RRD X-TRA MK6 6.5M 2019 TEST REVIEW
The X-Tra is RRD’s ‘easy freeride’ sail range, sitting alongside their performance freeride Evolution and no-cam freerace Fire (tested last month). Now in its sixth generation, the emphasis of the series is light handling, ease and practicality. With a clean outline and uncomplicated graphic layup, its visual appearance seems to mirror its intended character. X-ply is used in the foot, clew and head panels, reverting to monofilm in the main panels (chosen for lightness) and a large Dacron patch in the luff. Recommended for use on an RDM, but still compatible with SDMs, it was rigged here on a Dynamic Pro RDM. Setting with plenty of shape low down in the draft, the bottom two battens retain good rotation around the mast whilst the leech falls away according to the extent of tension applied. Tested here in its standard form, all sizes are also available as X-Tra-X models, where monofilm in the main panels is replaced by x-ply for additional durability. The role of the X-Tra may be simplified, yet the detail of the build remains high, with the battens integrated into the sail’s seams, and features such as seamless foot panelling being used rather than cutting corners. This is the first time we’ve been given the X-Tra to try; time to see how it performs on the water.
“The X-TRA is a great sail in our lineup, just for its ease of use. Just rig it and go sailing, whether you are working on your first water start or mastering the finer points of gybing. This sail really takes you through the complete learning curve and you will never outgrow the X-TRA”. John Skye – RRD Sail Designer
The sample X-Tra we had to try was one of the first off the production line and as such may not have had all the markings and visual guides that should be expected. Reducing the tension for marginal winds, you do immediately sense the X-Tra is light and easy in the hands, feeling much smaller than its quoted size. This could be down to a combination of attributes; whilst its dimensions are more or less average for the group, it does have a somewhat boxy outline. But more than this, we believe it can be largely attributed to the X-Tra’s dropped clew position and the location of its centre of effort. Positioned low and forward, the pull in the hands is very manageable and subtle. Heavier, power hungry riders will crave more feedback, but for the light passive rider this is a real bonus. As the wind catches the sail and profile fills (thanks to the stretch in the Dacron luff panel), the energy is transferred effortlessly to the board as if it bypasses the rider, requiring little input from them. And as it strengthens, the X-Tra becomes more and more enjoyable to use, retaining impeccable manners and a compact forgiving nature. The movement in the luff panel really massages the power delivery and riding style, enabling the rider to conserve energy and spend longer on the water. The other real bonus to the X-Tra’s lightness and breathability is its ease in the more menial tasks of uphauling or waterstarting, making it forgiving to fly and cope with at idle. In overpowered conditions, the X-Tra does its name justice, capable of being tuned with more downhaul to extend its range and provide some extra top end performance. The leech opens considerably, helping to lock the draft’s stability in place. Smooth and practical in transition, it glides gently round in rotation before powering back up progressively.
A fantastic tutor for the light to medium weight rider that wants hassle free enjoyment, the X-Tra offers light handling and forgiveness over an impressive range.
Other sails in this test: