GA SAILS MANIC 5.3M 2016 TEST REVIEW
The Manic is shorter in both boom and luff length than all its rivals in this group, giving it quite a boxy outline. Configured with 5 battens, it sets with lots of rotation in the main batten above the boom, protruding well in front of the mast’s leading edge and requiring plenty of outhaul to ensure smooth rotation between tacks. Setting relatively flat at rest compared to others in the group, it has a Dacron luff panel to help the sail breathe into shape as the wind fills. The big focal point of Gaastra’s wave sails this year is their option to replace the main batten above the boom with a ¾ length batten – a very interesting development, but is it a marketing fad more than function based?
“A higher clew placement and more refined shaping deliver a better direct response to the sail. New batten shaping in the front third of the sail and a more even profile curve gives better handling and control. The improved posi leech keeps the sail perfectly balanced. The Manic and Manic HD have the lightest hand pressure of all our wave ranges. This sail is the complete package – great early planing, acceleration and awesome control when things get wild.”
Initially used in five-batten mode, the Manic is light and neutral in the hands at idle, filling to adopt a deeper profile as the wind increases and generating a moderate amount of bottom end grunt. The power delivery is smooth and progressive rather than sharp and instant. Once going it gathers speed and feels fast through the air, being compact and balanced in the hands at all times. The centre of effort is locked quite forward in the draft of the sail, helping to pin the board down and convert power into speed. As the wind increases, the sail’s stability doesn’t seem to wain at all, providing a good natural range on one setting. Coming back ashore, it was quite fiddly to change the main batten over to the ¾ length option … but we have to say, the effort was worth it! In marginal winds, the Manic filled more easily and enabled the centre of effort to shift slightly back to provide even more useable power. And on the wave the extra breathable nature meant the sail possessed an on-off ability to really let the rider concentrate on their riding rather than controlling the sail. So, the real question is, “At what cost to the stability of the sail?” Well, the answer as far as we can see is … not much! We didn’t get a chance to try it right at its top end, but there were plenty of strong squalls that came through whilst testing, which the 4 ¾ set up seemed to cope with admirably. So much so, that the added advantage of on-off handling and extra bottom end feel soon made it our preferred configuration. Whilst certainly not a new concept in windsurfing, and not to everyone’s taste, GA Sail’s decision to offer it as an extra option in a 5 batten sail of the Manic’s heritage, and thereby taking away any risk from the consumer, is a bit of a coup!
A fast, compact and dependable sail, with supremely balanced handling, the Manic works well as a 5-batten sail yet surprised us with the added value and on-off quality of the ¾ length batten option, and soon became one of the team’s favourites.
Other sails in this test: