SEVERNE GATOR 5.7M 2017 TEST REVIEW
Classed as their ‘progressive freeride’ sail, the Gator range is undoubtedly one of the largest around, with 14 sizes stemming from 3.7m to 8.0m. Aiming to maintain a soft plug and play feel throughout the series, the brand refers to its longstanding concept of “progressive geometry” as you move through the sizes, the smaller possessing a higher cut foot and more wave-oriented stance, whilst the larger have a lower cut foot for more power and efficiency. Using x-ply throughout, the Gator adopts many of the refinements of its 2017 wave sail siblings, such as seamless head and foot panels, to eliminate any chance of seam degradation and reduce weight.
A Spiderfibre tendon is incorporated across the main panel to improve foil stability, whilst the sail also possesses a triangular Dacron luff panel to soften the power delivery.
“The core principles are durability, manoeuvrability and a consistent feel across all sizes. Every size is designed to echo the demand of the aggressive freeride rider no matter what the wind conditions. Batten count is optimised for every size to maintain a consistently soft feel and stability.”
The moment you start using the Gator, there is one key attribute that stands out above all else: it is just so light and balanced in the hands. The centre of effort is locked forwards, yet relatively high in the draft, allowing the sail to adopt any stance, from upright and cruising to locked in and blasting. As the wind increases and the pressure builds, the Gator pulls positively through both hands and accelerates the board efficiently. The power delivery is smooth and progressive thanks to the stretch in the Dacron luff panel, with the additional benefit of tempering any harsh feedback whilst travelling over sharp chop. As the wind builds further, the Gator copes superbly on one setting, the leech twisting harmoniously whilst the profile remains forward. But it’s the fact that nearly none of the increased pressure is felt through the backhand that seems to defy logic and convention. The Gator remains wonderfully neutral, complimenting this 5.7m’s high cut foot and smooth batten rotation to make it effortless in transition, powering progressively once again on the new tack. In fact, the only thing we would say is that the handling is so easy and balanced that we found ourselves hunting for gusts and more feedback when testing in drag-race mode. As such, larger riders that crave forceful feedback through the backhand may be well served to look at other options in the Severne range – the Blade for manoeuvres or the NCX for straight-line work. For everyone else, the smooth flowing handling of the Gator is a blessing.
A good-looking sail, with the performance to match, the Gator is easy to rig and even easier to sail, providing the manners to cope with any environment. A manoeuvre-oriented recreational sailor’s best friend, at £579.00 it represents excellent value for money.
Other sails in this test: