NEILPRYDE ATLAS 5.8M TEST REVIEW
The Atlas remains in the Pryde line-up as their power wave sail, championed by Antoine Albeau. It has been refined this year with the use of the brand’s new ‘Fuse Pocket’ technology, placing the batten right in the middle of the sail, thereby reducing weight and crucially ensuring its symmetry on each tack. Weight has been reduced further still by incorporating their ‘Powerfuse’ construction methods, using various laminate layups in the main stress areas of the head, tack and clew, so that they can do away with redundant patch reinforcements and seams. The result is a sail that sets faultlessly (as we have come to expect from Pryde), and looks the part in their own unique material and colour way. Rigged here on a TPX100 RDM mast, it has a couple of tuning indicators in the top panel to help understand the tuning range available, the leech falling away in the top two panels, whilst there’s plenty of shape low down, both lower battens protruding beyond the leading edge at rest.
“When you need to get safely across the white lines, or charge upwind through lulls, the 2018 Atlas delivers reassuring power and control; all that you need in on-shore wave conditions. Early to plane, the Atlas is up and ready to get into the action with efficient, controllable power at all times. Featuring great upwind ability and acceleration, the Atlas pushes hard with great profile stability.”
On the water the Atlas is a real power-horse of a sail. Rigged on its minimum setting, it generates masses of punch and drive as soon as a gust hits the sail and pressure increases. Its centre of effort is of moderate height, but relatively far back in the draft, providing plenty of useable feedback through the back hand. Ideal for the heavier rider or the more stubborn hull, it provides lots of grunt and then accelerates rapidly to a good speed, ideal for getting out of sticky situations, such as confused onshore conditions. The delivery is responsive and direct, the mid-leech being relatively tight and the skin tension in the sail’s panels high, with only the movement in the luff sleeve tempering the immediacy and connection through the hands. As the wind increases, the Atlas can be refined with more tension to increase stability in the front of the foil and looseness in the leech. The visual trimming aids are useful reference points, yet in extreme winds the Atlas still works well going beyond those suggested. It becomes incredibly efficient, showing its pedigree as it continues to accelerate through the gusts, the leech twisting smoothly without the hint of any flutter. More importantly, stability is always there, the sail driving forward whilst remaining balanced and positive. A real all-rounder, it is as happy in a high-wind blasting role as it is around a break, providing the agility, accuracy and speed to make the most of the conditions. The only thing we would say is that you need to be prepared to tinker with its tuning as the Atlas’s range is more on tuning than a natural range on one setting, which was no doubt helped in our test by using the premium TPX100 mast. But invest the time (and the money) and you’ll reap the rewards.
Oozing quality in both looks and performance, the Atlas is a lot of money but the returns are instantly apparent as soon as you take it on the water and get to know it.
Other sails in this test: