The PWA Fuerteventura opening day of competition unfortunately had no on water action but there was plenty going on off the water, with live music and interviews being held throughout the day.
The wind dropped just before the racing could begin which then led to the sailors being held on standby until 6pm, because late in the afternoon the wind showed signs that it was going to pickup. However it never fully materialized despite a couple of sailors being tempted out to test the conditions. We will now have to wait until tomorrow to see the adrenaline fueled racing begin.
Whilst everyone was playing the waiting game in Fuerteventura we had a quick chat with Danny Aeberli (F2 / KA Sails), who is the shaper behind F2.
PWA: How and when did you first start your career as a board designer? Danny Aeberli : 'I started working as a tester at F2 years ago, I then I was working with the shaper of F2 for a long time. When F2 took a different path I took over his position as the board designer for F2 and I have been doing this job for the past four or five years now. One of the main reasons I come to the event in Fuerteventura is not just to support my race team but it is extremely important for me to get an inside view. By being out on the water myself I am able to see how different equipment is performing in different conditions. This helps me to understand where the trend might be heading in the future.'
PWA : What do you think have been the most major changes over the last four or five years? Danny Aeberli: 'Over the last few years we have seen the field become super competitive. The older riders are getting closer together and the young guys are also improving a lot, for the time being it seems the more experienced guys are still winning the races. Something that is really important in the development of the equipment right now is that both the sails and the boards have to be capable of performing much better overall, this means we have seen the top speed of all the boards become much more similar, of course there are one or two boards which are still faster. However the overall balance of the board design is extremely important now as the sailors are only allowed to register three boards for the duration of the season. This means the kit needs to be capable of performing well in waves, chop and flat water. They need to have great early planing and acceleration as well as being able to gybe fantastically. It’s the balancing of the boards performance which is taking the board design forwards.'
PWA : Can you explain the purpose of the cutouts which feature in many of the boards right now? Danny Aeberli: 'One of the trends at the moment is to increase the width of the tail of the boards, so we have to find a way of reducing the planing surface area of the board. If you want the wide tail, which gives you the power and support, then the cut out shape is the only way to implement the wide tail. In the past the cutouts were really big because they looked fast but nowadays the cutouts are used to fine-tune the board. Now when I design a board it doesn’t have the cutouts from the beginning, I actually route them in afterwards and during the testing process I decide how big they should be.
PWA : How does your testing process work? Danny Aeberli : 'I think one of the keys to the success of an effective testing process is that you use a small team so there aren’t too many people involved. It’s really important to listen to your riders and I think it’s also important to be a rider yourself, it’s even better if you can be on the water at the same time as this helps to reduce any potential mistakes from misunderstandings via Skype or e-mail etc. All my international riders are involved in the development of the range, I also listen to my national riders too. Ultimately all I am looking to do is to move forward step-by-step. Sometimes though I will shape a board which is completely out of the box, just to see if this would work.'
PWA : Do your development take place over the whole year or do you assign a specific development period? Danny Aeberli : 'I spread the development out over the whole year to enable me to complete the whole range. At different times of year I will focus on different boards in the range. I am busy throughout the year because I am working alone. So for example I have now finished the development of the 2013 slalom range and I am already working on the 2014 boards, so I am here to find out what changes I may need to be making.'
PWA : How important do you think it is to have a good setup between your board, sail and fin? Danny Aeberli : 'It’s really difficult to win if you don’t have a great setup between these three variables. I’m really lucky because I have my own fin brand (Choco Fins), so I am developing fins specifically for my boards. This means that most of my riders use my fins too because they fit the boards, this doesn’t mean that they will fit with other brands though. So other riders have to spend a lot of time testing different fin brands to find the best ones for their board because it is super important to get this setup as perfect as possible.'