“The S-1 is light, manoeuvrable and technical, redefining progressive performance and instant response. With a flatter profile, tighter skin tension and manoeuvre biased geometry, the S-1 responds at light speed. This allows for precision placement of the rig in any wave or freestyle manoeuvre. To promote weight loss, the S-1 is stripped back maintaining only the essential technology and materials creating the lightest Severne sail.”
Severne have three main wave sails: the Blade, the Swat and the S1. The S1 is their more specialist wave sail, and the signature sail of main man Ben Severne. It’s designed in their lightest, most high-tech materials and offers a flatter profile with higher skin tension for more precise and reactive handling.
on the beach
Let’s start by talking about its weight: 2.82kg. Yes, that’s right – 2.82kg! That’s 0.6kg (nearly 25%) lighter than any other sail in this test! It’s an incredible weight for a windsurfing sail, and perhaps most impressive is that it doesn’t look or feel like a flimsy sail. Severne assure us that the weight has been saved through use of high-tech materials, not cost saving and corner cutting, and looking at the sail gives us no reason to doubt them. The luff and boom length are both at the shorter end of this test group, making the S1 quite a compact sail.
It’s an eye-catching sail on the water in its bold, bright orange colour scheme. The foot is cut very high and the clew eyelets are also positioned a little higher than most.
The S1 is designed to help the board lift, rather than pin it to the water like the Blade. Which style you prefer is a question of preference, but you can quickly see how the S1 achieves this lift. It has a fairly flat profile, a relatively tight leech (although slightly looser for 2012), and even the angle of the boom (higher at the back end than most) helps generate lift. We found the S1 work best with pretty much one optimum setting, rather than retuning for different conditions. In fact the S1 isn’t really designed to provide a massive wind range. It’s designed to provide maximum performance within a more specific wind band. If massive wind range is your thing, you’ll probably get more range from the Blade. The S1 seemed to set best with a moderate amount of downhaul (the leech looked a tiny bit looser than last year’s model) and a centimetre or two of outhaul to stabilise the sail.
Sizes: 3.7, 4.0, 4.3, 4.5, 4.7, 5.0, 5.3, 5.6, 5.9, 6.3
Tested on: Severne Redline RD M 400cm 100%
Size tested: 4.7m
on the water
I’m sure you’re anticipating this, but … the first thing you notice about the S1 is how light it feels in your hands and how sharp and responsive the power delivery is. It really is in a league of its own when it comes to weight. It’s also a real on/off type of sail when it comes to power – by far the sharpest power delivery of the group.
In fact, it’s a unique sail. It’s quite flat and firm in the hands and delivers its power fairly neutrally, but with a hint of back hand pressure. It feels a very compact sail and is extremely manoeuvrable. The S1 is the sail of choice of Severne team riders Jaeger Stone and Dany Bruch, and you can see why they’ve become so fond of it. For what it does, nothing else on the market comes close. At the bottom end there’s plenty of grunt and power (as well as light weight and responsiveness), so the S1 scores jointly the best in this test group for bottom end power and early planing.
At the top end the S1 can get pushed out of its comfort zone before some of the softer, more forward pulling sails. That sharpness of power delivery, tendency to lift and hint of back hand pressure all take their toll when sailing overpowered, but the spring in the sail and the incredible lightweight handling do help to maintain manageability. It’s clear, however, that the S1 is not designed to be hung onto beyond its wind range; instead you need to opt for a smaller sail when it gets too much.
Overall, the S1 is in a league of its own when it comes to lightweight handling, manoeuvrability and sharp response. It really does feel like an incredible feat of design and engineering to have produced a sail that can handle in this way. It’s not a sail for everyone though. That razor-sharp handling and tight, lifting and slightly back-handed pressure are a Marmite quality which divided opinion within our test team. If that’s your bag, then look no further, because nothing else comes close. If it’s not, then you may want to check out the Blade, which has bigger wind range, a more forward positioned pull point and a softer, more forgiving power delivery.