The Fly is 2008 Wave World Champion, Kauli Seadi’s signature sail. The sail is designed to be 4 batten, compact, lightweight and durable. Last year we tested the 4.8m Fly and had some reservations about its all-round appeal. However, we heard great things about the smaller sizes, so had high hopes that with another year of refinement, the 2010 Fly range would be a very exciting prospect.
NeilPryde have 4 wave sails in their range: Alpha (most powerful), Combat (most durable), Zone (Cross Shore riding) and now The Fly. The Fly is designed to sit between the Alpha and Combat in terms of power and to be as lightweight as possible.
"Fast, light, soft feeling, compact and manoeuvrable - the Fly gives you liquid control on the water too for the brief moments you’re there, with fully loaded power for aggressive rail-riding turns and velocity down the line. Especially suited to multi fins boards. The Fly - it’ll take you to new places." – Kauli Seadi
off water description
Pryde claim to have made some important tweaks to this years range (particularly the bigger sizes). They have increased the size of the compact clew, increased body tension of the sail, introduced a 4 batten layout to all sizes (the bigger sizes used to be 5 batten) and made the sail ‘more conventional’ in feel.
Sporting Pryde’s new ‘minimalist look’ it's a great looking sail. Pryde have their own unique batten tensioning system (see pictures) that can be adjusted by hand. The foot protector is nicely padded and a decent size and the downhauling pulley block is very good.
The Fly sports the shortest luff length in test (jointly with the Combat) and one of the longer boom lengths.
As with last year, attention must be paid to the correct tuning of the Fly. Due to the soft nature of the sail, Pryde recommend a bit less downhaul than most other sails. We certainly found this to be true as too much downhaul made the sail feel very soft and ‘baggy’ and reduced the wind range considerably.
on water description
We were expecting quite a radical change from last years sail, but actually 2010 seems more of a subtle tweak than we expected, with many of the same characteristics from last year still very evident.
Our biggest problem last year (with the 4.8) was that the sail was so soft that it was flexing and distorting to the point that the battens would ‘S’ bend. The good news is that this trait seems to have been completely fixed this year.
However, you must be prepared that The Fly is still very soft in both feel and power delivery. This can be really nice for riding, but in cross-on, gusty conditions it's just not as settled as the Combat and consequently harder work.
There is no doubting that The Fly is extremely light in the hands (probably the lightest feeling sail in this test). In proper smooth down-the-line conditions, when it's not too windy, you can imagine this sail being an absolute dream thanks to the light weight, soft feel and slightly higher pull position which plants the board in the water a little more and really helps power through the turns.
When underpowered in a straight line, the sail pulls from well forward and slightly higher up than most (albeit with a bit more feel on the back hand than last year). This gives the sail a little more bottom end than last year. Once you get well powered up however (particularly on the bigger 4.8), it feels as though the power moves back and starts to pull somewhere above your back hand. Because the sail is so light and soft, it never gets completely unmanageable, but it does feel as though a bit more stability wouldn't go amiss.
The 4.2 is basically a toned down version of the 4.8. All the same characteristics apply, but to a lesser degree, making it slightly more ‘mainstream’ and easier to get on with.
Overall it's perhaps a little unfair to test The Fly for UK/Euro conditions when it seems the sails focus perhaps lies elsewhere. It's not to say that it doesn't work in Euro conditions. It’s certainly very light in the hands and rides well, and if these are your absolute priorities then definitely give it a try. But we cant help thinking that most riders would be better off with the Combat.
Last year we had some concerns about the 4.8 Fly and the way it performed. This year the sail has received some refinement and now definitely works in the way it should. It is very light in the hands and arguably one of the best sails in down-the-line conditions. Never-the-less, it is in our opinion still a niche product and we believe that most people will find better all-round appeal in the Combat.