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About real small pocket boards < 1 m, benefits and limits

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tkaraszewski
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Re: About real small pocket boards < 1 m, benefits and limits

Postby tkaraszewski » Fri Jun 21, 2019 6:28 pm

Wow, I seem to have started a bit of a controversy. Not going to reply to everyone individually, but I'll add a few more thoughts.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks a 33" (84cm) low-volume board is hard to waterstart, at least a few people here agree with me. I've also seen a guy here locally, who is a talented foiler, but riding a *very* small custom board (probably something like 27"/68cm) struggle repeatedly to get the board up out of the water and start in any lightish winds, when other less-talented foilers can easily waterstart on more "standard" pocket boards like the smaller dwarfcraft (42"/107cm). The dwarfcraft is not only a bit longer, but also has more volume, and I think both of these work together, as a thicker, more buoyant board, even when shorter, will still float your feet on top of the water and avoid having to drag yourself up to the surface and out of the water so much, making the start easier in lighter winds. However, the "short but high volume" board is not a popular style at all. Someone on here rides them (Horst Sergio, maybe?) but aside from his custom boards, nobody else seems to like short, high-volume boards.

I rode Jim Stringfellow's custom 39"/99cm low-volume board yesterday, and while it exhibited just a touch of the same "board has to start from underwater" tendency as the 33" KS I rode before, it was *much* less. This implies to me that at least for my stance/body position/riding style, a low-volume board starts to get too small to water start easily around 1m in length. A high-volume design could probably go a bit shorter than that, but like I said, there aren't a lot of high-volume boards shorter than 1m out there.

But the thing is not so much that I'd go smaller except for the difficult waterstart, it's that I don't think there's much advantage to going smaller. When I swapped boards with Jim Stringfellow yesterday to try his board, he rode my carbon T38 and his thoughts were "the extra length didn't bother me". The T38 is 51"/129cm. Yes, in a very technical sense, a shorter board has less swing weight, but the difference between a 2.3kg 129cm board and a 1.9kg 100cm board is just not that big. An extra 400g hanging just a few cm in front of your front foot does not make a huge difference.

The whole conversation reminds me of the discussion around pointed noses on performance surfboards. A surfboard with a blunt nose is safer, less damage-prone (the nose is the easiest part to break), easier to travel with (it can fit in a smaller bag), and has (same as this discussion) less wing weight. But they're never caught on in 30 years in any large numbers. People keeping building and selling and buying and riding boards with pointy noses, and there's no real justification other than they "look fast" or "look like a performance shortboard should look". It seems to persist mainly out of fashion.

Freeride hydrofoiling is still pretty new, and as people like Greg Drexler and Fred Hope have ridden smaller boards with good success, people have wanted to emulate them and gone shorter and shorter, which in my experience offers questionable benefits below something like 1m length and 15l volume (depending on preference and weight). But it seems to me like it's been pushed past the point of diminishing returns (see that guy on his ~27" board that can hardly get moving on it as an example) even though people seem to like in entirely unquantifiable ways (see several comments in this thread about the "feel" of small boards), or saying "they turn faster" which sis probavblyh strictly true, but I bet in almost immeasurably small amounts. I haven't seen any maneuvers that talented foilers can accomplish on a 90cm board that they can't also do on a 110cm board, because I don't think the actual performance difference is really there, the difference is just too small. I definitely do think the current perception is that smaller boards are "cooler" lately, among freeride hydrofoilers, and when I say that this is mostly "fashion", this is what I mean. People are riding tiny boards because Greg Drexler is riding tiny boards, not because they can complete their tacks or switch feet (even though someone in this thread did claim that) or surf waves better on a smaller board.

If you really want to make noticeable difference in the maneuverability of your foil, switch to a smaller stabilizer, it makes 20x more difference in making the board feel looser and more maneuverable than cutting 15cm and 300g of the board.

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Re: About real small pocket boards < 1 m, benefits and limits

Postby Peter_Frank » Fri Jun 21, 2019 9:48 pm

Agree fully with all above, especially smaller stabilizers.
Still see it as fashion or "make believe" for the majority to go "as short as possible", no matter what.

And if one believes so much in a concept even if you can not feel any difference for real, one tends to suppress the disadvantages, human nature :-?

Which is fine for the individual of course, but not very objective IMO.

8) Peter
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tkaraszewski (Sat Jun 22, 2019 12:12 am)
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Re: About real small pocket boards < 1 m, benefits and limits

Postby jumptheshark » Fri Jun 21, 2019 10:37 pm

97% of science agrees that 109cm is the precise point of balance between performance and utility.
IMG_4103.jpg
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Kamikuza (Sat Jun 22, 2019 2:51 am)
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Re: About real small pocket boards < 1 m, benefits and limits

Postby grigorib » Fri Jun 21, 2019 10:44 pm

jumptheshark wrote:
Fri Jun 21, 2019 10:37 pm
97% of science agrees that 109cm is the precise point of balance between performance and utility.

IMG_4103.jpg
Perspective "how do I transport the foil without disassembling" is a major thing! I totally forgot weird moments of not being able to fit the foil into car.

Original MHL with 90cm mast and large MHL board would fit assembled with mast across.
Later when I got 105cm GW and 54" Dwarfcraft, the troubles started. Fortunately about 2 years back, I switched to 42" Dwarcraft, just few months after getting the 54" and then I could place mast along and board across the car.

With a shorter mast and small board the setup fits along, across, on the stand or any way you like - pretty much Kamasutra.
Last edited by grigorib on Fri Jun 21, 2019 10:53 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: About real small pocket boards < 1 m, benefits and limits

Postby jumptheshark » Fri Jun 21, 2019 10:50 pm

Nope, nope, its 109cm. Look it up.
IMG_4105.jpg
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Kamikuza
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Re: About real small pocket boards < 1 m, benefits and limits

Postby Kamikuza » Sat Jun 22, 2019 3:35 am

tkaraszewski wrote:
Fri Jun 21, 2019 6:28 pm
Wow, I seem to have started a bit of a controversy. Not going to reply to everyone individually, but I'll add a few more thoughts.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks a 33" (84cm) low-volume board is hard to waterstart, at least a few people here agree with me. I've also seen a guy here locally, who is a talented foiler, but riding a *very* small custom board (probably something like 27"/68cm) struggle repeatedly to get the board up out of the water and start in any lightish winds, when other less-talented foilers can easily waterstart on more "standard" pocket boards like the smaller dwarfcraft (42"/107cm). The dwarfcraft is not only a bit longer, but also has more volume, and I think both of these work together, as a thicker, more buoyant board, even when shorter, will still float your feet on top of the water and avoid having to drag yourself up to the surface and out of the water so much, making the start easier in lighter winds. However, the "short but high volume" board is not a popular style at all. Someone on here rides them (Horst Sergio, maybe?) but aside from his custom boards, nobody else seems to like short, high-volume boards.

I rode Jim Stringfellow's custom 39"/99cm low-volume board yesterday, and while it exhibited just a touch of the same "board has to start from underwater" tendency as the 33" KS I rode before, it was *much* less. This implies to me that at least for my stance/body position/riding style, a low-volume board starts to get too small to water start easily around 1m in length. A high-volume design could probably go a bit shorter than that, but like I said, there aren't a lot of high-volume boards shorter than 1m out there.

But the thing is not so much that I'd go smaller except for the difficult waterstart, it's that I don't think there's much advantage to going smaller. When I swapped boards with Jim Stringfellow yesterday to try his board, he rode my carbon T38 and his thoughts were "the extra length didn't bother me". The T38 is 51"/129cm. Yes, in a very technical sense, a shorter board has less swing weight, but the difference between a 2.3kg 129cm board and a 1.9kg 100cm board is just not that big. An extra 400g hanging just a few cm in front of your front foot does not make a huge difference.

The whole conversation reminds me of the discussion around pointed noses on performance surfboards. A surfboard with a blunt nose is safer, less damage-prone (the nose is the easiest part to break), easier to travel with (it can fit in a smaller bag), and has (same as this discussion) less wing weight. But they're never caught on in 30 years in any large numbers. People keeping building and selling and buying and riding boards with pointy noses, and there's no real justification other than they "look fast" or "look like a performance shortboard should look". It seems to persist mainly out of fashion.

Freeride hydrofoiling is still pretty new, and as people like Greg Drexler and Fred Hope have ridden smaller boards with good success, people have wanted to emulate them and gone shorter and shorter, which in my experience offers questionable benefits below something like 1m length and 15l volume (depending on preference and weight). But it seems to me like it's been pushed past the point of diminishing returns (see that guy on his ~27" board that can hardly get moving on it as an example) even though people seem to like in entirely unquantifiable ways (see several comments in this thread about the "feel" of small boards), or saying "they turn faster" which sis probavblyh strictly true, but I bet in almost immeasurably small amounts. I haven't seen any maneuvers that talented foilers can accomplish on a 90cm board that they can't also do on a 110cm board, because I don't think the actual performance difference is really there, the difference is just too small. I definitely do think the current perception is that smaller boards are "cooler" lately, among freeride hydrofoilers, and when I say that this is mostly "fashion", this is what I mean. People are riding tiny boards because Greg Drexler is riding tiny boards, not because they can complete their tacks or switch feet (even though someone in this thread did claim that) or surf waves better on a smaller board.

