THE POWER TO EXPRESS
5.0M WAVE SAIL TEST 2020
Test Editor Tris Best // Second Testers Joe North, Dan Hallam & Alex Green.
Photos Alex Best // Test location Rhosneigr, Overcombe, Portland Harbour & Kimmeridge.
The eternal quest or Holy Grail in wave sail design is to find the perfect balance between useable power and control. And a good place to start, it seems, is to make the sail as physically as light as possible without compromising durability. We sourced eleven of the latest offerings and handed them over to the team to put them through their paces.
This test was originally published in the January/February 2020 issue of Windsurf Magazine.
The physical weight of a sail is a very important parameter as any reduction in weight (particularly in certain areas of the sail) can make a marked difference to the sail’s handling and performance. In recent years this ambition and appetite to pursue the lightest handling possible has seen some clear development paths adopted by many of the major lofts – the birth of three-batten wave sails and the introduction of some highly specialist and expensive scrims, none more so than the membrane sail, which at least four brands have their own version of this season! Conventional details are also being considered – head cap protection, batten pocket material, clew and tack layups and reinforcements. Nothing is immune from being probed for weight reduction; no stone seemingly left unturned. Without the opportunity for us to test over an extended period, time will tell if there is any expense to all this weight saving in terms of durability.
In the race to achieve the lightest result on the scales, it is possible that the four batten sail may well steal the thunder of its three-battened sibling … for now at least anyway. Indeed, David Ezzy admits on his website that his new four batten “Wave” sail is lighter, like for like, than his three batten Taka. And when Neil Pryde have dispensed with the three-batten sail line in their range altogether, the question has to be asked as to whether it was a step too far for the consumer market? Did it sacrifice wind range and stability too far for most to swallow? And likewise, with the weight savings being made across the board, will the five batten wave sail experience a resurgence in popularity? If the two submitted for this test are anything to go by, they are undoubtedly still worthy of consideration.
Starting with the two five-batten sails on test and both provide performance and control over an impressive wind range, the Severne Blade lighter and more neutral in back hand pressure, the Simmer Icon bolder and more full bodied in its delivery. Another sail with excellent natural range is the Wavescape from Loftsails, its shallow draft at rest providing balanced manoeuvre handling, its power amplified by its long boom and movement in the luff sleeve. By contrast the Ezzy Wave has a mammoth tuning range, capable of generating masses of bottom end punch, yet capable of being recalibrated to remain dependable in the gustiest winds. And its new crisp manner did not go unappreciated. Much like the new Neil Pryde Zone – a premium option that won’t see you with much change from £800, yet what price do you put on precise power and a velvety touch. It was so delicate and focussed that it almost felt like cheating when others were having control issues. The Superhero from Duotone continues to improve, its rider-centred power and soft fluid delivery finding favour with those that really like to use the sail’s power in transition rather than just blast and carve hard through the board when the power’s turned off. The Goya Banzai is a real rider’s power tool too, yet comes from a very direct and exacting position, the skin tension in the sail constantly reconfirming to the rider where the power is, and encouraging its use. And whilst it feels compact at all times, the GA Sails Manic is a powerhouse, best suited for the heavier more power-hungry rider. Moving on to the Point-7 Salt Pro and Gunsails Seal, these are two compact all-round wave sails, both with plenty of luff curve, yet very different characters. The Salt is a real chameleon and can change its feel through tuning, whereas the Seal is always soft and forgiving, encouraging the rider to explore in confidence. Both come in at competitive prices, making them hard to ignore. Finally, we come to the Compact Vogue – a foldable sail from RRD that can fit in a backpack. The workmanship and passion put into this product is clear to see, the sail’s performance as good as any conventional sail. It will be interesting to see which other brands stand up and take note of its convenience for storage and travel.
THE LINE UP