After 1,5 years of anticipation, the new 935 mast gets released today. For months now, the internet has been buzzing with the release of the new masts. With many brands adding a performance alternative to their lineup, so is Armstrong. Naturally it is stiffer. But that is not the only thing. It's a new design completely from the ground up. To my personal enjoyment, we are also getting a shorter and a longer version of this new carbon goodness. Those of you that know me, know that I really enjoy riding the 72cm mast, so I was mostly looking forward to the new 795 performance mast.
To date I had about 8 hours on the 935 and about 6 hours on the 795. Not enough to come to definite conclusions, but I can speak from my own experience. What I noticed most when riding these new masts, was how smooth they feel in the water. Yes, the profile of the mast has changed, and considerable time has been spent on fluid dynamics, but as a non-engineer that does not mean much to me. The result, however, is very noticeable. Besides, being smooth, they inspire a lot of confidence as they really feel direct. I have been doing some high-speed riding on both sizes, and all I can say it allowed me to push harder. And yes, they are stiff, really stiff. Those of you that find the current masts not stiff enough (I wasn't one of them), get what you were asking for.
The masts now have rake in them. This means that the leading edge of the front wing moves back a little. The rake also means the nose of the board rides a little more upright. Like a normal man I collected the masts from the warehouse and went straight on the water. Only afterwards I read the instructions. The advice from Armstrong is to ride these performance masts 2cm back compared to your normal mast position. Initially I had been riding the 935 at the same position, but when I started riding the 795 I started moving my mast forward to get to my normal riding style. Note, I have spent hundreds of hours riding the 72cm mast, so its the best for me to compare. Currently I am at +1,5cm, meaning I have the performance mast 1,5cm further forward compared to my normal setup. I can see myself go forward 0,5cm more, but that will require more time on the water.
So, what are the benefits of the rake. The theory is that the nose of your board is a bit more up. This should help with jumping and recovering from jumps. So far, I had limited time freestyling with the new mast. However, I do feel the mast gives me more pop (it can be the additional 8cm too), more height and it does also feel really good when landing. I do however feel that it is harder to pop back on the foil afterwards. Maybe it's just that I need more practice with it.
I have been riding the new masts with relatively small wings only (HA925, HA725 and HA525). I think the difference between the performance masts and the normal ones is going to be much more noticeable with the bigger wings. I have planned for a flatwater pumping session this weekend. I can report back how it feels afterwards.
For those geeks out there. I have added some measurements:
72cm mast: 1570 grams
795 performance mast: 1809 grams
85cm mast: 1759 grams
935 performance mast: 2116 grams
The performance masts are slightly heavier than the normal masts.
Width of the mast at the bottom. (note, this is hardly a scientific measurement)
72cm mast: 10,7 cm
795 performance mast: 11,5 cm
85cm mast: 10,7 cm
935 performance mast: 12cm
The performance masts are slightly bulkier compared to the normal masts