I have noticed some riders like Damien go upwind with their boards as flat as possible most likely trying to get the leeward rail in... which I think requires a strong "pointing" action with the toes against the board.
On the other hand I have talked to other top riders who don't seem to worry too much for the flatness of the board and maintain a more comfortable feet position and letting the board run more towards the windward rail...
My questions are:
1. Is there a unique design aspect that makes a board run better on either rail? (I personally would benefit for a board that can use the windward rail better... it just feels more natural)
2. Would an exaggerated surface dome at the front straps provide a more comfortable position if the leeward rail proves to be more efficient? ( I noticed this feature on the 2011 Underground Race board which no longer seems to have been designed by Mike Zajicek )
Trying to build a custom board and I think these are interesting concepts...
I think you are wrong about the pointing of toes to keep flat..
the fins are so large that the board is actually trying to lift from the heel side edge, do in effect you are pulling with your toes, up against the straps and pushing your heels down to keep the board flat. I imagine that it is felt most on the front of your shins....
You are correct. I ride with Damien and he truly has a Fourth gear. By railing the board to leeward you are able to gain 1-2mph and point higher. However, it KILLS his feet. I personally can't hold it for more than a few minutes..
There is no unique design that begs this style of riding, it is simply faster. Back in the day, course racing windsurfers were ridden in a very similar fashion upwind..
Yes, the domed board is being designed to give the foot a more comfortable position while driving the board upwind. The dome raises the toes and allows the top of the foot to have a "more" natural position.
The width of the board doesn't really relate to the "friendliness of the board". The area it does improve is in Lightwind and Downwind legs. It lightwind it obviously has more volume/surface area for early planning. The advantage on the downwind is similar, because of the increased surface areas you generally can point deeper downwind on the bigger boards. And as you suggest it is easier to tack and jibe a bigger board.
The fin set-up does however affect the friendliness of the board. Quads --> Go upwind the best, but are much harder to ride downwind. Tris--> Don't go upwind quite as well but are much easier to ride off the wind.
This was shown at the Lord of the Winds race. Damien was on an Aguera quad and Johnny Heineken on the Jay Factory tri fin. The wind was pretty off the hook must racers using a 9-10m (which is small for racing). Damien would beat Johnny to the windward mark and then Johnny would catch him on the downwind. Not because his speed was better, but because he made fewer mistakes...
What is the biggest difference between the top riders. Who makes the least mistakes! If you have your tacks and Jibes nailed, you will be in the game. That is easier said than done.