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LOFTSAILS SWITCHBLADE 8.5 2021 TEST REVIEW

01/11/2021
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LOFTSAILS SWITCHBLADE 8.5 2021 TEST REVIEW

THE VERDICT

A beautifully engineered sail, the Switchblade simply gets better and better the faster and more powered it is.

OVERVIEW

The Switchblade is still in the Loftsails’ mix for 2021 as their 3-cam performance freerace option. There are some stated upgrades though, with new luff curves and “redesigned vertical shapes”, said to help increase trimming capabilities and focus the sail’s drive further forward in the draft. And as with the Oxygen tested earlier this year, the Switchblade is available in two construction layups – the standard here with orange UV-resistant 4mil ‘biply’ in the upper panels, or the HD version, complete with green 2mil x-ply in place instead. We said it plenty of times in the past too, but the build and attention to detail of Loftsails’ engines is second to none. There are the niceties, such as the enlarged moulded tack fairing complete with extended Velcro opening, the trimming guide in the upper panel or the neoprene boom cut-out closure that mitigates water entry for fast recoveries. There are then the well-considered features to help enhance performance – the extensive use of tubed battens and the use of x-ply in the alternating batten pockets to help promote symmetry in the sail’s profile between tacks. Loftsails also stick with their tried and tested Metal Cam Interfaces (MCIs) to help reduce the wear between their Tekcam2 inducer and the sail’s chord – a neat little hard-wearing clip that provides the confidence of both performance and longevity. Rigged for test on the Team Edition 490 SDM (RDM Tekcam2s supplied too) the Switchblade sets with a great deal of depth to its draft, the leading edge displaying a medium to good amount of luff curve, whilst the leech falls away significantly down to batten four. The cams were easy to push onto the mast and behave as the rest of the tension was applied, the zippered pockets providing easy access to each.

BRAND CLAIM

“If you are looking for solid bottom-end power that remains dependable and secure, the Switchblade will certainly impress. This sail delivers control and performance over a simply massive tuning range.”

PERFORMANCE

Taking the Switchblade onto the water, it feels large and purposeful in the hands, the three cams creating a solid profile that generates plenty of pull and feedback the moment a gust hits. Accelerating smoothly, the sail then rocks back into a comfortable locked-in stance, exhibiting real intent; it enjoys a more committed nature, rather than simply being happy upright and cruising. The stronger the wind, the faster it goes and the more at home the Switchblade is! Its centre of effort and stability are already assured … and yet as the wind increases and the pressure builds, it’s as if the centre of effort actually shifts further forward and lower in the draft, making the sail feel lighter and smaller in the hands. The twist pattern through the upper panels is superb, the sail’s whole area feeling like its driving forward, rather than expending any wasteful energy. Partnered with a fast freerace or slalom board, it displayed an impressive straight-line speed and real race potential, easily enough for any national level slalom event. Using the second lower eyelet, coupled with extra downhaul tension and twist, helped to further the sail’s top end capabilities and keep it honest as the conditions pushed the natural upper limits of a sail this size. In transition the Switchblade is best served by entering at speed, where it remains light and manageable throughout. Slow down or act hesitantly, and it returns to feeling every bit its quoted size in the hands, the Tekcams rotating cleanly and solidly onto the new tack as the sail is pulled in.

 www.loftsails.com

LOFTSAILS SWITCHBLADE 8.5 2021 TEST REVIEW

 

SPECS

Size: 8.5

Luff: 510 cm

Boom: 224 cm

Battens: 7

Cams: 3

Ideal Mast: Loftsails Team Edition 490 cm SDM

Available Sizes: 5.3, 5.8, 6.3, 6.8, 7.0, 7.3, 7.8, 8.5, 9.5.

PRICE: HD (Green) €1069.00 Standard (Orange) €1015.00


THE LINE UP

GOYA MARK 2 PRO 8.5

NEIL PRYDE V8 8.7

SEVERNE TURBO 8.1

RRD FIRE 9.0

GUNSAILS VECTOR 8.6

GA SAILS COSMIC 8.3


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