SEVERNE GATOR 6.5M 2015 TEST REVIEW
Classed as Severne’s ‘progressive freeride sail’, the Gator stems a massive range of 14 sizes from 3.7m to 8.0m. The brand claims it to be the “perfect sail for ‘plug and play’ rigging simplicity combined with lifelong durability”. In this, one of the larger sizes in the range, the Gator is designed to be more manoeuvrable and less backhanded than its stable mate, the NCX. Whilst compatible with an RDM, we were supplied a SDM mast to test this 6.5m with. Easy to rig and downhaul, thanks to the orientation of the tack pulley, the sail sets with lots of depth to its draft, the bottom three battens protruding beyond the leading edge of the mast, whilst the leech falls away progressively. We did find the adjustable head strap slipped slightly, so we used the excess webbing to tie off and eliminate any further loss in tension.
“The core principles are durability, manoeuvrability and a consistent feel across all sizes. Every size is 100% X-Ply, and utilizes Double Seams throughout. Every size is designed to echo the demand of the aggressive freeride rider no matter what the wind conditions: PROGRESSIVE GEOMETRY!”
With quite an inset clew eyelet, the Gator has one of the shorter boom lengths in this group, which, combined with a very forward placed centre of effort, made the sail feel very light and balanced in the hands. The power delivery is crisp and precise instead of obvious and grunty, meaning it prefers a subtleness to its handling in marginal winds to get the most from it. Once on the plane the Gator accelerates quickly and feels very positive and responsive. There is a distinct lightness and alertness to its nature – it accelerates with every gust, and cruises effortlessly through the lulls. Its stance is sort of halfway house between locked in and upright. The pull comes from quite far forwards, but it also remains quite high in the draft, and in doing so allows the rider to decide the style of sailing they prefer. It will work around you, rather than forcing you to adopt a specific stance. As the wind increases, more tension can be applied to lock the draft in place and retain its balanced handling. It can be locked in to achieve a good top end speed and keep up with most here, but the Gator’s real forte is in transition where the shorter boom and forward draft make it effortless to rotate and easy to reposition on the new tack. Lots of fun to progress those manoeuvres and even dabble in classic freestyle.
An easy, versatile freeride performer, the Gator has a crisp forward-driving nature that allows the rider to adopt the style of sailing they’d like to do rather than forcing one upon them.
Other sails in this test: