Equipment Testing

North Hero

 

2015

North Hero

North thumb

Power Delivery

Sail Stiffness

Sail Pull

Pull Position

Bottom End

Top End

Tuning Flexibility

Untuned Range

Specifications

Weight (kg): 3.25

Size (m): 4.5

Rec. Mast Length (cm): 400

Luff Length (cm): 398

Boom length (cm): 157

Price (£): 525

For 2015 the North Hero sees only minor evolutionary tweaks from its two very successful predecessors.  North were one of the later brands to move to 4-batten sails, but having made the transition, rather than make the 4-batten Hero a niche riding sail, they have gone all-out to maximise its all-round capabilities.  As such, the Hero is very much the ‘bread and butter’ wave sail of the North range and based upon its impressive performance, rightly so!

Rigging

North are famous for their attention to detail and the Hero is no exception, sporting amongst other details, a visual trim system (VTS), harness line position indicators and a boom height scale amongst others.  The VTS was first introduced by North and is second-to-none when it comes to achieving the recommended trim.  The North ‘dots’ worked well, although we did find ourselves using slightly less downhaul than recommended in lighter to moderate conditions.  Despite the VTS giving a good ‘recommended’ position, there is definitely a bit of extra tuning available from the North, both on the downhaul and most notably on the outhaul.

The boom height indicator on the luff cut-out is an excellent feature that helps ensure your kit is set-up consistently each time you sail.  Unfortunately the same can’t be said for the harness line indicators, which for the 3rd year running are positioned in the wrong place.  Guides and markers are fantastic if they are positioned in the correct place, however in the wrong place, they are worse than having nothing at all.

The Hero sets with plenty of shape at the front and a relatively loose leech, which gives the sail good stability.  It’s worth mentioning that in 2013 and this year (2015), North have supplied us with their incredible North Platinum Aero mast, pitched as the lightest mast in the World and 100% Carbon. Both times we have been supplied with this mast, the sail has been excellent.  However last year (2014) we were supplied with the lower technology Platinum mast and it made quite a noticeable effect on how the sail performed.  So base this report on using the Aero.

In terms of weight, the Hero tips the scales as the 3rd lightest in the test.  For those hell-bent on dieting, North also offer a lighter weight version of the Hero (albeit less strong and cheaper) with a reduced amount of X-Ply.  Luff and boom length are fairly ‘mid-range’ within the group of sails tested here.

On the water

The defining characteristic of the Hero in the hands is the pull position, which is further forward than on any other sail in the test.  It’s very much down to personal preference on whether this is a feel you like or not, but it does yield certain benefits.  It makes the sail feel light and controllable in the hands and encourages you into manoeuvres. It also helps to plant the board on the water making it more controllable and driving the rail through bottom turns.  Off the top as well, in over-powered onshore conditions, it’s nice to have that power at the front to prevent wrestling with the backhand through the top turn.

The balance and stability of the North also made it really nice for jumping.  It’s very controlled in the air and having that power further forward really helps keep in check.

It’s noticeable that something about the proportions of the Hero make it feel quite a ‘low’ sail which gives it a very stable, controlled and compact feeling in the hands.  With the power being delivered from forward and low down, and also having one of the lower boom cut-outs leads to the feeling that everything happening on the sail is operating from lower down.  Our Clones did find themselves lifting the boom in lighter conditions to try and generate a bit more lift from the sail.

That low and forward pull is really nice for riding where it helps to pull the board through the turn, keeps everything in control and is easy to make neutral.

When under-powered, the Hero had a very efficient feel to the way it delivers the power, pulling the board forward rather than sideways as the gusts hit.  Our Clones really didn’t have to pump the sail much at all to get going.  Sit in the harness, pull in with the back hand and let the sail do the rest…

The pull position and stability really lend themselves well to top-end performance, where the Hero continues to feel fun and manouverable and scored second best in this group. It’s actually not easy to trim the sail for less power, as there is quite a lot of shape that can’t be removed, but the position of the power makes if very controllable.

When pushed beyond its range, there was a glimmer of a feeling that despite all the forward pull, the sail started to hold on the backhand a little.  We would barely have noticed it, but it was a trait that was more evident last year when we tested this sail with a cheaper mast.

Overall, the Hero is a superb all-round wave sail and definitely right up there in terms of ‘favourites’ amongst our riders.  It has fantastic wind range and a really comfortable, stable and controlled feel.  It’s very much a forward pulling sail, with all the associated characteristics of one, so if that’s not something you are familiar with, it may take a few adjustments to get used to.

Strengths

Stability and forward pull makes it feel controlled and encourages you to throw it around.
Nice rigging guide helps with setting.  
Big wind range.

Weakness

Harness lines indicator in wrong place (again)
The way it plants the board may not suit a sticky, high-rockered board as much as the all-rounders that we tested it with.

Who should buy this sail?

Literally anyone, for any conditions, so long as they like the feel of a forward pulling sail.

 

Sails were tested at the TWS centre in El-Medano, Tenerife.