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6 May 2004, 09:17 am
Major Differences In Performance
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Olympic Windsurfing Equipment Evaluation Event
Torbole, Lake Garda

Tuesday's races made it clear to the Evaluation Panel that there are major differences in the boards performance. As many of the boards are of a similar type, Wednesday was dedicated to Comparative Testing.
The boards were put into groups of three similar boards and carried out straight line saiing characteristic testing to evaluate whether items such as sails, fins etc made a difference on each board's speed and general sailing abilities.

Due to the 3-5 knot wind range, testing could only be carried out in the "Longboard" (Mistral OD, Olympic OD and Exocet) and the "Hybrid" (Mistral Prodigy, Starboard Z-Class and the PD Project) groups. The testing is based around all of the boards in the group lining up a couple of board lengths apart and then sailing on the same tack for 2-3 minutes. The group then stops, discuss how each board felt to sail and comment on the others sailing style and board/rig set-up. Any changes are then made to the equipment, which could involve changing sails, adjusting mast foot position etc, and then the group carry on sailing for another 2-3 minutes before repeating the whole scenario again.

This carried out for half an hour upwind before the group turn to repeat the exercise downwind for another half hour. The purpose of this type of testing is to see which board in each group is better and also to evaluate the different effects each type of equipment has on the board's performance.

First the "Longboard" group carried out their testing with a few rig adjustments being made. In the light breezes the Mistral OD and the Olympic OD had a slight edge on the Exocet but as yesterdays racing showed in the slightly heavier airs, this advantage is quickly equaled.

Second to carry out the testing were the "Hybrid" group. This group consists of the boards that are either prototypes or do not really fall into any type of class category. Unlike the Formula boards, which are unable to plane or sail effectively in the light breezes, the Hybrid class, which utilise a daggerboard, are able to sail competitively in the light breezes whilst also retaining good upwind capabilities.

Testing was carried out in the morning session only due to the persistent rain cancelling out the light southerly breeze as the afternoon wore on. Tomorrow sees more rain in the morning with some sunshine in the afternoon. As the air gets warmer in the afternoon tomorrow, the sailors should see more typical Lake Garda conditions emerging which will introduce a whole new area of testing to the Evaluation Panel.

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