PWA Racing: Is It Really Still Production?

The PWA slalom tour is strictly for production equipment only, providing a level playing field between the top pros and those making their first steps onto the international scene. But is this really the case? Or are some sailors and brands now customising their equipment in the hunt for glory?


It goes without saying that every sailor, whether it be racer, freestyler or recreational sailor, wants to get the most out of their equipment. Racers in particular will continuously be tuning and tweaking their race set-ups for optimum performance, but anything over and above this is strictly prohibited.

Previously this rule had been adhered to, however now we are led to believe that some sailors and brands are taking the next step and making physical changes to their equipment. Should this be allowed? Is it giving riders that are altering their equipment an unfair advantage? Where should the PWA draw the line? Where does careful tuning, become unfair adjustment?

Have adjustments been made to the bottom of Arnon's board?
Have adjustments been made to the bottom of Arnon’s board?

As new equipment is put into production and the top racers get their new quivers dialled in, many would like to change aspects of their boards and sails but who is actually doing it? As you can see below, it appears that Arnon Dagan has made adjustments to the bottom of his board – rumour has it that the double concaves used to plant the board on the water are in fact hindering the performance; riders are chosing to fill in and then sand the bottom of their boards to loosen it up and give it a slightly livelier feel.

Should this be allowed? What do you think? Answer our poll and share your thoughts in the comments below…

Should customised equipment be allowed in PWA racing?

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  1. Morgan Robinson

    If I had a board that had a sketchy performance issue, I’d take it to a shaper to see if there is any way to improve the issue. The only thing the racers are doing is using their own initiative to do the same. And if custom boards are allowed to be used again, then who knows the innovations that will be designed. It will push forward shaping for sure in a way that the consumer in the end will benefit from

  2. Jonnie Utah

    Ok, keep it to the main rules which are production boards, sails etc. there is already significant opportunity to tune up through fins (extensive discussion previously and some of these guys spend 1,000s) through masts (again extensive discussion and these guys will compare a mast against many others to find the one that works best for them or back in bjorn’s dominant era, you’d find Scotty Fenton using a shorter softer mast… Etc etc ). I guess it’s one thing or another and I’m a fan of keeping it as competitive and realistic as possible by saying boards and sails must be production. Bottom line is the PWA have a set of rules and need to enforce them, otherwise they’ll see the few getting more dominant and will struggle to produce tight, exciting racing, which will be a turn off for those watching. Just look at a defi film to see how it can be

  3. Ovidio

    Dear Amy, which kind of journalism is this? And which kind of information are you providing to you readers?
    You should know that PWA check all the riders’ boards and sails before every event to be sure that equipment have exactly the same specifications and features reported in the factory specs.
    As you should know, production boards have a tolerance (in example +or- 6% concerning the weight) and that’s why top riders tune their hull to be exactly the same as you can find in the board specs.
    I find that your article is not only inappropriate, but also contains warped reasoning, providing a bad image of the PWA Tour and Professional sailor you mention in this article, who won his first winners’ final thanks his great skill and real production equipment.
    I think that a journalist should verify his information before throw them on the internet asking to reader what they think about it.
    I call this junk information.
    And I think this is not a good ad for the website you write for.

    Best regards
    Ovidio Ferrari
    RRD Team Manager

  4. Jonnie+Utah

    There’s a faint whiff of bull here Ovidio. If a board needs that much ‘tuning’ then that begs some questions about the manufacturing tolerance doesn’t it? Especially as i’d guess the pro riders get the pick of the best boards out of the moulds… Rather than get into a bun fight, I guess the point that Amy has made is valid and the kit is only scrutinised and stamped at the start of the event, not during. I’d guess that these minor adjustments make very small material gains if any, and well done to Arnon on a strong event regardless. I’m out.

  5. Patrick

    I totally agree with Jonnie+Utah’s comment: Ovidio’s reply is bull! Many of us remember the “incident” when a pro sailor changed the battens on his sails to carbon ones during a PWA event, therefore AFTER said sails were checked by PWA at the start of the event. Filling up a V is definitely not with the specs of any board.

  6. Ovidio

    Dear Johnnie and Patrick, this is the point: Journalism is not throwing a stone on the water and wait to see what will happen. If you want to give a real service to your readers and to the sport you love, you have to investigate, ask questions, wait for answers, take conclusions and then you can double check everything and write your article.
    I’m sure this never happened with this article and the only result is that this article puts a shadow on what’s happening on the Pro tour and especially with production equipment.
    For sure Pro riders are very addicted to equipment tuning to reach the best performance, but I can talk for what I know: there are not best boards out of the moulds for Pro riders, boards for RRD Top Rider are taken in the same warehouse of other boards, boards are inside their box and the only parameter eventually you can look at before send a board to the rider is the weight.
    The hull tuning is just a check that some riders ask to be sure that hull is exactly the same as the original designed board right because of the manufacturing tolerance. I think that Amy should ask something to PWA judges about it before write down this kind of junk articles.

