Stiff masts are best... until they aren't? What gives?

Mister Bennetts rides a Unifoil with what is reported to be a very flexy mast. MFC are rumored to be very flexy as well.

Is he wrong to do it? Or is the mast “special” in how it flexes (the manufacturers will insist it is of course.) Or is it all just BS and no one really knows like every other part of surfing?

I maintain that no one knows enough to say and that your technique adapts to your gear and is specific to what you like.

Bennetts (and James Casey) say that when turning the loading and unloading of the mast flex helps them. This tracks with what surfers have said for years. This was also the basis of hating epoxy boards as they were too stiff and “had no life.” So which is it folks?

I don’t know, but I want to see this discussion. Please tag those folks who know if you can. I want to hear what people are saying and have a trackable discussion. Someone get Erik from Progression Project, AB, KDMaui, and all the other experts on here to hash it out. There’s no right in my opinion, but I’m honestly sick of hearing something become
“truth” for like 4 months only for the hot new gear to come out and be 100% different from last month’s “truth.”

What’s my goal here? To get people to finally admit that no one really knows anything just yet. Favorite moment of the year was hearing Cliff from Unifoil tell Erik A that he was trying to make a beginner foil when he made his fastest and most high performance foil. That honesty was refreshing and made me laugh out loud. We need more of that and less marketing hype.

In my opinion this is all BS. The stiffer the better, both in torsional stiffness and bending stiffness. Everyone who claims different is trying to put a marketing spin on a weak product. This is my opinion based on testing many different masts on kite-, sup-, surf-, wing- and e-foils. Once you ride a stiff mast you don’t want to go back to a soft one (ok that sounds strange :joy:). And here a nice test that confirms how mast stiffness helps with pumping: Foil Video Thread

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Most sports do anything to get rid of flex if it’s connected to steering. Just saying…

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Firstly this is just going to be a pure opinion based thread! Pretty much every test the guys riding them do has ZERO scientific value! And that goes for all the tests Foiling NY does. A bungy never has the same recoil twice and hugely depends on temperature and arm position. Pump and glide will differ with every pump. Absolutely everything is open to interpretation. (I would agree that a stiffer mast makes sense for pumping though! That goes in line with transferring the max force onto your wings)

When it come to surf foiling things will get very different. Size of rider, riding style, mast thickness and different foils are going to work for different people with different stances. Some people are back foot foilers, other are front foot. You can go on and on…
Then on top of that you going to have groupies and those that are faithful to brands.

Not so much. With surfing in particular the flex patterns in a board have a huge impact on drive when turning. Epoxy vs Polyurethane is also hugely different! I’ve had loads of both boards and you can tell immediately how different they are.

Anyway… this will be full of opinions until someone sensors-up a foil to measure flex patterns and gives it to someone like Kai who can then put it through its paces…

flexymast…bad…the original GoFoil masts used to flex WAY too much…there was a delay in your turns…and pumps…the 2nd gen masts were a little better and you could use the delay to load up power and spring ahead…3rd gen masts are much more solid…

stiffer is better

Stiffer is better… and still I like this topic - thanks @Surfcowboy - and want to playing devils advocate for a minute. First we need to separate ride feeling and pumping efficiency, they are two different things.

Let’s look at ride feeling first. There could be riders who like masts with low torsional stiffness to have the board be less responsive in the yaw motions. Harder to imagine where low bending stiffness might be nice, I guess some people may argue that it dampens the roll motion.

Now to the second area, the pumping efficiency. Here one could imagine how a mast with the correct flex pattern might help with pumping. However not in roll (bending the mast to side) or yaw (mast torsion) like we discovered with soft masts already. It would need to be some spring in the pitch direction, to front and back. Naturally most masts are pretty stiff in that direction and I have not seen anyone playing with flex here. Reason why I think it’s interesting to look how pitch-flex could support pumping is the Aquaskipper design, it uses a spring which can be adjusted to the rider weight. Ok it’s quite a different animal than a single strut T foil, but is it…? Curious to hear everyone’s thoughts.

AquaskipperSpringExample

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Do you mean surfing or foil surfing? I’m thinking mast flex as just a loss of direct control. Like skiing with your ski boots not tightened or driving a car with a flexy chassis.

Foil surfing. And yes I agree that it’s hard to imagine some riders like Bennetts (and James Casey) like mast flex.

This is exactly what I wanted to see. And thanks for not holding back (Not that Jezza ever does. :rofl:)

I tend to agree but wanted to play devil’s advocate here to see where this went. I’d like to see other folks come into this as well. Manufacturers should be more open too.

To address some things here, yes, this is all about surfing, but on an efoil I’ll bet it’s weird too, as was said, like a car with a flexy chassis.

