WITCHCRAFT KARMA 5.6M 2019 TEST REVIEW
The Karma sits alongside the Slayer in Witchcraft’s sail lineup, designed as their 5-batten power wave sail for use in either onshore or bump and jump conditions. Exclusively using x-ply of varying weights through its panels, the Karma is said to have the largest wind range, using the brand’s semi-rotational design concept, combining pre-shape techniques with batten rotation. Rigged on one of the brand’s C90 Broomsticks, there’s a small amount of tuning available through the downhaul, the moderate luff curve bestowing plenty of skin tension in the sail’s luff panels, whilst the leech remains relatively tight. Material choice and layup are certainly well considered in the Karma, with overlapping panel reinforcements, overlapping batten pockets (integrating them into the panels) and double stitched seams throughout. There is a 5mil uni-directional Kevlar x-ply running up the leech and in the luff panel, oriented along the sail’s stress lines to stabilise its structure and ensure longevity, whilst withstanding the abuse of a typical coastal environment.
“The medium deep pre-shape in the sail gives both a lot of grunt in lighter winds, plus a more stable shape in higher winds. The pre-shape in combination with the higher aspect makes the sail very effective so you can rig 0.2 to 0.6 m² smaller.”
Rigged for marginal winds, the set of the Karma is something to behold, adopting a moderate to deep profile without a crease or blemish in its panels. Whilst there is slightly more luff curve present in the Karma than in some others in the test, there is plenty of play in its luff sleeve, which helps to accentuate the mast’s flex response and combines with the useable feedback already generated by the pre-shape to generate an impressive amount of bottom end power. Incredibly receptive to pumping, the pull in the sail comes from high and forward in the draft, the high skin tension providing the elastic response to make the sail feel crisp and punchy in the hands. Once going, it soon settles into a comfortable manoeuvre-oriented stance. It is naturally quite an efficient sail, cutting through the air and generating a good deal of speed without the rider necessarily intending to put the hammer down. More speed has the resultant effect that the Karma becomes increasingly light and balanced in the hands, the power smooth whilst the pre-shape retains the sail’s structure if eased out. As such, the power delivery is both stable and useable in an instant if required – an on-off nature, without feeling soggy or spongy … or suffering any time lag. In manoeuvres the Karma was a delight to use, offering the drive and energy to power confidently into transitions, before going light and easy to reposition midway through. In variable winds, the natural range of the sail is impressive, but if stability does decay, the sail can be re-tuned through more downhaul, outhaul and the use of the lower clew eyelet. Stability is then easily restored and the Karma keeps charging. Like the Slayer, the Karma is not cheap and it may not have the niceties and materialistic refinements afforded by the volumes produced by the larger brands. Yet there’s a ‘back to roots’ feel about the Witchcraft – a raw honesty through the designer’s obvious passion and love for the sport and their products. It’s even stated in the sail’s marketing blurb that it’s designed to withstand the rigours of the harshest environments, but if/when you get it wrong, the sail’s capacity to be repaired has also been carefully considered from the outset.
Offering efficiency and handling response over an impressive range, the Karma has a manoeuvre-oriented character yet marries natural efficiency with such smooth power that it will suit any number of rider weights and styles.
Other sails in this test: