First up, thank-you to everyone who chipped in to the recent boards.co.uk forum thread on testing. It’s great to get your feedback, and in light of your comments you’ll notice that the favoured bar charts to illustrate sail characteristics are back!
Your feedback was also strongly in favour of keeping the ‘brand discussions’ within the intro – so long as they remain informative and not marketing based. Essentially, I ask each brand involved in the test the same set of ‘topical’ questions. As space is at a premium, it’s impossible to include every response from every brand, so for each topic discussed I select a few of the most interesting answers. It’s a format that I think works pretty well, but if you have any comments or suggestions, feel free to post on the BOARDS forum.
As we highlighted in last month’s ‘power wave’ test, most brands now offer three distinct models of wave sail: power wave, all-round wave, and 4-batten. There’s little doubt that at present, allround wave sails remain the most popular choice, and that’s the focus of this test group. We asked each brand to supply us with 4.2 and 4.7 versions of their all-round wave sail together with the recommended mast, which allowed us to test the sails through a larger wind range than if we had only one size. It also allows us to check for any inconsistencies within the range. So let’s kick off the discussion by asking the brands the obvious question:
What design characteristics differentiate your all-round wave sail from the power wave that we tested last month?
POINT-7: Normally it has just a bit less power, but a good wind range overall. It’s a fun sail for all conditions. So, just a bit less profile and a more forgiving leech.
GAASTRA: Shorter and wider sail body. Boom length is only slightly shorter. Lower clew position, less luff curve, a Dacron luff panel, and a flatter profile.
SIMMER: Higher aspect ratio. Less power. Softer feeling.
NORTH: The Ice simply has less pre-shaping and a slightly shorter boom than the Duke. Less pre-shaping means better on/off. Together with the shorter boom length this also leads to better handling. So generally the sails are made to deliver a bit less power, but also to handle and manoeuvre more easily with shorter booms and a softer feel.
FOUR OR FIVE?
Since the recent rise in popularity of 4-batten wave sails, it’s quite interesting to see how the three distinct ranges now work together. These allround 5-batten sails are now sandwiched between power wave and 4-batten, resulting in a fair degree of overlap at times. We can see the sense in engineering a bit more power into the larger sizes of all-round wave sails, but perhaps more interesting are the smaller sizes. Hence our next question:
If five battens are enough for, say, a 6.0m all-round wave sail, does it really need five battens in the smaller sizes, or will we perhaps see them morphing into 4-batten designs for these sizes in the future?
What the brands say...
MAUISAILS: Generally, as conditions get windier they get gustier, so stability is an important characteristic in small sizes as well. We’ve made both and currently the 5-batten outline still shows better balance and handling, even in the smaller sizes. Having a soft, breathing rig is also very important in small sizes, and we accomplish this through unique seam shaping methods and soft luff curves. This way we keep the draft stability of a 5-batten with a softer feel than most 4-batten sails.
RRD: There will always be a place for five battens as they offer a little extra stability and control, which will always be popular.
HOT SAILS MAUI: We still offer the Fire as a 6-batten, and it remains popular. A lot has to do with the mast length used. Most people don’t want to buy yet another mast, and a 340 is needed for a lot of ‘new’ shorter sail styles that often have four battens.
SEVERNE: Battens serve many purposes. They can provide stability, and they also provide more shaping options. (A fifth batten increases the shaping possibilities by 25%.) For a high wind sail, stability can be quite nice, so yes, I’ll still make small 5-batten sails as a lot of people sail in less than ideal conditions and can benefit from the wider wind range.
SIMMER: We can definitely see a sail line changing into a 4-batten sail in smaller sizes.
GAASTRA: The Manic in 4.0m and smaller already has a 4-batten configuration. It’s possible that the switch to four battens will start from a bigger size in the future, but that needs to be tested. Depends which way our development is going.
NORTH: We don’t see the biggest difference in wave sails in the number of battens so much, but rather in the position of the draft.
There’s definitely a split in opinion here, but it certainly looks like some of the brands may swap to 4-batten designs in their smaller ‘all-round’ wave sails (if they haven’t already done so). Thanks to their power, pull position and compact profile, 4-batten sails are being pitched as the perfect partners to quad-fin waveboards. And as quad-fins currently top the sales charts, it does beg a question...
Are 5-batten ‘all-round’ sails actually a bit mismatched for the current trend in waveboards?
Adrian Jones: So, it seems that for various reasons, these 5-batten sails are well suited to quad-fins – particularly if you’re using a quad for anything other than down-the-line use. For dedicated down-the-line waveriding 4-batten sails are probably a better match, but most of us don’t sail in those conditions – or at least not all the time!
CLEWED UP? OR DOWN?
Over the past few years some brands have introduced two clew eyelet positions. Initially this was acknowledged purely as a way of catering for different boom heights, but more recently it’s been pitched (by some) as a tuning aid. Set high for more power and direct feel, low for more control and twist…
Where should you position the clew – high or low?
Adrian Jones: Again, there is a definite divide of opinion here. Goya and North are very much into the idea that you can tune sail characteristics with different clew heights, while the other brands opt for simplicity or suggest that the two eyelets just cater for different boom heights. From our experience in this test there was a definite change in performance with the Goya and North when using different clew eyelets. Personally, we preferred the upper eyelet. Although we liked the more swept-back boom angle of the lower eyelet, the upper eyelet gave a more stable and direct feel. With many brands not offering a clew height option, it was noticeable just how much range there was on boom angle / clew height throughout the sails. Back to the brands…
So what about boom angle and super-low clews?
Adrian Jones: It seems that, generally, the trend is towards lower clew positions (more raked back boom angle), which gives more twist, control and locks the board down a little more. However, there is obviously a limit to how far this can go and how much compromise there is in terms of straight line comfort and a direct feeling sail.
ON THE PULL!
The other massive difference between these sails is the pull position, or power point. It’s generally a bit further forward than on the power waves of last month’s test, but there’s still a big range between the sails within this group.
Where do you prefer the power point?
Adrian Jones: As with most things, there are compromises here. A sail with its power positioned forward will be lighter in the hands and more controllable at the top end, but less powerful and direct. A sail with its power positioned further back will have more power in the hands and a sharper response, but less control at the top end. Whether you prefer forward, back or somewhere around middle is a question of personal preference and sailing style, but perhaps most important is the comment Jason Diffin (Goya) makes when he says that the one thing you don’t want is a sail where the power moves back. Wherever the centre of effort is, it should stay put!
This test alone required 24 rigs (4.7 and 4.2m sizes) to be transported, rigged and stored. Luckily OTC Tenerife accommodated us nicely, not only housing our equipment during our stay there, but also taxiing us and our oversized baggage around whenever required. Many of the sails tested here are now in stock at their centre for you to try out, so give the guys a call! otc-windsurf.com
During our first week in Tenerife the wind was forecast to disappear for a few days, so a crazy plan was hatched to move our diva Clones and all the test equipment to Gran Canaria for five days. With transport this would have been fine, but we didn’t have any! So thanks to Ben at OTC and Klaas Voget for taking us to the north of Tenerife so we could drag the kit by foot onto a ferry – which I can tell you did not amuse the port authorities or ferry staff in the slightest!
With no clue how we were going to get from the ferry port to Pozo, or indeed where we were going to store all the equipment, someone suggested that I contact Jonas Carlson at Pozo Winds surf shop. You can imagine the phone call… “Hello, my name is Adrian. I’m arriving in Gran Canaria tomorrow with 40 sails, 20 boards, and a load of strange men in masks. Could you possibly pick us up, accommodate us and keep our equipment for five days?!?” Luckily, Jonas is an absolute legend. I can think of no other person who’d not only say ‘yes’ to a total stranger with such an outrageous request, but would also have so much enthusiasm and positivity about helping us out.
When we arrived at the port Jonas had a lorry waiting for all our gear, and a pretty Argentinean girl to chauffer us to Pozo in an air-conditioned car. He also organised an apartment right next to the beach, and gave us the keys to his shop storage for all our gear. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone more accommodating, enthusiastic and helpful as Jonas. If you’re considering a trip to Pozo you should definitely get in touch with him, as he can arrange the whole package of hire car, equipment and accommodation for you. Just check out pozowinds.com – thank-you Jonas,your help was massively appreciated!
Finally, I’d like to thank RRD for supplying boards to ensure that we could test the sails on matching platforms. They were kind enough to supply us with duplicate Wave Twin 82s, Quad Cult 75s and Hardcore 76s so we could test the sails with a range of different styles of board. robertoriccidesigns.com