TUSHINGHAM BOLT 6.5M 2015 TEST REVIEW
The Bolt is Tushingham’s latest addition to their range, replacing no less than four predecessors – the Edge, Storm, Thunderbird and Lightning. The concept is for the sail to evolve through its thirteen sizes to cater for the need of every recreational sailor, from a high wind bump and jump sail that can mix it in the waves, to a twin cam with all the bottom end power one would require. The 6.5m is the largest size of Bolt before a sixth batten is added, and features the brand’s load dispersion system and PXB05 scrim in much of its upper panels.
“We introduce an extra batten to lock in the stable smooth power and to make sure the additional load doesn’t cause the leech to break away. The classic bump and jump all-round freeride sail… Smooth power delivery and maintaining the lightweight manoeuvrable feel.”
Whilst compatible with both RDM and SDM masts, the Bolt 6.5m was developed with an SDM so that is what is recommended by the brand and is being used here. Easy to downhaul thanks to the integrated tack roller pulley and sets with a moderate profile, retaining rotation in the bottom two battens. On its minimum setting there is only slight looseness in the leech and some play in the luff tube, allowing it to breathe and rise into a fuller draft as the wind fills. Feeling grunty through the hands, it provides plenty of low-end power and can be used to pump effectively, punching the most stubborn hull onto the plane. It is certainly one of the best here for generating power in marginal winds, the centre of effort quite far back in the draft so that the feedback is useable through the backhand.In this setting, the sail does have an elastic limit, requiring a quick retune with more downhaul tension as the wind increases. This serves to settle the stability well and makes the Bolt’s power delivery much softer in the hands, exhausting excess power through the leech. It is noticeably sensitive to outhaul tuning so worth spending some time playing with its settings. Exhibiting a good tuning range set on the SDM mast, the Bolt is also easy and forgiving in transition, the battens returning to a flatter, more neutral profile as the sail is eased out, making the rotation smooth and repowering progressively.
The Bolt represents good value for money, offering bags of bottom end grunt to make the most of marginal conditions. Sensitive to outhaul tension, its style of feedback can be altered significantly, so it’s well worth tinkering with its settings to making the most of its tuning range.
Other sails in this test: