First up, thank-you to everyone who
chipped in to the recent boards.co.uk
forum thread on testing. It’s great to get
your feedback, and in light of your comments
you’ll notice that the favoured bar charts to
illustrate sail characteristics are back!
Your feedback was also strongly in favour
of keeping the ‘brand discussions’ within the
intro – so long as they remain informative
and not marketing based. Essentially, I ask
each brand involved in the test the same set of
‘topical’ questions. As space is at a premium, it’s
impossible to include every response from every
brand, so for each topic discussed I select a few
of the most interesting answers. It’s a format that
I think works pretty well, but if you have any
comments or suggestions, feel free to post on the
GOYA: Jason Diffin (Designer)
RRD: John Skye (Team Rider)
NORTH:Raoul Joa (International Brand Manager)
GAASTRA:Daniel Richter (International Brand Manager)
SIMMER:Tomas Persson (Designer)
POINT-7:Adam Lewis (Head of Wave R&D)
SEVERNE:Ben Severne (Designer)
MAUI SAILS:Rick Whidden (International Brand Manager)
NEILPRYDE:Robert Stroj (Designer)
HOT SAILS MAUI:Jeff Henderson
(Owner / Designer)
As we highlighted in last month’s ‘power wave’
test, most brands now offer three distinct models
of wave sail: power wave, all-round wave, and
4-batten. There’s little doubt that at present, allround
wave sails remain the most popular choice,
and that’s the focus of this test group.
We asked each brand to supply us with 4.2 and
4.7 versions of their all-round wave sail together
with the recommended mast, which allowed us to
test the sails through a larger wind range than if we
had only one size. It also allows us to check for any
inconsistencies within the range.
So let’s kick off the discussion by asking the
brands the obvious question:
What design characteristics differentiate your all-round wave sail from the power wave that we tested last month?
POINT-7: Normally it has just a bit less power,
but a good wind range overall. It’s a fun sail for
all conditions. So, just a bit less profile and a more
GAASTRA: Shorter and wider sail body. Boom
length is only slightly shorter. Lower clew
position, less luff curve, a Dacron luff panel,
and a flatter profile.
SIMMER: Higher aspect ratio. Less power.
NORTH: The Ice simply has less pre-shaping
and a slightly shorter boom than the Duke. Less
pre-shaping means better on/off. Together with
the shorter boom length this also leads to better
handling. So generally the sails are made to deliver
a bit less power, but also to handle and manoeuvre
more easily with shorter booms and a softer feel.
Four or Five ?
Since the recent rise in popularity of 4-batten wave
sails, it’s quite interesting to see how the three
distinct ranges now work together. These allround
5-batten sails are now sandwiched between
power wave and 4-batten, resulting in a fair
degree of overlap at times. We can see the sense in
engineering a bit more power into the larger sizes of
all-round wave sails, but perhaps more interesting
are the smaller sizes. Hence our next question:
If five battens are enough for, say, a 6.0m all-round
wave sail, does it really need five battens in the
smaller sizes, or will we perhaps see them morphing
into 4-batten designs for these sizes in the future?
MAUISAILS: Generally, as conditions get windier
they get gustier, so stability is an important
characteristic in small sizes as well. We’ve made
both and currently the 5-batten outline still shows
better balance and handling, even in the smaller
sizes. Having a soft, breathing rig is also very
important in small sizes, and we accomplish this
through unique seam shaping methods and soft luff
curves. This way we keep the draft stability of a
5-batten with a softer feel than most 4-batten sails.
RRD: There will always be a place for five battens
as they offer a little extra stability and control,
which will always be popular.
HOT SAILS MAUI: We still offer the Fire as a
6-batten, and it remains popular. A lot has to do with
the mast length used. Most people don’t want to buy
yet another mast, and a 340 is needed for a lot of
‘new’ shorter sail styles that often have four battens.
SEVERNE: Battens serve many purposes. They
can provide stability, and they also provide more
shaping options. (A fifth batten increases the
shaping possibilities by 25%.) For a high wind sail,
stability can be quite nice, so yes, I’ll still make
small 5-batten sails as a lot of people sail in less
than ideal conditions and can benefit from the
wider wind range.
SIMMER: We can definitely see a sail line
changing into a 4-batten sail in smaller sizes.
GAASTRA: The Manic in 4.0m and smaller already has a 4-batten configuration. It’s possible
that the switch to four battens will start from a
bigger size in the future, but that needs to be tested.
Depends which way our development is going.
NORTH: We don’t see the biggest difference in
wave sails in the number of battens so much, but
rather in the position of the draft.
Multi -fin Friendly?
There’s definitely a split in opinion here, but it
certainly looks like some of the brands may swap
to 4-batten designs in their smaller ‘all-round’
wave sails (if they haven’t already done so).
Thanks to their power, pull position and compact
profile, 4-batten sails are being pitched as the
perfect partners to quad-fin waveboards. And as
quad-fins currently top the sales charts, it does
beg a question...
Are 5-batten ‘all-round’ sails actually
a bit mismatched for the current trend
POINT-7: It’s more about the whole design of the
sail. You could make a 4-batten sail to suit a singlefin!
All our sail lines are now made to match multifin
boards as well, whether it’s a 4-batten or 5-batten.
Where you place the profile and how the leech reacts
makes it more or less suitable for a quad, rather than
four or five battens. However, naturally a 4-batten
sail would suit a multi-fin setup.
GOYA: The 5-batten Guru is well suited to quads.
It’s a quick, manoeuvre-oriented, comfortable,
controllable sail, and feels great on the smooth
and directional, loose ride of a quad-fin. A sailor
looking for more low end lift, and who is also really
driving his quad hard – turn after turn, fly back
upwind – that sailor is a great candidate for the
4-batten Banzai. The Banzai is a lift generator that
loves to manoeuvre.
GAASTRA: Sure, they’re suitable for quads.
Generally we can say that 4-batten sails are more
suited for surfing the wave and using the board
more in riding, while these 5-batten sails give more
speed and are more all-round in performance. It’s a
matter of personal style.
NEILPRYDE: The current trend is that most
cross-shore boards are quad, so all-round wave sails
work perfectly on them. They will, of course, feel
a bit heavier than a 4-batten sail, but this isn’t a
reason for not using them on a quad. In fact, I find
quads feel between a single-fin and twinser; they
actually spin out much less in a straight line and
can take more foot pressure when sailing upwind
than twinsers. For most of our testing we use quads
and thrusters in cross-shore conditions.
NORTH: Again it’s not so much the number of
battens but mostly the sail’s draft position, which
has to match with your board. In general you can
say a draft forward sail works best on single-fin
boards, whereas a ‘draft-even’ (i.e. pull on both
hands) sail works best on multi-fin boards.
Adrian Jones: So, it seems that for various
reasons, these 5-batten sails are well suited to
quad-fins – particularly if you’re using a quad
for anything other than down-the-line use. For
dedicated down-the-line waveriding 4-batten
sails are probably a better match, but most of
us don’t sail in those conditions – or at least
not all the time!
CLEWED UP? OR DOWN?
Over the past few years some brands have
introduced two clew eyelet positions. Initially this
was acknowledged purely as a way of catering for
different boom heights, but more recently it’s been
pitched (by some) as a tuning aid. Set high for
more power and direct feel, low for more control
Where should you position the clew –
high or low?
MAUISAILS: Our sails have a very progressive
and highly refined twist that goes all the way from
the clew position up to the head. We’ve located
the clew in the optimum position to relate to this
progressive twist. There is already a wide range of
tuning available in the Legends through downhaul
and outhaul, and introducing another variable into
the mix would not be beneficial.
SEVERNE: On the S-1 the upper clew position is
the original one, and the high clew was a key part
of the manoeuvre-oriented geometry: it reduces
the downforce on the board, making it easier to
initiate manoeuvres. The lower position was added
specifically for shorter riders (lots of kids like the
S-1 for its light weight and freestyle performance)
or for sailors used to a lower clew. Most people
should use the upper clew position.
GOYA: In all our wave models the upper / lower
attachment points are directly tied to unidirectional
carbon fibre tendons that cross the sail body to the
front of the upper battens. If you tie to the upper
clew, you tie directly into that upper carbon tendon
that runs to the uppermost batten to create a taller
power zone in the sail – increasing overall lift. If
you tie to the lower clew ring, you tie into the lower
carbon tendon, and you engage the sail lower. The
lower leech opens more, you bring the power zone
lower, shorten the boom, and also soften the leech
edge, all of which make the sail feel softer and
lower pulling overall. If you attach in the middle,
you get both carbon tendons and a blend of the two
performances. That’s the one I like best. You can
also choose according to your height, but it’s no
rule that if you’re taller you have to use the upper
attachment point. I have plenty of tall riders that
like a steeper boom angle overall, and vice-versa.
SIMMER: Your preferred boom position will
affect your preferred clew position, so having two
options is good in theory. The problem is to get
tension on the lower leech on 4-batten and 5-batten
sails when using the lower clew.
