The Tushingham T-Bird has developed quite a reputation within the freeride market as a very competent all-rounder. It’s a seven batten sail and sits below the twin-cam Lightning in the Tushingham range.
"Strongly built, the aerodynamic efficiency of the T3 means that it still feels remarkably light in the hands. However, this is now combined with a blistering performance that would put many dedicated race sails in the shade. It's the perfect Freeride sail for 90% of sailors and conditions." – Tushingham website
With minimal seaming across the main body of the sail, graphically the Tushingham is a very clean looking sail and looks good in the black colour scheme supplied.
Not big on following fashion, Tushingham stand with Gaastra as the only two sails in this test not to feature some form of stepped clew. The same is true of the tack eyelet where both brands have chosen not to recess into the sail.
Tushingham stand alone as the only brand opting for an eyelet rather than a pulley block at the tack of the sail, which helps to make rigging quicker when used in conjunction with a pulley hook. However, the pulley block does take up extra space and due to the tack eyelet not being recessed, it's critical to get your extension setting right to avoid an unnecessary gap at the foot of the sail.
At 4.82kgs the T’Bird is the second lightest sail in the test (beaten only by the 5 batten Exo). Luff and boom length sit roughly in the middle of this group of sails being 485cm tall and 216cm wide.
As with other Tushinghams we have used, the T’Bird allows for plenty of flexibility when it comes to tuning. You can rig it fuller and tighter leeched for lightwinds or flatter and open leeched for high winds and both settings work effectively.
It's great that Tushingham offer a trim guide on the sail (the luff tube). It’s not quite as intuitive as the North system but a very useful addition none-the-less.
In light winds the Tushingham has a decent amount of grunt to it which really helps to get onto the plane. This is particularly useful if you aren’t into pumping and prefer the sail to do the work!
Where the sail really excels however is in planing through lulls. The T’Bird has a good amount of fullness right up through the sail and manages to keep driving its way through lulls where other sails would simply run out of power and die off the plane.
As the wind increases, the sail manages to disguise this ‘gruntyness’ and becomes one of the more manageable, lighter feeling sails; an excellent trait indeed.
Once the T’Bird reaches the top of its wind range, the stability and ease of sailing is good, but the top speed is slightly lacking compared to most of the other sails. It almost appears to reach a top speed and then no matter how much windier it gets, you just can’t persuade it to go any faster.
The Tushingham is one of the more ‘passive’ feeling sails in this test. It doesn’t offer as much feedback to the rider whch may take a bit of the excitement out of the ride for more advanced sailors but the less experienced will enjoy the easy going ride that the T’Bird offers.
In manoeuvres the rotation is soft, the sail feels reasonably light in your hands and the moderate boom length ensures that it doesn’t feel too cumbersome. It’s not quite as nimble as the Exo and NeilPryde but it’s not far behind.
Despite lacking a few of the current fashion trends, the T’Bird is a great all-round performer. It's slightly off the pace at the top end and provides a less responsive feel than other sails in this group. However it really excels in lighter winds and remains stable at the top end, delivering pretty much everything a freerider needs.
PHOTOS BY: Simon Crowther
We are pleased with Boardseeker's review of the T'bird. Our years of experience have taught us the majority of freeride windsurfers look for easy handling and a good range to handle changeable conditions, which are particularly common in the UK. The positive comments show the T'bird remains right up there when it comes to on-the-water performance, combining this with good value, it should remain the UK's most popular freeride sail!