NORTH SAILS E_TYPE 6.6M TEST REVIEW
The E_Type has been revised subtly for 2018 and is now, “The fastest no cam sail we’ve ever built,” according to North’s literature. They have dispensed with the three smaller sizes that used to be available in the range (4.0m, 4.5m and 4.9m), to reduce the overlap with the new SuperSession, starting the range at 5.4m instead. With their now well-established NO.COMPROMISE.DESIGN, North’s sail designer Kai Hopf has kept the E_Type’s luff curve to a minimum to improve handling and response in marginal winds without detracting from the sail’s top end stability. New for this season is the ‘pre-calibrated batten tension’ concept, whereby each batten in a 2018 North sail now gets set in the factory according to Hopf’s specification, using a torque wrench. The nut in the iRocket 2.0 tensioner is then fixed in place using some specific glue. It’s an interesting idea and if it eliminates human error in rigging the sail correctly, then we can’t argue with it. Rigged on a Platinum SDM mast, the E_Type is one of the taller sails in the group and possesses a good amount of shape forwards in its draft. There is rotation in all three of the lower battens, whilst the leech displays a degree of looseness along its whole length. Visually, the E_Type is a clean, uncomplicated sail, using monofilm throughout most of its panels, and the usual North quality detailing in vulnerable areas.
“E is for exciting! The E_TYPE is exactly the type of sail to help windsurfing regain its real fascination. Rigs without a sweat, takes off and gets going without pumping. This sail boasts the perfect power and acceleration capabilities of our WARP combined with the handling of a no cam sail. Windsurfing has never been so relaxed and exciting at the same time!”
Despite feeling its size initially (largely down to its long luff length) the E_Type is very light and neutral in the hands, filling into a deeper profile as the pressure comes on. There’s lots of elasticity to the sail (thanks to the lower Dacron luff panel and play in the sleeve), making it particularly dynamic for pumping in marginal winds, the reduced luff curve providing real connection to the mast. Use big deliberate scoops of air and you can really feel the leading edge snap back into position, punching the board forwards. The centre of effort is placed forwards and relatively high in the draft, encouraging the rider into a comfortable cruising position. As the wind builds the E_Type can be re-tuned with more tension, the leech twisting off smoothly whilst the power remains locked in place. The delivery is soft and easy to manage instead of pulling the rider to their toes – if the pressure gets too much for the progressing rider, it is easy to throttle back and ease the sail out without losing control. In utopian flat water blasting conditions, the E_Type doesn’t have the top end slippery acceleration of others here in the gusts … but take it downwind into choppy seas, and the North begins to make up for any lost ground, its easy handling and soft breathability helping to ensure the pilot is in control at all times. In manoeuvres this fluidity in the draft also comes into play, allowing the E_Type to go neutral mid-transition, before powering up more progressively on the new tack, gifting the rider an extra bit of time to settle into their stance.
Whilst emanating life and response in marginal winds, the E_Type has an impressive wind range, demonstrating its true top-end capabilities in real world conditions.
Other sails in this test:
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