  7. matthewb

    so ovidio are you saying that riders are refairing the bottom of their boards and the reason is because the production process is so innacurate that the boards are not coming out of the mold to spec?

    its kind of interesting.
    for example if you had a production tolerance of +- 6% on width ( surely you cannot? but that does beg the question what is the “stated” production tolerance on parameters?) a nominal tail width of 300 could be from 282mm to 318mm. In which case ………

    so again what are the “tolerances” that “tuning” can take place within?
    or have i misunderstood?

  8. Alexander Asu

    who sais using just “production” equipment is fair? the boards could be quite different anyway. A one-design class i totally equal, but that would be boring and not good for development. Perharps a “box-rule” wich is revised every couple of years?

  9. Alexander+Asu

    I also agree with those who stated that this is not great journalism…

  10. Thorsten Niehaus

    There was so many stuff in the past not conform to PWA rulebook, but who cares? The PWA is not interested to do something.
    Boards were not in accordance with series boards. Several boards were too wide and several boards having identical serial numbers.
    Visible stitching in the sails, indicating that they have been re-cut…
    Bullshit, what Ovidio wrote!

  11. fish

    hello all,you must follow the rules ,thats the point of PWA competition
    so you must use production boards and you can not modified the board
    its ok if make a repair !!!like fill a hole but you can not modified the board at no single point or you are inmediately not following the rules
    if the rules are ok or not,if we want them to modify is a different matter
    i think this is proper journalism all the way
    congrats amy and boards
    regards fish

  12. Arnon Dagan

    Hi all,
    I would like to clear some points:
    First of all Amy im surprised you dont know the PWA rules and just throwing accusations like this I feel its really unfair towards myself and my sponsors.
    Just so you all know – it is allowed to bring back your board to the original specs that was sent to the PWA office when the board was registered as production.
    It is allowed to play with battens.
    It is allowed to use any fins you want.
    You are allowed to play with masts .
    It is not allowed to change the sail.
    As some of you know or maybe some still dont know nothing is 100% the same in life. If you didnt know let me surprise you:
    If you buy a car and your friend will buy the same one it will not be exactly the same. Nothing is the same even a football ball in the champion’s league will not be 100% the same. And when we are talking carbon products there are even bigger differences even if the product is coming from the same mold like the boards we are using in PWA.
    We the top sailors just want to make sure that our production board is perfect to spec to the mil meter just like it is supposed to be. Most of the time this is not even a difference that a normal windsurfer will feel and many times its just for the good feeling and confidence of the racer to know that his board is perfect.
    Anyone can do this also a normal sailor that wants to try PWA racing can go to the nearest shaper and put his board to spec.
    This room for play is still much better then it used to be before when the richest racers had much more chance to get good gear as he could have 500 custom boards Vs the kid that could have just one.
    Now the Kid can have the same board as any of the top guys and he can learn to tune it or have someone do it for him but he dosent need to buy 500 boards.
    We have to sign 3 boards and 6 sails and use the same ones for the rest of the year.
    We can change to a new board or sail but it has to be the same size and make as we had registered in the beginning of the year.
    Now if you girls and boys think the rules sucks and it needs to be changed that’s one thing, Fair enough lets talk about it, I can gladly explain my point of view from the proffetional side of things.
    But just to throw an article and accusations with out knowing the rules is really unfair and I feel an apology should be placed to myself and RRD.
    Open for any questions you people wanna ask
    Great windsurfing!
    Arnon Dagan ISR-1

  13. matthewb

    Hello Arnon,,

    Your response raises some questions.
    Can you please clarify the +- tolerances for the specifications on the boards?
    Was your board outside or inside of these tolerances?

    Your response raises the following conundrum.
    if a board produced is not to the specification of a registered design then it is not a production board and it cannot then be made into one by “refairing” or changing the hull. If the hull is within specification then why are you refairing it?

    It seems to me that you are saying that the manufacturing facility is not capable of producing boards to specification.

  14. big wave dave

    The argument from RRD makes no sense at all to me…

    I understand that there are tolerances, but…

    Every board has to get checked at the factory to ensure it complies with the accepted level of tolerance.

    So brands clearly have the possibility at that point of supplying their top team riders with the most accurate models.

    Seems pretty odd/ worrying that team riders (who you would assume get the best pick) are actually getting boards that are so inaccurate, the whole bottom needs to be re-filled!

    Unless they are indeed just trying to tweak the shape to go faster….. :-0

  15. Jim McKenzie

    I am only 60 kilos. All windsurfing gear is too big for me. It is designed for the big guys because pro sailors tend to be big, athletic guys. Therefore, if I could not tweak my gear I would be at a considerable disadvantage. In fact, seen in this light, not allowing custom gear for smaller sailors is unfair. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to use windsurfing gear designed by and for persons of my size.

  16. 浴衣 男物



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