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Nicholas

Nicholas

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Posted by on in Windsurfing

Shark deterrent wetsuit

Out of all the shark deterrents out there, probably one of the most interesting of all is the wetsuit version. It seems to be "shark week" with all the recent posts on this topic but you'll find this one highly appropriate.

It's important to note that the following is not a deterrent but probably an attraction to sharks, so be careful not buy one of these goodies.

Since that's out the way, let's take a look at the real deal and more importantly, do they actually work? Who and what kind of review can we expect to read from people who have purchased these things? Perhaps something like "Great suit, I windsurfed in shark-infested waters to test this new suit and it seemed to have worked, I'm still here", or how about "Unfortunately my husband's suit never worked".

Obviously we can't get rely on reports like that but rather relying on research or studies completed by the seller of these wetsuits. Let's take a look at the kind of shark repelling suits that are available. If you search online stores such as eBay or Amazon you'll find they are quite scarce but this one did show up below and if you click on it you'll see the product:

 

Shark rash vest Shark rash vest

As you can see, this particular item is actually a rash vest but it claims the following:

"The unique color pattern of our rash Guard mimics the features of highly venomous Lion Fish, therefore minimizing your chances of being mistaken for a sea lion or any other type of favourite food on the menu of local sharks."

and also

"The design of our Rash Guard makes swimmers and surfers look unattractive to sharks. Lion Fish is not on a shark's normal menu, and despite attempts to train sharks to eat Lion Fish, these attempts were only limited to one place off the coast of Honduras."

as well as

"In addition to poisonous looking fish stripes on the surface of our Rash Guard, the large eyes placed in an unnatural location should also confuse and scare off potential predators looking for a quick bite."

and finally

"...there were articles published in ABC News Australia’s web site confirming that using particular patterns on swim garments would make the wearer appear obnoxious, poisonous or unattractive to the sharks.

While we can't guarantee that wearing our Rash Guard will make your totally invisible to sharks, there is a good probability that your already slim chance of being bitten by this predator might become even slimmer."

So the question is this, does it work?

Recently Professor Shaun Collin and Dr. Nathan Hart of the University of Western Australia’s Oceans Institute published research suggesting that sharks were cone monochromats, which means they are probably colour blind animals.

Based on that it may be possible to design a suit that can create some kind of camouflage suit that reduces the chance of attack, which would also entail a suit designed for certain types of water conditions. Otherwise another option is to create a wetsuit that repels the shark directly. To repel them directly would require the use of contrast.

There is strong evidence that if something looks like food that sharks don't like, then sharks will avoid it, according to Dr. Hart. Tiger sharks were also observed swimming past dummies that had striped pattern wetsuits, but those clad in traditional black wetsuits were attacked.

One question raised is that, what if the designer unknowingly produced suits with patterns that attracted sharks? Obviously there are foods in the ocean that sharks like to eat? The answer is that this is already the case with our usual black wetsuits and surfboards. We've all read articles on how surfers look like seals in the water when paddling on their surfboards in full bodied black wetsuits.

The combination looks entirely natural to a shark in terms of food, especially the big sharks. One thing is certain, if they work there is no shortage of demand.

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Posted by on in Windsurfing

Sportrack

When it comes to sportracks you might be overwhelmed by all the different models and features available. Hopefully this article will help you decide which one you need. We'll include those fora range of sports and not just windsurfing, since many of us also enjoy other sports.

Some of the factors in deciding which one to get will obviously depend on the type of equipment you'll carry but apart from that you ought to look at things like, adjustments, weight load, how much play there is, the type of fitting it uses and also the price.

Our Sportrack and roof rack picks

SportRack SR1010 Complete Roof Rack System

This type comes in at about $160 off amazon and is one of the most popular of the range. That's probably because it's quite versatile and you can use these racks for a number of sports.

Pros

The biggest pro is that they're versatile. They can be used on most vehicles generally speaking. You can also attach different equipment such as bikes, kayaks, surf boards and your windsurfing gear.

They're not confined to sports either and soon you'll find them more useful when you need to transport other things like household items for example, provided they're not too heavy. The price is not that bad either compared to other racks out their which are hundreds of dollars.

If you're looking to save some more dollars, then you can avoid using a professional to install them. Installing them is pretty straight forward and you don't need to be incredibly smart. It doesn't take long either which means you can remove them and use them on other cars whenever you like.

Most people are quite happy with the product.

Cons

Fitting the item is not a big deal but there is one area that could probably benefit from some improvements and that's the metal plate-clip that clamps the racks down. They seems to be sturdy enough but there are reports of them coming lose.

They might also have a bit of play depending on the roof shape on your vehicle no matter how tight you try to fit them. It's hard to tell before buying them and the only way you'll find out is after they're fitted. The problem with even the slightest shift is that over time the rubbing will create some wear.

Malone Auto Racks Universal Car Roof Rack

This Malone product is quite impressive on a number of points. Also a popular one and if you see for yourself there are 150 reviews and counting.

Considering these are the "crossbar" type, they have a different fitting system compared to the previous product we listed here.

Pros

Most people that buy them are happy which provides immediate assurance that they'll do what they're supposed to do. The major benefits are also the fact that these racks are "universal" and can carry different types of equipment. Their selling points are:

 

  • Universal crossbar that fits nearly all factory-installed vehicle side rails
  • Transports kayaks, canoes, snowboards, surfboards, roof boxes, and more
  • Square profile bars provide a secure, tight fit for rack accessories
  • Rust-resistant rubberized bar coating stands up to years of rugged use
  • Key-locking attachment towers; supports up to 132 pounds

You can select different sizes so you'll need to do some research as to what size you need before purchasing them.

Cons

We're not quite sure on the "key lock" and seems to be a bit of a selling rap more than security device. If anyone wanted to take your racks, it should slow them down a bit. However, you should be more worried about what's attached to them.

We looked for some reports on the stability aspect and some have claimed them to "slide" a tiny bit. It isn't much of a big deal anyway considering that there is a natural roof curve on most cars which would prevent them from sliding too much. However, we would prefer to see a rock solid type to begin which. You'll notice in this picture that the roof bar sits nice and flush with the rack, which is ideal.

They aren't heavy duty (that's what you pay for), so don't try to load up hundreds of kilograms on them.

SportRack SR7011 Horizon Cargo Box, 11-Cubic Feet

If you're looking for something over and above roof bars then you might want something like this. It provides you with 11 cubic feet of storage space that can fit on most roof racks.

It won't carry your windsurfing board, but if it's snowing you can then transport things like skis or snowboards. This model will carry about 3 snowboards and 6 pairs of skis.

Pros

Some of the points worth mentioning is that these units are streamlined, which help with fuel economy over long distances. That's a major plus if you're the adventurous type that travels a lot.

The main selling points on this item are:

  • Rugged construction made from impact resistant ABS material
  • Secure centralized lock for easy opening and closing
  • Passenger side opening for access away from traffic
  • Easy-snaps hardware mounting system for quick on/off
  • Fits SportRack Roof Rack Systems, square, round and most factory racks

It comes with a "Limited Lifetime Warranty" that should provide some assurance on its quality. They also state that it fits all "SportRack Frontier roof rack systems", square, round and most factory racks. The "other factory racks" could be questionable!

Cons

There are not as many reviews out there as we'd like so it's hard to tell the most common problem people have with this brand. There are a few draw backs that we picked up on. One of them is that it seems to be a tad bit too long on some cars which creates the problem of opening your hatch while it's on the roof.

Thule Pulse Cargo Box

This model has a better performance rating than the previous one listed but it's also the more expensive one. The dimensions are 89 x 13 x 27 inches and come in different sizes, 11, 14 and 16 cubic feet.

It serves as a transport container useful for carrying and protection your valuable gear. As with most of these brand their size will limit you as to what you can store in them.

Pros

This sleeker streamlined unit along is convenient and super easy to use. It uses their "Easy-Grip Mounting" and can quickly attach to your racks. It delivers on quality and also has the durable and rugged ABS material. It's claimed to be long-lasting and is designed to protect the contents during transit.

The locking system is adequate and is secure enough to be used as a security measure. It opens and locks on both sides and compared to the "elite" model, its higher price is still affordable.

One of the selling points often liked are the "Single-Side Opening for safe, passenger side loading unloading of items", which is a major plus. Most people enjoy the fact that it's very light which helps to carry it and the height is praised.

Cons

There are some people who were still not happy. It's hard to avoid the critic in all cases however, these points were worth mentioning on this product.

Some users state that it's bouncy and flexible which makes a big of a wind noise that could be unpleasant. A few reviews contain complaints related to fuel consumption, that the box increases their consumption which is disappointing as you'd expect good fuel economy considering the product is quite streamlined. Perhaps it's related to the load rather than the box.

Overall, given the few complaints that are listed and for the price versus quality, it's a good buy for most people which seem to agree.

SportRack SR4611 Locking Roof Bike Carrier

If you're looking for an affordable bike rack then this will do the job. It's designed for one bike which is great for on the go transport. It's a simple model with a simple purpose of transporting a bike and ideal if you don't need a rack for multiple bikes.

Some of the specs are:

  • Maximum load - 45 LB
  • Rack compatibility - Check fit guide below to determine fit to car make and model. If car make and model are not listed, no SportRack system is currently available for that car. Fits round, square and factory-installed square crossbars.
    • Crossbars diameters must not be greater than 3-1/2"
    • Minimum crossbar spread - 24"
    • Maximum crossbar spread - 34"
  • Grip arm bike tube compatibility - elliptical and 1" - 2-1/2" diameter bike tubes
  • Fits most bikes with disc brakes - Yes
  • Bikes lock to carrier - Yes
  • Carrier locks to rack - Yes (with cable lock, sold separately)

Pros

It allows you attach a bike without taking off the front tyre. The goal is for convenience and time saving. For example, if you're doing a bike trip with mates and would like to try a few locations. Then moving from one spot to another will ensure that no-one has to wait for you to fit the front wheel and fix your adjustments, just take your bike off and go. Besides, fitting your wheel on every time before riding can get frustrating in one day, even though you might say "putting on a front tyre isn't that much of a big deal".

The price is affordable but you should consider that it needs a set of base racks to begin with. You'd need a decent pair for added stability.

Cons

The obvious one is that it cannot take tandem bikes. So if you're going out, your bike is the only one that's going with. There are a few reviews some of which are the following complaints:

  • Cracks on the arm handle and unsafe
  • Plastic material that has broken
  • Could be too short for some bikes

It's worth mentioning that the first 2 of these review complaints are obviously from items that had problems and could indicate an issue with quality. Perhaps if there were more reviews their overall rating would be higher as people who are unhappy are more likely to review an item than those who are.

SportRack SR2901LR 2-Bike Lock and Tilt Platform Hitch Rack

Here is a bike rack that will allow you to fix 2 bikes so that you can at least take a friend along when going for a ride. The carrier features include: 1-1/4" and 2" hitch receiver compatibility with the locking functionality you need. It has fold-up wheel loop arms and there is access to vehicles from the rear.

Built for two bikes some of the specs are:

  • 35 x 15.8 x 7 inches
  • 30.8 pounds
  • Hooks and wheel trays adjust to fit almost all bike frames and sizes
  • 90 LB maximum carrying weight limit

Pros

Along with the higher price it also comes with a better rating than the previous bike rack listed here. Most people are satisfied with it and the construction seems to be strong and durable. The system is more stable which is obviously also due to the fact that it doesn't go on top of your car. Over and above that, many of the reviews claim that it's solid and sturdy.

A major advantage of having a rack on the rear of your car is that you free up space on your roof, allowing you to transport roof-top gear as well. Unlike using a roof-top bike rack which limits you to a bike only trip!

Some of their selling points are claimed as the following:

  • Hitch mount bike storage conserves internal vehicle storage, and atop roof racks
  • One to two bicycle stowage capacity
  • Simple knob-based assembly
  • Features independent adjusting, padded ratcheting bike hooks that clamp down on virtually all frame styles and sizes
  • Raised wheel hoops for both bike wheels that quickly adjust to virtually all bike lengths and bike wheel sizes
  • Centre post tilts away when carrier is empty and platform arms are extended for easy and convenient rear vehicle access
  • Constructed of durable and long lasting high-grade steel.
  • Includes locks built into each bike hook, and a SportRack hitch lock for maximum security
  • Moveable rubberized hooks that secure the bike ensure protection for the finish
  • The centre folds down for rear vehicle access and folds up when not in use
  • Includes locks to secure the bike to the rack and rack to the vehicle

The product also comes with a "Limited Lifetime Warranty".

Cons

Some disappointments noted reported by users are:

  • Some users spent more time than they'd like on setting up and fitting the rack, especially the pins.
  • A few claims of the rack having a wobble due to an adapter for the larger hitch, which is plastic.
  • Some complaints on the screwing bolt that goes through the receiver. That it's too short, or lock does not secure on pin.
  • Time spent on assembly.

Overall the rack is used by a large number of satisfied customers who have coped fine even with the complaints stated above.

