Austrian freestyler, fin manufacturer and, now, custom board builder, Max 'BR' Brinnich is perhaps one of the most hands on windsurfers out there. With just a few windsurfers ever having undertaken the task of building their own board, BR is certainly a person to listen to when you want advice about what board to choose and why. What's more he has often repaired the equipment of many of the PWA freestylers, sometimes even overnight during PWA competitions. We decided to tap into that knowledge database of his to find out what he uses and more importantly what his top tips are for choosing a new (or second hand) board.
unfortunately it didn't quite go to plan and the board returned to the riders kit storage tent with a rock the size of an orange in it...
First the hard facts:
I am about 70kg and usually riding in horrible chop but normally with pretty good wind. My level is pretty ok, I can do most common moves, double them and I learnt a few power moves last summer, but I want to step it up like crazy this year. I love those power-freestyle conditions, stacked on 3.6 or 4.2 with small waves or big chop for busting out huge shakas, big burners and ponches...
My sailbag is full with Gaastra sails in the following sizes: IQ 3.6; Pure 4.2; IQ 4.5; Pure 4,8; Pure 5,2. Two masts of each size (370 and 400) and one short carbon boom. I have two freestyle boards a self made custom, which is around 80l, and my Tabou Twister 90l. Lastly, because I build my own fins, I'm never short of one in any size I want.
Editor's note: You can check back next week when BR takes us through the finer choices of choosing a suitable fin, including what material to choose and if size really does matter...
BS: We heard you are fixing quite a lot of boards for the freestyle pros (Phil Soltysiak, Adam Sims and Max Matissek) in Austria and further afield?
BR: The thing is that my home spot is quite shallow, so if something goes wrong you easily break your nose or tail in the shallows. This lead to some pretty desperate pros who need quick repairs, especially during competition. There was a small problem with one of Phil Soltysiak's boards a year ago at the PWA World Cup, where he had leant the board out to a friend of his for the night tow-in, unfortunately it didn't quite go to plan and the board returned to the riders kit storage tent with a rock the size of an orange in it. So I got to work and the next morning his board was ready to go for him to compete on for the early start of 6am.
12 Top Tips - What to look out for In a second hand board
1. Soft between the straps - This usually occurs due to hard landings on moves like forwards. A board in this condition is ok to use for general freeride use but you will want to get it repaired if you are going to for air time.
2. Soft in front of the front straps - Similar to above but comes from landing moves more on the toes.
3. Soft around the mast track - Again, end over end forward loops are the prime board killer around this area. If the board is soft here it is not a no go but it should certainly be repaired before you attempt a move with any kind of air time.
4. Check the mast track for cracks - Normally an easy fix, unless it is a large crack, then it can be a bit more time consuming.
5. Open the vent screw and listen carefully – If it makes a whistle sound there is probably water inside.
6. Check the O-ring of the vent screw - If it is really sandy and not smooth it is possible that there is water coming in, but don't just assume there is if you see a grain of sand...
7. Check the nose for repairs - If it was done by a professional then it is strong and perhaps even stronger than the original board, because extra layers may have been added. However, if you see quick stick, ding stick or tape repairs then that's not so long lasting and will require further maintenance. The best test is to press around the area, a soft spot is obvious.
8. Check the rails, are they smooth – Similar like number 7, check for any unprofessional repairs.
9. Check the tail - Cracked, soft, split...
10. Check the fin box in the same way you would check the mast track.
11. Powerbox fin boxes - Are there cracks around? Try with a fin in the board if it’s stiff, we all hit the ground sometimes. The flat freestyle places are often shallow, but a good fin box will hold and the fin will go first, no matter what it is made from.
12. Slotbox fin boxes - Are there cracks around? Check the inserts of the screws if they are still in good condition or can the screw move a bit? Can you tighten the screw completly to fix your fin?
This extra volume does not only help you when you want to bust out big burner's or culo's
Check the board for soft spots. If it is soft around the area where you stand then allow a large repair to the board or contemplate looking for another board. If you open the screw and it whistles, lay the board with the bottom in the sun, if water comes out search for another board. If you find an large old repair between the straps or the straps and the mast track, consider something newer. Same for the bottom. Also around the fin box. If you have the possibility you can also check the foot strap plugs. A good sign is when the screws are tight and secure. Another test is to take off all the straps and lay the board in the sun – listen and look – if water comes out of a hole it's probably a good time to look for a new board.
BS: What's the difference between freestyle boards from 2010 to 2014? Can I start with an old one too?
BR: If you really want to do freestyle, go for the latest modern freestyle board, maybe from 2013 is also ok. The boards have changed a lot over the last four years. They became shorter, faster and there was a large volume increase in the back. This extra volume does not only help you when you want to bust out big burner's or culo's, it also helps you to slide smoothly and in control through the more basic moves. Mainly because when your body doesn't end up in exactly the right position the extra buoyancy of the board still holds you up. As a result you can learn your moves much easier and progress through the levels faster.