One note on FoilingNY’s reviews. I’ve heard he’s a pretty serious engineer in real life but I suspect that his “tests” are meant more for his own reviews and are quick and dirty as opposed to being “scientific”. Also, important to note that he’s evaluating everything for flat water pumping on a lake and not for surf. His recent review of the Axis Black sort of showed that as the unsaid thing in that review was “it can be good that a wing is big and can go fast.” For his use-case (speaking for you here man if you read this) faster isn’t better necessarily. Whereas a large rider trying to go fast in big ocean surf could happily use a wing with a high stall speed, trading the high top end speed for that. It’s just a review, not a true “test” really.

All of this to say that it’s personal. I can see where flex is bad, but at my physical size, I don’t really suffer from flex as much. What would double over under Steamroller is probably workable for me. Wondering how big Adam Bennetts is. Hmm…

Anyway, glad to see some info here and discussion. Users need to start calling out the marketing hype and getting real.

Another thing related… did Takuma really know what they were doing if they made a foil where you have to shim the whole baseplate in order to make it surf well? that blows my mind.

This aquaskipper effect is interesting. It would seem that you’d need some sort of way to manage the flex. (Smart materials that can have their stiffness controlled by applying a voltage?!)

I can’t manage my altitude well enough yet on a stiff system. Can’t imagine if there was another variable. But yes, for pumping I could see this flex making things really fun.

Could some sort of flex or spring in the tail accomplish this on a surf foil?

I’m late to the party today. Been at the snow with my kids for their first real snow day.

@pacificmeister flex in the pitch, or up and down axis. I don’t know how this would work, but I have ridden a lift 170 fish. The fuse is flattened out behind the mast do it has a dolphin tail motion. It was definitely noticeable. To small for me at my weight but it did seem to propel you forward in a pump. They discontinued it though.

@surfcowboy. I’ve ridden two brands of aluminum masts. Naish. Just learning. People say it was bad. Shrugs. Axis. I rode the 16mm mast. Stiff, good, very predictable.

Carbon. Lift. Smooth through the water. Pumped good. I could load up flex like a flex fin surfing. It was very fun. Especially backside bottom turns. In cross current or chop it’s slightly annoying.
Signature. Similar. I haven’t ridden it enough to learn how to load it up efficiently yet. So smooth through the water though.

I prefer carbon. To the point that the $600 dollar price premium and some annoyance in cross current swell I’d still prefer it.

Takuma. They tuned the kujira to work in fast waves. High speeds. Similar to new axis black series it seems or signature/unifoil albatross wings. Lift ha wings. Then guys want to use it in small waves well the angles wrong. But you can’t shim that style of wing connection so you have to shim the whole mast. I want the 1300 over the kujira at this point. Know any deals?

Surf foiling is following the same progression kite foiling did. Faster foils! Faster foils! We’re going into generation 3. No ground breaking break through until we get ailerons? What’s that moving part of a wing called?

You called it right, ailerons. That’ll seriously bring us forward. Even if they aren’t controllable in the water, just being able to set them before a session or in between waves would be great.

I get you on the Kujura, that makes sense. You have to sort of de tune it for regular waves. That also tracks to what we heard from foilingNY too. The wings are getting very specific and so if you’re trying a large surf wing to go fast with a wind wing, it’s not going to be right. Not bad, just not right for the job.

Interesting take on the flex demo you but it also tracks with your history as a surfer too. Flex is usable and to be expected, even relied upon in a surfboard and fins. I’ll bet Bennetts is the same.

Now, how do we get 200 surf foilers on here from Instagram so we can really hear some shizz? :sweat_smile:

I don’t think we will… Guys that get free gear or are paid won’t drop the dirt on their sponsors. It will be similar to manufacturers. One wrong comment and they might lose sales.

Yeah I’m pretty straightforward. I won’t sugarcoat things which does sometimes upset the sensitive viewers… Maybe I should add an age restriction to my profile pic? I wasn’t firing any shots at Foiling NY, I still watch all his reviews…
I think an electric wake winch with scale would be better than a bungy though. That would give you the required force and speed needed to take off on different foils.
I’ve got plans to build a winch, but haven’t had the time!

I think mister Bennet’s is pretty small. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s somewhere around 70kg going by pics on Instagram.

Yeah Jezza, I appreciate it. It took me a minute to get your vibe but I like it. And of course you’re right, we won’t get sponsored guys likely. But a lot of good foilers aren’t sponsored though few have ridden as much gear as Hdip. He’s still our go to review guy and also must be the king of Craigslist to move all that gear.

I can still hope for honesty and back and forth discussion, right?

Three years ago when I started Project Cedrus my goal was to make a lighter/stiffer/stronger mast for guys who wanted an upgrade from aluminum. At the time, the solid carbon masts were even softer (because they were so thin). Turns out now my primary market is guys wanting to upgrade their expensive carbon masts with something stiffer for wing foiling. In something like foiling where your control input is critical to the response of the system, stiffer is ALWAYS better for both directional control and even pumping. I don’t know what more scientific data one would need. It’s the same reason high performance bikes, skis, cars, airplanes, etc. are stiff. It is the most efficient and quickest way to transfer control input to the system. In the case of beginners, who may not have the skills to “pilot” or “steer” complex systems, adding damping to the system can help. A soft mast would be the equivalent of damping. Damping is a complex topic, and you can loop up under-damped, over-damped, and critically-damped systems to better understand it. But in the case of foiling, your body is the best damper, so a stiff mast will ultimately give you the best performance. If you’d like to compare a stiff mast with your current wingset, try http://www.projectcedrus.com or simply read the feedback. Everyone agrees that a stiffer mast on the same wings yields better performance.

ProjectCedrus, thank you. Great to have your input.

This thread has brought up a lot of good info and exposed a lot of surfer hype and bunk that we all know comes with the sport.

Your stuff is awesome by the way.

I’d love to hear from more manufacturers too.

Except none of the top riders are actually riding the ProjectCedrus masts…
I know some of the manufacturers have sent super stiff masts to their riders and the riders hated them and went back to less stiff masts… So if that’s happening it tells you something…

got any links on that? would like to see what was said and what’s super stiff in comparison. 19mm axis mast?

@Jezza your statement is flat out ignorant. No “top” riders are actually riding Project Cedrus because 1) they probably don’t know about it and 2) I can’t afford to give them away to professional riders who are absolutely deserving of free equipment given their ability to influence people like you. That being said, it’s really unfortunate that this sport is so marketing heavy, and the “top” brands spend their money on fancy marketing shoots and giving away product to “top” riders while investing very little money in real technology development. The poor average joe is stuck in this cycle of feeling like they need to upgrade to the new color every time they go to the beach, instead of just being stoked on a nice piece of equipment that will last them a few years. Don’t get me wrong, wing design is super challenging and half art/half science, which is why I don’t make wings. But masts should be stiff, strong, light, and relatively hydrodynamic. That’s it. If you’re forced to buy a new mast every season, you are wasting your money.

I’m with @Larsb and would love to see your evidence of “top” riders going away from stiff masts. Feel free to post it here. And if you would like unbiased feedback from people who actually pay for my product, please check out https://projectcedrus.com/feedback/ for lots of happy customers. Full disclosure, I did in fact send my first marketing mast to Gunna Biniasch (kitechino) for reviews because he rides so many different wings and also surf foils, SUP foils, wing foils, and kite foils… the perfect candidate customer who would otherwise have to buy so many different masts. Below is what he had to say, and stay tuned to his youtube channel for a full review.

"I have now tested the Mast with Moses, North and Indiana Foils
Works amazingly well with all of them
It is stiffer than the Moses Carbon Masts and less prone to ventilation. I can trust it more
It is a big improvement to the North and Indiana Alu Masts and makes the Foils ride a lot nicer”

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#triggered

  1. Maybe they do know about your product, maybe they don’t, but that’s an assumption at best! But based on how the top guys ride and the abuse they throw at their gear, if they were really looking for much stiffer masts, then it stands to good reason their sponsors and manufacturers would give them stiffer masts so that they can perform to the best of their abilities. Making a stiffer carbon mast is not rocket science… Especially for companies like Axis (carbon), Unifoil, Lift etc
  2. Influence to me is nothing, I ride completely customised gear. I have a Masters in engineering and multiple milling machines at my disposal. I use combinations of Axis, Unifoil, Gong and Slingshot depending on what I want and when.

I know with my experience both in and out the water that for different foil disciplines you want slightly different characteristics from your gear. Wing, kite, surf, wake, pump and efoil all have their own nuances that come into play

You body is a good damper to an extent. Then your gear can be designed to take it further! So if manufacturers look at different disciplines and design accordingly, then gear can be much better and won’t all be the identical stiffness. Instead there will be dedicated damping. Love it or hate it, it’s true for every single sport there is!

I saw your project ages ago and I find it interesting. But for the cost of one of your masts I bought 4 which serve dedicated purposes and work well in those areas, and I can also then interchange them if I want to. Plus if 1 breaks or bends I have 3 backups…

If you really want to prove which mast is really king and how stiffness plays a role, do something similar to what Stab mag does with their surfboard tests. Gather 3 of the top riders, get a bunch of different masts (with flex sensors installed) and the same set of wingsets. Then send the riders out, test them in different disciplines and see which is preferred when. Then you’ll have solid data.
Until that is actually done, this thread will loop around with speculation, opinion and lots of typing…

My opinion:
Super stiff mast - Wing, kiting and pumping
Damped mast - Wake, surf and E-foil (for E-foil thinner mast = less drag at high speeds)