TUSHINGHAM BOLT 6.5M 2016 TEST REVIEW
The Bolt is the backbone of the 2016 Tushingham range and in this 6.5m size is classed as their classic bump-and-jump all-round freeride contender. Tested last year in this size, we summed the sail up by stating it offers, “bags of bottom end grunt to make the most of marginal conditions,” yet felt it sensitive to outhaul tension, requiring time tuning to get the most from it. We shall see how it compares this year against the latest crop of sails… Developed for use on an SDM it is nevertheless compatible on an RDM and is the tallest sail in the group, with a single clew eyelet and average boom length. Setting with a relatively moderate profile at neutral whilst retaining rotation in the bottom two battens throughout its tuning range, the Bolt can be downhauled to loosen the leech progressively along its length.
“As the sail gets bigger 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. Available in sizes 5.5m up to 6.5m it’s already a firm favourite at Windsurf Guru’s Peter Hart and Simon Bornhoft’s early season technique clinics! Sharing the full laminate construction of its 4 batten siblings it boasts all the durability benefits of the smaller sails. The classic bump and jump all-round freeride sail that can still be used in waves on those lighter wind days. Smooth power delivery and maintaining the lightweight manoeuvrable feel.”
On the water, the Bolt’s true niche is for making the most of light to comfortably powered conditions, where it generates plenty of useable bottom end power for pushing the board easily onto the plane. Balanced and positive in the hands, its profile fills to a deeper shape when the wind arrives, the Dacron luff panel ensuring the power delivery is progressive and manageable. The sail’s centre of effort is quite high and focussed around the rider, bestowing this constant feedback through the hands. Stand upright over the board, and the sail will become more neutral as it is sheeted out, enabling the rider to cruise at half speed if desired, or useful for progressing in manoeuvres, making the repositioning and repowering on the new tack more practical. As the wind increases, the Bolt can be retuned with more tension, opening the leech up more and reducing the profile’s depth. It is not a sail for top-end blasting and try as we might to lock the centre of effort in place through retuning, its high and back starting position gives it too much of a head start for us to counter. Instead the Bolt is best suited for the progressing rider in comfortable freeride cruising mode or freemove manoeuvring, where its useable feedback and strong durability are most beneficial.
The Bolt offers obvious bottom end drive, positive feedback in the hands and a strong durable build quality, making it a practical tutor for the progressing rider.
Other sails in this test: