GA SAILS HYBRID
2020 TEST REVIEW
A freeride focussed user-friendly powertrain, the Hybrid provides soft and easy accessible power over an excellent range, and at £539.00 represents superb value for money.
Dubbed by GA Sails as the ‘ultimate all-rounder’, the Hybrid range comprises of eleven sizes across a wide spectrum, from 3.7 right up to 8.2. In essence, it covers all the main sizes and riding styles of the freeride market, from a manoeuvre/wave oriented 4-batten sail in the three smallest sizes, to 5-battens in the middle sizes and onto 6-battens from 6.7m up. There is also a more subtle change in the window panel material used, with x-ply afforded in the 6.4m and down, giving rise to Heavy Duty (HD) tagged onto the sail’s name. And whilst the smaller sizes are recommended for use exclusively with RDMs (and three largest with SDMs), this 6.0m is compatible with both mast diameters. Tested here on a 90% 430 cm RDM, it sets with a moderate amount of luff curve, the main batten above the boom protruding beyond the leading edge of the mast at rest. The leech falls away progressively along its length and there’s only a subtle amount of profile and shape low down in the Hybrid’s panels once set. Clean and uncomplicated in appearance, it is available in two colourways and certainly stands out on the water in this red scheme (the other option being a more ethereal blue). Build quality and attention to detail are to GA Sails’ usual exacting standards, and there’s a new panel layout for 2020 to increase performance, including a Dacron luff panel incorporated in all sizes.
“The name Hybrid stands for itself and represents three different sail lines in one collection. Whether it’s high wind and waves or light wind freeriding, the Hybrid guarantees great fun with a huge wind range and ease of use.”
Balanced and easy in the hands at rest, the Hybrid does feel larger than most in this test group, owed mainly to its longer boom and low cut foot shape. As pressure builds, the movement in the Dacron luff panel is complimented with plenty of give in the luff sleeve, allowing the depth of the sail’s draft to swell significantly. Power is smooth and progressive, making the Hybrid an easy sail to get on with; the centre of effort is located forward, yet relatively low down. Never pulling erratically or misbehaving, the sail breathes and moves around the user, allowing them to adopt the riding style of their choice – either more upright and cruising, or more locked in and committed. It is certainly more straight-line/flat water biased rather than manoeuvre oriented, the relative size and full nature of the Hybrid making it feel at home when partnered with larger freeride platforms. And used with an efficient blasting board, the Hybrid offers plenty in return for little rider input demand. Used in varying conditions, there is both natural and tuning range available, with more downhaul tension extending the looseness and twist through the upper panels. In addition, the two closely located clew eyelets provide a subtle yet tangible difference in power delivery, the bottom one reducing boom length and increasing rake for more control as the wind increases. In transition, the Hybrid offers easy manageable power upon entry, before becoming light and practical as it is eased out, the movement in the luff sleeve and luff panel taking effect. Rig rotation is not surprisingly slower than most due to boom length, but the power tapers back in gradually once pulled in on the new side, providing both time and margin for error.
Luff: 446 cm
Boom: 188 cm
Ideal Mast: Gaastra 430 cm RDM/SDM
Available Sizes: 3.7,4.2,4.7,5.2,5.6,6.0,6.4,6.7,7.2, 7.7,8.2.
Other sails in this test:
THE LINE UP