There’s no denying that modern windsurfing designs – sails and boards – will increase your enjoyment of the sport, allow you to progress quickly and mostly deliver a better overall experience. Yet this summer in the UK has seen (for the most part) super light wind on the sarf coast – particularly after the epic winter we had – meaning all of us have been riding our biggest gear.
Gybing Old Blue – action captured via K4 Fins GoPro harness mount
Sea breezes have been a regular occurrence here on Hayling, which is the good news, but these blows are predominantly light in weight – even when it looks windy it isn’t, requiring more ‘engine’ to plane.
Due to a variety of circumstances my big board is a 20 year old BIC Techno. After what I’ve said above you’d think why the hell am I riding such a dog?
Hayling is a funny place to windsurf – heavily tidal with a set of local effects that you need to understand to maximise your sailing time. Showing up and blowing up is a rarity, ensuring those with a considered approach will reap the best sessions – kit choice plays a massive part.
The BIC (or ‘Old Blue’ as I call it) has a very different kind of volume distribution compared to modern slalom/freeride boards. The majority of the width and thickness is located right under my feet. I can maximise any gust going with this design and pump myself onto the plane, already benefitting from a degree of natural lift. Once blasting the tail’s volume supports my weight and keeps on powering through lulls. It can be a bumpy ride if there’s a choppy sea state, buy I’d rather have early planning capability and deal with control issues later.
Up front and Old Blue has a relatively narrow and thin nose for the type of board it is. This helps when riding over chop and even gives a better platform to boost some little airs – the nose scooping upwards and projecting off ramps. Of course a BIC Techno is not the ideal jumping board but needs must when it’s a light air summer…
Arty shot captured via K4 Fins GoPro harness mount
On numerous occasions, when coupled with my trusty Tushingham T4 7.5m, I’ve been able to get planning in bare minimum wind strengths – others have been on bigger rigs or not out at all. This isn’t to sound smug but further to highlight Old Blue’s early planning capabilities and how efficient it is at my home spot (for me).
When it’s onshore and bumpy the under foot volume carries good speed as you gybe onto rolling swell, increasing the chance of planing out of your turn. It also means there’s more board to push against and therefore rail it upwind – even when barely going.
You can’t fault the French and their Techno design. When the shaper mowed foam little did he know he would produce an iconic shape and something that could hold its own 20 years later. I’m not suggesting everyone should start riding ancient kit but likewise sometimes you don’t have to own the latest and greatest to ensure your enjoyment on the water.
I keep getting asked why I don’t upgrade my light wind board to something more modern and performance orientated, to which I answer: ‘Why should I?’ Having found kit that works in light airs I’m loathed to swap it – particularly when I don’t sail this type of gear that often. (Although that last statement is slightly at odds with the number of outings I’ve had on Old Blue during 2014).
My BIC Techno might look well used but Old Blue still delivers the type of performance I want for my home spot in marginal conditions and I’m happy to be the owner of a vintage design that still works all those years after it was originally conceived.