North S-Type 7.8m 2014 Test Review Report
North market the S-Type as a ‘switch cam’ thanks to the option of being able to choose and swap between use in either two or three-cam mode. The S-Type sits next to the no-cam freerace E-Type (see April 2014 issue test), the RAMF14 4-cam freerace and the flagship WARPF2014 race sail – as tested in the May 2014 edition.
‘Following the extremely successful WARP F2012 the compact shape has been taken over, but with a slightly longer CROSS.BATTEN. This results in greater comfort and control during acceleration and in overpowered conditions, because the longer CROSS.BATTEN flexes off more. The steeper top batten, which provides a better connection to the top of the sail, results in a more active twist. This leads to quicker acceleration and an expanded wind range. These and many other details secure that the S_TYPE combines planing with impressive performance and incredible speed. Better than any other sail – without any disadvantages in control or handling!’ (Sic.)
Okay, confession time. We have to admit that, largely due to the super-strength wind conditions on this trip, we tested this sail in 3-cam mode. Although we mulled over it a lot, with the wind conditions constantly nearing 30 knots it seemed fair to test the product ‘as delivered’ and to give it a fair chance to account for itself stability-wise in such extreme conditions. (Had it been a 7-batten instead of 6, we might not have given it the benefit of the doubt.) In a nutshell, this is a crisp, refined and incredibly stable foil. The handling feels like you’re sailing sheeted-out when actually, in reality, it’s just the super ‘on the fingertips’ sensation to the ride – just like their WARPF2014. As is often the case with North sails who, due to their admirable ‘keep it real’ attitude, don’t really have any ‘monsters’ on their development team, it’s true to say the big boys wanted a little more early planing power at the lower end of the range. Although, once fully flying, the larger testers did all comment that the glide and momentum through holes is superb. The bottom line is that the power delivery is subtle and, if you’re torque hungry and/or heavy, you just need to sail one size up from the rest, which these windy conditions proved to us is easy to do in comfort. The S_Type is definitely one of the least physical to sail in this bunch and the swing weight makes for a pleasant and forgiving action in manoeuvres. Speed-wise it’s positive – mainly across the wind – with good acceleration from standing or exiting gybes, albeit quite a subtle level of drive. A good cross between an old skool, narrow luff twin-cam and a modern freerace rig.
A super-energy-efficient sail offering delicate fingertip control and excellent manoeuvrability. Although a perfect match for light or medium weight pilots, in terms of wind range there’s plenty of top-end performance for heavier riders that like to sail well powered-up.
Other sails in this test: