NEIL PRYDE ZONE 4.7M
2020 TEST REVIEW
Striking the perfect balance between soft useable power and supreme on-off handling across a surprisingly wide wind range, the Neil Pryde Zone 4.7m 2020 offers premium performance at a price to match.
The Zone is reborn for 2020 – a sail name harking back to the mid to late nineties, when Jason Polakow was at the pinnacle of his irrepressible best, being the imperious wild man of the sport. It replaces the three-batten Fly in the range, yet is said to stand for everything that a dedicated wave rider demands – light handling, on-off power delivery and the durability to withstand a beating! And whilst Neil Pryde have gone to town in their construction offerings for 2020, (the Combat available in no less than three layups for example), the Zone is solely available in their premium Pro HD technology. It exclusively uses the brand’s new ‘Ultra Scrim’ in its upper panels – a rip-stop laminate incorporating what Pryde are calling “ultra high molecular density yarns”. In plain English, this choice scrim is claimed to be 25% lighter and twice as strong as conventional x-ply. In addition, Pryde have their own custom printing technology, allowing them to print graphics onto the film prior to lamination, making the vibrant colours of their sails UV resistant. In its foot and clew panels the Zone sees Pryde’s established Powerfuse concept, with material layers strategically radiating out from the corners to mitigate stretch and increase power transfer efficiency. With double stitched seams and integrated ‘fuse’ pockets included for each batten, the Zone is said to be both symmetrical on either tack and durable enough to cope with all that is thrown at it. It certainly makes a visual impact, as does its price tag, but how did it handle on the water?
“There’s windsurfing. There’s surfing. And there’s something else. When you go there, you’ll need the Zone. If you’re heading for a pure surfing experience, then the Zone is your ride.”
At the time of testing, only a 4.7 was available in the country, so we grabbed it with both hands. Rigged on a TPX100 370cm mast, it is easy to downhaul, with only a moderate amount of luff curve. Setting beautifully, the leech twists off along its length, the visual guides in the upper panel exhibiting a respectable tuning range, whilst the bottom two battens retain rotation throughout. On the water the overriding sensation we had of the Zone was one of supreme lightweight handling. In marginal winds and under minimal tension, it can produce a respectable amount of bottom end power for a 4.7, the movement in the luff sleeve and panel, coupled with the soft flexible mast making it crisp and responsive to pumping. Once going, it accelerates quickly in the hands, the centre of effort high and forward, pulling the rider into an upright stance over the board. The delivery is just the right balance between feeling soft and forgiving without being soggy and masking over the response or immediacy available. It has a good natural wind range on one setting, yet as the conditions turned on, the Zone can be re-tuned easily to extend its impressive stability and reach. With more tension and twist in the upper panels, the Zone is incredibly efficient, translating extra power from gusts into clean useable acceleration, whilst remaining comfortable at all times. The movement in the Dacron luff panel cushions the ride over the harshest chop, allowing the sail to move round the rider. Its contribution is also apparent whilst wave riding, the Zone providing plenty of drive as you enter the bottom turn, before going wonderfully neutral mid-transition as it is sheeted out, the battens pushing back round the mast and the luff panel deflating. This on-off delivery provides both confidence and control and was incredibly welcome when the waves increased and the conditions demanded it.
Luff: 394 cm
Boom: 162 cm
Ideal Mast: Neil Pryde 370 cm RDM
Available Sizes: 3.6, 3.9, 4.2, 4.5, 4.7, 5.0, 5.3, 5.7.
Other boards in this test:
THE LINE UP