The Clones and I took nine all-round freeride sails to Prasonisi
(Greece), spent two weeks burning around on them, then came back
to the UK and spent another couple of days on the water. And after
all that time, we were able to reach one very definite conclusion...
Quite unbelievably, we could not establish one single useful
performance difference between any of them! At least not when
it came to the main criteria of speed, ease of planing and top
end control, that is. There are of course tiny differences, but it
really is fair to say that 2cm extra downhaul could turn the slowest
sail here into the fastest sail here, or the first sail to plane into the
last to get going.
It’s the first time that this has happened to us in a test, wherein
all the products in the group are just too close to call a difference
between them. While the temptation is there to start ‘looking for
differences’ to make the test more interesting to read, it’s simply
not the way that we do our testing, and therefore we have made
the slightly controversial decision not to score any of these sails for
their performance. It is after all a freeride test, so why complicate
Where the sails do differ greatly, however, is in the way that they
feel in the hands and their bias between straight line blasting
performance and manoeuvrability. Hence that, ultimately, is the
focus of this test.
So, if you really are in the market for one of these sails then you can
have faith in the fact that there are a lot of good products out there
at the moment. This test should help you to establish which one is
most likely to suit your sailing style, personal preferences and wallet
size. If on the other hand you were just looking for an entertaining
read of controversial results and comments, then you’re just going to
have to wait for the next test I’m afraid!
What Is A No-Cam All-Roun d Freeri de Sail?
‘Freeriding’ is perhaps the most generalised term in windsurfing’s
lexicon. It refers to the most common and easily accessible style of
windsurfing and involves, in the most simplistic terms, windsurfing
with a focus on fun in whatever conditions are available. This may
range from a beginner making their first planing run right through to
riding near race-worthy equipment at full speed across rough water.
Now, if we step right back to basics and look at the term again, the
word ‘free’ in the dictionary implies an unbounded and unlimited
experience, while the word ‘riding’ speaks for itself.
You might wonder where I’m going with this (and trust me, so did I
for a while!). But what I’m getting at here is that to truly satisfy the
term ‘freeride’, surely the most worthy equipment should offer as
close to an unbounded and unlimited performance as it’s possible
And so to the point. In my opinion a true freeride sail, by definition,
should be a jack of all trades. It should be a sail that can blast at
full speed, get planing as early as possible, have great stability at
the top end, yet be light and manoeuvrable enough in the hands to
crank into gybes and transitions. A sail that will truly appeal to both
improvers and advanced windsurfers alike.
But does such a sail really exist? Well, by now I’m pretty sure that
you know what’s coming next…
The simple and very encouraging answer is ‘yes’, and I can honestly
say that they are grouped here within this test.
There are countless reasons why you might consider one
of these 7.0m freeride sails, so we decided to narrow it
down to our top seven!
Escape from the ‘techno garbage’. In the fine
words of Mr Naish himself, at times there is just too
much techno garbage in this sport. If your passion is
freeriding, why not keep it simple? Do you really need
cams, or more battens? Do you, really?
Ease of rigging. For a big sail it doesn’t get much
easier than this to rig.
Massive wind range. These sails get going just as
quick as – and in some cases quicker than – their
cambered equivalents, giving great early planing. At
the top end our Clones were able to hold onto them on
flat water when most recreational sailors were on 4.5m
sails. Who needs more stability?
Good speed. On a decent board there aren’t many
people going to be overtaking you if your technique is
up to scratch.
Manoeuvrability. Light in the hands and as easy
as any sail of this size will get to gybe. Not radical
enough? Our Clones also pulled the odd spock and
forward on them.
Price. These sails all manage to squeeze onto a
460cm mast, and being most brands’ ‘simplistic sail’
with only six battens, they’re pretty competitively priced
Fun. The phrase ‘just rig it and sail it’ has never been
I’ve touched on this already, but it’s time to highlight the
point again in big, bold letters! The performance
differences of these sails are
drastically affected by the way you tune
the sail. Get them all set correctly and there’s nothing
to choose between them. Get any of them wrong and the
sail will instantly drop out of the league altogether.
Four of the sails feature a ‘visual trim system’ (North, Gun,
Ezzy and Goya), which works perfectly and takes all of the
guesswork out of rigging. The other sails come supplied
with rigging guides that we really do urge you to read.
Just 2cm of outhaul or downhaul can transform your sail.
Get it wrong and you may be the only one not planing, or
the slowest on the water. Get it right and you may even
save yourself the diet and technique clinic!
In true Oscar style the Clones would like to thank their
family and friends, supporters, cast, crew, and most
- The Christof Kirschner Pro Center Prasonisi
(prasonisi.com) and Sportif Travel (sportif.travel) for
all their help organising the trip and accommodating the
Clones and their ‘diva’ requirements.
- Starboard for providing a pair of identical Carve 121s,
ensuring that the sails could be tested on identical
boards. These boards really are fantastic – just check
out the 120L freeride board test also within this issue!
- North Sails for providing us with 10 Power XT
extensions. An absolute must for testing – if you haven’t
tried one, you should!
» Now proceed to the overview page!