For 2013 I made the decision along with the Dancing Turtle Team to design, build and race our own boards. When you first look at a project like this it appears relatively simple. Let's design and build 4 boards. No problem. Of course nothing is ever as simple as it seems especially when you are building Boards that will push the limits of sailing.
For the Asymmetric SpeedBoards we had a base point to go fro. I had worked with the designer previously and we had a SolidWorks file that we could take and alter to create a hopefully faster shape. Once we were happy with the shape then we CNC cut a piece of divinycel foam to our desired shape and thickness. At this point I then received the precut foam which I then sanded and prepared for layup as well as assembling our rocker table to lay the boards up on. Once the boards were laid up and vacuum bagged we allowed them to cure for 36 hours. At the end of the 36 hours the boards are removed from the rocker table and the bagging and you have a rough version of your board. Then the real work begins to sand, fair and finish the boards including fin boxes and threaded inserts for straps. All up each board probably has 35-40 man hours into it.
For the two Symmetric Boards we were striking out into unknown territory. This means that we had the entire process I just explained but with another 30% more sanding and finishing.
One great part of this entire process was that we established an incredible partnership with Jamestown Distributors and were able to utilize their incredibly knowledgable staff to pick out the right materials to not only build the boards with but finish them with. This means that everything from the Divinycell to the Carbon to Sandpaper to the paint to the threaded inserts was available right through once supplier. This was really key for us and made it possible to achieve our timeline and get the boards ready. I really can't thank the staff enough they were amazing.
Just before the end of the Event I was riding in the truck with my father and he could tell I was a bit frustrated with my results. So he asked me his usual question. I would like to think I paused to consider my answer but in retrospect I think my my mind was so full that I immediately launched into a bevy of answers:
1. Rocker line.. Too flat on the Asymmetric and Symmetric boards. This caused me to carry way too much board in the water and produced too much drag. The Symmetric Boards also lacked a 3rd stage in tail.
2. Stiffness. Asymmetric boards were too stiff, combine this with a long flat rocker line and you have no ability to absorb the puffs and accelerate.
3. Training. Needed to put more time on the new boards prior to racing. Unfortunately between my work schedule and the build schedule my hours training were diminished.
4. Coaching. The days that I had Coach Tim Klein there working with me, analyzing runs, switching fins and launching kites were definitely the days I learned the most. It is critical to have support on the beach to help every day.
5. Always Have Fun. The days I was having fun were the days I was going the fastest.
As always the North American Speed Sailing Championships was an amazing two and a half weeks and the opportunity to sail against the fastest kiteboarders in the world is a true honor. I am already looking forward to 2014.