TUSHINGHAM BOLT 7.8M TEST REVIEW
The three largest sizes within the vast Bolt line-up are classed as twin-cam freerace sails, this 7.8m being the only one with six battens instead of seven. Housing two roller cams within its narrow luff-sleeve, the 7.8m remains unaltered from last year, tested in the multi-cam review that was published in the July ‘15 issue. Rigged here on a Carbon 100 SDM mast, it sets with one of the greatest luff curves in the group, the roller pulley now incorporated into the tack as standard helping to apply the tension. Its profile is locked well forward in the draft and varies in depth according to set, from moderate shaping to relatively shallow on maximum, the top two panels becoming very loose whilst the mid-leech remains relatively tight.
“The Bolt’s largest three sizes feature two roller cams, to lock in the camber for maximum low end power combined with high end stability. This will equate to faster speeds whilst still remaining light in the hands for a sail of this size. They are amazingly forgiving in choppy or gusty conditions and boast a huge tuning range, which offers an accessible route into slalom or simply fun, efficient, high performance freeride sailing. With this twin cam configuration, more so than any of the Bolt sizes, the rigging instructions in the window panel truly aid easy rigging as it quickly details the process so that accidental breaking of battens is avoided.”
On its minimum setting the Bolt is balanced and sturdy in the hands, providing constant useable feedback from the off. There is some movement in the Dacron luff panel, which helps to counter the significant luff curve and provide breathability as you pump the sail – a unique trait amongst the other cammed sails here. As such, the power delivery is solid and dependable yet has a softer quality, which makes the Bolt more forgiving than most. It can be used to great effect in marginal winds, punching stubborn hulls clear of the water with its willingness to respond to even the most unrefined pumping technique. Accelerating smoothly, it settles into a comfortable upright stance, the sail’s centre of effort place well forwards in the draft, yet relatively high. Ideally partnered with a freeride/freemove platform, it glides through lulls excellently, providing the drive and dependable feedback to get through even the most prolonged hole. As the wind increases, the Bolt can be re-tuned with more tension, opening the top two panels and reducing the draft depth slightly. It feels firmer in the hands, yet still retains some softness to help absorb the impact as the board races over choppy sea states. In transition, the Bolt’s cams rotate easily into their new position, the power steadily building in the sail once more as it is sheeted in, giving the pilot time to adjust their stance.
The Bolt 7.8m offers solid dependable power over an excellent wind range. With a softer more forgiving delivery, it is particularly suited for those investing in their first cammed sail.
Other sails in this test: