Equipment Testing

Simmer Icon

 

2015

Simmer Icon

Simmer thumb

Power Delivery

Sail Stiffness

Sail Pull

Pull Position

Bottom End

Top End

Tuning Flexibility

Untuned Range

Specifications

Weight (kg): 3.57

Size (m): 4.5

Rec. Mast Length (cm): 370

Luff Length (cm): 386

Boom length (cm): 152

Price (£): 555

Simmers all-round 5 batten wave sail has been a benchmark of all-round wave sail tests for many years now.  For 2015 we see a minor evolutionary change to last years sail, with the sail feeling slightly softer in the hands (particularly in the smaller sizes) and a bit more shape pushed into the design, giving more power and improved bottom end.  Unfortunately, Simmer were unable to supply a 4.5m at the time of this test, so we used team rider, Ben Proffitt’s personal sails, hence the logos and sail number!

Rigging

The Icon has always been very versatile in its tuning and the 2015 sail is no exception.  The Icon is arguably the most versatile sail in this test in terms of how you can tune the character of it.  The sail works well both with plenty of downhaul and lower outhaul for a twistier, softer feeling sail and also with less downhaul and more outhaul for a sharper, more grunty feeling sail.  Few sails can provide this range of ‘character’ tuning.

There is no VTS system, so thankfully setting the Icon is fairly straight forward and allows some margin for ‘error’.  Beware of the recommended luff lengths however, which seemed to be a little out, particularly on the 4.5m.

Although there is some range in the outhaul and downhaul tuning, one thing that is critical on the Icon is batten tension.  The stability of this sail relies on decent batten tension on the lower two battens (4&5) and to an extent, number 3 also.  Without this tension, the power doesn’t lock into place and you don’t get the crispness of performance that the Icon delivers.

The only limitation we found with this years Icon when tuning, was for light weight (under 60kg) riders in overpowered conditions.  It’s not really possible to remove the shape from the sail, so whilst remaining stable, there is a fair amount of power that can’t be tuned out of the Icon.

The boom cut-out is particularly high on the Icon.  Our 6’ riders were using the boom somewhere around the middle of the cut-out, so those who are extremely tall or like a very high boom, will find that the Icon matches their requirements.  Shorter riders don’t need to panic though as the cut-out is one of the largest, so still goes plenty low enough for most preferences.

Perhaps slightly surprisingly, considering the 5 batten configuration, the Icon has the second shortest luff length of all the sails tested – more than 20cm shorter than the Goya Banzaii for example.  It also has the shortest boom length of all the sails, which gives it a nice compact and manageable feeling in the hands.  Simmer are renowned for their build quality and the Icon is certainly no exception.  The sail looks bullet proof, but it does take a toll on the material weight of the sail weighing in at more than 0.5kg’s heavier than the Severne Blade.  Luckily the excellent stability and pull position of the Icon mean that this extra weight is disguised to some degree in the hands.


On the water

The Icon is a true all-rounder with massive wind range.  At the bottom end, that extra softness and depth has improved what was already a very decent bottom end performance.  At the top end, the incredible stability and ever so slightly forward pull position make the Icon a real top contender.  As mentioned above, you reach a point with the tuning, where the depth of the sail prevents you from getting rid of any more power, but in practice, unless you are very light and using it in very strong winds, you will be more than happy with the stability and comfort the Icon offers, which keeps this power very much under control.  No doubt helped by it’s 5 batten configuration.

The power delivery of the Icon has got subtly softer over the years as Tomas (the designer) has softened up the design of the sail and made it more forgiving.  Despite this, it still sits pretty much bang in the middle of our group for power delivery.  Even though more softness has been introduced, the fact that 3 and 4 batten sails are taking this to another level, means that the Icon still sits slightly on the firmer side of this group.  And that’s not a bad thing as it helps to deliver extra stability at the top end and gives a slightly sharper, gruntier sail at the bottom end.

The extra shape in the Icon delivers a constant drive, which likes to be sailed, rather than cruised on.  In the hands, it doesn’t feel like the second heaviest sail of this group thanks to its good handling, but it can’t match the Blade for lightness of feel and all-round manouverability in the hands.  That continuous drive and power does however make it a very reliable, stable and balanced sail and provides massive untuned range.  From gust to lull, the Icon soaks it up and keeps you both in control and on the plane whenever needed.

The extra softness and depth seems to have helped the wave riding performance this year, giving a bit more drive and forgiveness through the turns. Front side wave riding is probably the Icons weakest area (albeit still good).  Compared to modern 4-batten riding orientated sails (like Simmers Black tip), the Icon doesn’t hold the power quite as well through the turns, being a bit more on/off and isn’t quite as forgiving due to the firmer profile of the sail.  All said though, it’s still pretty good, particularly now it has a little extra shape and softness and certainly won’t be holding many riders back!

When it comes to jumping, the Icon has always been great and this year is no exception.  5 batten stability, with a slightly forward pull point and enough softness to absorb the landings.

Strengths

- Well made.  Looks robust and feels like it will last for years.
- Powerful, reliable, very stable and extremely balanced in the hands.
- A nice, subtle evolution of the 2014 model with extra softness (over the previous model) giving more forgiveness and feel.

Weaknesses

- Firmer 5-batten profile doesn’t hold power as well as some when front side wave riding.
- Cross-ply window gives poor visibility when wave riding.

Who should buy this sail?

Someone looking for a super stable, easy handling wave sail, with massive wind range.  Definitely an all-rounder, albeit with a slight bias towards onshore/ jumping.

 

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