POWER TO ALL: 6.0 CROSSOVER SAIL TEST 2021
EDITOR: Tris Best // Second Testers: Maurin Rottenwalter, Joe North, Clay Yelland And Harry Somerville // Photos: Bryony Webb // Test Locations: Portland Harbour And Overcombe
The crossover sail has a tough design brief to fulfil. In this size category, there are many riders interested, all from diverse backgrounds and abilities, demanding very different qualities and attributes. The wave rider’s light wind powerhouse; the coastal rider’s bump and jump engine or the progressing sailor’s first foray into equipment ownership. Can a design be something to everyone, or is it impossible to have that degree of versatility without compromise? We take a crop of the ten latest offerings and hand them over to our test team for analysis.
Being a popular sail size, it is no surprise that there’s a good amount of choice in each brand’s lineup in this category. And with some crossover designs being unchanged for 2021, or unavailable due to logistics, we opted to include some large wave sails alongside the conventional ‘freemove/freewave’ or ‘crossover’ sails. Taking the Point-7 out of the equation (simply due to its smaller size), all the sails fit on 430 cm masts and all set with a moderate to low amount of luff curve. And with their reduced luff curves the premise is that the sails are allowed to breathe more, to increase their feel and life in marginal winds, thereby maximising their pump-ability. Added to that, all, without exception, are recommended for use with an RDM – the longest RDM recommended by most brands. Sure, some (four to be exact) are listed as compatible with an SDM … but it is fair to say that they are a dying breed. Doing so might serve to increase appeal for those with an old mast in their quiver, but in reality all these sails are tested and developed on the softer, more flexible RDMs – an asset that has tangible benefits with their reduced luff curvatures. In essence, as dull an item as it is to buy, setting these sails on their correct high carbon content masts has unmistakable advantages. So, if your mast is old, or is an SDM, perhaps you can stretch the purse strings that little bit more and invest in a decent RDM to go with you new sail? I can say with confidence that you won’t regret it and would undoubtedly gain a greater understanding of the range and performance available from your new engine.
One other point to note, it’s almost a given that a sail of this size and style will be rotational and have five battens … and that is the case with all bar two of these sails. The Goya is one exception, with four battens; the Point-7 the other with one camber-inducer included. Both have niche assets and lend themselves to either end of the ‘wind range’ and ‘manoeuvre’ spectrums, but certainly have their places, and it’s refreshing to see innovations continuing to appear in this category.
Taking a closer look at the sails that herald from a wave sailing background first, we have the Goya Banzai X Pro and the Super Star from Duotone. Both are tall sails, with plenty of spring and movement in their drafts to maximise their bottom end punch. They are also surprisingly capable in powered conditions, the Super Star with a soft tempered manner, cushioning its ride and relying more on its tuneable range, the Banzai retaining its crisp handling, going wonderfully neutral in transition for such a high aspect sail. The Naish Force 5 also makes a strong argument for the wave camp, providing clean and uncomplicated power over a broad wind range. It’s been a while since this test team has tried a Naish wave sail and we have to say, we’re impressed. A sail that we have tried plenty of times over the years is the Purelip from Loftsails, and it remains a go-to sail for top end stability. Quite a different contender to its predecessor, it is certainly more precise and responsive in the hands than we recall, yet perhaps at the cost of some bottom end torque. The last wave specific sail of the group is the Simmer Icon – a wonderful all-rounder with low down focussed power, striking a great balance between sharp instantaneous power and control. If we’re to mention all-rounders, then the Torro from Gunsails has to enter the conversation too. A completely different sail to the Icon, its soft progressive power delivery is easy for everyone to get on with, its wind range admirable and price eye-catching. RRD’s Move should also enter the all-rounder equation – a big feeling sail that is quick to hide its size as it gathers pace and provides a flattering performance in all conditions and roles. Severne’s Gator still takes top trumps for seemingly defying physics and feeling so light and positive in the hands, joined in the freemove/freeride bias group by the Hybrid HD from GA Sails. With easily the longest boom length and a low down pull position, the GA is the directionally focussed contender here, ideal for the power hungry and those learning that require more obvious feedback to hold onto. That leaves one unique sail in the group – the F1e from Point-7. Easily the smallest at 5.4m, it is fun to use and inspires the rider to push harder and harder, whatever the sea state. Want to hit the ramp faster and ‘send-it’? Is rocket air your thing? Then this could be the sail of your dreams.