A review of the Glide
by an average windsurfer
I guess some people may have the same problem I do, I read reviews about boards, e.g. how well they gybe on the plane, and I always wonder: ok, but how would it be with me on top of it, when the person testing it is far from being a pro ? This is a review of the Glide from that perspective:
A bit of background first.
On me, on my spot, on my gear, on the Glide
probably representative of today’s windsurfing population, mid-fifties, somewhere close to 80 kg (should be 70), I started windsurfing when 15 years old with a windsurfer, then some local racing in a division II (Dobelmann D2) and stopped after the university. Around 10 years ago I moved to a tropical place, with constant strong wind and warm waters to rediscover the joys of windsurf, and discovered for the first time the pleasure of planning on a rental fanatic viper. On today´s standards, my windsurfing level is middle to low, let´s say mediocre.
On my spot:
Unfortunately the good tropical times finished and I am back to my home place, in the Bay of Biscay, with the windsurf virus re-installed in my veins. Departure point under a mountain shadowing the dominant westerly winds. Usually light winds, and when I say light is well below 10 knots, 5 quite often. Otherwise stormy days with more than 25. Always gusty, a good day for us is 10 knots with 20 knots gusts see figure, but most often 7 to 15. And shifty, you can get out with a southerly and return with a westerly, or go out in 8 knots and return with 1 or 25. The protected beach area is relatively flat, but very gusty and whirlwind, so if you want some relatively constant wind direction, the best is to get to the open. And then you are in the Bay of Biscay, long waves and rough seas to be expected. Therefore essential to have a board that brings you home under any condition, upwind, no wind, strong winds, all the conditions to be found the same day, in a couple of hours even. More about our navigation at www.tankarta.com (and anyone can compete in our challenge, just max miles per year).
On my gear:
With the description above you can understand this is the kingdom of the raceboards. Most people on Phantom 377 with batwings, a couple of the new Exocet 380, and another couple of the older raceboards (F2, cats and one design). However, for some reason, probably the viper experience, I am less interested in racing and more into enjoying, so aimed at something shorter. Therefore, working on the second hand market I started with a Phantom 297, not enough volume, would sink the bow upwind with light winds. Then, a mistral equipe that I found difficult in the open sea and too technical. Followed by a Kona one, great board, versatile, robust, good in all conditions. My only problem with the Kona is its supposed main strength, to behave like a short board when on the plane. So, suddenly you move from something very stable, to a board you have to be very careful about your foot position. Not a problem with constant winds, but as said here is very gusty, so far too often, by the time I get the Kona to plane the gust is gone or I lose the plane on some bad move. And here comes the Glide.
On the Glide:
First, I am surprised by the quality of the finish. The daggerboard works perfectly, the pushing system to get it down is perfect, does not hit anything, pushes the mastrack base when up nicely. Everything good. And another really smooth thing, the mastrack. I find myself playing much more with it than I did with the Phantom or equipe.
The rig is also great, with a very stable sail, efficient in all courses, and although it is larger than my Kona one sails (8.5 to 8.2 and 7.8), is the first time since I took back to windsurf that I do not feel overpowered in the gusts. I was reluctant to a cambered sail because weight and looking for simplicity, but now I would not change it. With our varying winds, I also like that whatever the rigging setup, the sail remains efficient even if the conditions change (I am not using adjustable down-haul and out-haul).
And then the board: I have sailed it now from 1 to >20 knots (gusts of 20-25 knots), and I have to say I am in love with it. I would say that the word best describing it is “noble”. It does everything in a smooth progressive way that allows you to go outside your envelope of confidence and try new things. Tacks and gybes like a dream, I am trying manoeuvres that I did not attempt since I was 15. With very light winds it glides well, brings you home upwind, so you go out to have fun on it whatever the conditions. The great thing, is that when the wind goes up, the same board goes on the plane really easy, and then it responds to your feet in a nice smooth way. You feel like in a high speed train that is going where you want to go. For the first time I have managed to really go upwind planning on the fin (remember I said mediocre level). And now I am looking for the long waves to have fun instead of suffering them.
In light winds, under 10 knots, on displacement and as I would expect from the length and width, I cannot do as much angle upwind as with the Kona, or my angle/speed compromise is not as good. It is also true that I have the standard daggerboard, I understand there is a larger, racing, one that is probably more efficient. In any case I was able to get back upwind with 1-2 knots, so good enough. However, as soon as the wind picks up over 10 knots the Glide is all fun. In a way it has increased my range of navigation in an unexpected way. I do more or less cover the same range of winds, but the fun starts earlier and at the same time I am enjoying much more the stronger winds where before I was struggling.
I imagine that in skilled hands it must be a fantastic machine, but not sure whether Bruce Kendall realises how good an “all around” and “everybody’s” board he has created. Probably windsurf is in the way out and will disappear with our generation, but otherwise this is the kind of board where you do not need another one, the board from learning to high level for the majority of people. For those that live in the 99% of the planet coasts that are not Tarifa or similar, this is a board where you could learn the basics, and progress all the way to have fun planning, being sure you will be back onshore whatever the conditions. Those that want to compete at high level under very specific conditions would move to other boards, but in a way the Glide covers all your needs, easy enough to learn, high performance under rough conditions, and one design competition. And why not, there is the price, for about the same price than a raceboard hull you get the whole package of modern equipment (board, complete rig etc). For me, is a return to reason where you can afford one board covering all your needs with a reasonable price.
Actually, if I was too suggest some modifications (me suggesting things to Bruce Kendall, what a joke !), I would suggest that the board needs some additional foot strap positions in a less racy position, and perhaps to cover the back half of the board in EVA to protect the hull. All that targeting the less racy oriented, mid level or starting public that would really benefit from it.
Figure B : To get clean winds one needs to get outside the influence of the Higuer Cape, either to the east (Hendaye beach) or to the North. Hondarribia beach is well protected from the swell, but gusty and whirlwind.
Figure A : A good day for us.