Monday, July 15, 2013

The Adjustable Outhaul - One Less Thing to Worry About?

Adjustable Outhaul on Chinook boom

Now if you haven't been living under a rock for the last few years than I'm sure you have heard of or seen an adjustable outhaul system on some of the local racer's booms and rarely the free riders/power sailors.  The nifty little device makes adjusting the outhaul quite the trivial task (not that is was ever hard at first) since you can adjust now on the water while in motion!  Now I know most folks prefer static gear IE: fixed lines, never adjusting till back on land, and such but I have always been a proponent of in flight adjustable gear.  I use Dakine adjustable lines and constantly always change the length depending on the condition and even move the lines around depending on how strong the wind gets.

With that in mind, I was very hesitant at first at the thought of buying an adjustable outhaul for my Chinook Pro-1 boom.  Odd considering I'm such a big proponent of in flight adjusting right :/ .  Why was I hesitant? Well for one I could never fathom how a few pulleys and some really long downhaul line could have a pricetag of $80. Second, where I sail the run is only about .45 miles one way so if one needs to make an adjustment its not that hard to head back to shore and spend a few seconds if not minutes adjusting the outhaul and other things.  Third, I'm not a racer so why would I need one? I do like to consider myself a power sailor / B&T but being a power sailor still didn't give me a reason to splurge on unnecessary gear (self control!).

 I probably was never going to buy it but you know during summer every sailor somehow rationalizes why they need gear...why I hope I did rationalize...Vivian would disagree.  After much thought, I came up with a few reasons to why one would need the AO system.

1)  It is all about TOW (Time on Water)

 So the whole idea of going to shore (or just dropping in the water) and adjusting the outhaul wasn't feasible.  Yes it only takes a few seconds to unclip the boom and give the line a little tug or release BUT the time it takes to get back up to full speed adds up.  In that minute* I could probably already have done 2-3 tacks.  "Only 2 tacks??? that isn't much"  well in my defense, we all know that every gybe we pull off increases our happiness level and adds an extra day of life to us.  With that in mind, who wouldn't want 3 extra gybes! That's 3 extra days of living! 

2) Sailing habits

I have a tendency to sail well powered up to over powered.  I weigh about 64kg, give or take 2kg, and use a 7.4 in winds up to 20mph.  Call me crazy but if you are wondering why I do this just read my previous blog post!  Anyways, by being able to adjust the outhaul on the fly it has made sailing over powered a breeze! Well I'm still holding on for dear life but now I can make the sail flatter when the winds pick up.  If I didn't have this ability than I'd probably end up going downwind further and further.  

Adjusting the outhaul on the fly!
I also do speed runs so its not to be able to bag the sail for a deep down wind run and than flattening the sail to head back up wind without having to break a leg!  

For me, those 2 reasons listed above were valid and sound so I ended up getting the system :).  I would say without a doubt that the adjustable outhaul has been THE greatest piece of windsurf gear I have bought since the downhaul crank.  I know that after reading my praise for the Adjustable Outhaul, many of you will probably never buy one and still claim it would be one less thing to worry about; lots of the folks at Cabrillo say this.  BUT just consider this, by not having one is it really one less thing to consider while sailing?  I would say without an AO, one would have consider how he/she plans to get back to shore and adjust the line.  You could also factor being overpowered when it nukes all of a sudden.  With an AO, one would just have to tug/release the line a bit without ever having to wade in to shore.  That's just me though.  

In conclusion, windsurfing is all about trying new things! I know we all thought board cutouts, downhaul cranks, reduced diameter masts, clamp on booms, 2 piece masts, and etc were unnecessary but look where we are now :D. Just give it a try!

Chinook Adjustable Outhaul
SailWorks Adjustable Outhaul
Point-7 Adjustable Outhaul

Till Next Time!

PS: I'll upload some GoPro footage later of today's session! It was epic! I'll write about it later.  

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