View Full Version : new vs. old slalom shapes

17th December 2006, 02:55 AM

Do you mind summerising the main differences and advantages/disadvantages of the traditional narrow /long boards as compared to the new short/wide slalom shapes.
And which iS size would you recommend for a 94kg rider sailing in 15-25 knots choppy bay conditions?

Ian Fox
20th December 2006, 12:09 PM
Hi Slalomguy,

It's a bit unclear how far back we want to define "traditional" (which in turn can vary the scope of the answer), but if we define "traditional" to be the slalom boards of the last few seasons (ie : the current "life" of slalom, as compared to the previous "life" of slalom pre extinction) ...

The real difference and advantage would be the increase in rideability and range, which in most conditions makes the new boards faster, or easier to be fast on. The iSonics really have quite a flat trim/ride, which is something that was not so easily achieved on traditional boards. Especially with the current range of iSonics (with even more improved jibe) there really is not any significant performance downside to the new boards.

Upwind ability, ability to efficently carry bigger sails and fins (where required) early planing, planing thru lulls and carrying power thru jibes all rate better on iS than more traditional shapes.

The traditional narrow boards feel possibly sharper or faster in the water and in some cases give a enhanced speed "sensation" however head to head and gps testing shows the calmer new generation boards are deceptively fast.

It's also worth noting that a poorly designed short/wide slalom could easily be a real ugly board to ride/jibe, however with iSonics the results have been very positive, both to our testing and (maybe more importantly) the general public.

There are very few who have spent time (or money) on the iSonics who don't find them a better overall slalom solution than the longer, narrower traditional designs.

For a 94kg rider in 15-25kts Bay chop, the 3 sizes in typical consideration would be iS94/101/111:

94 would be a good top end board, more demanding and potentially critical around the 15 kts range, especially if the 15kts was marginal. For a serious focus on overall range, the 101 is a really good choice (and my favorite), and it's early planing (with moderate skill and decent tuning) is not far behind the larger 111 and even 122. 101 has a really good jibe and good speed in both light and powered conditions. A bit bouncier over chop in high winds, less of an issue with bigger riders.
iS111 is a safer bet for heavier riders in lower (~15)and mid range(15-20), but with more compromise on the real top end 20+, especially if it gets really lumpy or choppy.(although, by comparison, you will find the iS111 still a better choice in these conditions than most "traditional" longer, narrow designs.

OK, make that 4 options; The iS122 is an absolute wildcard in that windrange, but for a heavy rider remains also a possibility with excellent low end and mid range(10-20kts), more challenging (but still very capable) in serious chop above 20 kts. But an unreal jibe for such a "big" slalom. Doubt it ? Me too. Try it.;)

Deciding which end of the 15-25 kt range you will spend most of your sailing time in (on this board) - or alternately the sail size range/swetspot you desire)will influence the optimal choice.

Most people initially fear the wider, flatter shape in chop, but a few sessions quickly convert them, and in the clear majority of cases, there is no "going back" after that. If you've any doubts, please try for a demo or test. Or more info.

Cheers ~ Ian

20th December 2006, 06:15 PM
Thanks for the reply Ian.

23rd December 2006, 06:29 AM
Good response that also lays to rest the periodic rumours that short and wide is on the way out.

And all the best for 2007 to the *Board team and all those who make this forum such an informative place to be. :p

24th December 2006, 03:30 PM
I'm not Ian but this is what I can share: I started sailing slalom boards towards the late 90s when shapes were still comparatively long and narrow. Today I'm on a modern short and wide board and for me the most noticeable difference is how much more free of the water the new shapes ride, particularly in chop. The older shapes could ride free as well but it seemed to me only in flat water. THe new shapes have much shorter rocker flat which is I think why they feel this way. I figure the shorter rocker is compensated by the wider tail shapes so early planing is not so affected. And for sure the range of the new boards is outstanding. I use one board in up to 30+ winds on a 5.5 and the same board in winds less than half the strength on a bigger sail, with a fin change of course, although a change up to a larger board would probably be ideal. I find the newer shapes easier to gybe as well. It feels it's because there is less board in the water so there is less board to deal with in the turn.

25th December 2006, 01:16 AM
Hi SIN909,

Just curious about the size (length, width & volume) of your newer board. I have a brand new slalom board that I haven't tried yet, and its almost 23cm shorter, a centimeter wider at the middle and it has a noticably wider nose and tail. My older slalom (from very late 99) is still an awesome board that proved itself repeatedly over the years, even in some pretty wild conditions. If the new one is superior in ways that you noted, I'm going to be very stoked. I've sailed Northshore Maui many times before, so I'm aware how challenging the conditions can be when the trades really kick in, especially outside the reef line.

Was the newer board the one you used in the speed and slalom racing during the 2006 season? If I recollect correctly, your standings in the competitions were right up there.

25th December 2006, 02:00 AM

My board is 8'0" and 22 inches wide Mike's Lab and what I used this season. Took delivery sometime in May so it's a fairly late shape. Thr rocker flat is 30 inches. Not sure about the volume but estimate it to be about 85 litres. Also what I really notice is how the board seems to skim over the top of the chop and so if you get in a groove is actually not so bouncy in bad chop. Probably modern slalom boards like the isonics work along these lines. For sure the board played a big part in the results among others factors. On another note there were some questions on this forum about whether to go with a new board or sail if you could only choose one. Well in my experience, unequivocally I would say go with the new board. I stayed on my Nitro4 sails and was still competitive. Boards get delamed and lose their performance whereas sails stay essentially the same. As well I feel there are greater advancements in board design over sail design, particularly the last few years. I think wide and short slalom boards with shorter rockers makes more of an impact performance-wise than wide luff sleeves.

26th December 2006, 01:11 AM
Hi SIN909,

Thanks so much for your response. It's very interesting to note that my new slalom board is also a Mike's Lab, and it's virtually the same size as yours. Given your satisfaction with your board, I know I'm going to be super stoked. The older slalom I mentioned is also a Mike's Lab. I took the opportunity to visually compare the two boards, and the thing that really caught my attention is that the V really extends forward on the board, and is quite pronounced in the nose section, thereby creating fairly deep concaves. Very different from the many ML boards I've owned in the past where the V was quite subtle and pretty much limited to the tail sections . I can hardly wait until I get the new board on the water.

Please indulge me with one last question. What fins have you been using, and what sizes where they? I have always favored Tectonics Goldwings, but I'm tempted to try an F-1 Falcon in the 30-32cm range.

26th December 2006, 09:02 AM
Talking about fins,do the short wide boards need larger fins?
A few people I have spoken to seem to think so.

27th December 2006, 12:01 AM
Just can't resist jumping in.
I have been sailing slalom boards since 1990. Turned to short/wide just last season (Sonic 95).
I must note that rocker flat has evolved among narrow boards too. My '90 slalom board had a 50" flat; my '97 RRD 281 had a 30" one and '99 RRD 278 went "back" to 35", not that much for a 21 1/4" wide board with a 12 3/4" tail.
By sure new style boards with wide tails provide plenty of power and leverage over the fin, so that one can use a big fin for early planing and upwind and still use it at full speed; but efficiency is limited by tail and fin dimensions. Narrower boards just get into their own as the speed increases: the faster one goes, the more lift he gets from the narrow tail and the small fin. One must remember that lift is direct function of surface (so of tail width), but varies with speed square: at every small increase in speed, power is increased more than proportionally, so that one can use it to gain even more speed, and so on; and small fin and tail dimensions take quite a while before being felt as a limit to speed. The final effect is a feel of "unlimited" speed capability; a bit like that of a sporty engine as compared to a Diesel one. An Otto cycle motor increases efficiency as throttle is full open and revs go up, resulting in a feel of the engine wanting to run high; while a Diesel engine has similar efficiency at any gas position and speed. Just like narrow boards prefer high regimes, while wide ones are OK at any, but with a "dull" feel.

28th December 2006, 02:32 PM
Hi steveC,

My previous slalom board was an ML as well. Great board also. I think it was built around 2001 and I used it until last year. Fin-wise, I found that my new board needs a larger fin than my old board given the same conditions. On my old board I was mostly using a 28cm falcon or 30cm goldwing. I think the narrower tail of the older board was happier with a smaller fin. I think the newer board with the wider tail can handle the power of the goldwing better than the old narrower tailed board. To slalomguy I would say the newer boards do need larger fins. For the new ML board I have been using 30cm, 32cm and 34cm goldwing with 6.0 & 6.5 sails. I don't use bigger than 32cm with the 6.0 but sometimes use the 32 with the 6.5. I'm beginning to think the 32 will be my most important fin for racing. I have a 5.5 which I haven't used much but unless it was really nuking I would probably be on the 30cm with it. I would like to see how the 28 falcon goes with the 5.5 when it's really windy. I also used a 24cm vector for the speed event this year up to a 6.3 sail and it felt good. Improved my top speed by 3 knots over last year when I was on the older board and regular sized fin but still on the Nitro4. I think this setup can go a lot faster, seeing that the winds at the speed event this year were on the mild side. Hard to say how much was the fin and how much the board. If you are racing let me know if you have figured out what fin size to use. I am sometimes torn between going smaller for the extra speed it gives or going bigger for the starts, holes and gybe marks.

Ian Fox
29th December 2006, 03:13 AM
With the wider boards you'll mostly find easier, more practical, more accessible top speed ~ and more often. That's to say the newer style ride can be less technical, less demanding and often more consistant = a better chance (on average) to be "fast", c/w pure theroretical top end Vmax board that have some very wicked but narrow performance curve..

For g.e.o., it's no doubt efficiency is influenced by tail and fin dimensions, but the aspect ratio of the planing surface actually gets higher (and more theoretically efficent) as the tail gets wider and the planing surface corespondingly shorter - it's the control and longitudinal stability that are (very real) limiting factors in exploiting this. For sure, ride sensation is an issue - it's hard to beat the feeling of flying across the water on a ski rather than a door - but once we got that door to turn and maintain control it can still be potently fast ! ;)

Cheers ~ Ian

29th December 2006, 04:53 AM

I am not sure that efficiency increase can compensate wetted surface increase. A short/wide tail will vary wetted surface greatly with trim variations, while a long/narrow one will vary comparatively less. As a matter of fact, boards built for top speeds are narrow, not wide. Plus, I am not perfectly sure about how reduction of tip effects can compensate increase of trailing edge effects; were we talking about a wing travelling through air, I would totally agree; but I confess my ignorance about what happens at the air/water separation surface when a board skims over it.
Of course I totally agree about wider boards being fast easier and more often.

29th December 2006, 09:50 AM
While I can honestly say that I come up short on the technical science of things (although I like the input and perspective), from a practical point of view, I think the balance point between wide and narrow tail board performance has a lot to do with overall length of the board too. With the shorter lengths in modern designs, the lever action that can be associated with the front section of the board (a lessening of the possible flyaway factor), contributes greatly to control in tough conditions. Matched with the magic of how a shorter rocker flat in wider tail concepts will ride high, and also facilitate jibing ease and planing power through transitions, it doesn't surprise me that folks are more enthusiastic with more current designs.

Thanks SIN909 for your very useful comments concerning fins. Living in California, I have to admit that my conditions fall quite a bit short of those in Maui. As a result, I've tended to go with larger fins (I used 34 and 36ccm Goldwings) on my older slalom board, with the 34 being my favorite. I think that I might be able to successfully continue on these fins, and maybe the 36 will gain more favor. Still though, I would like to have a fin for higher winds, and I'm thinking that a 32cm Falcon would be the right pick. For speed-type conditions, I also have a couple of Wolfgang Lessacher's 27cm Hyper Duo and Le Wo Duo asymmetrical carbon fins to experiment with.

However, being an older guy, I doubt any really super stellar results. Still, it feels great to push the margins a bit, and I love being powered up and moving. Mike's boards really excel under pressure. Once I get the Falcon and play with it a bit, I'll offer my thoughts.

Ian Fox
30th December 2006, 02:51 AM
Hi g.e.o,

It's exactly what I'm saying with my comments above ;
" it's the control and longitudinal stability that are (very real) limiting factors in exploiting this"
- if you can't maintain longitudinal stability, the board will pitch and the planing surface will vary significantly in length (and this area and A/R) as the width over the length of the variance won't change significantly.

Then, as you comment, we have the practical reason for longer narrow board, however the reason for my comment above was to explain the difference between what is theoretically (??) efficent and what works in practice.

This might not seem a big deal, but if you really look inside what is happening with this current trend of new (short wide) vs old (long narrow) slalom shapes, then A/R actually does play an important part (but again, not in isolation) but without a steadier overall trim/ride
(fore/aft , longitudinal stability), any theoretical gain in "efficency" can be swallowed up in practice.

But we have a better trim, we have a planshape offering more efficent (A/R) planing area and we exploit that within practical gains.

Within speed boards (something I have close association with) the trend is again driven by the same theory; when you really study closely the design of the new modern speed boards, you can see a very distinct trend to move more surface(planing) area aft (again, within reason and practical limitations of control ). Yes, the boards are still "narrow" and small but the area is moving back (A/R inreasing) and the boards are working better.

Interesting to note that true speed boards used in superflat* water actually suffer less longitudinal stability / trim issues than (say) a hi wind slalom operated at much slower (relative) speed in rough open water. Light wind slalom (or FW) boards usually operating in "flatter" conditions (due to lighter winds, less chop) also suffer less longitudinal stability / trim issues than the hi wind slalom at speed in rough open water ; So you can see the trend is that the two "extremes" (lighter wind and speed) can explore and exploit the A/R efficency easier/further than the hi wind slalom design.

Looking (in finer detail) across the iSonic product range, you can see the development of this trend vs board size (or intended usage range) subtly but clearly in combination with other design factors
(like the ability to still be able to turn a slalom board at speed).

Hopefully this helps explain a bit more of what is really going on in both theory and practice with the newer boards.

Cheers ~ Ian

*keeping it simple for the discussion but noting at hi speed conditions, the water is never superflat due to surface chop, but the nature of this chop (+ subsequent trim) issues is quite different to open water hi wind chop.

30th December 2006, 04:19 AM
Is it fair to say that the new wide short boards plane quicker and accelerate faster especially in moderate slalom conditions (7m sails) than the older narrow long boards?
But that the top end speed of the older shapes is greater?
So in a slalom race(again with 7m sails) with many jibes a wider board could easily win due to its ability to carry speed through the jibes and accelerate quickly.
In hi wind slalom conditions(5.8 sails) the advantage of the wider board diminishes as control in the choppy conditiond suits the narrower board and speed through the jibes is less of a problem for the narrow board.

30th December 2006, 04:21 AM
Is it fair to say that the new wide short boards plane quicker and accelerate faster especially in moderate slalom conditions (7m sails) than the older narrow long boards?
But that the top end speed of the older shapes is greater?
So in a slalom race(again with 7m sails) with many jibes a wider board could easily win due to its ability to carry speed through the jibes and accelerate quickly.
In hi wind slalom conditions(5.8 sails) the advantage of the wider board diminishes as control in the choppy conditiond suits the narrower board and speed through the jibes is less of a problem for the narrow board.

Ian Fox
30th December 2006, 10:51 AM
Hi Slalomguy,

Q1 = Is it fair to say that the new wide short boards plane quicker and accelerate faster especially in moderate slalom conditions (7m sails) than the older narrow long boards?
A1 = Yes, in general it is fair to say that and especially around 7m.

Q2 = But that the top end speed of the older shapes is greater?
A2 = Not so simple; in fact (as discussed above) it's possible both in theory and practice for short wide (high A/R) designs to also offer top end advantage (c/w accel or mid jibe speed). This is most noticeable in smoother conditions (light to moderate slalom conditions and speed sailing on flat water). On the other hand, in rough open water, a slightly lower A/R (and less theoretically efficent) design could have top speed advantage.. But it would be an incorrect generalistation to say the older shapes have greater top end in all circumstances.

Q3 = So in a slalom race(again with 7m sails) with many jibes a wider board could easily win due to its ability to carry speed through the jibes and accelerate quickly.
A3 = Yes. And more, because we have significant testing of boards around the 7m size (~ iS101) which can show higher point to point open water speed, a lot more than just "effective speed" around marks and thru jibes etc. If you add in further real world variables such as improved rideability (ability to push the board hard to achieve higher top and avaerage speeds), relative ability in patchy or inconsistant conditions plus "upwind" ability (when required), then the overall result out on the water is pretty convincing.

( Practical side bar here : I can't think of anyone in our team who would now choose the classic benchmark Sonic 100 in that range over the iS101 for anything like slalom racing in 7m conditions)

Q4 = In hi wind slalom conditions(5.8 sails) the advantage of the wider board diminishes as control in the choppy conditiond suits the narrower board and speed through the jibes is less of a problem for the narrow board.
A4 = Yes, the advantage diminishes, however mainly because of rough water interference with maintaining an efficent fore/aft (longitudinal stability) trim across serious (hi wind) chop at high speed, rather than speed thru jibes etc.....
iS122 (for example) has a rather unreal hi speed pivotal jibe ability for any 12xLt or 75cm slalom style board, but again acknowledging a slightly different style or technique being optimal to that of the drawn out scalpel carve of a narrow, long slalom. In fact, what we found testing iS101/105 vs S85/95(S100) was that even when solidly overpowered in a straight line, the iS could still offer some advantage (suprisingly) in the jibe (with minor techique/style mods to suit) by carrying more power into and thru the jibe, with less precision required than a long narrow.
(advantages in real world use, especially the hustle of tight short leg slalom racing are pretty obvious). Now again, that doesn't make long narrow obsolete (esp for hi wind open water) but it does show the short wide advantage can encroach (in practical use) further into long narrow territory than maybe theorectically optimal.
(final footnote here is the short wide in question better have a good jibe, or this peripheral advantage doesn't exist...)

Cheers ~ Ian

31st December 2006, 08:29 AM
You know, that thing that I think needs to be highlighted here is that width cuts across the product line. Sailboards designs are generally wider overall. Yet, still the high wind stuff is markedly narrower than the light wind stuff. Designer/builder focus is truly on wider and shorter designs, even when it comes to ultimate speed shapes. The narrower shapes of the past have found a conflict with the updated design influence in the current market, for good or ill. Frankly, in my opinion, its a good thing. While many of us still find value in the older designs, time moves on, and we have to adjust. In the wave of new thought and technology, it's an unstoppable push. Look at computer/software technology. Just because some are happy, that doesn't change the push of new thought.

19th January 2007, 07:40 PM
Hey hope you guys don't mind me resurrecting this thread, found it quite interesting and useful. We've had no wind for ages, so I've had to take up skateboarding again! :D

Anyway last year I got my new 7.2, 8.4 RS-S sails to use on my old Z-26 Protech and boy those sails work well! However, I'm noticing the 7.2 is probably a bit small as I find I'm getting a bit of nose lift, despite the mast foot position being forward enough to make the foot of the sail drag a bit much on the deck of the board. Granted I am using a CK95 mast, which will hopefully soon be replaced with an X9. I'm finding the CK95 only seems to let the sail twist to a certain level on the leech and then no matter what it had an abrupt step.

So I'm planning to get a 6.2 and 5.4 RS-"7" and combine that with the Isonic 87 and possibly the new JP 69 S3. What I was curious was whether anyone has tried using the 7.2 RS-6 or equivalent on the 87 Isonic, and what was the general outcome? I really would prefer this board over it's bigger brother, who knows prehaps next year I'd go for a bigger I sonic?