NeilPryde Alpha 5.4

 

2009

NeilPryde Alpha 5.4

1

Power Delivery

Sail Stiffness

Sail Pull

Pull Position

Bottom End

Top End

Tuning Flexibility

Untuned Range

The Alpha is NeilPryde’s power wave sail and sits above the Fly, Zone and Combat in the range. NeilPryde are keen to emphasise that the Alpha is not just a heavyweights sail. With a strong focus on ‘controllable power’ it claims to be applicable for all weights of sailor in ‘less than ideal’ conditions.

manufacturer's claims

"A lot of people think that the Alpha is just another version of the Search. For sure it’s powerful, which I like better for my sailing, but it’s not a sail just for the big guys. It’s been designed to work for all different sizes of sailors - take the new guy on Team Pryde - Philip Koster. Philip’s using the Alpha - he chose it from all of the wave sails, and is loving it for all the same reasons I ride that sail: it’s got power, it’s manoeuvrable, and it’s fast for a wave sail." – Antoine Albeau FRA-192

off water description

Like the other NeilPryde wave sails that we have tested this year, the Alpha is a great looking sail with very good attention to detail.

The padded foot protector is a decent size and works well. The pulley block is of good quality, making down-hauling relatively easy and the batten tensioners are Prydes own unique system that allows adjustment by hand.

We have noticed that Pryde sails this year require comparatively little downhaul tension to set them. This is a factor that contributes to the softer feel of the Combat and The Fly, however the Alpha is the least extreme follower of this concept and sets with notably more skin tension than its fellow range members.

You know a good sail when you can set it badly for the conditions and it still feels good on the water and this is true of the Alpha. We certainly don’t recommend setting it badly, but the point is that this is very versatile sail when it comes to setting.

You can tune the sail to give the feel and characteristics that you prefer (plenty of downhaul and less outhaul for a softer, faster feel or less dowhaul and more outhaul for a gruntier, firmer feel). Regardless of how you set it, the Alpha feels completely comfortable and delivers great range without having to retune (untuned range).

The Alpha can be set on both X9 (standard diameter) and X Combat (reduced diameter) masts. We tested on the X9 for a more direct and powerful feel.

on water description

Its hard to find fault with the Alpha - it really is that good. At the bottom end, it has a lot of power (jointly the best bottom end in test). The power however is delivered in a very efficient way. Its not an arm wrenching backhand pull, instead its a very smooth, balanced pull that remains right between your hands. Even our heaviest Clones were impressed with the Alphas power in lighter winds.

The impressive thing with the Alpha however is not the bottom end power, but instead, the top end control. There are only three sails in this test that don’t get backhanded when overpowered and the Alpha is one of them. The power stays very neutral and the sail continues to feel very light end efficient. 

Some of the sails here really distort as the wind increases and become a bit of a battle. The Alpha somehow manages to stay stable, light in the hands and simply delivers a whole lot of speed into the board.

There wasn't a Clone who disliked the Alpha and many had it as their favourite sail. If there is to be a criticism it would be that it felt one of the biggest sails (it does have the second biggest boom), but it gets away with this by being so light in the hands. Never-the-less, its so efficient that it felt like you could be on a 5.0m Alpha when you were still wishing for more power on some of the other 5.3m sails in this test.

overall impression

The Alpha sets a benchmark in the ‘power wave’ category. Its not only powerful, but also light in the hands, very balanced and with great top end performance to match.