The North Sails Ice is now into it's 4th incarnation and has built up quite a following in the process. It sits in the North range as the all-round World Cup wave sail, next to the Duke (Power Wave/Freestyle) and Ego (concept wave).
"A World Cup Wave sail must have the potential to get the maximum out of every situation, because only victory counts. This is why the new ICE works even under the most different conditions, developing maximum performance even under critical circumstances" – North Website
The North Ice looks a quality product with great attention given to the detailing of the sail.
We love the North visual trim system, probably the easiest of all the trim guides. The sail also has a harness line position indicator marked on the sail, which is a nice touch and helps get the lines in roughly the right position before leaving the beach.
Sleeving the mast is very easy thanks to the (prong-less) fixed head, plastic badge above the boom cut out (to keep the sleeve open) and pulling handle at the foot of the sail. We tested the sail on North’s Platinum (top of the range) standard diameter mast.
Luff length is middle of the group, whilst boom length is second longest in test (with Ego having the longest). With previous North Ice sails, we have found ourselves setting nearer to the ‘maximum’ trim guide on downhaul, but this year (due a lot to the softness of the sail) we were finding near to ‘minimum’ was working best for most occasions.
The Ice is very light in the hands and the most forward pulling sail in the group. As a consequence, it feels very throw-about and has an excellent top end, making it one of the best sails for powered-up and over-powered conditions.
The Ice’s forte however is down the line conditions where the light feel and forward pull make the rig very neutral and really allow the rider to simply get on with surfing the wave. Backside/onshore riding is also great on the Ice where the same characteristics make the sail very controllable and manageable.
On the down side, the Ice doesn’t deliver a lot of bottom end power and is the first sail in this group to suffer when a lull hits. It’s very light on the backhand so must be treated with a ‘sensitive touch’ to avoid oversheeting in gustier/lighter conditions. The soft feel and forward pull also don’t give the rider a lot to work with when trying to get back onto the plane.
If you are willing to sacrifice this bottom end power, you will be well rewarded by the refined, smooth and light handling of the Ice in powered up conditions. It's definitely one of the most comfortable sails in this group once underway.
Within this group, the Ice is most closely matched to the Gaastra Manic. In feel, the Ice is a little more flexible, a little lighter in the hands and pulls from slightly further forward than the Manic, at the expense of some bottom end power.
The Ice sacrifices bottom end power for one of the most refined performances in this group. If you like your sails light in the hands, forward pulling and with razor sharp power delivery, they don’t come any better than the Ice.