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Harnessing the summer breeze

Editor: Rob York // Second Testers: Tris Best, Mia Adcock, James Faley, Scotty Stallman.

Photos: Ollie Rodgers, Rob York // Location: Portland Harbour

Testing 8.5 freerace sails as the UK’s mild winter gives way to the vivacious energy of summer is a truly mesmerizing experience. The beauty of this season is etched in every gust of wind and every dance of sunlight on the water – an ideal backdrop for testing and exploring the intricacies of these stunning sails.

Summer winds in the UK provide a reliable and varied playground for testing this group. The wind conditions fluctuate from light zephyrs to invigorating gusts, allowing us to explore the range of performance characteristics these sails offer. It’s a remarkable sight to see these sails braced against the wind, their aerodynamic shapes carving through the air with almost poetic grace.

The weather conditions during this time of year also give us the chance to put the sails’ durability to the test. From bright, sun-soaked days to sudden summer squalls, the sails face a range of elements. Observing their resilience and performance under these conditions is both a critical part of our evaluation and a testament to their design and construction.

Furthermore, the relative calm of the seas during the UK summer provides an ideal environment for freerace sailing. The moderate chop offers both a challenge and an opportunity to experience the versatility of the 8.5 sails, adding another layer to the testing process. In conclusion, testing 8.5 freerace sails at the dawn of UK summer is not just a task, but a joy and a privilege. It’s a time to revel in the breathtaking speed, experience the exhilaration of windsurfing, and appreciate the intricate design and performance capabilities of these fantastic designs.


As we delve into the 8.5 freerace sail market, we witness a range of design features that are currently at the forefront, demonstrating a continual evolution in sail technology and performance. Each of these features seeks to offer the optimum balance of speed, stability, and ease of use for intermediate to advanced windsurfers. A noticeable trend is the adaptation of features from pure race sail designs, bringing about a high-performance profile while retaining the manageability and ease of rigging associated with freeride sails. These freerace sails typically have six or seven battens and 2 to 3 cams, fewer than full on race sails, but more than some freeride sails. This offers a balance between stability and a lighter, more responsive feel in the hands.

In the arena of camber inducers, we see innovations aimed at improving compatibility with the intended sail profile. This not only enhances stability and airflow, but also significantly lightens the overall weight, leading to smooth tack transitions and instantaneous acceleration.

Finally, manufacturers are focussing on improved batten pockets and integrating reinforcements into the sail structure. This design evolution leads to a sail that transitions seamlessly from heavy-duty, high-stress regions to more flexible and lighter sections where the sail needs to twist and release pressure.

In summary, the 8.5 freerace sail market is currently characterised by designs that blend race-level performance attributes with the user-friendly aspects of freeride sails. The outcome is a range of sails that offer durability, responsiveness, and easy handling, catering to a broad range of windsurfing enthusiasts.


The Simmer S-Max produces comfort and excellent bottom-end performance. The Gunsails Vector, a 3-cam freeracer, offered excellent planing capabilities and maximum control. Despite its robust profile, the Vector managed to maintain a light feel in the hands, especially in high-speed conditions. The Loftsails Switchblade showcases a pronounced luff curve and a dual clew eyelet, among other features. Its x-ply luff panel and tack strap pulled shape and tension into the foot of the sail, enhancing its performance. The North Free Race is inspired by the brand’s racing sail, offering a balanced combination of performance and manageability. It was easy to power up and felt lighter in the hands. Its inflatable cam construction and 3Di Molding technology is an innovation to behold. The GA Cosmic is a unique windsurfing sail, showcasing a balance of exceptional stability and impressive power delivery, making it perfect for riders seeking to elevate their freeride and freerace experience. The Goya Mark 2’s performance stands out with its impressive acceleration and superior control, while the Duotone S_PACE offers riders the opportunity to learn how to really find the perfect balance in sail settings as they play with the plethora of tuning opportunities. Finally, the Point-7 AC-Z offers a remarkable blend of high-speed performance and control, ensuring an electrifying ride while maintaining user-friendly characteristics.

The Lineup

Duotone S_Pace 8.3

GA Cosmic 8.3

Goya Mark 2 8.5

Gunsails Vector 8.6

Loftsails Switchblade HD 8.5

North Free Race 8.6

Point-7 AC-Z 8.5

Simmer S-Max 8.5



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