“The new Fire is the ultimate waveriding sail with maximum control … created to push the limits of wavesailing even further. The profile of the sail has been changed to increase the draught low in the sail and allow a wider range of sheeting angles. Also, to improve power the sail outline has been changed to increase the area in the bottom half of the sail. Overall the low end is improved yet the sail maintains the superb handling on the wave it is famous for.”[Rollover a clone to see what he has to say…]
This is the first time we’ve had a chance to test a Hot Sails Maui. The brand is probably best known in this country for their ‘design your own colour scheme’ Superfreak sail range, but probably has the most comprehensive wave sail range of any loft out there. Their website has a really good product comparison function that’s well worth a check if you’re considering one of their sails. For this test they chose to supply us with the Fire, and we’ll be bringing you our first impressions on their new FireLight over the next few months.
The first thing to note about the Fire is that it has six battens rather than the ‘standard’ five adopted by all the other sails within this group. It’s actually pretty rare for a wave sail to have six battens, but Hot Sails Maui claim that it gives the smoothest stability and performance in ‘real wind’.
The Fire has both second longest luff length (420cm) and boom length (165cm) of this group. Looking at the weight, that sixth batten must have some part in the 4.09kg total, which places the Fire as the heaviest of the group by some margin.
The graphic design is pretty funky, and the Fire looks one of the most distinctive and more interesting sails on the water. Hot Sails Maui are big into the cosmetics, and there are a fair few colour scheme options to choose from.
Set on the beach with recommended settings, the Fire is a very flat sail – the flattest of this test group. The battens have minimal pre-set shape and there’s a relatively small amount of rotation at the mast. Used in this set, we found that the sail pulled from higher up than others. Hot Sails Maui recommend that the Fire can be used with extra outhaul for stronger conditions, so we applied more downhaul to try and release the head a bit more. To be honest, we played quite a bit with this sail, but struggled to find a ‘golden setting’.
Sizes: 3.5, 3.7, 4.0, 4.2, 4.5, 4.7, 5.0, 5.3, 5.8
Tested on: Hot Sails Hotrod 400cm 97%
Size tested: 4.7m
To start off we opted for minimum settings. However, in the cross-on, gusty conditions of El Médano the pull position seemed to be too, and the sail felt a little unsettled. The power delivery is one of the softest we’ve come across. We tried applying more downhaul in an effort to stabilise the sail a bit more and help bring the power downwards, but the sail became extremely flat and didn’t really generate much power. It feels like the Hot Sails mast is very flexible and gives the sail a much softer, springier feel than anything else within this group.
We weren’t really able to lower the pull position without making the sail too flat to generate sufficient power. However when we released the downhaul to put more power back into the sail, the fact it was pulling from higher up made it feel more like ‘pull’ than useful power. Our heavier Clones really struggled to get any bottom end performance from the Fire. It’s worth noting that Hot Sails Maui produce a more grunty version of the Fire called the FirePower for heavier riders.
Once powered up there’s a lot of movement in the sail, which reduces the stability. The extra material weight and power from higher up in the sail give it a heavier, less manageable feel in the hands. The flatness and flexibility also make the power point move around just a bit too much for comfort.
We can only assume that as this is the ‘waveriding’ oriented sail from Hot Sails Maui, and perhaps not best suited to the conditions of Tenerife and Pozo. In float-and-ride conditions it’s quite possible that the high pull position works well for driving the board through the turns, and the flatter profile makes the sail easy to depower. While we had some cross-shore conditions, we never managed to get any real down-the-line riding conditions to put this to the test
As a cross / cross-on wave sail, where control and wind range are key, we struggled to find the magic from this Hot Sails Maui Fire. In lighter winds we could get pull from the sail, but it seemed difficult to convert this into forward drive. At the top end the lack of shape and flexibility made it feel less stable than we would have liked. To be fair though, the Fire is pitched as a waveriding sail, so perhaps on the face of a glassy wave it will come into its own. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to put this to the test during our time with the sail.