Black Tips #5 – Cams or no cams?

AC-1 or AC-K or AC-X for your summer? 

How many times have you asked yourself, cams or no cams?
There are 3 aspects that need to be taken into mind when you will want to choose your flat water slalom sail: Your level in water starting and jibing, what you need it for, where you windsurf.
All 3 sails have high performances, so you cannot chose them for this characteristic. It’s more the  level of windsurfing you have, which should select which of these will suit you best.
Are you fit?, how many times you fall in the water, do you live in gusty wind areas, do you want to leave your sail rigged, do you want to race?
If you take the 3 sails on the water, you will realize that the final speed difference is almost not existing if the wind is constant. The AC-X is not losing speed against the cambered sails so easily.  Many windsurfers might believe that rigging a cam sail is actually taking more time than rigging a no cam sail, but also this is not true.
So what is the purpose of cams if the no cam sails are fast, and what is the deal that cam sails can be rigged as easily as no cam sails?

If we start from the moment we start rigging the sails, the no cam sail can be looking easier to be rigged as no cams need to be fixed on the mast. So this is a step less which makes it faster to rig… but, how much faster is it to take in and out the mast from a 3-4 cam wide mast sleeve, against the time you take to slide in and out the mast from a tighter no cam mast sleeve? Now days, placing cams on the mast is easy and fast, which actually does not take longer than rigging a no cam sail. The mast in a cam sail goes in the mast sleeve so fast, that it than compensates the time that it takes to slide the mast in the narrow mast no cam sleeve. Once you studied the rigging videos, and understood the sequence and where to press, you will be surprised on how easy it is.

Speed on the water is not much difference. A non cam is fast when the wind is constant. The biggest difference is mainly when the wind gets rather gusty. A non cam sail, loses the shape of the profile in lighter wind, so it loses a bit of power and speed in the low end wind range. The cam sail keeps a higher average speed therefore over a gusty wind condition. So the result can be that the cam sails are faster due to this, but on a good windy day, take care of the no cam slalom sails.

Always due to the cams, the acceleration of the cam sails against a no cam is for sure higher. So from when you decide to go from 15knots planning speed to full speed, the cam sail will reach the top speed faster. Are you racing? If you are not, this is not an important characteristic to have in your sails. This is mainly important to have during a start in a race, or just after the jibe around the mark.

Are you standing all your jibes, and exiting with speed? You are ready for the AC-1.

Are you standing 80% of your jibes, but still not exiting with speed the jibe? The AC-K can be a good choice.

Are you standing not all your jibes, you still trying to understand the full technique, your board points upwind when you finish upwind, with no speed, but you like the full speed sensation, than the AC-X is what you need.

On the straight line all sails are feeling light, so the weight of the sail should not be your worry. The worry is more when you need to water start. The AC-X no cam slalom sail is simply the easiest out of the 3.

So when to choose more between the AC-K and AC-1?

Practically the AC-1 has more acceleration from 10 knots of speed to the top speed against the AC-K as well.

The AC-K is more comfortable on the upwind and half wind as it goes in those directions automatically. The AC-1 is designed to have a better comfort downwind, but it goes fast also in the half and upwind, but you need to get used to the pressure in the sails, which are different. No back hand pressure practically. So you will have to learn to use more the speed and power on the front profile to climb upwind. While the AC-K, as well as the AC-X, give you the slight back hand pressure which allows to push easily and automatically on the fin, to point upwind. As long as you are not racing, also this is less important.

The AC-K and AC-X do not manage to have the downwind angle as wide as the AC-1.

The AC-K is as light as the AC-X to jibe. The rotation is soft and does not pull forward as much as the AC-1. The rotation of the AC-1 is great also, but it gives you a strong hit after the jibe when the sail changes tack to boost up the acceleration to the new tack. If you let the sail too long in the water, the sleeve is wide and hard to water start, while the AC-K empties out easily and makes it easy to water start.

So the AC-1 is proved to be an easy racing sail also for lighter weight team riders really enjoy the sail a lot.  So consider the obstacle to use it only because of the wide sleeve for the water start, the hard hit after the jibe, the fact that you will have to get used of front power and light back hand pressure. On the other hand also don’t be worried about rigging the cam sails being too difficult. Don’t discard the slalom no cam sails, thinking they are not fast!

How often have you heard that is not the best to use 60-80% masts on full race sails? Well, you can do it with our race sails and masts. Same with alu booms. Don’t be worried to use alu booms on 7.9 and 8.6 slalom sails. The performance is working for fun racing!

Enjoy a blasting speed summer of windsurfing !

Showing 2 comments
  • Domagoj domky primuzak

    Could anyone tell us something about seat harness vs waist in slalom windsurfing…..thx

  • Rob Nijkamp

    Aspect 4: When you use cam’s, the mast will be damage over the years.

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