4.7m Wave Sail Test 2015
4.7 is popular shorthand for a good session. A boast of 4.7 to your mates makes you instantly hated but who cares, you’ve just been in 4.7 heaven. Designed for the wind speeds when windsurfers really like to play, it’s a serious business for the industry as they compete to develop the ultimate sail for the maximum fun.
This test was originally published in the October issue.
So with the business of windsurfing pleasure in mind, the playground of EL Medano was turned into our test lab as we put the latest 4.7 offerings through their paces. It’s our prime choice for this test because of its blend of great wind stats, accessibility, and what most of the manufacturers would describe as “real world “conditions. This trip we were blessed with marginal winds and small swell, not “epic” but still conditions that would tempt sickies and early finishes at the office. The wind speeds experienced meant we had less time than we would have liked to give each of the 4.7s in this group a thorough shakedown over their top end abilities but the low end and gust handling abilities were certainly tested fully.
THE LINE UP: – “NO LEMONS”
Real “duds” are few and far between these days and guess what? We didn’t find any here either. For most of us, any day you get to break out a 4.7 is going to be a great one; I’ll wager that you can remember exactly when you last used your equivalent. The eight models here represent a good cross-section of the market and we have sought to place all the products in context with their competition, offer an honest critique of performance, construction quality, desirability and the overall value based on those attributes. There is a lot of choice of styles on offer today; 3, 4 or 5 battens?
How many battens a sail has is only part of the picture and a little bit like categorising boards by fin count alone. For example the tallest in the group is the four batten Goya Banzai but the shortest is also four batten, the Maui Sails Mutant, so not much can be gleaned from looking at the dimensions alone either. What we wanted to really define is the “flavour” of each of these designs as they were all created to fulfil similar briefs and aid the decision in finding the style that suits you best, within budget!
The key point we would like to make is right now we have the most diverse range of sails for “wave” use than there has ever been; some brands have up to 4 different wave sails in their range! While each product has a well defined niche by the manufacturer we were surprised by how some sails performed so well outside their specified zone.
This reminded us of another finding, everything we tested had a small range of downhaul settings, not more than 3 or 4 cm variation.
Outhaul, controlling the draught and power point, has a little more variation, 4 or 5cm. We all tune our sails to find the sweet settings but what has become obvious is that we also need to tune ourselves. Our ability to adapt our techniques is much greater than any tuning that can be built into equipment. Feel like you’re stuck in a rut? Then change your style of sail and give yourself a fresh perspective.
Pro riders tear the seas apart on every single one of the sails tested here, which shows how capable they are and the benefit of the time spent in their development. The core test team of Brian Mc Dowell, 99kg, Julian Da Vall, 84kg and Chris Rainbow 79kg, interrogated our broader squad of pilots for their reactions, and some patterns emerged.
Ezzy Taka took the honours in the easy rigging department and is also the easiest transitioning sail here with its luff panel control giving another dimension to the de-power / re-power cycle.
The Goya Banzai was well praised because of its low energy personality that leaves you forgetting about the sail and its build quality and aesthetic that everyone seemed to love. The RRD Vogue certainly shared character traits with the Banzai and is much more than a side shore sail. The Sailloft Hamburg Quad is unique in this selection as it has been developed with freestyle ability on the menu too. It was one of the earliest planers on test due to its pronounced foil depth but you do need an induction period to get used to its feel. Finally the Mutant’s radical outline was a real eye turner and will appeal to the more adventurous of us.
There is great value in all of these sails, particularly when looked at with a quiver in mind, the trend being more range on fewer masts.
Stick with what you know or try something new? On the team, we would all say, try something new. Keep an open mind and don’t judge anything too quickly, experience some new sensations and your windsurfing will thank you for it, even if your bank manager won’t!
Thanks to, The team at TWS, Harco, Bart, Robbie, Guillome, Ronald Cormac de Roiste and Laoise Dhuda.
As with the 5.3 test last month, the administrative error at North saw us receive the 2014 versions of their flagship Hero. It was immediately removed from test, which was a shame as rigged with their Aero mast produces a ridiculously light handling experience that would have been great to compare directly to the rest of the test group. The Neil Prydes unfortunately weren’t quite ready yet after what looked like some major works going on with their new range and we hope to catch up with them both again in the future. JDV