SportRack 4-Bike Tilting Platform Hitch Rack

The last item to list here for bikes is this rack from SportRack designed to carry up to 4 bikes per vehicle. It's also fitted to the rear end of your car giving you that roof space needed for other gear.

Ideal for a family of bike riders. Most of us wouldn't carry more than 4 bikes at a time so this is more than enough for families that enjoy bike rides together. Perfect for family holidays and adventurous camping trips.

The specs for this rack are:

  • 70 pounds
  • 46 x 13 x 10 inches
  • Centre folds down for rear vehicle access
  • Moveable rubberized hooks secure the bike to the rack while protecting the finish
  • Hooks and wheel trays adjust to fit almost all bike frames and sizes

Pros

The majority of reviews state that the construction is solid and sturdy and the material seems strong enough to satisfy customers.

Cons

This can be debated as a problem, but some complain that the rack is heavy and is easier attach with the help of two people. However, it's obvious that it's heavier because it's larger due to the fact that it carries 4 bikes.

Rather a heavier and stronger construction than a lighter weaker one. The major consequence of heavier items is increased fuel consumption which is normal on any load.

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Posted by on in Windsurfing

Interesting facts about sharks

Our friend the shark has the obvious connection to almost every water sport enthusiast out there. A lot of us suffer from a phobia or fear of shark attack, not convinced? Who doesn't jump out the water instantly when they fall into the deeper water?

Perhaps it is indeed a matter of understanding and awareness. Most of us turn the channel or look away when there is a show or images of sharks because we just don't want the thought of getting bitten to pop into our heads.

Here are some real but interesting facts about these animals that might change your view in the slightest degree about them.

Shark facts

Here are some interesting shark facts that you might not know about

What are my chances of getting killed by a shark?

You have a chance of about 1 in 300 million, the reason why it seems so more common is because of the fact that it's so infrequent that when it does happen, it makes every headline in the world. Rare instances are absolutely loved by the media. Things that happen often are less likely to get reported.

You have a far greater chance of getting killed by lightning, coconuts or bees. If coconuts are more lethal than sharks, why aren't we more afraid of them? The answer is... "the idea of getting eaten alive".

Is the movie Jaws real?

Surprisingly, the movie is based on a real event that happened in 1916 where 4 people were fatally attacked by a killer shark in New Jersey, USA.

Sharks may cure cancer

Sharks hardly ever get cancer and scientists are trying to figure out why, if they do, we might be able to enjoy the same benefits. Also, according to recent studies, sharks are at greater risk of cancer today due water pollution.

How many types of sharks are there?

There are just over 440 known types of shark. It's likely that there are a few more species unknown us.

We all want shark teeth

A shark generally has about 45 teeth at a given time with several rows (up to 7) of replacement teeth. They grow back fast, real fast, in fact sharks can go through more than 30 000 teeth in a lifetime.

Sharks have no backbone

Sharks have no bones at all and their "skeletal" structure is made up entirely of cartilage, which is a little weird indeed.

Shark live is tough

The first tiger shark pup to hatch eats the other unborn sibling pups until only two pups are left.

Sharks hate men

90% of shark attack victims are men. Who knows why, but it seems they have some hidden agendas.

Shallow water attacks

Most attacks happen in shallow water, so our greater fear of deeper water is somewhat unfounded. Even though we feel safer in shallow water, the risk seems greater.

Sharks ought to be afraid of us

For every 1 human that is killed by a shark, we kill a few million in return, talk about race discrimination.

Fresh water

Bull sharks are able to swim up river into fresh water and readjust or regulate their bodies accordingly. They can swim thousands of kilometers up rivers. Perhaps there is a justified fear for sharks in your toilet.

Old bastards

Some sharks live long, the Whale shark can live up to 100 years and they're also the largest fish in the world. However, this poor sucker has to wait 30 years until they can produce baby sharks.

Shark attack vs shark deaths

While the number of shark attacks are small, the number of deaths by shark attacks are even smaller. Most of us assume that a shark attack means that someone has been killed, in fact most attacks don't result in death.

Are all sharks evil killers?

Only a few sharks of the hundreds of species are "potential attackers" that could harm us. There are actually only 3 sharks worth mentioning as potential threats. The Great white, Tiger shark and Bull shark. Which are responsible for the majority of attacks on people.

Not so deaf of dumb

Sharks have ears and have good hearing. They have inner ears that can pick up sounds from 250 meters away.

No rest for sharks, ever!

Some sharks will simply die if they don't stop swimming, because if they do, they'll suffocate to death from lack of oxygen going through their gills.

How scared of sharks are you?

If you have a phobia of them, it's called Galeophobia.

1st place for high jump

Great white sharks can jump up to 3 meters out of water. This can be seen off the coast of South Africa at sea Island. Here they launch upon their seal prey when attacking them and the force propels them out of the water.

Horrible history

Upon the sinking of the USS Indianapolis during World War II. Almost 900 sailors were left in the Philippine Sea near for 4 days. When help arrived only 316 people were still alive and no-one knows for sure how many where taken by sharks, but rumours say that the sharks had a feast.

Pound for pound

Great white sharks don't have much more of a harder bite than humans do.

Poking it's eyes may not help

When a shark attacks it doesn't close its eyelids, a great white shark instead rolls its eyes into the back of its head when it attacks. This helps the shark protect its eyes, so trying to poke them may not help as much as what we think should we get attacked by one.

Sharky smell

Sharks can detect 1 drop of blood in an Olympic sized swimming pool.

Hearty creatures

Sharks can sense your heartbeat through their sensory nodules called mpullae of Lorenzini.

Sharks are blamed for almost anything

An ancient Greek historian called Herodotus said that sharks destroyed a Persian fleet in the 5th century B.C.. This is the most likely the first time sharks were labelled with a killer reputation.

 

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Posted by on in Windsurfing

Windsurfing vs Kitesurfing

Windsurfer and kitesurfer surfing together

Whenever I teach someone who is new to windsurfing, or chat to those who haven’t tried it, I’m almost always asked the windsurfing vs kitesurfing question. “Which one do you think is better?”

I used to reply with I’m not sure because I haven’t tried kitesurfing and I’d often say “I’m told that kitesurfing is easier and that both are great”.

Since then I promised myself to go out and give kitesurfing a go, properly. So I could at least get a feel for it. I also thought it would be worth my time, considering it’s good for light winds.

My answer to the “windsurf versus kitesurf” question is now different. I also know I’m personally biased towards windsurfing and have my own preferences for it, but I’ll try to take an objective point of view anyway.

Difficulty

I learnt to kite through the same way as everyone else, but I think my windsurfing background gave me an advantage because I already understood wind, direction, gusts etc. I found it a lot easier to than windsurfing, but I learnt windsurfing more than 20 years ago on equipment that was incredibly unfriendly for beginners. The time it takes on new gear to learn what I did 20 years ago can’t be compared. I’d imagine windsurfing is just as easy to learn today judging on how fast my students progress.

I’ve heard others say, “go kitesurfing, it’s so much easier”, but in my teaching experience this isn’t true. Most people who say that took up windsurfing from a time when it was difficult indeed, heavy sails, long thin boards & awful equipment made learning a nightmare. For those who made it through, we look back and still say it was worth it. If you had to take a person new to both windsurfing and kitesurfing, gave them lessons on both sports and then asked them which one was easier, I think they’d answer differently.

All of my students have learnt to sail out and back on their own in 2 or 3 hours without having ever touched a rig before. In that same time someone new to kitesurfing is still learning to fly the kite.

Here is the thing about windsurfing which is the stretch to planing is the big challenge, although it’s still not as it tough as before, it still takes time to get hooked in and in the straps comfortably. From what I can see, kitesurfing offers a faster path to planning than windsurfing.

Which comes to my next point, what good is a sport if it’s nothing but easy? If you prefer ease to skill then perhaps you don’t want to bother with a “somewhat” longer learning curve.

Fun factor

My biased mindset tells me that windsurfing is more diverse but both sports have a solid fun factor. A lot of people kitesurf and I’m sure they wouldn’t it if wasn’t fun. Kitesurfing currently holds faster speed records over windsurfing & we’ve all seen the long hang time kiters are known for. I find the “airtime” to be a touch more graceful in than windsurfing, which is harder and faster. Kiters float and glide and you’ll have enough time to enjoy a good view if you’re high enough. With windsurfing you rocket upwards and hope to God you land well.

Although, I guess here is where the preferences come in and you’ll find kitesurfers saying that kitesurfing is more fun and windsurfers saying that windsurfing is more fun. Which is a normal response for anyone passionate about their sports, but what if you’ve done both?

Same thing, it depends on you as a person. If a person advises a newbie that one is better than the other, then they are mistaken. You don’t know unless you try and try properly!!

For me, windsurfing takes 1st prize hands down. What about you?

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