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Early "Planing"

There are currently many discussions on the windsurf forums regarding early planing {and NOT planning :-) }. When one speaks of early planing, we are not referring to which board planes earliest in 16 knots of wind, but rather which boards plane up earliest in winds under 10 knots !! These are obviously LIGHT winds and for someone like myself of 100 kilos/220 lbs, it seems unattainable.

As they said in the July/August 2007 Windsurfing Magazine:

What seems to be happening in the market is, there are these specialized boards like the Starboard Serenity and the Exocet RS D2 making their appearance. They seem to have some similarities to what we have seen in the past and yet ...

Exocet RS D2

As you can see here, these shapes are "longer" and pointed in the front to "cut" the waves. The Serenity has NO footstraps and both have centre boards. They are not really similiar animals except in the objective to get on water in light winds and get good speed. The Serenity has been around a while and the RS D2 is having its first year with only 500 being produced. Thus it is more difficult to compare the RS D2 with current standings. I am sure this will NOT take long to happen :-)

We have already seen and discussed Formula wide boards and long narrow racier longboards. These have been around for quite some time and have been discussed in another post... formula-boards-and-longboards.html  It is known that the wide Formula boards with 100 cm and their long fins have early planing potential due to those two(2) factors - width + fin.

Remi of Starboard has done some tests on planing performance in light winds. He is middle weight to my recollection and not a feather weight of 65 kilos.

In speed only :

In 5 knots : Serenity > Phantom Race > Apollo
In 7 knots : Apollo > Serenity > Phantom Race
In 10 Knots : Apollo > Phantom Race > Serenity 

The Apollo project is basically Formula and as such we see that the Long Raceboard is never number one in speed. I would challenge to say that it may be the most versatile and most comfortable in lower and higher winds...These tests were performed with an 11 square meter sail in 2007. The results are still valid since things have not changed that much for these boards.

Addendum injected here: Does this mean everyone should run out and get a formula board of 100 cm width in order to plane early ? Definitely NOT !! People live in different environments and are different weights. In  the Windsurfing Magazine of June 2004 {now defunct :-( } they say light weights from 100 to 160 pounds should go from 70 to 85 cm wide, middle weights of 160 to 185 pounds 75  to 90 cm and heavyweights of more than 185 pounds - go to 80 to 100 cm wide.
And later here it states someone of my weight should go with a 75 cm fin. I have an 80 cm board and go as high as a 10-oh race sail with a 53 cm pointer fin. I think I will stop there. A new formula board will cost over $2000, fin over $200, mast over $800 and sail over $1000. We are talking about 4 to 5 thousand dollars.

Here is the Serenity in 5 to 7 knots with an 11-oh race sail:

In the same post on the SB forum, Jean-Marc informs us about Pfaffi:

Clique to see clearly in new window

1) for a light weight rider of 65 kg, a fin length of 53 cm should suffice
2) Pfaffi used a Formula HWR board, a 70 cm fin and a Severne Reflex 12 m2 sail to be able to start and sustain the planing as of 7 knots. He weights 92 kg. 
3) If his theory holds true and according to his table, you should be able to do the same with a 75 cm fin for your 100 kg body weight. 
So, what does this mean for an average Joe like myself who happens to be a heavyweight (as per windsurf standards and statistics on average male body weights) living in a light wind area ? Used Serenity or Formula can be purchased for under $1000. My largest sail is a 10-oh. Will NOT spend another $1000 to gain 2 knots. The boards discussed here are all well around the $2000 mark new. Locally a fellow has purchased an Exocet Warp 100 Formula board brand new and hated it - he is now trying to sell it at a very reasonable price of $1500 since it IS new, but not getting any nibbles. Pfaffi suggests a Formula with a 75 cm fin,

My answer is an old Fanatic Ultra CAT which was used to race and considered great fun in the early 90's. The MegaCAT was shown to be faster, but more technical or difficult to use. My biggest issue with light winds is that they are typically NOT stable and as such i need the long hull and stable race sails with cambers.

These boards are all niche boards and NOT common. I found my niche and I hope you find yours :-)

Other boards I have not mentioned here are the JP SLW {JP SuperLightWind}, the SB US {UltraSonic} and Tinho Dornellas of Calema Sports custom boards. These are also early planers and less upwind/downwind oriented than the Formula boards.

So far, it looks like the RSD2 may be a keeper !!! {Another Canadian windsurfer , also named Joe, has both the JPSL and the Serenity and is looking at the RSD2 :-) } Believe that in the end he decided upon a StarBoard Phantom 377 - with the batwings - and loving it !!

Here are some links to the RS D2 discussions:

Tinho blasting on RS D2
In order to get speed or planing in light winds under 10 knots there seem to be two(2)concepts that have been combined in the RSD2. The front of the board is narrow and pointy in order to slice through water with the least resistance. The Serenity has this concept to the extreme and as such seems to be the fastest in really light winds around 5 knots. The other concept is width and volume to generate more flotation and thus less resistance to water. This is applied at the back of the RSD2 and taken to the extreme with the Apollo project or Formula boards. These boards have shown to be the fastest in winds over 7 knots. Now it would be interesting to see a test of Formula and RSD2 together in winds around 10 knots :-)

In order for any of this planing to occur in winds under 10 knots, people are using really large sails over 11 meters squared. I have a 10-oh which I find uncomfortable when I have to carry the load ie wind drops. The 11-oh I tried once was even worse. So, I do not know how people that are not heavy-weights manage these large sails !! Technique wins over brawn I am sure :-)

This discussion would not be complete if one did not mention the hybrids. These are boards that do not specialize in any one thing or form of sailboarding and yet are flexible enough for many facets. These boards would include the Exocet Kona and Tabou Windstyler/SUP. The Kona has already started to be a one-design race class - good for light winds up to 20 knots.

Update: Local windsurfer known as "sailboarder", who goes to BDU on his KONA made a suggestion to read the reviews of the new Starboard with BatWings :-) In the review one sees the author is a Formula fan, butt does find the longboard just a little more "fun" and "comfortable". {thanx sailboarder !!}

2nd update: another aspect of early planing that has not been discussed here is technique. If two people are out on the same day and on the same equipment and yet one planes earlier than the other, it can be technique. Guy Cribb covers this here:
3rd update: since writing this discussion, I have found another option - it is called FreeFormula. It is a wider board over 85 cm and less than 95 cm - as per my definition. Mine is a BIC Techno Formula of 94 cm and 170 liters, butt there are others. For my 100 kilos, this board planes with my TR-4 10-oh in around 10 to 12 knots of wind. My AHD 160 with 80 cm width will start to plane around 12 knots. The BTF schloggs better and planes up a little earlier. It is NOT a race Formula, but instead more of a funboard and planes very smoothly. This has become my most used combo in the light winds. Rather than the Fanatic Ultra CAT with the 10-oh or 8-oh. Planing slowly is an odd concept and needs to be experienced. It means any mere puff and you take off :-)
Just saw an interesting quote in a Windsurfing Magazine - June 2010 pg 50
"Trade-Offs: Top-end  speed and heavy-air control suffer the most when extremely early planing is achieved." Then they went on to say this does not apply to the Fanatic Skate 100 :-) That's funny cuz that board goes out in heavy winds with sails 4 to 6 meters. It better be fast !!

Wider boards will have a smaller wetted area and as such plane earlier than a narrow board of the same volume. To plane earlier one needs the wide board, big fin and big sail. Sailor weight makes a difference too. A lighter sailor can plane with equipment that may not plane at all for a heavyweight. The same equipment can require almost 2 knots less wind if one loses 20 pounds. For someone like myself of 225 pounds this is not entirely unreasonable.I try to start every season at around 210 and by December I am always back to 225. I never quite make it down to 200 :(

So, a person should be able to plane in 10 mph/knots or about 20 kph average winds. NOT everyone lives in windier conditions. Here is a wind blob from Dorval aeroport in Montreal taken from iwindsurf and Dorval tends to be windier than the rest of the area - for some reason ...As one can see, winds are typically from the W & NE and typically under 15 mph.

 Actually it was windalert and there was an important piece of data missing on the left, which showed the numbers per month for the whole year - and yes, winds were from W and NE and under 15mph ALL year long ...

One interesting comment i have been reading lately and pondering ....
To plane earlier - in general - need to keep board trim ie flat and often Guy Cribb and others suggest moving mast track forward and boom up !!!
This feels counter-intuitive to me - get the front out of the water - move mast back, non? NON

Tinho says:
Early planing depends on a board being perfectly trim on the water- front to back and rail to rail. Track too far back kills that
So you have to find the balance between both. Or you can add something into the mix: boom height.
Track forward and higher boom allows early planing and good top end speed. You can also play with things like fin rake, twist and flex, fin profile, sail profile, and draft stability.
The above observations are made for the Formula board-- it is important to recognize that the width of the board itself is another major detail into this early planing/ speed /control equation.