If you really want to make noticeable difference in the maneuverability of your foil, switch to a smaller stabilizer, it makes 20x more difference in making the board feel looser and more maneuverable than cutting 15cm and 300g of the board.
I think we've been doing the usual forum thing of running around saying "I agree mostly and here's my thoughts for good measure" and then arguing about the fine details :lol:

Small changes seem to make bigger effects on foil board. Definitely a better feel on small boards, with the caveat that the amount of smallness appears to approach a limit asymptotically ... as it were :lol: "Ability to complete" moves doesn't matter as much to me as getting about without the niggles of catching a rail or nose, or feeling ponderous when yawing about. We know good riders can literally make a lunch tray rideable...!

I've yet to encounter anyone who'll be convinced to go to a small board because it's "cool" -- it's hard enough convincing people to try a smaller board because it's more practical, let alone cool :o People are going smaller because it's a better idea.

Shorter fuse and smaller stab is just a fashion for the cool guys :naughty:

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Re: About real small pocket boards < 1 m, benefits and limits

Postby Kamikuza » Sat Jun 22, 2019 3:36 am

jumptheshark wrote:
Fri Jun 21, 2019 10:37 pm
97% of science agrees that 109cm is the precise point of balance between performance and utility.

IMG_4103.jpg
My 142 TT fits across the back of my car like that :lol:

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Re: About real small pocket boards < 1 m, benefits and limits

Postby Kamikuza » Sat Jun 22, 2019 3:40 am

grigorib wrote:
Fri Jun 21, 2019 10:44 pm
Perspective "how do I transport the foil without disassembling" is a major thing! I totally forgot weird moments of not being able to fit the foil into car.

Original MHL with 90cm mast and large MHL board would fit assembled with mast across.
Later when I got 105cm GW and 54" Dwarfcraft, the troubles started. Fortunately about 2 years back, I switched to 42" Dwarcraft, just few months after getting the 54" and then I could place mast along and board across the car.

With a shorter mast and small board the setup fits along, across, on the stand or any way you like - pretty much Kamasutra.
When my new foil arrived, I put it together in the living room -- 82cm wing, 75cm mast -- only to discover that I couldn't actually get it down the hallway and out to the front door to the car :lol: stupid Japanese building standards...

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Re: About real small pocket boards < 1 m, benefits and limits

Postby stevez » Sat Jun 22, 2019 6:46 am

tkaraszewski wrote:
Fri Jun 21, 2019 6:28 pm
I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks a 33" (84cm) low-volume board is hard to waterstart...
You are right that it is a bit more difficult. When I was riding my 97cm board, I never once occurred to me that it was a bit of a challenge to waterstart, in just about any conditions (at least in comparison to whatever else I was trying to do at the time). Now with a similar design and construction 84cm board, I immediately noticed that waterstarts are a little less forgiving, and I found myself botching more of them, at least to begin with.
What I've found particularly challenging is the combination of very small kite (e.g. 2.8 cloud), decent wind, but not very strong for the kite size, and big wing. Here relying on diving the kite quite aggressively to get the spike of power required to pull me out the water and straight onto the wing in one step. This is the hardest configuration, once the wind notches up a little more, it actually gets a little easier. With bigger kites in less wind I've found it straightforward. Kite moving slower, power less spiky and more upward pull from the kite.
I haven't tested extreme low end conditions, i.e. very light wind, biggest kite, minimal/marginal power, but I imagine naturally will be a little more challenging as well.
But on the whole I haven't found waterstarting to be a deal breaker, and I'm enjoying the minimal feeling of riding a board this small.
I wouldn't want to go any smaller though, don't see any advantages to this.

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Re: About real small pocket boards < 1 m, benefits and limits

Postby Peter_Frank » Sat Jun 22, 2019 8:04 am

If you ride in somewhat flattish water, or with straps, the waterstart is of less or no issue indeed, no doubt.

But I found the supershort ones major downside is when out in waves (and most likely chop), in say 10-13 knots or something, the supershort flat boards are a menace in order to waterstart superfast between two close waves after you have crashed, especially as you often can not pop up in one shot (riding smaller kites in waves) and need the raised nose to challenge chop and breaking whitewater till you are foiling - so as said, gives me no advantages compared to either a lighter board and/or a smaller stab which hugely benefits the "ease and liveliness" more than the shorter board imo.

This is why I stay at the 110-120 cm boards for the best overall size for me, with the most advantages (unless if somewhat sub 10 knots, too small).

I am probably not a sufficiently good rider in waves and in general I know, and this could be the reason why we have so different opinions and experiences - but maybe others are at the same level so still valid for some I would think :roll:

8) Peter


Transport size is a different matter where size can be crucial for some.
I can have any board and mast size assembled in the car anyways, if needed.
But I dont anymore actually, rarely two succeeding days using the same gear so easier just to loosen the screw so I can choose board and foil for the given next day, and have more room in the car.


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