THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SHAPE OF A RACEBOARD
In 2024 Formula Kite will become Olympic and every country is allowed to send one male and female. Appletree team rider Roderick Pijls is part of the Dutch selection and is in the race for an Olympic ticket. In the coming months, he is keen to take you along his road to Paris 2024. Last month, Roderick explained how a Formula kite competition is actually run. This month he confesses that he severely underestimated the importance the shape of a raceboard…..
Written by Roderick Pijls
How important can the shape of a raceboard be?
Good morning world! As I sit down to write this, my hands are covered in a layer of epoxy and dirt, the result of my relentless search for the best equipment in my chosen discipline. And when it comes to racing, the shape of the board is absolutely crucial.
When I first started this new discipline, I didn’t fully grasp the importance of having the right board shape. I thought, as long as my foil is well-sanded and shaped, the board wouldn’t matter that much. But oh boy, was I wrong! I’ve come to realize that having a perfectly suited board is just as vital as having top-notch foils and kites.
If you’re not completely in tune with your board, you’ll feel a bit wobbly and lacking control, especially when conditions push you to the limit. And this holds true not only for racing but also for waves and free ride foiling.
As a race-rider, achieving a 50-50 balance on my board is my ultimate goal. I strive to have the same amount of pressure on my front and back foot, and to achieve this, I’ve experimented with countless variables. A small adjustment of the foot straps by just 1 centimeter forward or backward can make a world of difference in the pressure I feel.
We challenge manufacturers to make the best gear
As riders, we constantly push the limits and challenge manufacturers to create the best gear. When I first embarked on this journey, it was a daunting task. I didn’t quite know what I liked or disliked in a board since I was just starting out and hadn’t compared many options.
Those initial trials were all about getting used to the various variables I could change in my setup. I’d kite for 5 minutes, return to shore, make a change, and kite again for another 5 minutes. This process seemed endless, but it was incredibly rewarding! I learned so much about the infinite possibilities that exist with different board configurations.
But let’s not forget what challenge lies before my board manufacturer, Appletree Surfboards. Designing a new board means constantly pushing their own limits. Can they make it even lighter? Even stiffer? It is a fascinating journey for both me and Appletree.
Can a board be too light?
From the very first board they crafted for me, we encountered some interesting challenges. The initial board turned out to be exceptionally light, which, although impressive, didn’t quite meet the requirements. While there are minimal restrictions on a race board, a minimum weight threshold has been established.
Thankfully, Appletree’s technology allows them to create boards that are not only incredibly lightweight but also incredibly strong and stiff. This advantage gave us the flexibility to add the necessary weight to meet the requirements, rather than struggling to reduce it. After all, as a rider you want the lightest board possible, but don’t want to compromise on stiffness and the direct feel with the foil.
Fine-tuning the shape of the raceboard
The shape of the board is a crucial element that significantly impacts performance. We meticulously analyze and fine-tune the contours to ensure optimal maneuverability, stability, and responsiveness. Through countless iterations and testing, we strive to unlock the board’s full potential. We also had to consider whether we wanted to make the board suitable for more than one rider or to meet the individual wishes of each rider specifically.
One aspect that posed a significant challenge was the Tuttle boxes. As Appletree doesn’t utilize these boxes in their own board designs and lacked the in-house capability to produce the boxes themselves, we had to rely on other manufacturers.
While this presented certain inconveniences, it also provided us with a wealth of knowledge and expertise from different sources. We could brainstorm about the different angles and whether we wanted to incorporate that in the board or rather in the box.
Has the board reached the pinnacle of satisfaction? Not quite. We remain fully committed to honing the shape, connection to the foil and construction of our boards, relentlessly pursuing perfection with every stride we take.
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