all my Goya wave designs, the outhaul is where you control the power. If the wind is light, or the conditions are onshore or a bit gutless, then make sure to use a lighter outhaul tension so the sail can generate the most lift from the wind available.
Even with lighter outhaul tensions, the progressive twist (loose leech) cut in the sails will help maintain control by keeping the power locked low and forward in the sail. This allows you to run fuller profiles while still having great control, easy handling and a sail that pulls well, but doesn’t want to pitch you. Outhaul tension regulates power, downhaul gives control. Also key to light wind performance is using light rig components – mast and boom particularly. Light weight and good stiffness really translate to more power and glide and better control overall as well.
Last point – and this is a big one for light wind – is batten tension. Making sure your battens are correctly tightened creates proper skin tension in the sail and allows the most direct transfer of wind energy into forward motion. Think of your sail like a drum – you want it to sing, not “thud” when the wind hits it. Loose battens soften the sail, flatten the sail (intended shape isn’t pushed in to sail body profile), and will have a less direct, mushy feeling. Lower battens require more tension as they are longer and support more shape. Battens should be tightened until all vertical wrinkles in the sail body around the batten pocket disappear, and the sail body is clean and smooth. Over tightened battens will start to S-bend, so tighten the battens until they are clean and smooth, but not so much that they S-bend or are hard to rotate. A sail that is otherwise perfectly rigged loses about 10% of performance if the battens are not tightened properly. That’s a lot! In conditions where you are trying to generate speed, all these details can add up to really big results on the water.
“ The key point to generating speed is to have plenty of draft shape, or profile in the sail.”