NEILPRYDE: We had two clew positions for
years, but all the riders kept using the lower one, so
the upper position was ditched. We like using the
low clew as we find it improves the twist of the sail.
NORTH: Our two eyelets aren’t meant to be for
different rider heights but give the option to finetune
to the conditions and/or personal preferences.
The inner eyelet makes for a 2cm shorter boom
for better handling, increased twist and increased
control in overpowered conditions. The outer eyelet
makes for a 2cm longer boom for reduced twist,
increased power in low end conditions and a more
direct feeling sail.
Adrian Jones: Again, there is a definite divide of
opinion here. Goya and North are very much into
the idea that you can tune sail characteristics with
different clew heights, while the other brands opt for
simplicity or suggest that the two eyelets just cater
for different boom heights. From our experience in
this test there was a definite change in performance
with the Goya and North when using different clew
eyelets. Personally, we preferred the upper eyelet.
Although we liked the more swept-back boom angle
of the lower eyelet, the upper eyelet gave a more
stable and direct feel. With many brands not offering
a clew height option, it was noticeable just how
much range there was on boom angle / clew height
throughout the sails. Back to the brands…
So what about boom angle and super-low clews?
POINT-7: Having tried sails with a few different
clew positions we decided to use a straight boom
angle with two different options. Having a lower
down position gave the sail too much of a lockedin
feel, and too high it began to feel like it was
pulling the rider onto their toes too much – great in
manoeuvres but uncomfortable in a straight line.
However, I would say different settings are quite
a personal feeling and you can get used to most
angles. We found the middle with two different
options was a good compromise to suit all riders.
HOT SAILS MAUI: Low clews allow later hits
of the lip and utilise a ‘tilting’ move to remove the
whole sail away from the lip (tilting the tip of the
mast away from the wave). Really it’s a style issue.
These sails tend to feel a little more ‘nervous’ than a
conventional clew height sail.
SEVERNE: Even the lower clew position on the
S-1 is still higher than some of those low-clew sails.
If you’re using a big sail in lots of wind (which a
lot of the pro guys that use those low clew sails do)
then there’s increased control with the lower clew
due to the increased downforce on the board. But
the sacrifice is manoeuvrability, early planing, and
quite an uncomfortable sailing stance.
SIMMER: This is good for new-school style but
it makes the leech very long and less controllable.
There is of course a point where the clew will be
too low or too high. This is an individual point
of reference, but I’m pretty sure that we’re seeing
some sails now where the clew position is getting
close to being too low.
NEILPRYDE: We find low clews work well on our
designs. On the mast the cut-out position is pretty
standard, as it depends on sailor height as well
as preference, so there’s always enough range to
adjust. Certainly, those two parameters will result
in our sails having probably the most angled booms,
especially if the boom is mounted high on the mast.Our riders like this configuration in waves; Kauli
sometimes explains it as “using the boom like a
skiing pole to pivot around in a turn”.
Adrian Jones: It seems that, generally, the trend
is towards lower clew positions (more raked back
boom angle), which gives more twist, control and
locks the board down a little more. However, there
is obviously a limit to how far this can go and how
much compromise there is in terms of straight line
comfort and a direct feeling sail.
On the pull !
The other massive difference between these sails
is the pull position, or power point. It’s generally a
bit further forward than on the power waves of last
month’s test, but there’s still a big range between
the sails within this group.
Where do you prefer the power point?
MAUISAILS: On the Legend we like to keep
the draft in a stable, moderately forward position
to give the sail good balance, a light feel and the
ability to instantly depower while keeping just
enough feedback in the back hand to help with
getting going and pulling off snappy manoeuvres.
Sails with drafts too far forward tend to be gutless,
while sails with drafts too far back can be unstable
and hard to control.
POINT-7: Having the drive forward is going to give
a more locked down, drivey feel, really engaging
the rail of the board as you bottom turn. Having
the power further back gives a slightly more
powerful feel as it pulls on the back hand, and in
more cross-on conditions this helps provide power
when going clew-first back at the wave. Again it’s
down to personal preference. Some prefer the more
back-handed sail, while some prefer a more drivey,
forward pulling sail.
HOT SAILS MAUI: Stable mid-draft can be fun
and loose in the surf, but mid-draft and stable
rarely go hand-in-hand. Forward draft is rangy
and efficient, but can deliver a dead feel. I try to
blend these size by size to deliver a lively but well
SEVERNE: The advantage of a forward pull
position is it gives a lighter feel, and the advantage
of the back pull position is it gives you something to
pull against to initiate manoeuvres. So for the S-1
we make the sail physically light, and then move
the pull position back to get the best of both worlds.
GOYA: Forward driving sails are amazing for high
speed sailing, comfort in high wind, and smooth,
tight transitions. As you move the centre of effort
back you create a sail that powers more steadily,
is more explosive in its power delivery, and can
become quicker to change direction (think of a soap
bubble darting in the breeze compared to something
less round). Higher winds will challenge a draft aft
sail more quickly than a draft forward sail. It can
take a little more wind to get a draft forward sail
going, especially if it’s a shallow foil. One thing you
never want is a draft that moves back. Wherever
your centre of effort is, it should be stable.
GAASTRA: As a back pull helps in onshore
conditions, a more forward oriented pull (as in the
Manic) is better for all-round character, and is nice
as it pulls you through the turns when waveriding.
RRD: Forward pulling tends to be more stable
and easier to control at the top end, but offers a
little less grunt in the hands for the lower end of
the wind range. It doesn’t always means it’s less
powerful, but there’s less pressure to work with.
More back hand pressure can give you more of a
feeling of what’s going on in the sail – if it’s loaded
with power or underdone. This can sometimes give
a throttle effect in the hands. In the end it comes
down to rider preference.
NEILPRYDE: Draft placed a long way forward
will definitely offer more stability when
overpowered, but it compromises lift, early planing
and can feel heavy on the front arm. With the draft
too far back you can get lots of lift, even from a
pretty flat profile, but the sail can get very backhandy
and hard to control in gusts. I shape for the
best balance between the two, but in general flatter
sails can have the draft a bit further back while
fuller sails (like our Atlas) need to have it further
forward to ensure the deeper profile stays well
locked in place when powered up.
Adrian Jones: As with most things, there are
compromises here. A sail with its power positioned
forward will be lighter in the hands and more
controllable at the top end, but less powerful and
direct. A sail with its power positioned further
back will have more power in the hands and a
sharper response, but less control at the top end.
Whether you prefer forward, back or somewhere
around middle is a question of personal preference
and sailing style, but perhaps most important is the
comment Jason Diffin (Goya) makes when he says
that the one thing you don’t want is a sail where
the power moves back. Wherever the centre of
effort is, it should stay put!
This test alone required 24 rigs (4.7 and 4.2m
sizes) to be transported, rigged and stored. Luckily
OTC Tenerife accommodated us nicely, not only
housing our equipment during our stay there, but
also taxiing us and our oversized baggage around
whenever required. Many of the sails tested here
are now in stock at their centre for you to try out,
so give the guys a call! otc-windsurf.com
During our first week in Tenerife the wind was
forecast to disappear for a few days, so a crazy plan
was hatched to move our diva Clones and all the
test equipment to Gran Canaria for five days. With
transport this would have been fine, but we didn’t
have any! So thanks to Ben at OTC and Klaas Voget
for taking us to the north of Tenerife so we could
drag the kit by foot onto a ferry – which I can tell
you did not amuse the port authorities or ferry staff
in the slightest!
With no clue how we were going to get from the
ferry port to Pozo, or indeed where we were going
to store all the equipment, someone suggested that
I contact Jonas Carlson at Pozo Winds surf shop.
You can imagine the phone call… “Hello, my name
is Adrian. I’m arriving in Gran Canaria tomorrow
with 40 sails, 20 boards, and a load of strange men in
masks. Could you possibly pick us up, accommodate
us and keep our equipment for five days?!?” Luckily,
Jonas is an absolute legend. I can think of no other
person who’d not only say ‘yes’ to a total stranger
with such an outrageous request, but would also
have so much enthusiasm and positivity about
helping us out.
When we arrived at the port Jonas had a lorry
waiting for all our gear, and a pretty Argentinean
girl to chauffer us to Pozo in an air-conditioned
car. He also organised an apartment right next to
the beach, and gave us the keys to his shop storage
for all our gear. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone
more accommodating, enthusiastic and helpful
as Jonas. If you’re considering a trip to Pozo you
should definitely get in touch with him, as he can
arrange the whole package of hire car, equipment
and accommodation for you. Just check out
pozowinds.com – thank-you Jonas,your help was
Finally, I’d like to thank RRD for supplying
boards to ensure that we could test the sails on
matching platforms. They were kind enough to
supply us with duplicate Wave Twin 82s, Quad
Cult 75s and Hardcore 76s so we could test the
sails with a range of different styles of board.
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