RS: Racing EVOII and RS:SLALOM MK III
RS: Racing - The Worlds most expensive sail range and also the most competitive. Robby Swift was very much involved in the development of the race sails in Maui with Pieter Bijl. So we thought we would ask him some probing questions!
What difference is the new clew shape making?
Robby: Firstly, we have more area down low in the sail which means that the sails are shorter and feel much more compact. The added surface area behind the boom helps to keep the front part of the profile forward when you get a strong gust, so rather than blowing the sail out of shape and making you out of control, the gusts just let you accelerate while the sail keeps working as it should. Also, when you are pumping out of gybes, the leach twists much better, allowing the sail to breathe and generate power very quickly.
How much difference is there between the RS Racing and the RS Slalom sails?
Robby: The RS Slalom is a little lighter as it has one less batten and cam. It also has a narrower luff sleeve and so is ideal for people who are wary of moving to the full on race sails with the huge luff sleeves.
On the water, the RS Slalom isn't that far off the pace of the RS Racing. The RS Racing definitely produces a little more lift and you generally have an advantage over the RS Slalom when sailing a tight reach or going upwind, but on the downwind course the RS Slalom is extremely close to the RS Racing. For smaller, lighter people the slight weight advantage of the RS Slalom will give an advantage over the course of the race as it is obviously slightly easier to gybe and handle.
Having tested them both with Pieter during the development and then done the photoshoot with Micah (Buzianis) and Antoine (Albeau) (with me and Pieter on the RS Slaloms) I have to say that anyone would be extremely happy with either of the sails and it is really just a matter of personal preference. If you are really going for it in the events, then the RS Racing does have a slight advantage, especially over a tight course, but the RS Slalom can certainly hold its own.
What's your favourite size and why?
Robby: That is a hard question as I love all the sizes I have tried. Last year, there were some sails that I preferred over others and I sometimes ended up choosing the sails that I liked in the contests over the sizes that might have been better suited for the conditions. I loved the 6.2 last year, and this year's 6.2 walks all over it so I think it is going to be a hard size to beat.
The 7.0 is a size we didn't have last year though and I think that it will be a big winner as it is much better than the 6.7 and 7.2 from last year, both of which were fantastic sails. With those two sails, you can cover a huge range of wind strengths and I think that a lot of this season's racing will take place on those sizes.
Now PWA Slalom has changed from '42' to '63', what sizes will you be choosing for this year's racing season?
Robby: I think this is a great rule. Now we won’t get caught out at events by a sudden change in the forecast as we will have a sail for all conditions at every event. I think that every brand has updated their sizes and I think they all make sense, both for pro racing and for amateurs who want to buy as few sails as possible and get the most use out of them as possible in all wind strengths.
I will be registering 5.1, 5.5, 6.2, 7.0, 7.8 and 8.6. I think that at most events I will get away with using just the four biggest sizes but I will still have a much bigger size range than I had at any event last year with four sails.
Pryde consistently seem to make race winning sails. Why do you think this is when other brands are less consistent with their designs?
Robby: I think that the same thing goes for the development of the sails as for the training of the sailors. Whoever does the most work normally ends up winning. We are very fortunate at NeilPryde to have the design centre on Maui, where there are almost always a few team riders available at any time to help with the development. This means that the process is able to continue almost year-round, and is never just rushed through at the last minute.
The development is done by the top riders on the team, where a mixture of light and heavy sailors allows us to develop a sail that works for everyone. Every sail needs to be easy enough for the light-weights, while powerful enough for the heavier sailor. This is a benefit in both ways as the light guys get the power that the heavy sailors need and the heavy guys benefit from the ease of use required for the lighter guys to be able to keep the sail under control.
As I said before, this is achieved by the unique set up NeilPryde has with the NeilPryde Design Center in Maui. We are able to test, give feedback to the designer (Robert Stroj) and get a new sail built ready for testing the very next day with any changes we think necessary. This way we can keep up the continuity and make a step forward every day as we don't need to wait for a new shipment to arrive before we test the updated sail. We build the sails right where we test them, making it very easy to make progress on a daily basis.
Thanks to Robby for help in this article. Find out more about him here: