LOFTSAILS SWITCHBLADE 7.8M 2016 TEST REVIEW
This is the first Loftsails our test team has tried for some time, although the brand’s head designer Monty Spindler requires no introduction, with a legacy in sail innovation that speaks for itself. The Switchblade is Loftsails performance 3-cam freerace sail, sitting in their range next to the no-compromise slalom Racing Blade. The Switchblade has a more moderate luff sleeve compared to its sibling, constructed fully in a unique material the brand are calling IYU250 rather than the Racing Blade’s x-ply sided sleeve. Whilst recommended for use on an RDM mast, it was supplied for test with an Expert SDM mast – easily compatible with a quick change to the larger Tekcam2 cams. Once rigged, the sail displayed a great deal of variation in its set by playing the downhaul, but more on this later. There is a great attention to detail on the Switchblade – a quality to its design and near perfect set in its panels once rigged. It would be interesting to see if this was matched by its performance on the water
“For entry-level racers and GPS enthusiasts, the Loftsails 2016 Switchblade is a weapon for serious speed on all points of sail. A moderate sleeve means easy rigging while the smooth Tekcams rotate like a dream. If you’re an aspiring slalom star or budding speed freak, this is the perfect solution to explore the world of powered-up, deep downwind runs and pushing your PB’s with super top-end control – with the security of power and glide in marginal wind or lulls”
With the largest dimensions in the group, and one of the deeper, more defined profiles, it was no surprise that the Switchblade offers plenty of low-end grunt on the water. Solid and positive in the hands, the feedback is very useable, with flexibility built into the sail to enable pumping to maximise its light wind potency. It is a master at making the most of marginal conditions, punching boards free from the water and gliding through lulls as if they don’t exist. In transition, the cam rotation is smooth and sturdy without a hint of getting stuck mid-rotation. Fast on every point of sail, it provides constant positive feedback through the hands and is happy to be partnered with large wide-thin freeride boards as it is a freerace. As the wind increases, the most impressive aspect of the Switchblade is the way in which its character is changed simply through 4-5cm of extra downhaul. Once applied, the leech falls away much moredown its length and the depth of the profile reduces slightly, the centre of effort moving further back in the draft. As a result the Switchblade becomes more of a purebred racing machine, locking into a committed stance and pulling positively in the hands through every gust. Providing diversity in its application through simple tuning, the Switchblade has a great deal of user appeal as a result.
Two sails in one, the Switchblade’s character changes with tuning, from a punchy low-end powerhouse to a high-end efficient thoroughbred. That and its build quality go a long way to explaining its price tag.
Other sails in this test: