Once upon a time, a wave sail had five battens and was fairly tall
and narrow. If you wanted choice, you might have been able to
pick between an onshore (power version) and a cross-shore
(less power) version, but that was where it ended.
Then a sail company developed a rather unusual looking wave sail. It
looked quite strange on the water because it had a compact profile and
an exceptionally short luff. Around the same time that this sail evolved,
there was a young Brazilian lad showing some promise in the waves who
decided to adopt it as his own.
The two got along like a house on fire, and in no time at all that young
lad lifted his first World Wave title and revolutionised the discipline of
wavesailing with his radical new style.
Everyone took a great deal of interest in what boards he was riding, and
the world went crazy for twin-fins, which have become rather popular –
and rightly so.
But much less interest was taken in the radically different sail that he
used – the Naish Boxer. Over the following years the Boxer continued to
evolve, and its cult fanclub continued to grow.
Kauli Seadi (for it was he) eventually left Naish and changed to NeilPryde,
who were fast to develop a 4-batten version of this niche sail for him, and
threw their massive marketing power behind it. With all the excitement and
hype, many wavesailors and – most importantly – other manufacturers
started to take more notice and now, a few years on, we have a 4-batten
compact wave sail on offer from nearly every main brand.
Now, this test isn’t about 4-batten sails (though we will be focusing
on them later in the year). Instead we’re looking at (largely) 5-batten
all-round wave sails from each brand – the sails with the widest range of
use and potentially the biggest appeal.
What’s interesting about this genre is that – despite the sails being
5-batten, all-round designs – the influence of the compact wave sail is
very much evident within this group. Almost every brand this year has
whittled inches off their luff lengths and softened the feel of their sails.
In fact, for the first time ever the Naish Boxer no longer wins the award
for shortest luff length in test. Quite surprisingly the very ‘all-round’ and
relatively mainstream NeilPryde Combat has now taken this title.
Whether the 4-batten compact wave sail is the way of the future or
simply a radical concept that has helped steer the evolution of the ‘traditional’ wave sail remains to be seen. But what is clear is that with
many brands heading in this direction at various paces, the diversity of
sails within this group is massive. There really is a huge difference in feel
and performance between the sails tested here – perhaps more so now
than any year before.
The thing about testing wave sails is that each
person likes something different! So how can you
test sails and say which is the best? The simple
answer is that you can’t – it’s almost entirely down to
So what we aim to do with our testing is to describe
as accurately as possible the characteristics of each
sail so that you can make your own decision as to
which one will best suit your requirements.
Generally speaking, the smaller a sail the smaller its
useful wind range will be. And the smaller its wind
range, the less chance you have of getting the right
conditions to test in. This makes 4.7m sails arguably
the hardest product to test over our 12-month
To ensure that we had the best chance of testing
these ‘all-round’ wave sails through a decent range of
conditions, we asked the manufacturers to supply us
with both 4.7 and 4.2 versions of the sail. This not only
provides a much broader testable wind range, but also
gives an indication of any inconsistencies or changes
that might be present through a range of sizes.
The sails within this test are generally billed as ‘allround’
wave sails. Later in the year we will be looking
at the ‘power wave’ equivalents from each brand, and
also taking a preview of the new 4-batten sails that
CONSTRUCTION AND DURABILITY
With the prices of most sails in this test somewhere
between £350 and £550, you might be wondering
why we haven’t scored build quality / durability in
any way. The simple answer is that it’s very difficult.
In the relatively short period that we have these sails
it’s simply not possible to get an accurate measure of
how they might hold up over time.
In future we hope to devise a method that will
allow us to comment on the thickness of materials,
reinforcements, stitching, etc, without having to
take the sail to pieces. But for the time being we’ve
decided that rather than make inaccurate judgements
it’s best not to comment at all, so we’ve intentionally
avoided this subject within the test.
Thanks largely to the lack of good UK conditions
at the time of testing, this test was completed
entirely in El Médano, Tenerife. Luckily Tenerife
delivered fantastic conditions that allowed us to
put these sails through their paces in everything
from knee-high to logo-high waves. The wind
conditions we tested in ranged from overpowered
on 4.2s (basically 3.7 weather) right down to
marginal planing 4.7 weather, so we got a great
picture of how these sails perform right through
their wind range.
When testing it’s important to eliminate as many
variables as possible. For this test we chose to
use identical Fanatic boards in a range of sizes
and styles to get the best picture of how the
- We would like to thank Fanatic for
lending us Quad 72 and 79s and Twin 86 boards to
conduct the testing. The full tests on these boards
will appear later in the year, but in the meantime
you can check out the pictures of them within the
pages of this test. fanatic.com
- Still on the subject of equipment, it’s extremely
important to be able to quickly readjust each sail at
the water’s edge, so that we can pinpoint its best
setting(s). For this purpose nothing comes close to
the North Power XT RDM extensions for ease of
use and quick adjustment. Thanks to North Sails for
their help in getting our Clone test team geared up
with these. north-windsurf.com
- Finally, it’s the first time the Clones have left UK
shores to conduct a wave test. With the UK wind
drought in the first half of 2010 there really was
no option, so it was with great relief that Tenerife
delivered such great conditions during our time
there. The pictures speak for themselves. The
Clones would especially like to thank the OTC crew
for all their help, assistance and patience during
the test trip. It really was very much appreciated! otc-windsurf.com
» Now proceed to the overview page!