Swiss extroverted freestyle funster Balz Müller and former freestyle world champion Steven van Broeckhoven enjoyed some special windsurfing sessions in South Africa. They borrowed sails from the 80s and tried what’s possible with a 30 year-old setup. The results are great on flat water and in waves!!! Both nailed some of the latest tricks at Rietvlei lake and Balz went in waves at Big Bay.

Oli Staufacher (s3one) followed them with his camera and edited a great clip called “In search of Lost Time”: “I was lucky enough to capture Balz and Steven in South Africa during a fun windsurf session with some old sails from the 80’s. It was truly inspiring. Earlier on Paul Wagstaff from Baysports was telling us the story on how it all started. Fascinated about his stories unfortunately I forgot to press the record button. So I just got the end on tape and thought I have to put it into the movie.” 


Additionally we caught up with Balz for an interview about this session, which gives an inside view, which sail he used and how it felt jumping big airs on a 30 year old sail. 


“In Search of Lost Time” by s3one ft. Balz Müller and Steven van Broeckhoven


Interview with Balz Müller about his new experiences on a sail from the 80s


Continentseven: What a cool idea to try all the the tricks on a 30 year old sail. When did you have the idea and why? Ricardo Campello used an old Combat a few years ago at Pozo.
Balz Müller: The main reason why I went sailing on those colorful balloon-sail was simple. I broke my only 4.4m with a classic head-thru-sail landing, and needed to wait for the repair. I was lucky and found quick lots of spare.


Continentseven: What kind of sails did you use and who was the owner?
Balz Müller:
I found the sails in the backyard of baysports-surfshop in Cape Town. There is plenty of old and broken gear around. We really went through a complete windsurf time-travel as there was from pretty much every year a beauty hidden. It took us hours unpacking/rolling all those presents. And the shop-owner Paul “Waggi” was always there with a story about each piece of Dacron. The sails I was using were kind of Cape Town’s wave history.


Continentseven: Did you buy it or did you just borrow it. You ripped it apart a bit?
Balz Müller: I was allowed to get try’s on each old sail I dig out the surf cemetery. Most of them were already broken or pretty much used, and anyway nobody was really thinking of re-using this old stuff anymore.  


Continentseven: How was the feeling on the water? Did you enjoy the overall performance?
Balz Müller: I really enjoyed sailing with it, because there was this 100% “go for it” feeling as I wasn’t scared at all from breaking my sails (and myself, because the sails were super soft). And there was this unreal crazy power trying to blow the boom out your hands, which I really love. In total I was really surprised about the performance and had pretty sure lots of FUN as always on the water. But I need to add I didn’t expect anything from the sails.


Continentseven: Was it harder to stick your tricks compared with a modern sail?
Balz Müller: The biggest difference I felt, was in the point of pressure, as it was pushing way more to the center of the sail so some of the rotations went total wrong. For sure a new Severne is more stable and gives you way more control in all kind of sailing positions. However on the old once it was fail or fly.


Continentseven: What mast (length, model) and boom did you use? 
Balz Müller: I was happy using my new RDM mast and boom set up, but it was super weird to rig a 3.6 on a 400 mast and a 4.6 already on 430. And yeah, I got the fantastic chance of testing a really old (unfix wakawaka) boom for a few runs until I broke it.   


Continentseven: Did you see any huge advantage or disadvantage of the old shape?
Balz Müller:
The HoodSail I was using had 3½ and even 2½ batten, as pure wave sails I really think those half batten system can be a big on/off performance advantage, maybe for freestyle, too as we also need the off feeling for the ducking. And those big Dacron-panels where super interesting. They really gave the sails loads of power. Because I always wonder how can it be possible that all those dudes on old gear planning with at least one square meter less sail size?!  (e.n.: HoodSail was the first sail producing company, which has woven their own sailcloth in Dacron at Hood Sailmakers)


Continentseven: Did you change the trim (settings) during your session?
Balz Müller: I tried my best but never really felt like having the same trim for a second-time. So each run was a surprise and for sure nice experience.


Continentseven: Was the boom a similar height compared to your modern sails?
Balz Müller: A bit lower than normal standards nowadays.


Continentseven: Will you use old sails in the near future, too? Imagine you beat other guys on their latest sail with a 30 year old sail in heat?  
Balz Müller: Time changes our equipment and I feel super lucky to have the chance of riding new high quality sails of Severne which I still prefer by far. But for sure I will get also in future rides on old gear because sometimes it’s important to feel the huge difference to improve. And in my aspect we will have anyway those beauty retro colors back on the water soon. Because I think that was also a reason why windsurfing was way more present in the 80s, it was nicer to watch with all those colorful sails and the riders where easier to spot. As example in those old Mistral photo shootings the riders where drawing real art in the nature with the jibes and rides.


Continentseven: Is it possible to improve windsurfing on such an old sail?
Balz Müller: It totally depends what goals you stick in your level. The fun will be there for sure, because on those sails you really feel the power of the nature, but that’s also the reason, why your arms will be done quick. And as you now higher levels in windsurfing are always connected to long training days, so it’s your decision.


Continentseven: When will you test a 30 year old board or is it impossible to stick the same moves on old heavy boards?
Balz Müller: I would love to get once a try on a real windsurfing surfboard, one of those with the mast track all the way to the front. I think that’s one of my biggest goals at the moment. And out of my own experience I know that those first European short boards, which my dad was using, aren’t that much fun for lake windsurfing as they don’t plan so fast.

© 2014, Balz Müller, Oli Staufacher – s3one