LOFTSAILS OXYGEN HD 6.8M 2019 TEST REVIEW
The Oxygen (or O2 as it was previously labelled) has been Loftsails’ no-cam freerace contender for eighteen seasons now. It is available in standard layup, incorporating a 5mil monofilm window and orange 4mil monofilm upper panels, or in a blue HD format, using x-ply of varying weights throughout. There’s a new 7.0m size in the ranks, albeit we have the 6.8m on test here, rigged on a Team Edition 430cm SDM mast. Short and wide, the Oxygen is relatively boxy in outline compared to some here, its draft shallow at rest. Downhauled to allow the looseness in the leech to creep towards the ‘trim diamond’ in the head, and the Oxygen displays a significant amount of luff curve, forcing real skin tension into the x-ply luff panel. It has an incredibly clean set, with the extra tension seeming to pull more shape lowdown in the draft. Using tubular battens extensively throughout its structure, the Oxygen adopts a popular cross-batten concept, with the second lowest batten crossing the boom to provide stability and feel, whilst helping the leech to twist smoothly. To account for abrasion that may result, the two lower battens benefit from abrasion beading along much of their lengths – an attention to detail witnessed throughout the sail. There is real practicality and thought throughout, such as the double Dacron head panel, for ease and longevity when rolling the sail at the end of a session, and the extended Velcro opening on the moulded tack fairing, for access to the tack roller. It’s a handsome looking sail, but can looks be deceiving?
“Oxygenate your windsurfing!”
Reactive to trim variation, reducing downhaul and outhaul tension and using the upper clew eyelet will maximise the Oxygen’s bottom end potential… soft trim allows the Oxygen to benefit from more power and pumpability, its softer 430cm mast capable of flexing and driving energy into the board. Nevertheless, there’s little movement in the luff sleeve to accentuate the draft’s depth, the sail’s power remaining relatively subtle and understated rather than forceful or grunty. Once going, the Oxygen accelerates actively in the hands, quickly settling into a comfortable locked in stance. There is plenty of sail area underneath the boom, the centre of effort focussed low and around the rider. It has a naturally fast cruising speed and is capable of gliding efficiently through lulls, rather than pulling through them. The trick is to let the sail do the work through prolonged lulls rather than trying to force the issue. However, the Oxygen really begins to grab your attention when using it in comfortably powered to overpowered conditions. It is just so supremely controlled in challenging conditions, it’s as if you’re cheating when comparing yourself to your peers on similar sails. Dropping to the bottom clew eyelet, the sail’s effort is low, compact and dependable, the delivery crisp and balanced and feeling positive through every gust, accelerating the board to greater speeds. And it is fast on every point of sail – perhaps not as slippery through the air as a few here, yet its steadfast nature means your stance is never interrupted, so speed comes easy. Monty Spindler really can design sails with benchmark top end stability and this Oxygen is no exception. Smooth and comfortable to use in the harshest environments, it was a pleasure to use for long periods, and whilst its boxy outline means it rotates slowly during transition, the power comes on smoothly as the sail is re-engaged on the new tack.
Delivering smooth crisp power, the Oxygen is comfortable to use in the toughest environments, making it all the more enjoyable to use when others around are struggling.
Other sails in this test: