“On the brand new ICE Kai Hopf dug deep into his bag of tricks. At first glance, perhaps you just notice the new design and the more compact appearance. But the 2012 edition of our World Cup wave sail has made a big step forward to get the maximum out of any situation and take the victory – even in the most critical conditions!”[Rollover a clone to see what he has to say…]
Now in its seventh year of evolution, the hugely successful North Ice sits within a completely revised 2012 North wave range comprising the Duke (power wave), Ice (all-round wave), Hero (4-batten wave) and IQ (light weight wave). The Ice is available in monofilm (tested here) or HD (x-ply) versions.
North have made some fairly significant changes to this year’s Ice. Visually they’ve made the sail more compact by reducing the luff length by 6cm (and keeping the boom length the same). But in this monofilm model they’ve also reduced the sail’s weight by nearly 10%. In the hands, the North has always been a light feeling sail (thanks in part to that forward pull), but the material weight has traditionally been one of the heaviest of the group. This saving now brings it closer to the middle of this group for material weight – and it still retains the 5-year warranty.
True to form, the North Ice looks a high quality product, with the usual great attention to detail. The foot of the sail now sports the new ‘iBumper’ mast protector, which is a marked improvement on the old version.
We love the North visual trim system, which is probably the easiest of all the trim guides. The sail also has a harness line position indicator marked on the sail, which is a nice touch and helps get the lines in roughly the right position before leaving the beach.
Last year we found that setting the downhaul near to ‘minimum’ was working best for most conditions, but this year’s Ice seems to work a little differently. We actually thought it performed best this year with near to maximum downhaul and using the top clew eyelet for the outhaul. The extra downhaul gave the Ice a lighter feel, while the top eyelet seemed to give it a sharper, more stable and direct feel. Also, make sure you have plenty of batten tension on the lower two battens, which helps stabilise the sail and gives it a crisper feel.
Sizes: 3.4, 3.7, 4.0, 4.2, 4.5, 4.7, 5.0, 5.3, 5.7, 6.2
Tested on: North Pl atinum RD M 400cm
Size tested: 4.7m
So, has much changed since last year? Well, to be honest, this time around we think it has. There’s no doubting that it’s still a North Ice, but it’s a nice improvement over the older versions. The pull has moved back a little, which gives it a more powerful and balanced feel, but at the same time the lighter material weight and more compact design have helped to keep that traditional North Ice ‘light and easy’ feel in the hands.
The bottom end performance is a noticeable improvement on previous years, too. That more rearward power point not only gives it a bit more power, but also gives it a more reassuring feel of power thanks to that extra feedback on the back hand.
The light feeling, compact shape and slightly more rigid, stable foil pay dividends at the top end of the wind spectrum, where the North Ice remains controllable and manoeuvrable even when getting overpowered.
The Ice’s forte used to be down-the-line conditions, where the light feel and forward pull combined with the easy depower made the rig very neutral and allowed the rider to simply get on with surfing the wave. While the Ice still possesses these virtues and continues to excel in these conditions, it’s now a lot more of a rounded performer and seems as happy in onshore conditions as it is in down-the-line.
It’s actually quite hard to find much fault with the Ice now. It has excellent wind range, working well in both underpowered and overpowered conditions. It has a much more neutral pull point than in the past (albeit still forward pulling), and has a moderate power delivery making it sharp enough to be responsive, yet still maintaining a suitable degree of softness and of ease of use.
The new lighter weight and compact design have definitely upped the overall appeal and performance of the Ice for 2012. The sail now has improved bottom end performance, a more balanced feel in the hands, yet retains the excellent top end performance and light, manoeuvrable feel of previous incarnations. Despite the lighter material weight for 2012, North continue to offer their 5-year warranty as testament to their confidence in the durability of this new version.