SEVERNE GATOR 5.7M 2019 TEST REVIEW
The Gator resides in the Severne range as their crossover offering, stemming the breadth of likely wind strengths experienced in freeride windsurfing within its fourteen sizes. The term Severne use is ‘progressive geometry’, meaning the Gator’s feel and nature remains consistent amongst the sizes, whereas the outline, batten style and number incorporated is changed to account for the likely conditions encountered by that individual sail size. For 2019 the Gator sees x-ply throughout its panels, with lightweight eM3 x-ply in the upper panels, transparent x-ply in the enlarged window and heavy-duty eM4 in the foot panel. Even as you unroll the Gator for the first time, it is noticeable how tightly it rolls and how physically light it is. Rigged on an RDM Red mast, it is incredibly easy to downhaul, the roller in the tack oriented with the rollers in the extension, whilst the sail possesses very little luff curve. The lower two battens retain plenty of rotation around the mast, and there is even rotation in batten three. Severne pride themselves on making the very lightest handling sails possible, and seem to continually scrutinise every aspect and feature of the sail. So whilst there are the usual established features, such as a seamless foot panel and Spiderfibre tendons from the clew, it is interesting to observe what has been omitted, such as an external abrasion pad on the head of the luff sleeve. Instead, the head is simply finished with a length of webbing sewn around the end of the cap. Are head abrasion pads over compensating and soon to become a thing of the past? Time will tell…
“From light wind freeriding to high-wind blasting, the 019 Gator is the sail to maximise your stoke every session.”
The Gator has rightly gained a reputation for defining light handling in the crossover market segment over the years … and this 2019 version is certainly no exception. Its handling is just so delicate and easy through the backhand that it takes all the stress and hassle out of sailing. Even in violent conditions the sail just behaves, getting on with its business quietly and allowing the rider to sail comfortably, enjoying much longer sessions. The main contributing factor is the position of the Gator’s centre of effort, locked so far forward in the draft. This is then combined with the reduced luff curve, drawing life and response from the mast (most noticeable when getting going), and the elastic limit of the x-ply luff panel, providing a crispness and precision to the power delivery. For the vast majority, this can only be construed as a major plus, but for a few riders the Gator’s focussed power delivery could be viewed as overly mild and subtle. Large, forceful riders (or even the heavy-handed progressing rider) may be better served with something bolder in their hands, giving something to hang onto and pull back against; maybe the NCX for the flat-water enthusiast, or the Blade for those that sail predominantly in coastal conditions. The Gator is more of a passive performer, accelerating the board underneath so smoothly, and with such deft pressure that you’re almost unaware of the work it is doing. As the conditions turn on, the Gator’s set can be refined and tensioned to ensure its stability, its lowered clew eyelet and short boom length encouraging the rider into a controlled, locked-in stance. A great companion for covering distance whatever the sea state, its easy forgiving temperament may persuade the rider to push their manoeuvre-envelope, be it old school carving trickery, or even dabbling in some coastal bump and jump.
A handling sensation where everything comes easy, the Gator seems to have a balance and focus to its power that defies physics. What price would you put on the value of a sail that makes freeride comfort and enjoyment so accessible?
Other sails in this test: