SEVERNE OVERDRIVE R7 7.8M 2016 TEST REVIEW
The R7 OverDrive is a very different sail to its R6 predecessor, with a new high aspect outline, said to reduce backhand pressure and improve waterstarting ease. Indeed, it has one of the longest luff lengths in this test, combined with easily the shortest boom length at just 200cm. Retaining the brand’s ‘Reflex’ batten system in its lower leech, the new design incorporates a ‘PowerChord’ inside its large scrim luff sleeve, helping to improve the twist function of their unique batten system, whilst supporting the sail’s new geometry. Easy to downhaul thanks to the 4-roller tack pulley, the R7 has easily the least luff curve in the group, the sail setting with a deep profile low down and plenty of looseness along its leech, right down to batten 5 with its ‘Reflex’ system. Rigged on a Severne SDM90 mast, the OverDrive on test here did require some tinkering with spacers to stop the two top cams falling off the mast mid-transition. Spacers are supplied as standard and the procedure is straight forward, the metallic interfaces between batten pocket and cam feeling reassuringly sturdy.
“The OverDrive focuses on reaching speed with increased twist and less backhand pressure. A lighter weight means improved handling characteristics. The OverDrive can be run on either RDM masts or SDM masts. Monofilm construction mimics the exact sail prototypes that were tested by our racers to maximise performance and minimise weight.”
The first sensation you appreciate of the OverDrive when on the water is just how light and easy it is in the hands. With its short boom length (significantly shorter than any other sail on test), and largely monofilm panels, it has such balance and poise in the hands, waiting for the wind to fill. And despite the short boom, it generates plenty of bottom end grunt, the power soft and manageable, whilst the pull comes from well forward in the draft. It is also very pumpable, its reduced luff curve providing some elastic flexibility to the foil and resulting in a smoother more forgiving delivery. It is right at the other end of the spectrum to the R6 OverDrive we tested last year with its high skin tension and rigid wing-like structure. As the wind increases and pressure builds, the R7 loses none of its composure, the leech opening beautifully without a hint of flutter. Its light monofilm construction right to its trailing edge did draw a few comments regarding fragility. But whilst it is impossible to judge longevity over the period we test for, suffice to say if you are considering a sail of this style, your sailing ability should be such that you know how to look after a sail of this build. The benefits of its light handling can be felt throughout its wide wind range and certainly in transition, the cams rotating smoothly to provide the easy low-down power upon exit. It is a wonder to use and represents a real innovation in this sail category.
Soft smooth manageable power, combined with supremely light handling makes the performance come easy with the OverDrive R7, and at a good price too.
Other sails in this test: