NORTH SAILS VOLT 5.3M 2016 TEST REVIEW
The Volt is in its fourth season now, embedded in the North range as their crossover sail, with wave bias in smaller sizes and a leaning towards freestyle in larger sizes. The 5.3m and larger sizes on offer have been completely reworked for 2016, focusing on their bottom end performance, whilst the 5.0m and down remain unchanged from last year, with a more forward-placed draft and looser leech. It is immediately apparent as you rig the 5.3m Volt that the centre of effort is set quite far back in the foil, whilst it possesses the longest luff and boom increments of any sail in the group, and one of the highest cut foots. The head cap is another new feature for 2016, designed to distribute tension more evenly and improving the twist throughout the leech. Easy to tune thanks to North’s well-established trimming guides, it sets with lots of looseness in the top panel and only moderate rotation in the battens either side of the boom.
“The sophisticated luff curve and the modified profile distribution result in insane handling combined with great low-end power. The impressive performance makes it the ideal choice for any spot on the planet. And all of this over an extremely wide wind range, as there is no other wave sail that covers such a wider range, especially when overpowered! Although all sizes are designed for RDM masts they still work equally great on SDM masts. That’s the reason why the new VOLT feels softer, super easy to control and can be pumped easily. The VOLT series works best on single fin boards, which are driven over the rail.”
With the centre of effort set far back in the foil, it is focussed directly around the rider’s stance, providing constant useable feedback through the backhand. The power delivery is soft and progressive and can be used to great effect in marginal winds, the sail stretching to a deeper profile and responding well to pumping. Once going, it does feel bigger in the hands than others here, yet has a functional on-off nature, feeling balanced in both hands and providing the power to execute the next trick or transition. There is a lot of movement in the draft, which is a great asset in light winds, but can unnerve the lighter more nervous rider as the wind increases. Re-tuning with more downhaul and outhaul can help to reduce this creep to the rear, yet doesn’t eliminate it entirely. Instead, we believe the Volt is best suited to riders that opt for a flexible rather than firm feeling sail, preferring to use the smallest sail possible to make the most of fluky marginal conditions.
With an altogether different feel to other sails in the group, the Volt provides masses of useable bottom end power, the centre of effort focused directly around the rider. An ideal partner for float and ride sessions, it has a soft, grunty nature that comes into its own in less than ideal conditions.
Other sails in this test: