Boardseeker have teamed up with Mark 'Sparky' Hosegood for a new series on how the pros setup their gear and how it feels for an outsider to ride. A man of many talents, Sparky is the not only head judge on the BWA Tour this year but also the brainchild behind Pro X Train Tenerife. Over to the man himself...
In this series of articles, I’ll be trying some of the top PWA professionals kit to see if its really that different to what you or I can buy from the shops and with their tuning, will I suddenly turn into as good a sailor as they are?
We kicked off the series with Victor Fernandez, now we take a look at Marcilio Browne.
Location: Pozo, Gran Canaria
Name: Mark Hosegood ‘Sparky’
D.O.B. 21st February 1979
Name: Marcilio ‘Brawzinho’ Browne
D.O.B. 4th May 1989
Sail No: BRA 105
Equipment for the Canaries
1 x 75l
2 x 80l
2 x 86l
- Goya Banzai
- 4m – 5.7m
The Set Up
141.5cm (Deck to middle of boom clamp)
-4.5cm to my boom height
Harness line length
Harness line position
Long way back!
Massive front hand pressure
7cm back to my standard
Narrower stance on the jumping side
For more speed and control
133cm (from an imaginary line in the middle of the swallow tail)
MFC Production Quads
How it feels
Board: Goya Custom Proto
- In straight line blasting, it feels quick and fast
-- Lively, yet still controllable at high speed
- Board sits high in the water
- This is not what you’d call a relaxing, slow and easy board to sail
-- This is a high speed, performance orientated wave board that likes an amount of rider input and skill
- Amazingly fast when you let it off the wind
-- Almost slalom sailed the board as quick as you could…
-- The rig and board set up really lent itself to high end performance and speed
-- Eye wateringly quick and on the edge of control
- Board volume is well balanced
-- Planing, not planing and tacking
-- Previously on the Goya’s, I’ve found there’s not a lot of nose volume when tacking
- On the port tack jumping side, his feet were slightly closer together then on his riding side
-- He just said that was for getting speed, he wants to go as fast as possible heading out
- Size: Perfect for me
-- Really nice pinch
-- Felt very secure on the board and very comfortable
- It has a very similar feeling that I found with the production Goya Customs over the years
- You can see in the way that Brawzinho bottom turns:
-- He leans the rig super far forward
-- Gets really low on his feet
-- Bends his knee loads
-- Bends at the waist, keeping his hips quite far back, but his head and shoulders forward
-- This very dynamic position is one of the reasons that Brawzinho is so explosive off the lip – His bottom turn is extremely fast and his body is like a coiled spring, all preparing for the moment of release when hitting the lip
- So the classic ‘leaning forward’ into your bottom turn is a little different in Brawzinho’s and the Goya Custom proto’s case.
- I found that I needed to basically try and copy Brawzinho to get the best out of it:
-- Get super low
-- Then get forward and guide the board into the turn
-- This was also Braw’s last minute advice to me before getting into the water
-- Drive through both feet, not just your back foot
-- That’s when the rail really bites and accelerates and gouges.
- It took me some runs to get used to the rail balance through the turn. If you start off too far forward, you can dig the rail at the nose in, but that’s the style of the board
- Once I’d worked this out, the board just wanted to turn!
- Very fast through the bottom turn
- Lots of drive and glide (it didn’t stall)
- That difficult moment transitioning between the bottom turn and top turn, when you’re trying to release that stored up power was fine
- It had plenty of grip in the top turn
- It allowed for snappy quick turns and more longer, gougy turns where you bring the board all the way back around
- Only right at the very end of your turn, when I actually wanted it to, did the tail release a little
-- That allowed you to get the board and feet back under you
-- Actually, the short feel of the board did let me change direction really easily when either setting up the first turn or transitioning from the end of one top turn into the next bottom turn
How it feels
The Sail: Goya Banzai 4.0m
- Brawzinho’s quiver was made in the Maui sail loft as the production sails weren’t ready in time to train with and the first Canary leg of the tour
- I was super powered up, on the verge of being overpowered
- The new sail itself feels light
-- Noticeably lighter then in previous models
- Very responsive and quick to react
- Feels that the power is more manageable then in previous models and doesn’t tug you around as much
- Through the bottom turn, the sail still has a nice pull and drive
-- But it does feel lighter then before
- Through the top turn, the whole sail had a really nice balance to it
-- The bottom to top turn transition was also very easy with no excess of pull or power
- Braw is really happy with how the sails are, he likes them a lot!
- Feels very nice!
- Boom height: Low
-- He had it 4.5cm lower then I would have it
- Harness Lines
-- His lines were a lot further back with a lot of front hand pressure.
-- I moved them forward probably 4.5cm
-- I spoke to him about it and he said he didn’t really know why, its just something that he’s got used to over the years and that’s what he likes.
-- His view is it allows him to get away from the rig in his one handed moves.
-- I was sailing along, more so coming in, with 2 hands in front of the harness lines.
-- I moved them forward probably 7cm
-- 34" lines
- I think that one of the reasons he has his boom so low, here especially, is that it’s so windy!
-- I was stacked and having the low boom helps control that power.
-- He wants to get low and use his weight as best as possible.
-- It’s a very fast (almost high wind slalom) position, going Mach 10 on a broad reach in choppy Pozo.
-- Its not about setting the kit for efficiency, its setting it for max speed and control.
-- These guys extremely strong and fit and are sailing so powered up to get speed and height.
- With all these guys kit, I would have quite happily spent a few hours on it, maybe tweaking and tuning things a bit to make it more comfortable for my personal tastes.
Marcilio ‘Brawzinho’ Browne
What do you want from your kit?
I try to be open minded about it… in Ho’okipa I want to have a board that is quick, will turn fast and be forgiving, because Ho’okipa is an open ocean wave and has a lot of chop, especially on the outside. Its completely different to Cape Verde, but that’s kind of the same board. I like boards that are especially fast when its onshore, keeps speed on the bottom turns and also keeps speed and drive on the second and third turn, not just the first.
It was getting complicated travelling with so many boards and this year we mixed up the concept of the production boards, which is pretty much the outline, rails etc, that I had at Ho’okipa together with a rocker more like I used to ride in onshore. So we came up with a board that’s really all-round.
In the past my boards were really different (sideshore to onshore), there was so much gap between them that every time I jumped from one to the other it was just weird. They were amazing boards, but it was difficult to change. So this year, talking with Francisco, we thought that we should make something that I can use anywhere and just get more used to it instead of changing so much, that’s what we did in the production boards.
And your custom boards, are they production boards with tweaks?
For us all of the prototypes we have, we have the production boards in mind. It’s not like “the production boards is just made for…" no we want to make the best possible boards so we keep on tuning them all the time. Obviously they come out a bit lighter, because if I’m not going to jump it, I know it doesn’t really have to be as heavy, so some boards are super light. But the shapes are pretty much the same and we keep on progressing through the same ideas throughout the year. Eventually here and there we try something completely different, just to make sure that we are not getting narrow minded and experiment when we see something that’s interesting.
If you have an idea, those guys (Francisco, Keith and Jason) never come to me and say “No, we cannot do that", they always say “Yea, try it!" Then they make it and that was what happened this year…
Francisco and myself tried a couple of those boards that were really a lot shorter, but there is two things; you get a board and you make it shorter, when that happens you cut in the middle of the board and you put the two ends together and you get the outline really round, that’s not what we did…
The other option is what we did; almost like a cut off the tail, so you still have parallel lines on the sides. What happens with that is you adjust where you’re stepping on the board. On a bigger wave, it still has a lot of hold, with more parallel rails. We didn’t like the shorter boards in the past because the outlines got too round and then you couldn’t really go fast on the bottom turn. It was good for other things, but when the waves got bigger it was a bit shit. The production boards are like a cut off the tail version, but if you look at the lines, the outline is still pretty parallel.
The idea is that if you have a shorter board and not all that length, it does make the board easier to turn with speed, that’s the whole benefit of a short board. But we realized that what was making the boards turn was not having all that length in front, the swing weight. So if you have a board that is shorter, you’re getting what you want, because you don’t have that weight, but we are just looking at a way to not make the outline so round, because when they got too round, you loose the drive.
We now have boards with tails that are not super narrow, but still not really wide and the sails got softer, so what happens is I’m trying to use smaller sails and get the speed more out of the board. I’m after that freedom in my hands, because in the past I sailed with a lot of power in my sails and that was giving me a hard time, especially for wave riding and control. It was the only way I found to keep speed because I used to ride so much rocker back then. I found out in the past couple of years that if I adjust my outline right and I position my fins right, I don’t need all that rocker to make the board turn and once I found that out on the boards, I felt like I didn’t need all of that power in my sails.
So I first saw it on the boards and once I felt it on the boards, my sails instantly felt like they were overloading, I then adjusted my sails around it. What happens with the softer sails is that I feel like the low end got a lot better, because they breath a little bit more, they get planning earlier and what happens with that is that you get a lot less ‘punch’ from the sail so its lighter in you hands.
So from the Banzai from years ago to the current (2015/16) model, I feel like I get less tired on my arms, like the sail is more crisp, but it has that early planning, not because its necessarily more powerful, its just softer, because it moves it generates speed without needing all that power.
In the past we tried soft sails and the shape was just breaking when loaded. I’m not sure how Jason did it, but he made a soft sail that doesn’t break, have too much lift on the boom, pulls from the front and rig on small masts (5.3m on a 400 mast), which is a really hard task.
This is what happens now and its in combination with these boards. I really don’t need to use a bigger size of sail and still sail (I think) with the same speed or even more, because now the sail feels so light and the board is what’s going fast. It’s not like having a heaving thing on top, pushing the board around. I feel like before it’s like I got a really heavy work out after sailing and now it just feels so much lighter on the arms and shoulders because the sails are just so much easier, lighter…not physically lighter necessarily, but they feel so much lighter.
So what are you really looking for in a sail?
Now, more and more, I like flexibility out of a sail and I like a sail that is very stable. Saying that I like it to pull from the front a bit, but I don’t like it to pull from the front too much because once that happens then it’s harder to set the rail in, if you have a little bit of back hand pressure, you can keep the rail in the water and in a place like Cape Verde, that’s very important. Its like if you have a little bit of back-hand, you have weight in the rail and it sets the rail a lot better down the line. Looking at it in a radical way, if you have a 3 batten and a 5 batten sail, the 3 batten will set the rail way better. But I also don’t want a sail that is too much that way so that when you land a back loop, the sail breaks and you loose too much power.
The back loop is such an important move, because if a sail lands a back loop light, without a big power up jerk, then you know it works for jumping, its easier to adjust to the other moves. I feel that the back loop is really a trick that tells me if a sail is really a jumping sail or not. Obviously other moves too, but the back loop is the one that I get the most feedback from. Is the head too big? Is there too much pull…? You just want to be able to land and come straight out of it.
I used to be a lot heavier, over 90kg, have a lot more rocker and the boards weren’t as fast, so I needed to have a really powerful sail almost like a race sail. But if you have boards that go better…
What are the general differences between your prototypes and production boards?
It really depends, they are all along the same lines, just a generation, perhaps two ahead. Its really the weight… right now I have a couple of big boards that are super light, they are not as strong as the production boards, they might break and they’re just for contests. They are very similar, there’s a couple of differences on the bottom, but that’s just something we’re trying, I don’t really know if that’s better yet, I still go back and forth between them.
That’s what I’m going to play with for the next 2 months and from there, when I go back to Maui, I’ll see if I go back to what we had in production or if we’re going to try something different. We’ll probably do a little bit of both, Keith will probably have some ideas… I’ll still ride all of them. Sometimes it’s hard, I find it takes me a lot of time to feel what a board is really like. So many times its happened to me that I try a board one day and I go to Francisco and Keith and say this and that, then I sail the board for a month and its actually like hmmm, actually my feelings are different. You use different sails on it, you move the mast track, you move the fins, you move your stance, you sail different wind directions, you get used to the board… So for now I try to keep my first impressions to myself and sail the board for a couple of weeks at least before I open my mouth about it to the boys. So many times I went back on what I said…every day is different, every wave is different, sometimes you have a half an hour session and you get a couple of really good waves…
Where do you get your inspiration for development?
I look at a lot of footage of me to see what I’m doing wrong and also from other people to see what I want to do. Then I talk to the guys, but I usually try not to go to Keith and Jason and say: “do this, do that" to the board or sail… Instead, it’s more like “this is what I feel, what do you think?" I maybe tell them this and that, but I leave the technical stuff for them, they are the shaper and the designer, I just try to give them the feelings I have, because they know way more then I do about all that stuff.
