“It is soft, balanced and neutral on waves. It reacts immediately and the pressure can turn directly on or off. Nevertheless, it will bring you through the impact zone without any problem. The 2012 design offers an even more pure Manic feeling than ever! It will be difficult to find a better all-round sail for waves or stormy flat-water days.”
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The Gaastra Manic has been a test leading sail since its introduction in 2005, and has built a strong reputation for its fantastically light handling, all-round wave appeal and great top end control. In 2011 the Manic received a fairly major (and successful) overhaul, which amongst other things reduced the luff length quite considerably. For 2012 Gaastra claim the focus has been on refinement rather than redesign.
ON THE BEACH
For 2012 Gaastra have nudged another couple of centimetres off the luff and boom lengths, making the Manic even more compact. Gaastra claim only small changes from the 2011 model, which include a new panel layout and extra reinforcement to the foot and leech to improve durability.
With one of the shortest luff lengths of the group (402cm), the Manic sets on a 400cm mast. The boom length (163cm) is actually one of the longest, while the weight (up 0.1kg from last year’s HD version) sits towards the heavier end of the group.
Gaastra continue to avoid the compact clew design that has become fashionable recently, and have kept things nicely simple with just one clew eyelet. As with last year’s Manic, there seems to be a reasonable amount of tuning flexibility, although this year it sets with perhaps a slightly looser leech than last year’s model. Less downhaul gives more bottom end power and a gruntier feel, while more downhaul gives a smoother top end. We did find that the draft is a little further back than the 2011 model, and it holds a little more on the back hand, so we were applying slightly more downhaul this year to get it to release and lighten up.
Tested on: Gaastra RD M 400cm
Size tested: 4.7m
ON THE WATER
Much to our surprise, despite only subtle changes to the Manic’s design we actually noticed quite a big difference on the water in comparison to last year’s model.
Over the past few years the Manic has established itself as one of the most manoeuvrable, lightest handling wave sails on the market, and even after a fairly major redesign last year those same characteristics were maintained. This year, however, we found the Manic to have changed character somewhat. On this 2012 model the power seems to have moved rearward and the leech seems to hold the power a little more. Overall, this gives the Manic a gruntier feel, but also a slightly heavier / less manoeuvrable feel in the hands.
The grunt and bottom end of the Manic have been improved, so in lighter winds it has a little more to offer than it did in the past. It also has a slightly firmer overall feel. However, the incredibly smooth top end and sharp, light handling are not quite what they used to be.
Ignoring for a moment how it compares with last year’s design, it is still a very good all-round performer in its own right. In cross-on conditions it has enough stability and power to make it a fun sail to use, while in cross-shore riding conditions the compact feel and power point are nice for driving though turns on the wave-face.
To be fair, it’s still a great all-round wave sail with respectable bottom end and top end performance, it just seems a little different.
Compared with the rest of this group, the Manic is a very good all-round wave sail, sitting pretty much middle of the group for all our descriptive criteria. The bottom end is an improvement on last year, but overall we can’t help but feel that the Manic has lost a little of the magic that it had in years gone by with regard to its light handling and top end performance.