Weight (kg): 3.52
Size (m): 4.5
Rec. Mast Length (cm): 370
Luff Length (cm): 391
Boom length (cm): 156
Price (£): 589
The Combat is pitched as NeilPryde’s all-round wave sail, sitting between the 3 batten Fly and the 5 batten Atlas. It’s perhaps no surprise therefore that the Combat adopts 5 battens in the larger (5.3m +) sizes and 4 battens in the smaller (5.0m and below) sizes. We tested the 5.0m and 4.5m models, both of which are of course 4-batten designs and in regular construction (they are also offered in HD X-Ply). As Pryde were unable to supply sails at the time, we had to use team rider, Robby Swift’s personal sails, hence the logos in the pictures!
NeilPryde always have fantastic detailing on their sail (owning their own factory is sure to help in this department) and the Combat is no exception. No VTS is offered, but the rest of the sail is top notch.
Looking at the dimensions, the Combat used to have the shortest luff in tests, but nowadays its less extreme (probably more to do with developments of the other sails) and sits mid group. So too does the boom length. A few years back, NeilPryde went through a period of making their sails very light weight, this was nice from a performance point of view, but unfortunately the durability suffered. So a couple of years ago they had a re-think and decided that as a premium sail brand, they should make their sails to last! As such, the Combat certainly looks a lot more robust than it did several years ago and sports a lot of strength inducing features such as the ‘force line’ panels in the clew and foot. There is however an obvious implication with regard to the weight and the Combat now weighs in as one of the heaviest of the group.
The Combat sets with quite a bit of shape at the front and a relatively loose leech. There is some tuning range within the settings, but we didn’t find there to be a huge amount of versatility. The Combat needs a reasonable amount of downhaul to stabilise the sail. It can then be trimmed on the outhaul, but because it’s such a forward pulling sail (not a bad thing at all), it does require some outhaul to keep a bit of feel on the backhand. It may not have a huge amount of versatility when tuning, but where the Combat did excel was in the untuned range, where the sail copes extremely well with both gusts and lulls, under just the one setting.
On the water
The forward pull point (even at the top end) and really balanced power actually make you forget at times that the Combat is a 4-batten sail (in the sizes we tested). However, the benefit of the 4 batten layout is a softness that makes it very forgiving, whether that be landing from jumps, smacking lips or simply absorbing the chop. The clew feels like it is positioned lower on the Combat than on any of the others sails in the group which gives it that feeling of planting the board and pulling from low down (and forward).
The fullness in the sail gives the Combat quite a bit of ‘grunt’ in the hands. It’s very controllable thanks to the power position and softness, but there is no doubting it’s a sail that likes to pull. This (combined with the material weight) does make it feel a little heavier in the hands than most, but you shouldn’t let that be too much of a negative because in many situations, e.g. trying to hold speed through wave rides and lulls, that extra grunt is a really nice feature.
When it comes to wave riding, the Combat offers great performance. It feels compact, as mentioned above, has enough grunt to really pull through the turns and yet at the same time, that forward positioned (and low) power keeps everything very controlled on the wave.
In the air, the Combat is controlled and again that forward pull position is a real asset when it comes to controlling loops. The softness makes landing jumps that bit more forgiving as well.
No matter what the conditions, from under-powered to overpowered, onshore to sideshore, the Combat gives the impression of being super reliable, letting you focus on your own technique rather than taming the sail.
Really balanced and controllable in the hands.
Forward pulling, combined with a forgiving softness
Massive un-tuned wind-range
Slightly heavier in the hands than some
Who should buy this sail?
We can confidently recommend the Combat to anyone as an excellent and genuine all-round wave sail.
Sails were tested at the TWS centre in El-Medano, Tenerife.