Start with a Chart - Those of you that know me understand my addiction to charts, graphs and metrics. So let's stay on course with that, go straight to the heart, and start with a chart. Below is a chart showing how my quiver of boards and sails has evolved since I started the sport in 2010. I strongly suggest that you make a similar chart for your own quiver. It will help you to monitor and understand how your quiver evolves.
What each person wants and demands from their quiver is different. It is different based on our own personal goals, our level of skill, our mindset, and our desires. At the beginner skill level, most of us want a big board for stability and a small sail for ease of uphauling. But even beginner mindsets and goals differ greatly from person to person. When some people begin this sport they have a mindset that the sport will allow them to gently cruise back and forth across a friendly lake. Others begin the sport with a mindset that someday they will be launching off 6 foot waves in 40mph winds on an angry ocean. While the beginning quivers, on day one, may be the same for these individuals, the quivers will soon be evolving in different directions. The goal is different, and thus the evolution is different. So it is helpful to be in touch with YOUR mindset. It is helpful to ask yourself "why". Where might this sport take me? Where do I want this sport to take me? Gear is expensive, and this sport requires a large time commitment. So, understanding your "why" will save you both money and time. But more important than understanding your "why" is discovering your "why". Some people "arrive" in this sport, while others are on a continuous journey of discovery. If and when you "arrive" in this sport then your quiver will likely stop evolving. But while you are journeying, discovering and progressing your quiver will likely continue to evolve.
From the very beginning I had interest in the extreme nature of this sport. It took me many years to build the skills necessary to ride in extreme conditions, and the quiver evolved to keep pace. I started on a 175 liter Starboard Rio with a 5.8m Maui Global sail. After a few weeks, I was successfully using the harness, and after another few weeks I was in the footstraps planing. That summer the winds were usually 12-20mph, so it wasn't long before I realized that I needed a bigger sail to get more days of sailing with the light winds. And it wasn't long after that I realized the board I was riding was not very playful. So I ended up buying some bigger sails and a smaller board. My perspective was evolving and so was my quiver. The following year my skills improved, the winds were stronger, and I purchased both smaller sails and smaller boards. Eventually the 8.5m dropped out of my quiver completely as did the 175 and 135 liter boards. Then the 7m (6.9m) and 6m sails dropped out along with the 115 liter board. Somewhere along the line I started spending most of my days riding in the open waters of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. The toughest transition I had was going from 95 liters to 85 liters. A lot of it was mental. On days when you need an 85 liter board the waves can get a little intimidating. It wasn't until 2016 that I started riding 85 liters. It took a lot of energy and dedication to progress to 85 liters, but from there things changed rapidly. I had lost 30 pounds of body weight, and I had learned to be much more efficient. Thus, my quiver evolved even further toward the smaller side of things. This season, my average sail size was 4.3m and average board size was 94 liters.
The evolution of my quiver has provided me with a tremendous education on windsurfing. I have learned so much about gear, skill, and efficiency. My first year, I was clueless. But as time went on the gear started to teach me. I remember trying to transition to a 95 liter board from the 135 liter board. The new 95 liter board said to me, "You really suck! You are weighting your back leg too much and turning me upwind. We are not getting on plane at all dummy. Throw me downwind with your front leg, weight that front leg a little more, and then sheet in at the same time." I listened to the board and we got on plane nicely. Listen to your gear. It will often tell you what to do. When I took the same 95 liter board into the open lake on a 30mph day for the first time I continually ended up downwind and had to walk back up the beach. I started listening to the board again, and it said, "You really suck! Stop trying to force me upwind. Instead, get some good speed first and then gently edge upwind." I had this same conversation when I progressed to a 76 liter board last season. The gear will talk to you. Listen.
Your gear will steer YOU, but as your quiver evolves you may want to steer IT in a particular direction. Here are a few thoughts to consider:
1. Separation of Sail Sizes: If your sail sizes are too far apart you will have gaps in the wind ranges you can ride. If your sail sizes are too close together you will spend unnecessary money on too many unnecessary sails and you will have no room in your van. Prior to 2018, my sail quiver had a little too much space between sizes. It worked, but it was not ideal. Jumping from a 5m sail to a 4.2m sail was a big jump on any given day. I might be overpowered on the 5m fully downhauled, but then slightly underpowered on the 4.2m fully open. But for 2018 my quiver is great. Every sail fully downhauled has about the same power as the next size smaller fully open. There is about a 1mph overlap, which you will see in a chart below. This works very well for me. Figure out what works for you.
2. Separation of Board Sizes: I am not as sensitive to gaps in board sizes as I am to gaps in sail sizes, but it still matters. The second half of the 2018 season I rode my 85 liter board most of the time with every sail in my quiver. My 105 liter board got little use. I attribute much of that to the proper spacing of my sail sizes. It allowed me to stay on a smaller board. However, in retrospect, I was missing out on certain opportunities by shunning my larger 105 liter board. The 105 allows me to wave ride frontside with less effort. It allows me to pop backside top turns without sinking as much after the smack. It is less tiring in gusty conditions when I might be on and off plane. Next season I will take advantage of the 105 more. With all that aside, the difference of 20 liters from my 105 to 85 seems like excellent separation for me at my current skill level. It took many years to discover what size difference works for me and it has changed several times, but pay attention and you will figure out what works for you. My 76 liter board is also spaced very well compared to my 85 liter board. When things get really gnarly the 76 calms angry waters. The 9 liters makes a big difference when the wind is that strong. Here is a more detailed chart of my complete current quiver:
4. Know The Wind Range of Your Sails: In item #1 above, I mentioned that you need to find the sail quiver that works for you. In order to do that it really helps to know the wind range that works for you with the sails you ride. I encourage you to actually write it down! It really helps you to know your quiver. Make a chart for yourself with the wind ranges of your sails. And then analyze the gaps. Is there too much separation between sail sizes, or too little separation. It may take you a whole season to get an accurate chart, but do it. Here is the chart for my quiver: