MULTI-CAM SLALOM RACING AND FREERACE SAILS TEST REVIEWS
(This feature appeared in the March ’13 issue of Windsurf Magazine. Print and digital subscriptions are available here.) Report by Dan Newman Pics Mark Kasprowicz
To run alongside our recent 2013 slalom boards test we drummed-up some suitable 7.0m cammed sails to power them through their paces.
Although some modern rotational sails roar like rockets, it’s still generally agreed that if you’re talking about all-out, top speed performance, you’re gonna need at least a couple of cambers in your luff tube to approach anything near a personal best or race-winning result.
MARGINALISED OR MAXIMISED?
With full-on speed and slalom sails requiring a pretty hard-core skillset, (coping with extra power, wide sleeves, being harder to manoeuvre to name a few) we’ve focused primarily on the ‘Freerace’ segment with a selection of sails offered for mere mortals and/or lighter sailors, plus a couple of range-leading racing models. For some brands ‘Freerace’ means a ‘de-tuned’ profile of their top-of-the-line race sail. For others it’s almost the same as the race sail, but with slightly lower spec, less sensitivity to mast choice (read cost) as well as perhaps cheaper and less breakable parts such as battens – which could be in your thinking if hitting top speeds or racing around the cans is new to you and a few crashes may be on-the-cards?
COMFORT AND JOY
Although outright speed is irreplaceable, comfort and turning ability are critical to finishing races, enduring long distance legs and, perhaps most importantly, having fun! Of course price is critical as well but control at the top-end is probably the most important factor to consider. If you’re dead-set on going as fast as possible – and having the best gear possible to use in doing so – then do consider putting some pride to one side and asking yourself the question, ‘will I do better and go faster on something easier to sail?’ And then go to a demo day and test out the theory.
TAKE THE FRIGGING OUT OF THE RIGGING
Rigging one of these beasts can be a little tricky and maybe cause you to get a little sweat on or maybe even curse a little. It’s never going to be as quick as rigging a rotational but it’s not too complicated either and, with a little practise, it shouldn’t take too long at all. In most cases there are some great tuning and rigging instructions on each sailmaker’s website.
Here are a few general tips on how to rig cambered sails successfully.
- Sleeve the mast, without engaging the cams
- Apply minimum down-haul and attach the boom
- Apply full outhaul
- Undo cam zips if fitted
- Push the cams into place
- Zip-up the pockets to prevent water flooding sleeve
- Downhaul fully and make final tweaks
Choosing the correct mast for the job is always a very important factor and critical for how a sail will work. When it comes to high performance gear like this it‘s even more important, so, to get the most out of your sail, investing in the highest quality mast available is very important – although as we mentioned earlier, some of these sails are less sensitive and forgiving to mast choice. All of the sails we have tested here were supplied to us with 100% carbon masts, which is vital for us to get the very best out of them and push them to the absolute limit. Put simply, we’d urge you to consider the most-recommended mast with virtually any sail you buy.
Once we’ve unpacked the gear we get onto making our observations, weighing and measuring each sail and then rigging them ready for action, first of all according to the recommended settings. You can read about the chosen location in Dahab and the test team used in the boards test introduction in this issue.
We had an interesting range of models (ranging from 7.0 to 7.5) in this test. Five are ‘full-on’ models (Gaastra Vapor, Point-7 AC-1 2K13, Naish Bullet, Tushingham X-15 and RRD Firewing), of which, only the Gaastra and Point-7 have any current PWA racing pedigree. (RRD are a ‘registered brand’ on the tour but as we go to press we are unsure if the Firewing will be registered to race in 2013.) The Simmer 2XC was a bit of a ‘misfit’ in that it’s a twin cam and Simmer do manufacture a ‘detuned’ version of the SCR racing sail (the SCS) as well but we couldn’t get one in the correct size this time around but you might be surprised at the 2XC’s performance. (Look out for the upcoming test of a larger SCS in April though!) One more point was that the Severne Overdrive was noticeable larger than the others at 7.5. All-in-all however we think there’s an option for everyone in this selection, from lightweights to PWA-esque monsters, step-ups for freeriders and all-out speed strip drag racers. Read on and take your pick! DN
READ THE INDIVIDUAL REPORTS!