That is the beauty of windsurfing- so many variables you can spend a lifetime perfecting your speed.

Final addendum (i hope :-)
I just re-read this post and interestingly enough, did NOT discuss pumping. I spend more time discussing equipment rather than technique. Most people will suggest that getting on a plane quickly requires technique in terms of setup, stance AND pumping - rather than passively waiting to plane. They call it full body pumping. This gets the board out of the water and over the little wave at the front quickly. Here is a fellow, who I have seen in a better video , showing how he uses pumping to the fullest. Will look for the other video too ...

This is not the same fellow, Fred Mistral, and is called "PUMP IT"

Here is Peter Hart about "early planing" (

and another

In March 2014 on Ozzie windsurf forum flatout said..  

I would say that wide does not equal early planing. I used to have an 80cm slalom board, which I used with an 8m sail. I then bought a 112L 68cm freestyle board and a 6.9m power sail. The planing threshold between the two was equal, if not lower for the freestyle kit. I chose to go the light and small route. But I can still sail in the same winds, although now I am focusing more in manoeuvres instead of speed. 

some people say - all i do is quote from old magazines
another said - stop reading and do some sailing :-)

so, here goes...

in the April 2004 issue of the Windsurfing Magazine {now defunct}
"flat water tends to favour additional width"
"heavyweight sailors may opt for slightly wider sizing"
"gusty winds favour added board width"
"adding width offers stability for rookies, as well as planing and
pointing power for light air specialists"

from the chart in that issue
100 cm wide - max 12.5 sail
90 cm wide - max 11.0 sail
80 cm wide - max 10.0 sail
70 cm wide - max 7.8 sail
60 cm wide - max 6.5 sail

However, some also say "dont go too wide. narrow is key to "the glide"
especially in VERY light winds

Here is some more from Peter Hart on getting planing:

Fast Forward to Fall 2015.
Here Dr. Elch of Germany discusses how he manages to plane in 8 to 12 knots of wind - much to the envy of all the other windsurfers on the water:
What he is using ?? He started with an RRD Lightwind 150 (236 cm x 91) and a 9.6 sail. But he wanted even earlier planing. He found a "2007 np v8 10.6 in average condition. My sailmaker cut the clew and win 10 cm" gained/lost on the outhaul. "Needing some small gust (11-12) knots to accelerate, the board runs and runs even down to 8 knots." CONGRATULATIONS !!

For me I still prefer to start with 12 knot winds when trying to plane with my JP SLW92 (165 liters and 250 cm long) with a MauiSails TR-4 10.0 m² sail. However, I have started to try the combo in 8 to 12 knots in order to practice and hope for planing ...

In early 2016 I asked a couple of questions on the iwindsurf forum that kind of flew back in my face. Asked about using larger sails than my MauiSails TR-4 10 m² sail. In the question I posted a video of myself on the JP SLW. Since I was NOT in the straps and NOT fully planing , this drew criticism. How can I consider anything larger when not even fully planing in the straps. Also asked about overcoming a phobia of getting in the straps. Again that drew criticism. I mentioned technique earlier, but besides being obvious in the videos, did not discuss the importance of the straps. Here I will suggest the importance of straps and plan to show how much they help by my getting in them in 2016, This will need to be my priority in 2016 - NOT just a wish and as such need determination and a plan !!

here's a quote from
"you need more than 10 knots or 12-15mph to get planing on Formula gear. 10knots is longboard weather, and probably still not planing. 
But most people don't windsurf until it's blowing at least 15knots or say 18mph. At which point, with your weight and on your huge board, you'd need an 8m sail. At 70kgs and with lightweight 100litre kit, 18mph gets me planing easily on a bagged out 5.8 metre sail. 
My thresh-hold of planing interest starts at about 15knots or 18mph. 
Below this and I can still have fun but I would not choose an expensive big sail, super-wide board and then expect to plane – but instead I'd rather choose a small sail and make do with the journey on offer."

But if you are a lightweight , you are able to plane much earlier than a heavyweight like myself. Yet the world's fastest windsurfers are tall heavyweights ...
Here is another video of a lightweight planing in light winds ...

