The Fly is Wave World Champion, Kauli Seadi’s signature sail. The sail is designed to be 4 batten (except in the bigger sizes), compact, lightweight and durable.
NeilPryde have 4 wave sails in their range: Alpha (most powerful), Combat (most durable), Zone (Cross Shore riding) and now The Fly. The Fly is designed to sit between the Alpha and Combat in terms of power and to be as lightweight as possible.
"The Fly represents what I'm looking for in a wave sail. It's quite powerful, but comfortable to sail and easy to handle. It's super manoeuvrable in the air - which I love because that's where I spend most of the time! And because of the low aspect ratio, the sail's power is concentrated in front of me - this makes it easy to control and in the end gives me more speed to get to where I want to be on the wave." – Kauli Seadi
If it's ‘bling factor’ you are looking for, The Fly has it in abundance. This is one funky looking sail, especially in the purple and gold colour scheme. NeilPryde are great when it comes to attention to detail and everything about the sail looks well thought through.
Pryde have their own unique batten tensioning system (see pictures) that can be adjusted by hand. The foot protector is nicely padded and a decent size and the downhauling pulley block is very good.
The Fly sports the second longest boom length in test (to the Ego) and the second shortest luff length – 9cm shorter than the Combat but nowhere near as extreme as the Naish Boxer which is a further 12cm shorter.
We tried The Fly on both X9 (standard diameter) and X-Combat (reduced diameter) masts. Because the sail felt so soft (more on this later) we opted to test the sail with the slightly stiffer X9 mast.
The 4.8m is the biggest of the four batten sails. The rigging guide tells you to set it with fairly minimum downhaul (as the 4 batten design softens the structure of the sail and allows it to ‘breath’ more easily). On the beach, this does look visually like the best option, as more downhaul encourages the top battens to curve the wrong way (against the foil shape of the sail) and twist off excessively.
The Fly was actually a bit of a surprise in how it handled. Having sailed the Boxer (Kauli’s previous sail) our Clones were expecting something along similar lines. However, The Fly and Boxer are actually very different sails.
The first thing you notice about The Fly is how soft it feels in your hands. For an 80kg rider, it actually feels too soft (unless you are really into this feeling). Every gust, pump or piece of chop causes the sail to spring, flex and buckle. When it does this, the top battens (particularly no 2), actually flip the wrong way and curve against the foil of the sail, resulting in the centre of effort moving forward. In practice, this makes the sail feel quite unusual – it starts to power up and then ‘pop’, the sail buckles and the centre of effort moves forward.
Our Clones spent a lot of time playing with the tuning of this sail and really struggled to find a setting that felt right. Not enough downhaul and the ‘buckling’ described above happens, too much downhaul and the sail loses power and the leach becomes too loose.
The other noticeable factor is when wave riding, the large leach feels very ‘floppy’ and unsupported. This is an issue in cross-on conditions when in clew first position (about to top turn), the leach can flap and backwind and makes the sail feel quite heavy and less controllable compared to others in test.
In the hands, the extra boom length (compared to other sails in test) is noticeable and The Fly feels quite big, soft and not as ‘throw about’ as most of the other sails in this group.
Due to the soft, unstable nature of the sail, the top end control is the worst in the group. It's not that the sail is unsailable at the top end, it's simply that you are likely to have an easier time on one of the other sails in this group. Bottom end power is also fairly limited as the sail seems to lack the rigidity required to give any decent drive. This was less noticeable for our lighter (65kg) Clone than it was for the heavier Clones.
Perhaps we have missed the point of this sail somehow as we really struggled to see where The Fly excelled compared to other sails in this group. The only area that we did see a benefit is in top turns in cross-off conditions, where the sail helped to keep the rail of the board connected to the water and carve a more powerful turn.
Generally, our test Clones didn’t have a great time on The Fly despite a lot of experimentation with settings. They found the lack of stability meant that the sail rarely felt settled in the hands. The useful wind range is also limited with the sail being the first to overpower and one of the slowest to get going.
We have heard from reliable sources that smaller sizes, 4.5m and below are very good, so perhaps its just a case that 4.8 (the biggest 4 batten size), isn’t quite working how it should. We have also heard that the sail can be 'tuned up' a bit by using a 400cm mast instead of the 370cm. Some riders are apparently mixing 400cm bottom sections with 370cm tops to yeild better performance.
Whatever the case may be, The Fly 4.8 is a sail that you could live with (and Kauli will probably win another World title on), but we recommend you try one before you buy if you are considering a 4.8m or bigger.