SIMMER VMAX 7.2M 2019 TEST REVIEW
The VMax retains its place in the Simmer lineup for 2019 as their “cam-free freerace” offering. Benefitting from lessons learned in their race program, the VMax adopts their vertical shaping methods, aimed at instilling a more dynamic and even skin tension throughout the sail, for improved balance and efficiency. The Simmer narrative talks of an “enhanced shaping profile drawing more energy from the mast, which results in exponentially increased power delivery.” It was rigged for test on an SX10 430 RDM, albeit the Simmer website states that the SX8 or even SX6 are more than ample for the VMax. Easy to downhaul and set, the two battens either side of the boom cutout retain some rotation around the mast at rest, the leech falling away significantly in the upper panels whilst the mid-leech remains relatively tight. There is also a good amount of shape low down in the draft from the off, fixed in place even more securely by tensioning the tack strap. Available in either orange-blue or yellow-blue colour schemes, the luff, foot and clew panels are all x-ply scrim, making a perimeter around the monofilm used in the main panels. There are then the familiar Kevlar stretch control tendons that radiate from the clew – a well-established and treasured feature to safeguard the sail’s stability. With beading along the length of the boom-crossing batten and zero-stretch x-ply incorporated into the pockets of the battens above, the VMax is well considered, with plenty of detailing showing both quality and thought.
“The VMax appeals to the freerace sailors of all levels who want to maximize the enjoyment of planing with minimal effort involved.”
Whilst rigged on a 430 RDM, there was not a hint that the mast’s inherent softness left the VMax at any disadvantage compared to its peers in light marginal winds. In fact, in light airs the VMax was one of the standout sails in the group, its long boom length providing the leverage for generating plenty of useable feedback. The movement in the luff sleeve and softness in the mast also meant the VMax responded well to good pumping technique, settling quickly into an easy locked in stance. The centre of effort is low yet back, focussed around the rider and feeling balanced in both hands. In comfortably powered winds, it has an innately fast cruising speed, with performance delivered naturally and requiring little input from the rider. Partnered with a fast freeride or freerace board, you don’t really appreciate how fast you’re going until you compare speed with your peers, such is the dynamic efficiency of the VMax. As the wind increases, the sail can be adjusted with more tension to keep its manners and profile settled. Its compact low-aspect outline certainly helps to keep everything pinned down, and off the wind the VMax’s dependable locked in stance offers the encouragement to charge, although it doesn’t quite have the extra gear or loose acceleration of some others in the group. In transition the long boom is also noticeable, the sail taking a little longer to rotate to the new tack. That said, the battens reposition smoothly and the low pull position provides the rider with the time and ease to power up when ready. An all-rounder that can happily partner a widestyle freeride to slalom board and everything between, it offers masses of practicality and appeal.
With plenty of bottom end grunt and natural speed, the VMax is a real all-rounder, blessed with the added practical bonus of providing its performance and range on their 430 RDM mast.
Other sails in this test: