Just like last year, Josh and Pieter get together before the season. This in order to go push the limits of them selfs as well as the gear we use. Getting the perfect setup through tuning our gear is going to give Josh the performance advantage he needs to get the best results possible. These days the approach needs to be complete meaning; mentally, physically and emotionally everything needs be done right, but only with the best gear used in the set-up that maximizes performance completes the whole. We know Josh has everything it takes to get to the top spots, so now lets get the performance of his gear to the highest level and put the last piece to the puzzle. That last piece is going to be the crucial one, the one that is going to make it or break it. So that is what Pieter is here for, breaking down all the gear, then putting it back together with the utmost precision to ensure the best performance.
We meet in Portugal as Josh is coming in from Cabo Verde where he just finished organizing a festival and was busy scoring some waves while he was at it. Pieter being the truck driver he is, picks him up and continues onto Tarifa.
On day one the wind was extreme to say the least, so it was time to get the size that is hardest to set-up right out of the way. The 5.6 is an awesome base, good profile and awesome performance. However when the need is there to get on the 5.6 we are in the extreme of conditions and performance is nothing without control, comfort or confident. Confident meaning we need to know our gear is going to be there helping us when that massive gust hits us, or keep accelerating even though you might be in between gust. The strong winds is the hardest to get right and there is the biggest difference in wind strength. So having a sail set up to cover it all is KEY! After all the changing around we found the golden setup and had a successful 1st day wrapping up the 5.6 completely.
With the wind dropping down we get some time to check out a more important and more used size. A size that is hard to get right as it needs to cover a lot of variation of conditions. When using the 7.9 it can be flat but it can also be rough and choppy. In some of the locations we sail in the PWA tour when using the 7.9 it is often gusty so the sail needs to have range, meaning there is pickup when the wind is lighter, but it also needs to have the control through the gusts and be fast all over. It needs to have speed in Turkey where it’s flat, but it needs to be controllable in Fuerteventura and Costa Brava. So having the sail setup the best way it can it should cover all of these conditions in one set-up. The 7.9 Gun Sails GSR is an extremely good base so the tuning here was pretty easy and relatively quick.
With the new Angulo Magnum 115 that has a slightly adjusted bottom shape we find some more efficiency and lift in the low end, more acceleration into the gusts and more grip and drive through the gybes. So the small tweak on this board is a welcome increase in performance.
Another day of good wind allows us to quickly confirm our findings from the previous day by double checking the final setup of the 7.9. So only a short trip to the beach where after we head back to the Gun Sails Loft that is located 15 minutes outside from Tarifa, where we spent some time with the Gun Sails designer Renato Morlotti taking about and understanding the current sail design.
Then we prepare our gear for the next day, get the big stuff all organized and in the van so that we can be ready early in the morning to go and try the big boards and sails. This is going to be needed as it looks like it will be the only day with light winds, so we want to be ready and take full advantage!
Yep, I guess we are getting lucky. Just getting the conditions we are looking for. At the beginning of the week it looked like windy the whole way through, maybe not getting good conditions for the light wind stuff. Today was just perfect. We started on the 8.7 rotated through a bunch of masts and different set-ups to find the sweet spot on the 8.7. Then the wind just dropped of a little and we where able to crank the 9.5 out too. It was a long day at the beach, we where flying back and forward on the water on the Magnum 135′s, but also across the beach by foot to get more stuff to try out of the van. Getting a super sweet set-up on the 8.7 and a really nice set-up on the 9,5 takes of some of the pressure on what we needed to get done this week. With only the 6.3 and 7.1 not having hit the water yet it looks like the wind will increase, so we have put the Magnums 95′s in the van and are going to be ready for some high wind action. Looks like the wind is cooperating well.
After a long day on the water, it was time for a team Dinner, with Renato, Josh and Pieter getting together for some awesome Tuna steaks and a little trip to Tarifa.
Today with only 2 sizes that we didn’t get to we where looking for stronger wind. The 6.3 en 7.1 where prepared in the morning, put in the van and ready to be tried out. During the day the wind was too strong, so we stayed at the loft a little longer, preparing some other things, as well as evaluating where we where at.
As the end of the afternoon came around the wind died down just enough for us to get on the 6.3. After rotating through some different masts and going through some different settings it was clear that also the 6.3 is a machine. When rigged right this sail is easy to handle. We had some super strong gusts and extremely choppy water and when set up right, we where able to power through those strong gusts with confidence and speed. While also in between the gusts the sail stayed powered up and kept us moving! About the Magnum 95 there isn’t to much to say. This board is simply awesome and when used with a good sail will take your strong wind slalom sailing to new levels! The board gives you a comfortable feeling through the strongest winds, drive through the lulls and when it’s time to turn around it gibes on a dime too!!
After sailing it was straight to the loft, organize the gear for the morning testing and then of to a nice dinner. This is one of the nice things about Tarifa, dinners are awesome and very affordable. Last night it was El Nené’s, a local steak house with steaks the size that it takes a big boy to be able to finish it. Well after a days of hard work with hard sailing we where able to get the job done!
Now all that is left is the 7.1, and to retry 7.9 en 8.7 and we can call it a successful week of testing, where we went through all the gear we had and found some sweet set-up’s
Tomorrow is another day!
This is also our last day, we did some 7.1 and 6.3 testing in the morning in Tarifa, but as the wind was picking up we where happy to be done and pack up the small stuff, wrapped that up. We did need to find some lighter winds so going to Loft organizing some of the stuff there to be able to go on the big sails. Then drive in the direction of Portugal away from that strong lavante. We get to a place just on the other side of Cadiz, to windy. So keep driving and we end up in Rota, with perfect 7.9 conditions. Rig up and get out ASAP. Perfect wind and pretty smooth water resulted in a super efficient test on the 7.9. Then the wind started to come down a little, so again, perfect for the 8.7. On the 8.7 we just had to confirm our previous findings and make sure that the best set-up really was the best set-up and it was.
From there we drove back to the Gun Sails loft and went to pack all our gear as this mission was over. How productive we can be in a week is incredible, we had a blast, with lots of sailing a good conditions for all the stuff we needed to do. We packed up, grabbed some dinner took a shower and started the brutal trips back home.