“Combat is an all-round wave sail. It performs equally in all conditions – from huge, white water onshore to perfect cross-offshore winds and peeling waves. It combines versatility with performance. Combat is built extra tough for aggressive, hardriding wavesailors who are looking for durability.”
The legendary Combat was reintroduced into the NeilPryde stable in 2004, where it reclaimed its position as the hardcore ‘durable’ wave sail of the NeilPryde wave range, sitting alongside the Atlas (power wave) and the Fly (4-batten wave).
on the beach
One of the biggest changes this year to the Pryde range is a slightly heavier build quality. After several years of pushing the ‘light’ theme, this year’s focus has been on engineering some extra durability into the sails, and the overall weight of the Combat has increased slightly from 3.37kg last year to 3.51kg for this 2012 model.
Visually, the sail looks very striking. The printed colours are bolder this year and make the sails even more eye-catching on the water.
NeilPryde claim to have tweaked the Combat for 2012 by adding a little more shape to the bottom of the sail with the aim of increasing power and allowing less outhaul tension to be used.
The Combat is one of only two sails in this group to set on a 370cm mast and sports one of the biggest compact clew shapes and boom lengths of the group.
The padded foot protector is a decent size and works well. The pulley block is of good quality, making downhauling relatively easy, and batten tensioning is courtesy of NeilPryde’s own unique system, which allows adjustment without an Allen key.
The Combat remains fairly versatile when it comes to tuning. It can be set with minimal downhaul and tighter leech for more grunt at the bottom end, or more downhaul and softer leech for smoother performance. We did find that it likes a bit of outhaul just to give some extra sharpness and a more direct feel.
Sizes: 3.7, 4.0, 4.2, 4.5, 4.7, 5.0, 5.3, 5.6
Tested on: NeilPryde X-Comb at RD M 370cm 100%
Size tested: 4.7m
on the water
For 2012 the Combat remains very similar in character to the 2011 model. It’s very light in the hands, with a fairly balanced pull position. When the sail loads up the pull is from slightly forward, but as you gain speed and the sail settles into its pace, the pull moves back a little and becomes perfectly balanced between your hands.
The bottom end power does feel up on last year and is now jointly the best in test. The power feels very low and forward, which gives the sail a nicely compact, controllable yet powerful feel. What’s slightly surprising is how soft the power delivery is, which is no doubt helped by the spring and softness of the sail itself. Overall, this gives very forgiving power.
Top end is good, although the Combat is still soft in comparison to most of the other sails here and can therefore move around a bit in gusts. It does remain very light in the hands though, and can be depowered easily.
The light, compact and manoeuvrable feel makes the Combat great for waveriding. It’s easy to depower, light on the back hand, and the sail’s extra softness and flexibility come into their own on the wave-face. The boom angle is also positioned with the clew a little lower than on most of the other sails, which is designed to help with control and waveriding performance.
Untuned range remains excellent, meaning that even in gusty conditions the Combat performs through a good wind spectrum without requiring retuning – a real bonus for UK conditions.
The Combat is grunty, powerful, compact, light in the hands and soft in feel. These descriptive terms don’t normally go together, but the Combat has blended them in a very successful way. With its compact shape the Combat remains a fantastic waveriding sail, particularly for down-the-line conditions, but with excellent untuned range and a respectable top and bottom end performance it also makes a great all-round wave sail choice.