2016: So, some of the most effective boards in REALLY light winds are longboard types with pointy noses. Like the SB Serenity, which is no longer manufactured, and the Exocet RSD2. Now it seems there is a new player on the block - out of the Netherlands - the SurfersGroup SG-R 380. Some are saying it beats out the RSD2 completely...

The SurfersGroup 380 is a complete different board than the D2. The 2012 worlds was a bit of a disaster for the Exocet boss who was on site. They promoted the board in Europe using Stephan van de Berg in marketing. But during the event all the riders (without 1, a Dutchman body weight 150 kilo) who raced the D2 gave up after 2 days. Even some passed champions we know who would ride that board didn’t show up I myself actually was in love seeing the first presentation of the D2 during the worlds in 2011. But after I have seen the first trailer of Stephan van den Berg in low wind conditions  I was disappointed as I’m heavy weight 105 kilo and Stephan is still <70 kilo (it glides slower than a Laser) and started to build the proto of the SurfersGroup 380.   

Some major differences: Weight : +/- 5% without dagger and foot straps.  SurfersGroup 380 is 12.5 kilo The D2 is 24 kilo,  We measured 3 different D2 boards at Masters Worlds in 2012.  Width: SurfersGroup 380, 65cm D2, 77cm  Volume: SurfersGroup 380, 290L D2, 428L  Shape: SurfersGroup 380 has an box rails flat tail D2 has an round rails bevel tail  nose: SurfersGroup 380 has a positive nose, it follows the wave. The D2 has a negative nose that points in to the wave. The shape differences make the SurfersGroup glide earlier and box rails will lift the tail as the D2 still is sticky. The buoyancy of the D2 should be a benefit of that board but the shape and the weight are against.   

The SurfersGroup out classes the D2 and the 377L the new Exocet RS 380 in the up wind course The position of the tail foot straps of The SurfersGroup 380 is closer to the rails than Exocet RS 380 and 377L wings and gives a better downwind control it makes the SurfersGroup easier to ride than ten 377L and New RS In 15 to 20 knot wind I hunt and kill slalom boards. ;-)   

There are also major differences in the construction. The SurfersGroup boards are hollow and build like a kayak/ race car using prepreg fibers and vacuum infusion technique. We have a multi fibber layup on the deck /bottom and inside. The core is designed in using different materials and strength. As we do not have an 0,20 x290l= 5,8 kilo EPS core. That weight benefit makes it that we are able to double/triple fibre/layup materials compared to other raceboard manufacturers.  The Production boards like Starboard 377l and Exocet never are the weight of Officials ISAF registration. Simple mathematics show that. The EPS core weight of the D2 428 litre board is 10 kilo the PVC core 2 kilo. Build in, the Fin box, mastrack foot strap inserts, vent, dagger board casket and strips, some kind of coating and non-skid weight close to 5 kilo. Is a total of 17 kilo so if the board registration is 14.5 kilo then there is nothing left for the fibber and epoxy.????   

The weight and construction of Mistral One Design or the older Mistral competition epoxy and the Mistral board you ride now, build some time ago are tougher and lighter than the new raceboards of Starboard and Exocet build now.


  1. This link might interest you. sailboarder

  2. The link:

  3. Great article, but there is a big distinction to be made between a gliding hull and a planing hull. The Serenity's hull is not designed as a true planing hull but as a gliding hull only. Effective wind range is between 2 and 9 knots of wind. Because it is a gliding hull only, her max hull speed is topping off at 12-13 knots, not more.

    By contrast, a Fanatic Ultra Cat or Exocet RSD2 or a Starboard Phantom Race board are designed as planing hull, however. Wind range is much wider than that of the Serenity, i.e., 5-30+ knots of wind.

    Cheers !


    1. I agree that the Serenity is NOT a planing hull.
      However, it accents the point that under a certain wind speed one better forget about planing and think about GLIDING or cutting through the water rather than `floating`on or skimming over it.

      This threshold is at different wind speeds for different people and seems weight dependent. As a general statement i would say under 8 knots or so, FORGET about planing. For me at 220 lbs/ 100 kilos it is more like 10 knots.

      Glad you enjoyed this post/article and hope you found others equally as interesting !!!

  4. Good stuff, Average Joe! This will help me planing early for sure.

    And nice to know it is spelled as planing too. I was already wondering for some time how to spell it correctly


  5. hi, just noticed your site. i am looking for a serenity mk2 (or mk1) in ontario or quebec. thanks if anyone can provide info to...


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