Tuning your board is vital for peak performance.

If your board setup is right, it won't only make you go faster, it'll also increase the wind range you can sail it in - both in light air and higher winds.

Following these steps will guarantee maximum enjoyment from your new Roberts Board or kick start your old one!

Fin Size
If there's one question I get asked more than any other, it's what fin I should use? We do have recommended fin sizes for all of our boards, but we only show the average size. There's a little more to it when selecting a fin for optimum performance.

For starters, each board should have 2 or 3 fins to work with. This doesn't mean you should go run out and buy 3 fins for every board you own! Most of you have more than one board, so if you make your fin selection carefully, you can spread them through your boards. So take all of your boards into consideration and you'll save a bunch of money.

When selecting your fin(s) you should understand your board type and sailing conditions:
Freeride Freeride boards will work with a few different fin designs. Freeride fins are recommended (duh!), but you could use either slalom or wave shapes. A freeride fin looks like a cross between a wave fin and a pointer.
Slalom These boards work best with dedicated downwind slalom shapes. They won't take you upwind like a pointer fin, but they're designed to go off the wind very fast. The length is generally shorter with a longer chord length (width). The chord length helps you keep the board going in a straight line. Other slalom shapes that work well resemble raked back pointers with a wing tip.
Wave Wave boards need the freedom of a swept back shape, making the board draw out in the turn, using the shape of the board to carve through a turn. Usually long in the chord and the shortest fins you'll see (except for high wind slalom styles). These shapes ease you through bottom turns creating maximum bite.
Bump & Jump Much like wave boards, wave shapes work best with bump & jump boards. But you can use some different styles and shapes depending on the size of your board. Small bump & jump boards work well with swept back wave fins, larger boards have a wider range to choose from including freeride and small pointers. Remember, wave fins for a more carvy session, freeride for pointing and lighter air performance.

The big question is: What Size? Well, that's easy - the right one! Here's how...
Firstly, select a fin which you think will work well in the wind/wave/water conditions you're going to sail in and go out and sail it. Keep in mind to make all the fine adjustments to boom, mast track and sail settings (read on, MacDuff!). Start paying attention to what your feet are doing, particularly to the amount of pressure you have on each foot. If the pressure is light on your back foot and you're not able to "push" on the fin, and you end up spinning out, your fin is too small. Consequently, if the pressure on your back foot is high and the board is railing up and getting flighty, your fin is too big. Ideally you want the feeling that your fin doesn't exist except when you need to push on it to go upwind, turn or drive the board harder.

Mast Track
The placement of the mast track (how far back or forward you attach your rig) is very important in optimizing the wind range of your board. In the past we have all been told to move the mast foot forward while using larger sails. Well those days have come and gone with the introduction of better, more stable sail designs. We like to start with the mastfoot towards the back of the track - this may sound backwards but it really works! By starting aft in the track it does two things: it allows us to get in our back footstrap easier in light wind; and it helps power us up quicker as the mast is standing up straighter. Anther reason for moving the mastfoot back is to get rid of that "sticky" feeling a board has going through choppy water, effectively giving the board more lift out of the chop. The only reason for moving the mast forward is to keep the nose of the board down when it starts to feel "flighty" - then only move it forward a little at a time until it feels comfortable. Remember, a little bit of flightiness = fast!

Boom Height
A poorly adjusted boom can and will affect both nose trim and foot stance. Some simple rules are: Many people set their boom to "chest high" or "chin high." Good places to start, but like everything else that's adjustable, there's more to it than that! In light air, if your mast track is most of the way back and your board feels sticky, or you're having trouble getting into the back straps, move your boom UP. This will not only set you up further back over your straps to get in them easier, it will also make the nose of their board trim up higher. As the wind increases, the board will become more flighty and you may experience the feeling of your front foot pulling out of its strap - this is caused by your boom being too high. Do one of two things, or a little of both: moving your boom down will move the centre of effort forward; and putting more weight on your front foot, thus controlling nose lift (or flightiness) will stop your foot from pulling out. Mast track and boom height work hand in hand. Getting proper trim with both isn't easy and requires alot of attention, but if you're willing to make the effort and come in off the water to make the adjustments, the benefits will allow you to sail faster, and increase the range of wind you can sail in, making your board more enjoyable to sail.

Sail Downhaul
Reading your sail rigging instructions is utmost important. If you bought your sails used, maybe check the sail manufacturer's website, or their local dealer for proper instructions. Incorrect downhaul will affect the way your board trims out. It is true that less downhaul will make the sail fuller for better light air performance, and as the wind strength increases it's important to pull more downhaul - reasons being that if the sail is used in more wind, the draft will remain higher up in the sail, forcing the nose of the board down making it stick. More downhaul in more wind = will lower the draft in the sail, pushing it forward and give the board more lift, freeing it up and speeding it up! Too little downhaul can also create spinout: the centre of effort from the sail shifts back and up, loading up your back hand and your back foot, creating more pressure on the fin and...spinout!

Finally, you have to go sailing and try out these tuning tips. Make the effort to better understand your board and rig balance - and above all, take the time to make adjustments. Spending the time now will not only make your sailing more enjoyable, it'll allow you to sail faster, more in control, in a wider range of conditions. Adjust one thing at a time. More than this and you won't know what helped or hindered the effect of what you just did. A big part of windsurfing is the "feel." At Roberts, we se so many people measuring boom heights and mast track positions and footstrap placement. People ask us where we have ours set up. We can only tell them it's how we "feel" when riding the board - we set every board up differently, and for different conditions - remember, you're out there to have fun, not to fight your equipment.

And if you want to ask me any questions regarding set up - don't hesitate!

Happy Sailing

Rob Mulder