From our 2021 January / February edition of Windsurf Magazine our test team looked at the latest crop of 5.0 all-round wave sails on offer.
Testers: Sam Ross, Leo McCallin, Tris Best, Maurin Rotterwater, Iain Hunter, Imogen Sills, Islay Watson, Emily Hall, Andy Gratwick.
Locations: Southbourne, Weymouth Bandstand, Overcombe and Avon Beach.
Photos: Gemma Soloman, Alice Callow and Sam Ross.
In the latest test we look at the new crop of 5.0 wave sail offerings. We had the usual test team, but were also joined by some of the women from the British Sailing Team’s windsurfing squad, which gave us even more input into the test and also allowed us to use a broader range of riders from the low 60 kg mark all the way up to almost 90 kg. Sail testing took place at a variety of spots including Southbourne, Avon, Kimmeridge, Weymouth Bandstand and Overcombe, in everything from bolt onshore to cross-shore.
Testing these sails really made us question some of the strongly held beliefs around 4 and 5 batten wave sails, and this is reflected in how the brand’s offerings have changed over the last few seasons. A few seasons ago we would have seen a predominance of 5 batten wave sails in test, with the 4 batten sails being the more niche ‘new school’ option. But in this test the tables have really turned, with only the Severne Blade and Point-7 SPY representing the 5 batten sails in this group. But it’s not just what is on our test, this is an indicative reflection of the brands lineups this season. Many brands only have 4 batten options in their wave range. Duotone, Goya, RRD and GA have no 5 batten offerings in their 2021 lineups, but still offer a range of 4 or even 3 batten sails. Whereas Severne, Point-7, Loftsails, Naish and Ezzy still have what you might consider the more ‘traditional’ sail range with both 5 batten ‘Power Wave’ and more ‘manoeuvre orientated’ 4 batten sails.
So, the overall balance is still tipped towards brands offering 5 and 4 batten, but this test really did highlight the inaccuracies of the long standing hangups around 4 batten designs, where lightness and soft handling was often felt to be a trade off against stability and top end wind range. In a 4 batten quiver the change downs would often need to be a bit sooner and you needed every size of sail to have a manageable quiver.
However, when reading these tests, you’ll see that top end was rarely an issue in the 4 batten sails and there were some similarities and a few unique examples of how brands achieved this. Panel layout was a key feature in some, where the main panel had been maximised to increase softness, but also give more stability to the top of the leech. Radial load lines emanating out from clews are seen on almost all sails, again to help stabilise the load across the rig. Single and double clew eyelets are featured by about half the brands, with some significant differences in placing. Mini battens are prevalent too, in all shapes and sizes, notably Naish running two in the top panel and the Ezzy mini battens of a much larger size than most brands.
The question is, does anything make the 5 battens standout anymore as an advantage over the 4 battens? The biggest thing would still be speed. Whilst the foils of the 4 batten sails are getting more and more stable, the locked draft and flatter sail shapes of the 5 batten sails still gives them that blasting and speed edge. They have also transferred some of the 4 batten attributes with more use of Dacron in luff sleeves to soften them up a little.
So much like the wave boards last month where compact merged with classic, we see the 4 and 5 batten sails start to share each other’s attributes – the 5 batten designs are getting lighter, and the 4 batten designs are becoming more stable. So, when coming to choose, you still need to think of what board will you use it on, where will you use it and what’s your priority.
All the sails stood out with key attributes in handling, feel and range. The Goya Guru had an impressive tuning range through the use of the twin eyelets, going from low end powerful brute, all the way through to precision instrument. This was also seen in the Duotone Super Hero, which showed a good bottom end and an ability to tune all the way through to a solid top end range, with the addition of an easy soft feel. The Ezzy Wave’s all-round range and compact feel made it a real standout on the wave face. The Naish also excelled on the wave with a full neutral mode whilst riding. By contrast the GA Manic offered a sharper feel with more direct feedback, but coupled this with an exceptional wind range. As expected from a sail developed in Tarifa, the Loftsails Wavescape gave both incredible top end control and also neutral handling on the wave. Onto the 5 batten sails on test and the Severne Blade’s natural range made it a fast all-rounder that worked well in all environments. The Point-7 Spy showed a great range of use, with enough pull to get heavy riders up on the plane and good overall speed to work in bump and jump mode as well. As a concept the RRD Compact Vogue has been extremely well executed, offering a sail like no other, that can be easily transported, but still offers a great range of performance use.
THE LINE UP: