with Fanatic Product Manager Daniel Aeberli
Slalom & Foiling R&D
with Daniel Aeberli
Slalom & Foiling R&D
Dani, can you tell us briefly what´s new for 2022?
For 2022, we have developed three brand new Falcon Foil models for high-end foil slalom racing: The 144l for high wind slalom/long distance racing and speed, 177l for free foil slalom, women and lighter riders and the 188l, our flagship PWA World Cup edition. All three models are 100% dedicated foil slalom racing machines.The 199l model is specifically designed to win foiling course races.
How many test runs did you do for those?
We did several prototypes and test rounds between Jordy, Pierre and Marco and myself over a period of several months – in France and at Lake Garda. The latest proto was the absolute favorite for all of us, especially for Pierre, he absolutely loved this boards due to the optimized airflow concept straight away and begged me to send it for production. That´s the new Falcon Foil 177l and 188l. The 144l our riders already used at this years Defi Wind as it was mainly developed in Gruissan by Pierre for highwind/long distance races.
What other changes did you do on the new Falcon range?
All Falcon Foil models will have triple footstrap inserts for adjustable stance settings. The footstraps can be set-up in three different single screw inserts or two different double screw insert positions for tighter or personal preferences. The inner foot strap position is best suited for less advanced riders. Like that we offer even more stance variety and you can personalise your board/sail combo.
We were also able to redefine the construction of our Slalom TE boards resulting in a lighter and even more crisp riding experience!
What effect do he cutouts and tail shape have on the performance?
We spend a lot of time refining the tail section, to find the right balance of control and top speed and of the general trim of the board on the water. It is really detailed work at the end of the day that will define a true winning board. The tail section is the most important on every board shape, as it’s the part that is most of the time in the water.
Can you tell us a bit more about general R&D process/how that works?
The R&D and testing process is the key to producing a winning board at the end of development. To start off, we get as much feedback as possible on the current boards from our dealers, agents and reps, team riders and opinion leaders; and filter all the information to learn what improvements or changes they would like to get. We also work very closely with Duotone sails and make sure that boards and sails match perfectly in every size.
I talk to our shaper Sebastian about the possible changes then. He makes CAD drawings according to our wish list, and then we have a closer look together at the file, before sending a final file to our special Custom Factory. They build us the prototype according to the CAD file, and then ship it to whatever destination we require to test this particular shape for the first time. I always make sure at least two of our riders will join me for the testing. Sometimes we also get many local and national riders involved. I summarize all information and feedback after every session.
Most important is having a workshop close to the test location. Like that I am able to modify the boards right away if there is any need to update any details on the shape. We also always keep the actual production board as reference. If the board is better, we send the master to our production. If not, we start to make the next prototype until we reach our goal to get the next optimized proto.
How far ahead of the season do you start testing new prototypes? And what does that process involve?
It really depends on the model. Normally we are over one year ahead. So, the moment the 2022 boards are on the market, we are already working on the 2023 range.
How is the development going in foiling?
Slalom racing @ 15 knots is still very exciting and fun. Foiling opens a new era of competition where you can also enjoy tight battles in conditions which are not as perfect. The Falcon LW is the perfect option to enjoy both disciplines, the Falcon Foiling is the right board for winning competitions.
For slalom racing, what would you say is the hardest feature to design speed/control/gybing/range – what are your most important criteria?
The perfect slalom board should be fast, plane good, gybe easily and stay comfortable - even in tricky conditions. Sometimes you will have a rocket that is not gybing, or the opposite. You need to play with all the different aspects to find the right magic potion.
Most people think the fastest board will win. Without acceleration, early planing and control you will never win any races. You cannot build a board with the ‘best’ of everything, so you have to find the perfect balance between all these features.
Do you find that the fastest prototypes generally are the ones that are easier to sail, or do the fastest boards always feel like they are on the edge of control? What makes you decide on which one is best?
It´s all in the mix! Too much control won’t be fast. We always tune up in a way that we’re on the edge of control; but generally we see that a board with amazing control is always fast, it just has to be alive enough to have it working on the racecourse and in gusty conditions. We’re always testing one-on-one, which is an easy way to see the differences in speed and control.
What happens if you don’t all agree on the best board?
We have a very harmonic team and all work together very well. At the end of the day we choose the best prototype which works for everyone at the highest level of competition. I not It´s up to me to find a balance between all the riders, but mostly we all agree.
Do you test boards from other brands?
Yes, and it’s important to compare to the other brands for various reasons. You can learn a lot trying some other board about shaping, but also about your opponents’ skill and tactics. When something is good, why not try to be better! But our ‘old’ model is always the reference while testing.
What´s the technical difference is between a race and a freerace board (like the Jag)?
The main goal of the race board is to win races. For this you need to have a fast board but also something comfortable that helps you to focus on racing, and not on driving your board. A freerace board like the Jag is easier to sail. The goal of those boards is just to have fun rolling some friends!
Pics: John Carter