For the second installment of the Pro Quiver, Boards catches up with forth placed rider and the 2011 BWA tour winner, Ben Proffitt. Travelling in his van Proffitt has almost every piece of equipment he owns with him for all the UK competitions, does he need it all and what are his most prized possessions?
Name: Ben Proffitt
Current BWA Ranking: 4th
2011 PWA Ranking: 13th
Sail Number: K800
Sponsors: Simmer Boards, Simmer sails, Simmer wetsuits, O’shea clothing and Funsport.
Favourite conditions: True cross shore, port tack, head to logo, 4.2m weather.
When your equipment works best: When I’m sailing well! The equipment is never the problem, it’s more the pilot!
Describe your sailing style: Sporadic! It depends on my mood, it affects my sailing quite a lot.
Full quiver of Icons from 3.4m all the way up to 5.3m. Plus all the Black Tips between 4.5m and 5.6m.
The Black Tip is quite powerful but at the same time light, we have a lot of events on the UK tour which are wobble and ride or down the line and I really like the black tip for that type of sailing. When it’s windy, or if the wind is really up and down I prefer the Icon as its solid as a rock and can handle anything you can throw at it.
I tend to use all of my sails and they get pretty much an even spread throughout the year, I’m really happy with both lines of sails, it just depends on where I am and the conditions as to what gets used more.
The wind range on the Icons and Black Tips are really impressive. The Icons top end is incredible and the Black Tip is probably one of the most stable four batten sails out there!
4.5 to 4.7 does make a difference yes.. but there is a crossover so it makes picking the right sail pretty easy.
I tend not to sell my masts just incase I break one but the problem is I’ve only broke 2 in the 7 years I’ve been with Simmer so as you can imagine I have a fair few knocking around!! So with my van being my garage I can rig pretty much anything! I get new masts every year, the RDM10 from Simmer but tend to keep them so I never have to worry about not being able to rig anything. The masts change a little each year, but they generally keep the same bend curve.
I have the Blackline, the full carbon boom and again yes, I have quite a few!
The main reason, for having as much gear as I do is to take away the worry from competition. Yes, I could get away with a lot less gear if I had to, but I am in a fortunate position and in competition, the last thing I want to think about is what happens if I break something or the conditions change. Being able to go out on my 4.7m, and have my 4.5m and 5.0m rigged ready on the beach means what ever happens I am prepared. Especially in places like Ireland, there I’ve rigged almost everything in one day before!
Flywave 69 75 84
Quantum 75 85
The Flywave is more of a ground swell board, used more for down the line. The Quantum is more aimed at wind swell conditions, so when there’s less power in the wave. The Quantum will get you going a bit quicker and help you keep your speed on the wave. There is a massive cross over between the two though, I tend to make a call on the day as to which board I think would be more suited to the conditions. In Ireland, and at the first day in Wales, I used the Flywave 85. On the windier day in Wales I used the Flywave 75, but if the wind had of dropped of on this day and I was a little bit underpowered on say a 5.0m I would have switched to the Quantum.
69 Flywave is probably my least used board! Only with 4.0m and below.
75 with 3.7 up to 5.0
85 with 4.7 to 5.6
I like to get on my 75s as soon as possible, quite a few people nowadays have been using the 85s a lot longer, personally I still prefer to be on a smaller board as it does turn better. Plus, I think being on a smaller board in smaller waves it’s easier to stay more in the critical section of the wave and turn tighter.
Competition sailing though is so different to free sailing. You cannot chance not planing or not getting onto the waves in a heat, so I would always tend to go a little bigger then. In freesailing it really doesn’t matter if I’m wobbling around a bit, so I would tend to go a bit smaller.
There are three different styles of fin from Simmer; the Mission, the Icon and the Blacktip. I’ve been playing around with all of them, as well as a load of K4 fins too, I am still just trying everything to see what works best. For the competitions I used my Blacktip fins in the Flywaves, I would have had the Mission fin if I could have though. The Mission fin is a lot more raked back and has a thinner profile, the Blacktip is the middle of the road fin and then the Icon is more the upright, stubby fin.
Fins really come down to the style of the rider I think, it comes down to your height, weight, where you put the pressure, how you like to ride, etc and is really personal. I think maybe a lot of people underestimate the importance of fins, and how a fin set up can change the whole feel of a board.
With the K4s as well, I have been trying every size, every style and in every position! Fin testing is so hard, there are so many factors to take into account it makes it really hard to figure out exactly what works as you need consistent conditions. In the Flywaves I have found the front fins work well right at the front of the boxes, and then the back fin I’m going bang in the middle at the moment. There is a general rule, people say between two and a half, and three fingers width between fins works well, this is a good starting point to then move your fins small increments either side of to figure out how you like it. The closer the fins are together the more manouevrable the board will be, the further apart they are, the less manouevrable.
All the simmer wetsuits, before the competition I used the full 5/6 hooded suit it’s super warm, great for freesailing but a bit too warm for contest sailing. I use the thinner suits usually in competition. I also have a pair of size 12 Simmer boots that I use as wellies, as well as actual wellies! Always important to jump off the water and into some boots to keep your feet warm.
Always useful to have a surfboard in Ireland, for when the wind doesn’t play ball. Plus, a million Oshea puffa jackets, a wooly hat or two and my wellies, then I’m sorted for Ireland!
The next Pro Quiver with Jamie Hancock, will be up on Boards next week.