Gun Sails update their range slightly later than most other brands, so this is the 2009 Steel that we have included in this test. The 2010 version is just being released now. The Steel is the ‘radical wave’ sail in the Gun Sails range and sits below the Trans Wave power wave sail which will be tested in our 5.3m sail test.
"The Steel supports the pure wave riding style: easy to handle, stable, absorbs the gusts and fast reacting. The new shape of the Steel concentrates more on the middle and lower area and the batten configuration was also re-designed. The New Steel is a little deeper than the Hammer and the centre of effort is positioned slightly nearer the mast, which makes the sail more neutral, eliminates any back hand pressure and extends the range of use in high winds." – Gun Sails website
Proportionally, the Steel has a moderate boom length combined with the second longest luff in test.
The clew has two eyelet positions which are designed to give a different feel, depending upon which one is used. Use the top one for a firmer more direct feel and the bottom one for a softer response.
The Steel has very good attention to detail, which is made all the more impressive when you consider the price. The ‘Fred dot’ visual trim system is one such example. This system (as introduced by North) is by far the best on the market and you will find that the recommended setting is pretty accurate for the Steel. Set the downhaul to ‘recommended’ and then tune the outhaul for power and feel.
Tuning offers reasonable versatility, but there is no hiding the fact that this is quite a soft, forward pulling sail in the hands and no amount of tuning is going to deliver much in the way of back hand grunt. It's just not that type of sail.
The Steel stands alone in this test with a very unique feel to it. It’s unique because of the softness of the power delivery. It's such a smooth sail to use, it really is very effortless in the hands and somehow manages to feel very soft at the front of the sail, without being unstable.
At times it almost feels like a traditional soft sail (for those who don't remember, they were sails with the main battens stopping short of the mast) because of the smoothness of power and ease of rotation.
This makes it really nice for riding, particularly when well powered up as the power is extremely manageable and controlled.
The Steel is extremely light in the hands (one of the lightest in test) which makes it feel very ‘throw about’ and fun to use whilst the pull position remains relatively far forward.
At the top end, the the lack of rigidity in the sail does eventually catch up, but there is plenty of effortless handing on tap along the way before things start to get too much.
The bottom end is not quite so good as some of the other sails. All this softness and controlled power doesn'tt translate so well into getting the board onto the plane or powering as fast as you can towards your next jump. If bottom end power is a real priority for you, then you may be better off looking at the Trans Wave instead.
The Steel was a very pleasant surprise for our test Clones and offered a really unique, soft and smooth feel, unrivalled by any other sail in this test. It remains very light in the hands and controllable on the wave face, at the expense of a little bit of bottom end power.
PHOTOS BY: Simon Crowther
The Steel is the Gun Sails all-round wave sail and the Transwave is our power wave sail, so
the slightly less power felt in the low end of the 2009 Steel is correct. However The 2010 Steels
have an improved low end without loosing any performance at the top end, whist continuing to
have the same soft feel and smooth rotation. The 2010 Steel continues to feel just as light in the
hands as the 2009.
Blue Chip Windsurfing"