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GPS Devices – Speed Sailing – Feature Comparison – Issue 2

I have added a heap of Garmin devices to my guide so it now covers all of the common choices. Hopefully it is still relatively easy for people to digest!

I don’t have any experience of the eTrex H (high sensitivity models) so I have had to rely on the manuals for information. The same is true of the Foretrex 301 and 401 so I am missing some information for them.

I’ve also listed some Garmin devices which should be avoided and why.

Version 2.0 is at the same URL:

GPS Devices – Speed Sailing – Feature Comparison

Since there hasn’t been any wind recently, I decided to write a guide about GPS devices and focusing on speed sailing. I had the idea about a year ago but I never seemed to have the time or inclination to write it until now. ;)

It covers a mixture of topics, some of which are listed below:
- Basic principals and common misconceptions
- Device comparisons (features, pros and cons)
- Appendices: Doppler, spikes, grid effect, etc.
- Glossary of GPS terms

Hopefully some of you will find it interesting or useful. Any feedback welcome!


Asus Eee PC – S101 running Windows 7

I recently purchased an ASUS Eee PC S101 (Windows XP) and decided that I would like to install Windows 7 (Home Premium) before starting to use it properly. Whilst investigating whether the machine would be capable of running Windows 7 and what might be involved, I learned quite a lot about the S101. Whilst making notes for my own benefit, I began to realise that they could also be of interest to others. Hopefully they will prove useful to you and help save some time when upgrading your own machine.

If you are feeling particularly adventurous you will probably be able to find newer drivers on the manufacturer websites. However, you should consider the possibility that newer drivers may not have any benefits on your hardware and may even cause problems. For this reason, I have gone for the “safe” approach of using drivers from the ASUS website.

Also included in this guide are details about how you can create a bootable USB stick or SD card, useful if you do not have an external DVD drive that connects via USB. I also describe how you can use the ASUS XP Support DVD to restore your machine to the original Windows XP image and how to use the embedded copy of Symantec Ghost 11.0 to make backups of your SSD.

All of the preparation was done on my Dell Inspiron 1520 with Windows XP installed.

Finally, these instructions may also apply to other models in the ASUS Eee PC range but you may need to find alternative drivers from the ASUS support website.

The latest version of this guide is available from my home page:

New Year, New Server, New Look

I really should have posted some articles over the past year because a lot has happened and there was plenty to write about! Maybe I will go back and write some retrospective articles when I get a little time.

Anyway, I’ve moved the site to a new server due to annoying technical issues that kept recurring on the old one. Whilst setting up Wordpress again, I’ve improved the gallery slightly by introducing “Lighbox” (the pop-up window when viewing photos) and also selected a new theme for the site.

There are a few new photos from the past few years and you will find them in the Windsurf Gallery


Jo and I have just had an excellent 14 days in Prasonisi (Rhodes, Greece) during which time we enjoyed lots of recreational sailing and 5 days of top coaching from Jem Hall. The wind varied in strength each day so Jo used sails between 3.5m and 5.9m (typically 5.3m) and I was on 4.7m, 5.2m or 5.7m whilst freestyling. I also took a couple of my RS:Slalom II sails but only used the larger one during my stay.

We even hired a car and looked around a bit of the island – Rhodes Old Town, Valley of Butterflys and the West Coast. I have been to Prasonisi four times now and this is the first time that I’ve ventured away from the beach during the daytime!

I hadn’t done any freestyle sailing since Dahab last November (almost 9 months ago) but I managed my first Spock just before Jem’s clinic started and many more during the rest of the holiday. The Spock 540 feels within close reach now and I’ve also been making some progress with Grubbys and Flakas. I’ve never really put any effort into learning them before but I do feel like they are achievable with some perseverance. All of my slidey tricks have been on port tack as I’ve seemed to struggle to get the board airbourne on starboard. However, after some gentle encouragment from Jem (a.k.a. verbal abuse) I am now jumping and popping on starboard too with the odd jump that rivals my good ones on port.

In addition to the freestyle, I did a bit of blasting on a Slalom 54 (72L) which was partnered by my 6.2m race sail. On one windy morning before the bay got too busy, I had a very consistent speed session which resulted in a number of personal records which can be found on GPS-Speedsurfing. The session average was 32.56 knots, 250m was 32.52 knots and 500m was 31.54 knots – with very little variation between runs. Given more wind I am sure that I would have improved on those speeds but in the absence of any stronger winds, I just blasted around at the back of the bay practicing my slalom sailing.

The journey home was a bit drawn out. We left the resort at 6pm on Saturday and arrived home after 9pm on Sunday (over 29 hours later). At this time, I am still waiting for news as to where my kit has got to though… it didn’t make it back to us in Luton. :/

UKWA Slalom @ Rhosneigr

Last weekend was the first UKWA slalom event of 2009 and boy were the conditions tough for us newbies! There are windy days and there are days when Dave White says that his 4.7m sail is too much and that he would like a 4.2m! Saturday was the latter and the smallest sail that I took was 4.7m so needless to say, I was somewhat overpowered (although not so much as when I tried my 5.4m race sail). It was blowing >30 knots on average (regularly gusting >40 knots) and the outer mark was amongst logo high waves. I have to say that being overpowered in that size swell didn’t make gybing easy!

We did 3 races on Saturday but most of our fleet didn’t manage to complete the first one. I was amongst those who didn’t finish, despite having a good start and being at the front approaching the first mark. Unfortunately a big wave took me out just as I was about to go into my gybe, swept me downwind and I couldn’t get back up to the mark! Anyway, I got a 6th in the second race (stupidly letting two people past at the finish) and 4th in the last race.  I even caught my biggest ever wave during race 2… a weird thing to do on a slalom board with sharp rails and no rocker! Racing finished on Saturday when the buoys would no longer hold in the waves and it was deemed too dangerous for the rescue boat to stay out.
On Sunday I felt that I was sailing well on my 8.4m (after initially trying the 7.2m which was too small) and was looking forward to some races within my comfort zone. Sadly the wind disappeared and racing was cancelled.

I was placed 6th overall in the challenger fleet (out of 14 competitors) which I’m quite content with, bearing in mind that I’d  never sailed in such wild conditions before and didn’t have a small enough sail. It was all good experience and I can take away some positives as well as things to work on.

Here are a variety of links: – I am in photos 24, 25 and 28 (K888) - report - video - results


I have just got back from my first ever skiing / snowboarding trip and I have to say that I really enjoyed it.

Prior to going away, I did the 4 beginner levels of snowboard lesson at Sno! Zone in Milton Keynes (one hour each lesson) and also had a couple of recreational sessions to practice on my own (two hours each). At least that got the first couple of days learning over and done with before I went on holiday and allowed me to jump straight into an intermediate group with ESF - on the basis that I could already link my turns.

The holiday itself was with a couple of work colleagues (Andy and Zoe), staying in Chalet Juliette which is located in La Tania and part of the Three Valleys. La Tania is situated between Courchevel and Meribel so it was easy to spend time around those resorts as well as La Tania itself.

As far as snowboarding lessons went, I was in a group with 5 or 6 French kids who had already been snowboarding for three or four weeks. Although this meant that there wasn’t really much conversation between us (due to the differing languages), we all seemed pretty to be of pretty much of the same level. One guy was demoted after day one and another did tend to hold us up a bit throughout (probably par for the course in group lessons) but we had a great instructor called Patrick / Patrik who had been snowboarding for the best part of 20 years.

I think that from the very first day we were on green, blue and red runs but by the third day we spent much of the time off piste and doing the occasional steep section of a black. Bearing in mind that this was my first ever time outdoors on the snow I thought that I managed pretty well! There is little doubt that my past hobbies helped a lot (windsurfing, surfing, wakeboarding, skate boarding, ice skating, roller skating, etc) but having the kids around was perfect because they didn’t mind taking a tumble and the falling was all part of it!

At the end of the week most of the group graduated the second level intermediate class with ESF and apparently the next level / class will be in the snowpark / half pipe. I will look forward to that if / when I go again!

The snowboarding lessons were always in the afternoon so I spend the mornings with Andy / Zoe or the other snowboarders from the chalet. The other boarders had only been doing it for about 3 or 4 weeks so I was able to keep up with them easily too. I think it is safe to say that I didn’t look like a complete beginner. ;)

The accomodation was comfortable and the food was good. Hopefully I can go snowboarding again but whether I would swap a windsurfing holiday for a snowboarding one… hmmm, that’s a toughie!

Weymouth Speed Week

This year I entered Weymouth Speed Week for the first time and really enjoyed myself. I went down with a few personal targets and ended up beating them all on the first day! My aims were to break 30 knots for a gps-speedsurfing session (31.44 knots), 30 knots over 500m on the GPS (31.34 knots) and 30 knots for an official >500m course (30.30 knots). I also managed to improve my nautical mile and 1 hour records on one of the lighter days. On the final day we had a master blaster and I ended up getting 3rd place which got me a DaKine hydration pack (like a Camelback). My overall rankings were 17/80 for the UKWA and 19/89 for the ISWC. All in all, a fantastic week!

Write ups for my sessions are online at gps-speedsurfing:

Saturday 4th October (photo)
Sunday 5th October
Tuesday 7th October – morning
Tuesday 7th October – afternoon (photo)
Friday 10th October (photo)

Slalom in Hove

My birthday weekend in Hove was a blast but the slalom sailing was not quite what I’m used to at Brog:

Top Flight Fleet

It took a while to get used to sailing my slalom kit in rolling swell and small waves. My results were nothing to write home about but I enjoyed taking part and learnt heaps about how to sail fast and gybe in those conditions.

I had a few good starts and my speed was pretty good (fully powered / verging on overpowered on my 6.2m) but I really struggled to make my gybes on Saturday. I was a lot better on Sunday but maybe the waves made it easier to gybe, providing a flat spot inbetween. However, I decided not to race as I was getting tired and the shorebreak was building!

I’ve uploaded a few photos from the two days. Sadly the ones of me on Sunday are very blurred due to spray on the camera lens but the last few give a good idea of what people were racing in:

My photos

I’m looking forward to the next event in Poole. Hopefully it will be slightly flatter though – even if I was getting more used to the technique of sailing slalom kit in lumpy stuff.  :)

The need for speed…

I got a new p.b. on the lake today whilst trying out a new 6.2m Neil Pryde RS:Slalom MKII with my 69L JP Slalom III.

One particularly good run peaked at just over 34 knots which is 39mph or 63kph.

Going that fast was a huge amount of fun but might have been a little scary had I lost control!