“A pure wave sail produced in full grid monofilm. The Skull is a genuine hard core, heavy duty creation, and with the incorporated SDL it is made for radical sailing in all conditions and big breaks. Softer than the Shark, the Skull is built in special reinforced patterns. It also features PVC patch protections on the sleeve and the stress areas of the batten pockets. Born to be wild.”– xosails.com
On the Beach
The XO is a distinctive looking sail with its screen-printed graphics and luff tube. Visually, it has quite a tall and narrow profile, which is backed up by the measurements: second longest luff (416cm) and the shortest boom (158cm) in test.
It sets with a fairly flat profile and very little batten rotation at the mast. The Skull seems more of a one set sail, preferring moderate downhaul and just a tiny bit of positive outhaul. Insufficient outhaul and the power delivery is very on/off; too much outhaul and the sail becomes overly stiff in feel. Rig it right and keep it that way is our advice!
The Skull sets on a 400cm mast and looks to be well built. This construction is probably reflected somewhat in the weight of the sail (3.78kg), which makes it the second heaviest within this group. This static weight isn’t necessarily reflected in the feel on the water, however, where the sail does feel lighter in the hands than its weight would suggest.
Two clew eyelet positions are offered on the Skull, and we’d recommend using the bottom option. The sail has a very ‘stiff’ feel to it, and using the bottom eyelet helps to soften the feel up to some degree.
On the water
The first thing you notice about the XO when you compare it to the other sails in this group is that it has a much firmer, more rigid feel to it. It sets fairly flat, is very settled in hands, but definitely doesn’t feed back as much as the other sails here. At the top end of the wind range this is a good trait. The Skull is exceptionally stable and holds its shape through chop and gusts, where other softer sails would be pulling you around a bit and generally giving you a harder time. The Skull scores third best in this group for top end performance.
At the bottom of the wind range this quality isn’t so advantageous. The Skull loses power quickly, and its short boom length and high skin tension don’t aid early planing. For a sail that falls a little short in bottom end, the surprising factor is that it actually has a fair amount of pull and power once there is sufficient wind to get you going.
The reason for this is that the pull point is a bit higher than most, which gives the sail plenty of drive once on the plane. The power delivery is on the sharper side of things (second sharpest in the test), giving the Skull a more on/off and responsive power feel than most. This will definitely appeal to some styles of waveriding, and particularly cross-shore conditions, where you want to lose all the power from the sail.
For other styles of riding and in onshore conditions, some may find the stiff feel a little unforgiving as the sail loses power quickly, particularly though the top turn where it doesn’t flex and hold power like some of the softer sails.
The Skull is quite a unique and perhaps more traditional feeling sail within this group – it’s very tall, narrow, settled and firm in feel. While these factors definitely count against the bottom end performance, they do give the sail one of the best top end performances of the group. Power delivery is very on/off and responsive, which can be great for riding if that suits your style and the conditions.