NEIL PRYDE RYDE 6.5M 2017 TEST REVIEW
The Ryde is now in its third season as Pryde’s designated ‘freeride’ foil, sitting in between the crossover Fusion and no-cam freerace Hellcat. Offering five sizes from 5.5m to 7.5m, the entire range can be rigged on a 430cm mast, the 6.5m tested here on a SPX95 SDM mast. Build quality and finish are as you would expect from the Pryde loft, the sail setting without a crease or crinkle throughout its panels. Also available in HD construction, using x-ply throughout its panels, it is tested here in standard construction, with monofilm used. Possessing what Pryde are calling a “Hybrid Luff curve” for a combination of lift and stability, the Ryde nonetheless has a relatively high amount of curvature and skin tension in its leading edge compared to others in the group. Fully tensioned, the leech falls away progressively along its length, whilst only the bottom batten retains the slightest contact with the mast. With a moderate amount of low down shape in the draft at rest, the Ryde boasts an inset clew eyelet and moderate foot cut to improve control and handling. A popular sail amongst the team in the past, it would be interesting to see how the sail has evolved for the new season…
“With a shorter boom and higher cut foot than the Hellcat, the Ryde perfectly combines freemove and freeride characteristics. Six battens and the Dynamic Compact Clew make it fast and controllable in straight lines with a wide wind-range that provides a truly fun freeriding experience.”
And the answer is … it hasn’t! The 2017 Ryde remains unaltered from last year’s version, but for good reason. Light and balanced at rest, the power generated is delivered cleanly and precisely rather than forcefully, requiring a degree of subtlety to make the most of it in marginal winds. Once going the Ryde accelerates with earnest and has a beautifully efficient nature, accelerating in every gust without the slightest duress placed on the rider. It can’t help but inspire, and partnered with a performance oriented board that can keep up, provides an easy path into slalom and drag racing for the progressing sailor. As the wind increases, the Ryde can be retuned with additional tension beyond its specified increments to keep the sail twisting and the centre of effort locked low and forwards. As with previous years, we have to wonder whether the slippery efficiency of the foil can also be largely attributed to the quality of the Neil Pryde mast upon which it is rigged … and unfortunately we didn’t have time to experiment with other masts. But be that as it is, this combination of Ryde and SPX90 SDM is simply stunning. Fast and efficient on all points of sail, the Ryde’s light balanced handling and precise power delivery also make it a pleasure to use and reposition during transitions.
One of the priciest sails in the group, but with the performance to justify its tag, the Ryde remains a class act, providing silky efficiency and precise power.
Other sails in this test: