RRD FIRE 9.0 2021 TEST REVIEW
A large, easy freeride engine with a distinctly passive and rider-focussed character. Rig it, tune it and let it do the rest for you!
The Fire has long been in the RRD lineup as their ‘performance freeride’ sail series, but was completely revised in the 2020 season (the brand’s quarter century anniversary year), to deliver “optimum performance, whatever the wind.” The updated range of nine sizes saw the Fire evolve from a five-batten manoeuvre-oriented sail in the two smallest sizes, through to six and seven batten no-cams in the mid sizes, and onto a twin-cam configuration for the three largest sizes. And this format has been carried forward into the 2021 season, the Fire receiving a new livery and colourway, but ultimately following the same design format and philosophy. This 9.0 is the largest in the series, rigged on a 490 cm mast, despite its quoted area and luff length. Tested here on a Dynamic Pro Comp 490 cm mast, it was straightforward to rig, the two cams located on the battens below the boom and slipping onto the mast without too much persuasion, having applied a little downhaul tension. The brand’s Integrated Trimming System (ITS) can then be used to trim the sail accordingly, the inset position of the visual guide in the upper panel (not to mention the various long mini battens) providing a tangible understanding of just how loose the leech needs to be. And that is, loose! There is plenty of luff curve to boot, yet no matter how much tension is applied, the cams continue to force a good amount of shape low and forward into the sail’s profile. Build quality and attention to detail are as we’d expect of RRD, with double stitch seams at the clew panel and x-ply used in both the clew and foot. A good-looking sail and with plenty of heritage in the Fire lineage, this is the first twin cam Fire we have tried.
“Lots of low-end juice to get you up and moving quickly and plenty of control at the top end to hit top speeds with the GPS. This really is the perfect freeride solution.”
As you step on board and power the Fire 9.0 for the first time, there is no getting away from the fact that this is a large sail. It certainly feels its size, yet sits there comfortably in the hands, its centre of effort low and forward in the draft. Whereas some sails of this size provide feedback by pulling the riders from a high position, the Fire does the opposite, pinning the board down and powering smoothly. It gives the sail a more relaxed and passive demeanour; perhaps not the most energetic or forceful, but more progressive and user-friendly. The double clew eyelet system plays its part too, the higher eyelet changing the boom’s geometry and extending its leverage length to make the power more obvious. Once planing, the Fire settles into a comfortable stance, its low-cut foot enabling the sail to rock back and trim itself naturally. The low and forward pull position really helps to facilitate this as well, with any additional pressure from a gust almost bypassing the rider and transferring efficiently into extra board acceleration. And this sensation becomes more and more apparent as the wind increases, especially with a quick drop to the lower clew eyelet, raking the boom that little bit more to assist control. Properly powered, the Fire displayed a good deal of dependable performance, comfortable on all points of sail and partnering diverse board styles, from wide-bodied freeride to freerace. The cams rotate cleanly in transition and let the power return in a comfortable manner on the new tack. In fact, the only Achilles Heel of this low and forward power position can be felt in light marginal conditions, and in instances such as during transitions, where the weight and downwards drive of the sail inhibiting the glide in the board through the turn. In every other situation though, this power position is a real bonus and assists the rider without them really realising. One final point worth noting, with its two cams down below the boom, the Fire’s luff sleeve is quickly tapered above the boom cutout, becoming no wider than on a standard no-cam sail. This is small but significant asset, making the Fire 9.0 that much easier to uphaul should it be dropped.
RRD FIRE 9.0 2021 TEST REVIEW
Luff: 516 cm
Boom: 225/230 cm
Ideal Mast: RRD SDM 490 cm
Available Sizes: 5.0, 5.7, 6.3, 6.8, 7.2, 7.6, 7.8, 8.4, 9.0.
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