Starboard Phantom 295 – Interview
“Svein Rasmussen wanted to bring the longboard back into Windsurfing, because he has the feeling, that the whole industry moves into the wrong way,” Remi Vila told us. We wanted to know more about this new board, which will be, according to Starboard, the missing link in getting more people into windsurfing.
The Phantom 295 class is a new all-in-one international windsurfing class supported by Starboard, with events held around clubs, centers, schools and championship events, coordinated by Starboard International and a global network of national Starboard distributors and partners. The class positions itself as a feeder to many other established classes: the Formula Windsurfing class, the Raceboard class and the Bic Techno One Design. Starboard says, the Phantom 295 class is fun, social and competitive on one hand and a stepping stone for other classes on the other hand. From December 1st until 5th the Phuket King´s Cup will be held at Kata Beach, Phuket, Thailand. Several windsurfing federations will send their best-ranked youth sailor to compete, and Daniel Blinnika, current vice-world champion in Raceboard youth will be the man to beat, as well as Olympic gold medalist Marina Alabau, who already is on the way to Thailand. Read a long interview with Starboard’s R&D manager Remi Vila, who developed the board and some words of Svein Rasmussen, who was also deeply involved in the development of the Phantom 295.
Svein Rasmussen, Starboard founder and co-creator of the Phantom 295 about his latest development:
“How does it feel? A nice balanced gliding feel upwind in light winds. As soon as a little breeze comes the rails wants to angle itself up deliver exciting railing sensations. With a bit more wind the daggerboard retracts and the hull planes up early with great power around the tail part, delivering an enjoyable and fun upwind ride. On the reach the revolutionary winger concept creates a lift and amazing sailing sensation, which makes the Phantom 295 the most versatile board in the history of Starboard.”
“The rig is based on the award winning Severne Turbo sails design and gives that extra light and lively feel. The Phantom 295 is a pet project that we are very proud of and wish to share with freeriders and regatta sailors the world over.”
“My gear tip of the year 2013 would be the Phantom 295 package. It’s the best all-round kit for most windsurfers in most places most of the time and it’s my favorite gear as well.
Windsurfing used to mainly be an inland sport, lakes all over the world were full of action and there was a fair amount of ladies sharing their passion for windsurfing. My dream is to see surfers of the wind once again gliding over waterways everywhere and at the same time push the very limit of the sport by winning the Professional Windsurfer Associations Constructors title time after time.
The future will again be full of changes and the new fashion might be back to sharing windsurfing with family and friends, just like Jim did back in 1967.”
C7: It looks like the big companies start to invest time and development in all-in-one sets again, like in the older days. Do you think, this was a missing concept during the last years? Why?
Remi Vila: I think since a long time already the market tends to produce more and more extreme boards, like just planing boards for very extreme styles like Freestyle and Wavesailing. This is great, but at the same time we lose all the accessibility of windsurfing for all kind of people. Just remember, that in the 80s the sales were extremely high due to the fact, that everybody was able to try it easily, but now if I am sailing on a Wave board for instance, a beginner can’t try my board. So, the Phantom 295 is an easy board that fits everyone, the beginner and the advanced rider at the same time. But it´s also very close to a funboard, which gives a very nice sensation in planing conditions, but as well in non planing conditions due to the new wings concept.
C7: Starboard also established the Formula Experience class, which is already successful in South America. Why do you now introduce a second all-in-one concept, the Phantom 295?
Remi Vila: The Formula Experience Class is a 100% planing class while the Phantom 295 is also non planing board. And in Europe for instance more than 70% of the races are in very light winds . That’s the main reason, why the Formula Experience has the problem to take off, but that’s not the only reason. As well we noticed 3 years ago that there is a board missing between the Techno 293, which works excellent for riders up to 60 kg. But if they get heavier they have to choose the RS:X Class and this is too much for Techno racers, physically and as well for the costs. Our plan was to close the gap that exists between these 2 boards with the Phantom 295, what was the missing link out of our perspective.
C7: We heard, Svein Rasmussen is also much behind this Phantom concept and has been working and testing the prototypes since 2006!
Remi Vila: Svein wanted to bring back the longboard into Windsurfing, because he is feeling already, that the whole industry moves into the wrong way. In 2006 he invited me with my old Van Den Berg board to start the development of a Race-Board. Then he followed myself and invested a lot of time himself, to participate in each step of the development of the Phantom boards. Until now we have fun together to develop these products and we believe a lot in this Phantom 295 & Phantom Race 377 shapes and concepts. But Svein does even more development with the SUP /windsurfing combination to make the sport more accessible through concepts like the WindSUP & Inflatable WindSUPs. Svein, Tiesda and myself are convinced that’s the best way to grow the windsurfing base, the group of newcomers in the sport.
C7: Would you describe the Phantom 295 as a funboard with racing qualities or as a shrunk raceboard, which makes fun?
Remi Vila: The Phantom 295 is extremely fun and fast in planing conditions, but also has the enormous advantage to be fast too in non planing conditions, what makes the board very competitive in the R310 Class (ISAF Youth Race-Board World Title is on Race-Board of less than 310 cm length).
C7: You decided to design three different sailsizes for this board, a 6,5, a 7,5 and a 8,5. At competitions, are the competitors allowed to use all three sizes or do they have to register one size only?
Remi Vila: The R310 Class allows 2 sailsizes, so you can choose 2 sails according to your body weight, skills and windforecast.
C7: Please, tell us a bit more about the board and how it feels while sailing ? Windrange, etc.?
Remi Vila: The Phantom 295 – due to his concept with the bat wings – gives you a very nice gliding performances in non planing conditions, due to the fact that the water follows the upper part of the deck. The Phantom has a clean water exit. But these bat wings also help to get into planing early due to the fact, that the bottom of the board is wider and gives you a very nice fun sensation that you can’t get with a normal Race-Board. This fact gives the board a huge wind range from 3 to 35 knots.
C7: What are the minimum abilities a windsurfer must have to sail with this equipment?
Remi Vila: As I said earlier you can even learn on it, but race on it as soon you can handle a 6.5 m. Then you are ready for it. But also non racing people of any age can have a lot of fun with it and re-discover the good feeling on the old days. but with a modern shape!
C7: Is the Phantom 295 made for Kids and Youth sailors only or is it working for adults a s well?
Remi Vila: The board can be used for adults as well. I get a lot on this board and have fun on it with 90 kg bodyweight, but will not perform well in light winds like kids with 70kg bodyweigth.
C7: Are there a lot of rules a racer has to know, when he enters an event for the first time or is it a more easy going, fun concept. Can the rules be picked up just several minutes before the start?
Remi Vila: You have of course, a start like in any race with a 5 minutes start sequence before the start and it’s a racing course like you can find it in Formula Windsurfing with upwind and downwind, so very complete. On top of that, this board will help you to develop your tactical skills very quick to be the fastest.
C7: How does a Phantom race course look like and will there be windlimits?
Remi Vila: Like the one we get in Formula for example like a trapezoidal course with up wind and down wind. The wind limit is 6 knots and the gear works up to 35 knots, but can be lower, if the race committee estimates, that the condition according to their security system are not enough.
C7: Has the Phantom 295 an ISAF status already and if not, is it a goal to get one?
Remi Vila: At the moment the Phantom 295 race is in the ISAF Race-Board youth Class in the category race under 310cm length. The future will tell, if we need to go for a One Design Class. Have a look on all 9 boards, which are in the R310 class at the moment.
C7: There are several similar concepts on the market right now. The Bic Tecno 293 seems to be a successful concept, but a bit outdated for the kids and youth under 17. Neilpryde introduced the RS : One, a one-design racing class last November. You introduce now the Phantom 295. Wouldn’t it be a good idea, to open the BIC Tecno Class and allow the young competitors to use Phantoms or RS:One boards as well, which both seem to be more developed and up to date compared to the BIC Tecno 293? And when the sailor gets older, he still can use the same equipment and there is no need to change to another class after 17.
Remi Vila: The Techno 293 Class is a one design class, so Neil Pryde RS:ONE and Phantom 295 for example can’t race in it, but like at the last Worlds in Youth Race-Boards in Holland, Techno 293, RS:ONE, Phantom 295 & RB Hybrid were on the starting list. Kids, who are older or to heavy for the Techno 293, they are really welcome in this class to enjoy racing with more fun and performances.
C7: Do you think, we will see many more new concepts like the Phantom, RS:ONE, Bic Tecno, Kona, Formula Experience in the near future? Just to mention here, the Mistral competition was one of the most sold and successful concepts in windsurfing back in the 80ties and would still fit into these concepts.
Remi Vila: I think the concept of short Race-Boarding for the youth class is very interesting and other manufactures are welcome to be part of it. The ISAF Youth Race-Board World Championship was a success. Actually we lose too many windsurfers after the Techno 293 class and with this new Phantom 295 concept we have the perfect answer for them.
Maybe for the Slalom discipline this will happen too, you never know! Affordable equipment will help youth windsurfers a lot to join slalom too. We are working on this direction, but it´s too early to talk about it.
C7: Or are there too many classes already? There are already 8 different class boards in the R310 Hybrid class. Isn’t it too confusing and doesn’t it hide the pure windsurfing feeling. Philip Köster was asked by a German Newspaper, what Olympic Windsurfing means to him. He answered: “I am not sure, what’s going on there. I think the boards are a bit different and so.”
Remi Vila: The R310 Class is just one class, in which you can use many different Daggerboard boards under 310cm. Windsurfing in general has a lot of variety and this is very nice: Freestyle, Wave, Slalom, Formula, Race-Board & Hybrid, so just need to make everybody happy in this big family.
C7: Hypothetically speaking, has a Phantom also qualities as a beginner board? I mean, could this concept be used from the beginning on, with a smaller sail and then just change the sail and take part at competitions?
Remi Vila: That’s correct, this is totally possible, kids to adult can learn on it as they are not to heavy. For racing the board it is perfect until 75kgs, then they are ready for the next step for RS:X, Race-Board, Slalom or Formula.
C7: A Tecno 293 set including a 8.5 m rig costs 1949 € in total. What will be the wholesale price for a Phantom set?
Remi Vila: The Phantom 295 is using higher quality material for board, mast & boom and will be just a bit more expensive. 40 sets will be available at the King´s Cup and boards with a travel bag or riggs can be bought after the event.
More infos here
C7: Are there any Phantom events coming up in the near future?
Remi Vila: The next big event is the King’s Cup with different Asian countries in Phuket, Thailand. It will be started tomorrow and runs till December 5th. The Youth Vice-World Champion will be there, too and any one can participate under the age of 21.
Watch a clip about the Phantom 295.
The first video from the Phantom event in Phuket, Thailand
© continentseven 2012, Starboard