I have all the measurements from all my boards. I measure every single one of them; I measure the rocker, rails, bottom, vee…everything. I have it all in detail and just keep it for myself because I try not to get my hands dirty in their part of their work, I trust them more then I trust myself on that technical stuff. I keep it just so I can learn…
So many times I’ve thought that if I do this, this would happen and it didn’t! Really you only know once you’ve tried it. So I really tried to keep that for Francisco, Keith and Jason…
Do you use production boards in competition?
This year I have a couple of prototypes. I will ride prototypes in Pozo and Tenerife, but who knows in Denmark, Sylt or France. Last year I competed on production boards and I loved them, but this year I have these protos that are pretty close to the productions and I’m just playing with them and I’ll see how that goes.
I try to not overthink the gear too much. I know that everything is pretty good, there’s details that I can improve and I try and give myself time to do this, which is why I like to get to events early, I have time to try things; one day like this, one day like that… really get a feel for things.
Do you set your gear up differently for Pozo compared to Cabezo?
No, Cabezo is more of a wave, but the wind is still pretty onshore. You still need to keep the speed off the bottom. I haven’t ridden the boards that I have here in Pozo there yet. I imagine that I’d move the mast track a tiny bit more forward, move the fins about a bit… but it really depends when I get there.
I tried to use my Ho’okipa boards in Cabezo once, but it just felt way too slow. There’s so much current and it’s so hard to get speed there. It is a better wave for wave riding then in Pozo, but the winds still onshore.
I feel like the wave there is a really good wave, but the only thing is that the wind gets blocked by the wave a bit, so if you don’t have a fast board maybe the first one is good and you have enough drive and speed on one of my Ho’okipa boards. But the problem was that after that first turn, to go for the second and then third… there’s not much power in the sail and its just difficult with rockery boards.
The boards I have here this year are not super straight either, they have rocker! The boards I have here turn good, its not like they’re super stiff for Pozo either. In the past I might have had a bigger gap (between sideshore and onshore boards), but the boards I have now, its less.
Being 83kg, what size boards are you generally riding?
In Ho’okipa I pretty much ride an 86lt every day, sometimes I’ll use a 90lt when its really light and bigger waves. I don’t really like to go too small there, I have an 84lt that’s really good, but I won’t go down to 80lt there, I tried it but don’t like it.
In Pozo I have an 80lt and 77lt, but the 77lt I’ll only use if its 3.4m and 3.7. If its 4.0m and 4.2m I’ll go on my 80lt and if its 4.5m and 4.7m I’ll go on my 86lt.
I’m not a fan of tiny boards, I feel like for me if I was forcing a small board, a lot of the time the board stayed too much in the water. I don’t like the feeling of a big sail on a small board too much, because from my experience it sinks the rail too much, but that could also be the style of the boards that I have/had, they work better with a smaller sail.
When I was younger, I used to ride a 65lt board. They were straight and single fin, they had this super long nose…they were like guns those boards! They don’t make any sense for a small wave… Know we know, after all these years…
I have a couple of boards that I keep that are 7’8" & 7’10", just for when it’s really big and kind of choppy. I don’t use them that much, but some days its fun, in Jaws or big Ho’okipa, when its double mast high and big chop. In Jaws the end bowl is cleaner, but the first section is really choppy as the wind comes right across the wave and you have 3ft chop sometimes… that first hit is really difficult to get a board to handle. Then the end bowl is clean and a really good wave and you can turn with a lot of speed.
The first thing I’d say for people is to not give up on their gear too quick, make sure they sail it a lot before making an opinion about it. I feel sometimes that people try their gear really quickly and when they’ve just bought a board or sail they can get frustrated with it…over excited.
I just think that before making up your mind, just take time and don’t let other people come to you and tell you where to put your mast track and fins. No one can tune it better then yourself, no matter which level you’re at. I’d start in the middle, but then play around.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a 100 times world champion, they don’t know your weight or how your sail pulls, I just think that people should really be open minded about moving their mast track and fins… this is something that I police myself on doing as sometimes I’m not great at that, but I see how much Keith and Francisco do it. They get a couple of waves, go in and switch the whole time and I feel that this can completely change the performance of the board.
Also where you stand, maybe get all your measurements, where you usually like to have your feet and don’t let people tell you, there’s nothing like doing it yourself!
If you enjoyed this extensive read then why not check out the PRO KIT - Victor Fernandez feature by clicking here.
Follow Marcilio Browne here.
Follow Mark 'Sparky' Hosegood and Pro X Train Tenerife HERE. Mark is also sponsored by Starboard & Severne.