NEIL PRYDE X:RYDE 6.7M 2019 TEST REVIEW
The Ryde has enjoyed four previous seasons in the Neil Pryde range as their pure freeride engine. For 2019, the structure of the brand’s range has altered somewhat, making a clear distinction between the elite Core Series of sails and their more price-pointed X:Series, of which the Ryde slots neatly into. To improve affordability, the sail now incorporates “classic industry standard construction” materials and techniques, leaving out some of the high-end features of the premium Core Series sails. This isn’t to say that quality has been compromised, the X:Ryde benefitting from various detailing such as the brand’s Forceline Distribution laminate in the clew panel, and niceties like the downhaul clip integrated into the tack roller. Instead, the expensive innovative details are omitted, such as the Powerfuse scrims … or the fact that the batten pockets are sewn onto one side of the sail rather than integrated into the sail’s seam structure. In addition, all X:Series sails are available solely in this pastel green / orange colourway, rather than giving you a choice. And yet … the quality remains; the sail is still distinctly from the Neil Pryde loft, and it remains the priciest here. So how would it perform?
“We put a lot of effort into the development of this new sail and the entire X:Series, that’s why we are convinced that they will work perfectly for years to come.”
Rigged on the brand’s top of the range TPX100, the X:Ryde sets with a moderate amount of luff curve, the battens sitting clear of the mast whilst the leech falls away progressively. There are trimming guides in the upper panel to provide an indication of the range available, adjusting the outhaul accordingly through the single eyelet. Set for marginal conditions, the Ryde feels crisp and reactive to gusts, accelerating in the hands and delivering energy efficiently to the board. It has a precise nature – sharper than most here, its pull is more defined, the slack and softness in the luff sleeve quickly absorbed as the sail is sheeted in.
Intermediate riders on a steep learning curve will really appreciate the X:Ryde’s character in this respect, whereas those looking for more obvious grunty feedback might take some time to dial into it. Once powered, the sail settles into a comfortable locked in stance. As the wind strengthens, you can adjust the settings to increase the twist through the sail’s panels, really capitalising on its virtues and design heritage. It is wonderfully efficient and smoothly translates the energy from gusts into acceleration through the hands. There isn’t a hint of leech flutter, whilst the sail remains balanced and positive, the centre of effort low and focussed round the rider, giving them the confidence to keep pushing. In transition the X:Ryde’s defined profile feels stable and manageable when sheeted out, allowing the rider to focus on their path. The battens do pop between tacks quite forcefully, so it may take the passive rider by surprise … but get used to it and the snap can help to punch out of a transition actively.
The priciest contender here, but with the performance to match, the X:Ryde has a life and crispness about it that really will have you coming back for more. Providing precise, focussed power rather than conspicuous grunt, it teaches you the subtleties of good technique quickly.
Other sails in this test: