“This sail is the most versatile in the NeilPryde wave sail range and would suit the rider who is looking for extreme durability. The Combat will allow the rider to get the most out of all wave conditions.”– neilpryde.com
On the Beach
For 2011 Pryde claim to have tweaked the Combat to be lower aspect, and checking the measurements confirms that this is definitely the case. With a luff of 390cm (8cm shorter than last year’s) the Combat has the shortest luff length in test. Even shorter than the Naish Boxer!
The boom length remains the same as last year’s model and sits pretty much in the middle of this group of sails (despite the massive compact clew). The Combat and Boxer are the only two sails in this test to set on a 370cm mast as standard. At 3.37kg the Combat is also one of the lightest sails in this test.
Despite the less fussy design there is still attention to detail where needed. The padded foot protector is a decent size and works well. The pulley block is of good quality, making downhauling relatively easy, and the batten tensioners are Pryde’s own unique system, which allow adjustment without an Allen key. The Combat remains in full X-ply construction (with dynema weave), which is great for durability, but beware of the limited visibility you get through the sail when waveriding (particularly in brighter conditions). The new graphics are extremely striking, and take advantage of a new printing technology that laminates the print within the sail. The result is a colour that will never fade or scratch, and overall the sail is marginally lighter.
Despite the changes for 2011, which include making it more compact, flattening the profile and increasing skin tension and stability through more luff curve, 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 leach for smoother performance. Use minimal outhaul for power and increase the outhaul tension for stability and a more ‘neutral feel’.
On the water
For 2011 the Combat retains much of the good characteristics of last year’s model while adding a few subtle improvements. It’s very light in the hands with a fairly balanced pull position. When the sail loads up the pull is slightly forward positioned, 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 is sufficient for most needs, but not massively grunty. (Pryde have the Atlas for the power hungry.)
This new Combat actually feels a little tighter in the hands than the previous model. Over the last few years Pryde have definitely gone down a route of making softer / more flexible feeling sails, but this 2011 Combat has reeled it in a little with a firmer, more responsive feel than last year’s model.
Top end is good, but despite the firmer feel the Combat is still soft in comparison to most of the other sails, and therefore can move around a bit in gusts. It does however remain very light in the hands, and can be depowered easily. Pryde do also point out that using the Combat on their SDM mast will increase responsiveness and give a more direct and slightly tighter feel.
The Combat feels very compact, light and manoeuvrable, which makes it great for waveriding. It’s easy to depower, light on the back hand, and the extra softness and flexibility of the sail come into their own on the wave face.
Despite the measurements showing the shortest luff in test, the Combat definitely doesn’t feel as extreme a design as the Boxer, so don’t be put off. You could easily be forgiven for not realising the luff is as short as stated, and it certainly doesn’t feel as compact a sail as the Naish Boxer in the hands, as it is slightly lower aspect.
Untuned range remains excellent, meaning that even in gusty conditions the Combat performs through a good wind range without requiring retuning – a real bonus for UK conditions.
The 2011 Combat is a nice tweak on last year’s design. It is slightly more compact and lower aspect, but more noticeably has a bit more firmness in feel, which adds a touch more stability and responsiveness this year. The Combat remains light in the hands and is a fantastic waveriding sail, particularly for down-the-line conditions. It also has excellent untuned range combined with a respectable top and bottom end performance, making it a great all-round wave sail choice.