The Slot Box is an idea that has been around for a while now, originating from paddle surf boards, the design was taken in recent years over to windsurf boards. However, there were quite a few hurdles to overcome to make sure it could withstand the brutal forces that modern day windsurfing throws at it. So who better to speak to then the man who helped make this transition possible, Tiesda You. We also hooked up with Starboard Pro Team Rider and Top 10 PWA Freestyler, Phil Soltysiak, to see if it has got the thumbs up from the pro scene.
Boardseeker: Where did the slot box originate from and who first thought about using it in Windsurf boards?
TY: Fabian Vollenveider from Tabou started the project together with Paolo Cechetti, of Cobra and formerly of Drops boards Italy. Paolo showed me the original version of the box and we tested it on a Starboard prototype. The weight was great but unfortunately the screw system was too fragile and impractical in sandy beach conditions. So I helped contribute to the project with a new screw system that was more robust and compatible with a regular footstrap screwdriver. I also developed the additional 10cm size to compliment the 13cm size.
A year after we went commercial, I also developed another version of the Slot Box 13 that uses brass female inserts (as opposed to the current self-tapping plastic inserts) that is extra resistant to over-tightening. I’m currently working on a third generation box and some improvements to the fin base design.
Boardseeker: Obviously it is the same design from surfing, but is it? Are there any key differences with the windsurfing slot box?
TY: The coolest thing about the box is the ease of fitting fins. There’s no flipping of the board upside down, no shaking around to align a sliding brass nut with the hole in the base of the fin. The system is very much like surf board systems such as FCS, SurfFinz, Future and so on. The key difference is the superior strength and the compatibility of the Slot Box: it’s much, much stronger than the surf systems and the dimensions of the Slot Box makes it compatible with older US box fins (note that the pin needs to be removed first). Surf systems’ small Allen key screws are also a pain to use when there’s sand around. The sand gets jammed inside the screws, the screws are easily stripped and those tiny Allen keys are always getting lost.
Boardseeker: Are slot boxes the way forwards, will we see them across the entire range or are they limited to just a certain type of board?
TY: They are first designed for multi fin wave boards, when using two to four US boxes is just way too heavy. We also use it in our Flare boards where the weight saving makes a significant difference in the way the board feels under foot: the heavy box is directly under your back foot! As time goes by, we’ll probably start introducing it into to more and more boards as more and more Slot Box fins become available.
Boardseeker: To slot or not to slot, what do you think? Or is there a time and a place for both?
TY: Considering the Slot Box’s 70g weight, why go for a 300g old box?
Boardseeker: Being realistic, what are the main advantages/disadvantages of the slot box?
TY: The main drawback of the box is that in case of a very strong impact, there is no retainer to hold the fin in. The US box has its pin that will at least hold the fin until you make it back to the beach.
Boardseeker: Is the slot box here to stay?
It’ll be around for quite a while, until a better box comes along..
Boardseeker: You've used the Starboard flare for a few years now, would you say you feel a difference when sailing, or through particular moves, with the weight saving that comes from the slot box?
PS: I wouldn't say it's a difference you feel from one move to the next. The difference in weight saving is something you feel as soon as you step onto a lighter board and start sailing. It makes everything easier, from planning through to popping.
Boardseeker: Overall what would you say the main advantages are of the slot box and are there any real disadvantages or drawbacks with it?
PS: I've used the slotbox now for around 2 years and have not had any issues with the box or fins in it at all. I've used both special made slotbox fins and also modified u.s. box fins inside them. I've managed to damage and break some fins, without having any issues with the box.
Boardseeker: Would you say that it is here to stay then or just another trend that will fade out over time?
PS: I think the slotbox is here to stay, especially as it looks like multi-fin boards, especially in the wave discipline, seem like they are here to stay. I believe that for small fins and when weight matters, the slotbox is the best system around.