Weight (kg): 3.25
Size (m): 4.5
Rec. Mast Length (cm): 370
Luff Length (cm): 392
Boom length (cm): 163
Price (£): 399
The Bolt is a new addition to the Tushingham line-up for this year and also represents a new angle for Tushingham. The Bolt is essentially one sail range designed to morph in style from 4 batten wave sails in the smallest sizes, through rotational cross-over mid-sizes, right up to powerful twin-cams in the largest sizes.
The concept makes a lot of sense and we were intrigued to see how these smaller sizes stacked up against the other more dedicated wave sails of this group. In their own admission, Tushingham pitch this sail as an ‘awesome sail for the high wind freerider, bump and jump, intermediate wave rider or budding freestyle sailor’ shying away from claims of top-end dedicated wave use, which of course they still have their ‘Rock’ for.
Let’s start with the dimensions first. Whilst the luff length is fairly moderate compared with the rest of this group, the boom length is in fact by far the longest of all the sails, hinting at its more ‘freeride’ credentials. The weight however is very respectable, weighing in as the 3rd lightest sail of this group. The 4.5m is designed to fit on a 370cm mast, whilst the 5.0m is matched to a 400cm. However, both sails sport an adjustable head, allowing a longer mast to be used if necessary.
For years, Tushingham have been the only brand to offer an eyelet at the foot of the sail, rather than a built in pulley system and the new Bolt stays true to that thinking. Tushingham believe that the eyelet allows the use of a pulley hook, which can make rigging quicker.
Tushingham’s have always been renowned for being less critical to tuning, allowing a less skilled rigger to get decent performance from the sail even if the set wasn’t quite correct. Unfortunately with the smaller sizes of this Bolt, Tushingham have inadvertently been pulled into a common theme amongst 4-batten sails in general, whereby they become much more critical to correct tuning. As such, this sail really requires you to get the settings right for it to work properly. We spent a fair bit of time trying to work out the best set and in the end concluded that the Bolt worked best with a fair amount of downhaul and minimal outhaul. This helped to release the leech and stabilise the power. Without a lot of downhaul, the leech tends to hold too much, the sail was very soft by nature and as such, lacked stability. There is virtually no pre-shape engineered into the sail, either in the battens or at the luff, so minimal outhaul helps to give the sail some depth once the wind fills it.
On the water
It’s quite hard to define a sail like this within a wave test, because it’s not really a dedicated wave sail and it’s not designed to be. Tushingham sent us this sail with the intention of seeing how it faired up and to highlight it’s relevance to the more intermediate market. So, here is a run-down of what we found…
One of the most defining characteristics of this sail is the extremely soft power delivery. Where some sails are razor sharp and react instantly to every gust and change in sheeting angle, the Bolt is quite the opposite. It’s extremely soft and this gives the sail a more subdued and forgiving nature. In fact, not only is the power delivery soft, but the actual sail itself is by far the softest of the group and this is the reason that it requires a decent amount of downhaul to induce extra stability. Without the downhaul, the flexing of the sail (from gusts and chop) causes the centre of effort to move around too much. A decent amount of downhaul, helps stabilise this to some degree.
When stabilised, the centre of effort is the furthest back of the group and the Bolt also has the most grunty feel from the line-up.
Despite being pitched as more of a ‘cross-over’ sail, within it’s wind range, we reckon the Bolt is actually a nicer wave sail than the Rock. It certainly feels more modern with a higher cut foot and 4-batten design whilst that grunt and back hand power can be a real asset when wave riding within it’s comfort zone.
In the air, we weren’t quite so comfortable. The longer boom, super-soft power delivery and rearward power position didn’t lend itself so well to advanced looping manouvers and generally the sail lacked the control that a sharper, more forward pulling sail can offer.
4-batten sails have never been famous for their top end and the Bolt definitely reaches its limit. That soft profile and rearward pull position are the limiting factors as the wind increases. That said, we are referring to wave sailing here. In a more freeride application, the rider is able to lock out against the power more and use that grunt to drive the bigger and heavier boards. Ultimately however, that softness is what limits the absolute top end.
At the bottom end, once planing, the Bolt has plenty of grunt and power to accelerate, but because it has virtually no pre-shape, it requires a certain amount of wind to ‘fill’ the sail before it starts to work. This flatness limits the wobble and ride potential, but on the upside makes it feel light in the hands when not planing.
Overall, the Bolt is actually quite good fun for wave riding within its wind range and with the correct tuning. However the flat profile and soft nature of the design ultimately limits the overall wind range and it’s appeal as an all-round wave sail for dedicated wave sailors.
Light in the hands when non-planing
The turquoise and white colour scheme is really distinctive and looks great on the water.
Grunt and backhand pull make it fun for wave riding in marginal conditions.
Critical to tuning
Who should buy this sail?
If you are considering a Tushingham Rock for wave sailing, then you should definitely try out the Bolt, particularly if wave riding is your thing.