SEVERNE GATOR 6.5M 2016 TEST REVIEW
Described as their ‘progressive freeride’ crossover sail, the Gator range of 14 sail sizes caters for nigh on every planing wind strength the recreational windsurfing market is interested in. From 3.7m to 8.0m, Ben Severne has aimed to maintain a cohesive feel between the sizes using what he calls ‘progressive geometry’, feeling soft yet stable in the hands. For 2016, the vision through the sail’s main panels is said to have improved thanks to the use of a clearer x-ply. In this size, the Gator has become marginally shorter in the luff and longer in the boom, yet maintains plenty of shape to its profile, locked well forward in the draft, the leech falling away progressively along its length. Interestingly, it was supplied with an SDM for test here, although remains compatible with an RDM.
“The Gator sail range covers every type of windsurfing conditions from around the globe. From lightwind freeriding to high-wind blasting. 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.The smaller sizes feature a higher cut foot and geometry biased towards wave and high wind bump and jump. Larger sizes have a lower cut foot to generate more drive in lighter winds but still maintain the light, throw about feel.”
On the water, the Gator has such a light and precise feel that it was liked by all who tried it, coupled with real softness that made the power delivery manageable for even the most nervous pilot. Marginally lower aspect than last year’s Gator 6.5m, the inset clew eyelet makes the sail feel smaller than its quoted size in the hands, yet provides ample bottom end drive, the centre of effort placed relatively high yet well forward in the draft. Light and neutral in the hands at rest, as the gust hits and pressure increases, the Gator accelerates quickly and efficiently without feeling too sharp or forceful. The high, forward pull provides real versatility to the stance – happily adopting an upright cruising posture, or pinned down and charging on a board that can keep up. As the wind increases, the Gator can be retuned with more tension to open the leech further still without diminishing the profile entirely. With relatively little luff curve, the sail’s flexible forgiving nature helps to tackle rough sea states with ease, absorbing impact and offering constant useable drive without ever pulling the rider to their toes. The exact handling and high drive are also a notable plus in transition, making the Gator both effortless to handle and quick in rotation. In fact, the only thing we had to readjust to when testing the Gator against others in the group was to have a deft touch with our backhand, to stop ourselves over-sheeting during lulls, such is the neutral nature of its power delivery.
With feather-light handling and instinctive efficient power across a wide wind range, the Gator is a wonder sail that will suit a broad cross section of the market, from the aspiring intermediate freerider, to the coastal blaster looking for effortless performance. Recommended.
Other sails in this test: