The X-Type is North Sails’ performance no-cam freeride sail. In 7.3m size (tested here) it’s a 7-batten model and is based on Nik Bakers old Super-X sail. The 5.4 and 6.0m lose a batten but the whole range benefits from setting on a 460cm mast.
"The ultimate NoCam performance sail, whose relatively high sail foil tension guarantees maximum performance even without camber support. Compared to the previous model, it has improved planning without compromising any control when getting over-powered. This makes it even more versatile, since it combines spontaneous performance delivery with top speed, also offering the handling and rigging advantages of NoCam sails." – North Sails website
The North is a stylish and modern looking sail with some really nice features. One of the most obvious of these features being the aggressive clew cut out – designed to allow a shorter boom and better handling characteristics.
The luff length is fairly moderate at 487cm, whilst the boom length is second shortest (207cm) to the Pryde. Surprisingly, the North is the second heaviest sail in the group at 5.43kgs. Surprisingly, because it in no way felt heavy when rigged on the beach or on the water – we even double checked the scales to be sure!! In fairness, the excellent North Platinum mast probably helps to minimise the weight of the overall rig somewhat as some of the other sails are being tested on 75% masts.
The X-Type sets with a fairly solid foil and with its draft positioned relatively far forward. It has a good amount of fullness in the foot and flattens out nicely as you move up the sail. We are big fans of North’s visual trim system and the recommended settings are spot on. ‘Min’ for light winds and ‘Max’ for strong.
The North is the most versatile sail in this test when it comes to tuning. Not only can it be successfully tuned for different wind strengths but there is also some amount of flexibility for rider preference in there as well. Plenty of downhaul and less outhaul for a lighter, faster feeling sail and less downhaul and more outhaul for a bit more back-hand grunt.
The first thing you notice about the North is the drive that it generates. Where a lot of the sails pull sideways when a gust hits, the North just seems to stay light in your hands and accelerate.
The pull feels quite low and forward in the sail. Not as much as the Simmer, but more so than the Pryde. In terms of feel, its somewhere in the middle. The Simmer is slightly more locked and drivey, whilst the Pryde is slightly more manoeuvrable and less locked down. The North strikes a nice balance.
In lighter winds, the North is very efficient and sailors willing to pump will find this one of the best sails for the job. If you prefer to let the sail do the work for you, you will notice the North to be a bit less grunty in your hands than some of the other sails on test here.
In stronger winds the North feels quite rigid (almost in a cambered sail kind of way) in your hands and very stable. It is quite a responsive sail in the hands, so expect plenty of feel and feedback compared to the more passive sails in this test such as the Simmer and Goya.
The X-Type is a super fast sail regardless of how powered up you are. You’ve got no excuse for being overtaken on this sail!
In manoeuvres, the more solid feel, and harder rotation of the North do give the NeilPryde, Gaastra and Exo the edge. However, the shorter boom and ‘light in the hands’ feel, do play dividends and the X-Type can hold its own against everything else.
The North X-Type is a stylish and modern looking sail with performance to match its looks. It’s biased slightly more towards speed but is still light enough in the hands to be fun around the corners. It feels a very refined product that works exceptionally well, right through the wind range. A true no-cam performance freeride sail and a favourite amongst the Clones!
PHOTOS BY: Simon Crowther
"From what I can read into the test it seemed like you generally had a great time sailing our X-Type 7.3. I would say you founds its place with regards to draft position and general feel.
I was happy to read you found our sail heavier than some rolled up on the beach which I can tell you is due to the overall build quality of the sail with our double seem technology amongst other factors.
These factors do allow us to give our customers a 5 year warranty which we feel is is a great selling point compared to many of our competitors. Once on the water which is were it counts you did not notice the weight as it sails and feels one of the lightest on test.
This is great and tells me we have done our job. It is very important to have a good performing product but this is nothing with out the quality not just in looks but deep inside the build and make up of the sail.
North Sails UK"