Name: Caspar Verhaagen
Profession: Research & Development in system Engineering (retired)
Favoriete surfspots: Gouwzee
Caspar in the Netherlands you have now a very good reputation, caused due supporting with your idea’s/ products most of the better (Dutch) windsurfers. But how many years of experience are we talking about?
About 30 years ago I started windsurfing. My home spot is the Gouwzee a lake of 3 X 7 Km wide. It’s no speed spot but ideal to match race over long distances. For obvious reasons I use all the experience of the past 30 years in trying to be as fast as the youngsters. Already in the early days it was fun and often required to improve on fins, boards and other parts. This seems to be a never ending story. Still today improvements can be made on a lot of windsurfing parts. A small example is the already excellent NP extender. I made a few adjustment on that device to make it even more useful for me (see photo). As I am relative small, lowering the distance to the deck by 4 cm (compared to the NP set-up) helps to raise the boom by 4 cm. For this modification it was required to redo the Euro pin locking mechanism as well. A bomb proof connection is now realized by using a “go-through” pin. Rope change was difficult in the existing extender. By drilling a hole of 7 mm on the side a rope change can be performed even without dismantling your rig (10 sec now for a change).
A few remarks on future developments. E.g can we expect windsurf revolutions in the near future ?Unfortunately the windsurfing industry is small and therefore very limited in R&D budgets. But never the less I have a few issues on my list. Most are related to improve on the accessibility of our sport to new comers and to keep new comers ……….The area of “one fits all” for sails and boards is a real engineering challenge. On top of that durability of all these parts needs a real boost in combination with a considerable lower production cost. What would also be very nice is material / methods to enable very easy learning of this sport. A lot easier trimming of the sail / board / fin combination would also be very welcome.
Maybe it is top-secret, which windsurfers cooperate or do you help regular, could you give us a list of names?
No its not secret but it will be a very long list. You can fill in our Dutch PWA riders and a long list of speedies and match racers. The support ranges from general advise on technical matters to very precise fin or board tuning. For me it is nice to know so many young and talented people.
Let start about fins, is it possible to make completely the same looking fins with a total different feeling just by changing some material in the fin?
Yes the inner part of the fin can be changed quite dramatically. We call this the lay-up. By using a mix of different materials and the ability to change the materials orientation it is possible to create fins with a totally different behavior. For a high performance fin the amount of flex and twist are very important. It took us a number of years and a lot of experiments to get some grip on the influence of twist and flex. For high wind slalom, match racing, cross wind speed and GPS deep downwind totally different lay ups are required for maximum performance. Precise measurement of flex and twist in combination with accurate rider feedback are essential ingredients to optimize a fin for certain conditions.
There are on the internet rumors that good carbon fins are rare, is this because of the manufacturing process?
It is related to the high material cost and difficult production process. The manufacturing process for carbon fins is partly by hand and partly half automated. E.g. Cutting of materials and to put these materials in the right order in the mold and playing with the resin requires skilled hands. For G10 only a 3D milling machine is required. Finish of the fins requires for both methods skilled people. The hand lay-up fins like Select is producing give lots of freedom in flex and twist per fin type.
I have seen your name & photo in the 2009 www.Select-Fins.com brochure, could you tell us more about your cooperation with Select?
Via Peter de Wit and Job Verbunt (Select International) I came in contact with Select France. It was felt as an opportunity on both sides to cooperate on the research and development of high performance fins. Peter and I have looked into optimizing slalom and speed fins for certain water and sailing conditions and how to improve the finish of the leading and trailing edge. We are now able to predict the characteristic of a fin purely by influencing flex and twist. A good example is the Caspar speed. That fin is 100% designed for GPS speed surfing on relative flat water. Only because the Select production process enables us to produce fins with all kinds of different flex and twist figures we could also produce a very good replica of the custom Caspar.
From now on all speed surfers worldwide can buy your speed fin, the Select Caspar Speed. I am very impressed after my session with the Elite version. Could you tell us more about these fins, who should buy this fin? When does this fin outperform the other models?
Any rider interested in GPS type of speed surfing should at least try these fins. The lay- up and profile are optimized to deliver lots of power even on very deep downwind runs. Hitting a gust will guarantied accelerate your board into a higher speed. The fin is virtually spin out free on deep downwind runs as well as going upwind after a speed run. Finish of leading and trailing edges is of very high standards for a production fin. Length is ranging from 21 – 31 cm.Compared to other fins the acceleration in typical GPS type of sailing conditions is unmatched.
Now something totally different, we spoke about masts some weeks ago. You have been measuring a lot of masts, could you give us some highlights of your investigation?
Yes another interesting subject ! Masts play an important role in the performance of your sail. For top performance it is essential to use masts with the correct stiffness and bend curve. Rule one is please use masts which are recommended by the sail manufacturer. But within certain limits it is very well possible to optimize a certain sail mast combination. At this very moment we try to use the optimum stiffness and bend curve figures of one sail in the total range (very well tested combination) as input to determine the masts for the other sails. We use all tricks to influence stiffness and bend curve if required. These figures can be influenced by adding a base extension or top extension or cutting your top or your base. Within these four possibilities it is possible to find the optimum stiffness and bend curve. As with all laboratory type of measurements it is essential to use rider feedback to optimize our stiffness – bend curve model. For obvious reasons it is important to use a very accurate mast measurement set up.
And………..on top of that these type of measurements are very time consuming. As a lot of these measurements were related to masts of Neil Pryde it is the intention to publish in the Dutch Surf Magazine this year two articles. One giving the basic data of the Neil Pryde mast program and a second on: How to measure and influence mast stiffness and bend curve.
They are rare, but I have seen a few Caspar windsurf boards. As a custom builder what are your comments on the current windsurf boards in the shops?
The current range and line of windsurf boards is OK. Even on very specialized disciplines like high wind speed sailing or very low wind match racing / slalom racing boards are available (e.g. a 42 cm wide speed board and a 85 cm slalom board are available). What could be improved is adopting a different bottom / outline / shape details within a range of boards. E.g. Nearly all brands / shapers use the same concept for a light wind and high wind (race) board. Not very clever as certain bottom chapes excel in lightwind and certain shapes for high wind. For light wind “ efficiency” is the buz word while for high wind “ control” is more important. Most important advise for anybody interested in a new board is: Test first before you buy. And perform this testing on your home spot. Ask your windsurf dealer to cooperate !! Quality of boards is very reasonable. But……..as with all windsurfing parts: A 100% perfect board does not exists. Especially if your goal is to be the fastest on the water it is very likely that small modifications are required to obtain that goal. For a speed board it is killing to have any negative in the scope rocker line in the last 80 cm. It will be helpful to have a little tail rocker of about 0,8 mm over the last 40 cm. This enables your board to accelerate also on a deep downwind run.
To give other windsurfers an idea about the total effort to become as fast as Dutch fastest rider Peter de Wit. I know you are often talking with Peter de Wit, could you give us a estimate how many hours, days or even years you guys have been thinking about “how to go even faster”?
Indeed in trying to be the fastest on the water Peter and I spend over the past 2 to 3 years numerous hours together and on the phone. A few phone calls/ Emails per day is not uncommon. Looking to the results of Peter it could be qualified as a very successful corporation. Apart from the main subject of fin development, we look into a number of aspects and parts influencing your speed. Peter has a lot of good ideas and has the ability to translate rider feeling into a detailed technical discussions. We try to understand and translate real life conditions into engineering (speed) solutions. Due to our in house prototyping possibilities we are able to react on modifications and realizing new ideas. However as with all developments a lot of time and energy is required before you get any results.
As Peter likes to be the fastest also for this year we are continuing above story !
Thank you for this interview!