Windsurfing brands are always improving the performance of their sails, boards, fins etc. Peter Munzlinger is the sail-designer for GA (Gaastra) Sails and explain the development of the GA Vapor 2017.
The interview below is provided by Marco Bal (GA Team-rider NL).
Could you please tell something about yourself? What is your position in the GA company?
I Joined Gaastra end of 2010 as their new sail designer. I design and develop the complete sail range with the help of our international team. I also do the R&D (research and development) for the masts and booms.
What are the locations for the GA Vapor R&D? And which riders are testing the Vapor sails?
The testing is done anywhere. If you talk about the Vapor, I work closely with Ben Van Der Steen, Ross Williams and Cedric Bordes. Many tests are performed in Tarifa, where Ben lives, but also around the world and during PWA events.
The GA Vapor masts changed from hard top to constant curve (CC) in 2015. Which possibilities gave that to you regarding sail design?
Yes, after having squeezed the Hard Top to the maximum. The CC masts made my life easier getting more shape to the front of the sails. We also got more performance in the sails.
In most cases, each sail is an evolution of the previous sail. Untill 2009, the Gaastra Vapor did not have a cross batten, but it will return in the Vapor 2017. What are the toughts behind this, and who came up with that idea. What are the advantages for the riders who use the Vapor?
Actually, we have protos with and without a cross batten. Right now, we are finalizing the project and might have both solutions across the different sizes. The fastest sail will win independently from the outline. The idea came mainly from upgrading the foot outline of the sails. With the cross batten there is a big roach under the boom. I always hate it when the foot touches the deck of the board or get stuck outside the back footstraps, hindering a nice close of the gap in the middle of the board. This big area was also twisting away, while sailing adding a bit of unstability. With the new foot outline you have a nice and longer close the gap, which is more stable.
When does GA Sails start the R&D for the GA Vapor? And where do you begin?
The R&D of a new sail is a continuous process. There is is only a certain moment to register the sails for the PWA and start the production. After that you start with the new sails. This year the main improvement was the new foot outline. Furthermore, you try to improve your weaknesses and keep your strong points, but it is always a compromise.
There are still questions about the name. Gaastra and or GA. There are some pictures on the web of the 2017 GA Vapor and both names are used on the sail. This is somewhat confusing for some people. What's the story behind that?
The name is still Gaastra. I would say GA is an additional new and fresh logo with the classic castle logo.
Like boards, masts and fins, sails are a compromise. A low sail mass results often in a short lifetime, but using reinforcements results in heavier sail. Another example: maximum performance for the PWA riders, but also tune-able sails for the customer. There is a big community racers on the water who like to tune and use there equipment for years. Do you also look and listen to those local heroes when you design a new sail or are the PWA guys most important?
You are right, it is always a compromise. I personally don't like it when sails break. In the past I tried a lot of sail constructions. Somethimes, it fails. I'm always trying to make the sails as light as possible but in certain areas, reinforcements are needed so the sails don't rip. That is especially along the luff in the bottom of the sail, inside the mast sleeve.
The Vapor those are the most no compromise sails for competition.In general I listen to our PWA team riders, but this development is also good for the experienced amateur racers. I always recommend the Phantom for the less experienced racers. This sail has high performances, but are easier to handle. It is also PWA registered and if you have less training you can even be faster on using the Phantom instead of the Vapor, which is heavier and more powerful. Do you think the most perfect sail is somewhere out there,or will you never be done with your work?
As I said, it is always a compromise. There will always be a better compromises and the development continuous process that never stops. Look at products and think how they were some years back. After one year, you may not see that big difference, but over a longer period of time, the differences are getting huge.
The prices of race/slalom/formula equipment have been raised while the windsurf (racing) sport is not a big market. Good things have their prize, but what are the reasons for the raising prices? Is labor getting more expensive in the East, and will there be a point where producing in Europa is going to be more interesting?
Windsurfing is not a big market but the racing equipment is no compromise and demanding a lot of development, so it is expensive. Prices are increasing for many reasons, the materials get more expensive every year and lately the weakness of the euro. China is expanding and the labor is increasing. But the main factor is that the materials are based on the dollar. At the moment I don't think we are going to produce in Europe.
Are there sails you would like to have time for to design? Speedsurfing sails for contests like Luderitz?
I know, in Netherlands you practice a lot of speedsailing. Good speedsailing conditions are only at a few spots around the world. It is only possible at very flat water and very strong winds. I am more interested in getting the maximum speed in lighter winds, like getting two or three times the speed of the wind compared with the speed equal to the wind strenght in higher winds. I think the actual trend in the foiling could get interesting results in the future.
Are there plans to introduce the constant curve masts in the Formula sizes (which still have hard-top masts)?
Yes, for 2017 we will have all our masts in Constant Curve. RDM and SDM in all sizes and carbon percentages.