GUNSAILS SEAL 5.0M
2020 TEST REVIEW
A compact feeling all-round contender with impeccable manners, the Gunsails Seal offers soft progressive power and real versatility in its application across an impressive range. If 5.0 is your biggest wave sail, there’s the added practicality that one mast could satisfy all, and at €489 it represents excellent value for money.
The Seal is Gunsails’ 4-batten compact wave sail, sitting alongside the five-batten Horizon and championed by notable team riders such as Florian Jung. For 2020 there is also an eye-catching Seal Membrane available – a four batten wave sail, constructed in a single-piece 0.7 mil film with Technora fibres sandwiched in such a way that the forces are absorbed and dispersed evenly, leaving a light and extremely direct feeling sail. Back to the standard Seal on test and it is the only 5.0 sail here to set on a 370 cm mast, its outline short and relatively boxy. Build quality is good, with x-ply of various weights used throughout its panels and plenty of detailing on show, such as beading along the length of the bottom batten, a seamless foot panel, and the tack roller oriented for easy downhaul. It was rigged for test on a 100% Select mast, although is still said to be compatible with an SDM if desired.
“The Wave Machine Seal presents itself with the well-known range of use, but does surprise with new abilities for 2020. Thanks to the redesigned geometry the 4-batten-compact wave sail shows even easier handling and improved on/off.”
Sheathing the mast easily into the Seal’s head-cap, it is clear that there’s plenty of luff curve in the sail, the downhaul nonetheless easy to apply thanks to the softer mast. Gunsails’ handy trimming guide FRED was not present on our test version, although this is due to it being one of the first off the production line; all future versions will see FRED return. Apply tension and the leech opens progressively along its length, with plenty of looseness in the ‘double mini-battened’ top panel. There is then only a subtle amount of profile in the batten below the boom, the Seal setting flat and neutral above, with both lower battens keeping rotation around the mast. In marginal winds the top clew eyelet was utilised, giving the boom a little more leverage and the sail’s power more purpose. Light and easy at rest, as the wind picks up the sail breathes into a deeper profile, aided by the movement in the Dacron luff panel and luff sleeve. It is also very pumpable thanks to the longer boom length, the flex in the softer mast and the amount of area low down in the sail. Once going the Seal settles into a comfortable cruising stance, the centre of effort focussed low and forward in the draft. Easy and forgiving to use for long periods, you’d be excused for thinking the Seal is a user-friendly high wind freeride sail! The low-cut foot shape, soft progressive power delivery, and high rake to the boom angle (even more so in the lower clew eyelet) makes it a pleasure to use, and very accessible for novice sailors and pros alike. Used in heavy coastal seas the Seal can act as a blasting weapon, the upper panels twisting smoothly as the draft’s softness absorbs any jarring forces from the terrain, its low power position pinning the board down to the water’s surface and mitigating any board control issues. It means the active rider can charge out and hit ramps at will, the sail feeling compact and manageable in the air. Yet use the Seal in a manoeuvre role and you’ll not be let down either. The power provided into transition is smooth and measured rather than sharp or assertive, but power it up properly and it provides enough for most, encouraging a more flowing surf style, going wonderfully light and neutral as it is turned off mid-turn.
Luff: 393 cm
Boom: 169 cm
Ideal Mast: Gunsails 370 cm RDM/SDM
Available Sizes: 3.2, 3.5, 3.7, 4.0, 4.2, 4.5, 4.7, 5.0, 5.3, 5.7.
Other boards in this test:
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