“The radical look of the new ICE reveals that there’s been a lot of development work, which translates into great performance. This World Cup wave sail has the potential to get the maximum out of any situation – even in very critical conditions!”– north-windsurf.com
On the Beach
True to form the North Ice looks a high quality product with great attention given to the detailing of the sail. The ‘Code Mad’ colour scheme is extremely eye-catching and very ‘bling’. We love the North visual trim system, which is probably the easiest of all the trim guides. The Ice also has a harness line position indicator marked on the sail, which is a nice touch and helps get the lines in roughly the right position before leaving the beach.
Luff and boom length remain exactly the same as last year, with a fairly moderate luff length compared to the rest of this group, but notably the longest boom in test. Sail weight is actually the heaviest in test at 3.89kg. Nevertheless, the Ice is very light in the hands on the water and the 5-year warranty probably goes some way to explaining the higher static weight.
Last year, due to the softness of the sail with the introduction of the RDM mast, we were finding that setting the downhaul near to ‘minimum’ was working best for most conditions, and mostly this is true of this year’s Ice. Minimum downhaul combined with a little outhaul helps to give the sail a bit more grunt and back hand feel. If you want a lighter feeling sail go for more downhaul and keep it minimal on the outhaul. Make sure you have plenty of batten tension on the lower two battens.
Two clew eyelets are offered, with the top one adding a bit more back hand pull to the sail (for those looking for a gruntier sail), and the bottom eyelet offering a softer feel with more release. Choosing one or the other doesn’t completely transform the sail, but a subtle difference can be noticed.
On the water
So, has much changed since last year? Well, to be honest if it has we struggled to notice it. It’s possible that the Ice is ever-so-slightly more forward pulling this year, but don’t quote us on that – it might just be that the other sails in the group are less forward pulling so we’re noticing it more!
The Ice remains very light in the hands, with a fairly sharp power delivery, and is notable for being the most forward pulling sail of this group. It’s a pull position that will probably take a few runs to get used to if you haven’t sailed an Ice before. As the power comes on it’s very far forward (near the mast), but then once the sail gets going it moves back a bit.
The result of this is a very light and manoeuvrable feeling sail. It feels very throwabout and has an excellent top end, making it one of the best sails for well-powered conditions. The Ice’s forte remains down-the-line conditions, where the light feel and forward pull combined with the easy depower make the rig very neutral and allow the rider to simply get on with surfing the wave. Backside / onshore riding is also great on the Ice, where the same characteristics make the sail very controllable and manageable.
The bottom end can’t quite match the best of this group, but it’s sufficient if rigged as described above with less downhaul and a little bit of outhaul. We found the older Ices were a bit lacking in power, but these more recent models have definitely improved.
With minimal change for 2011, the Ice remains an exceptionally light handling and manoeuvrable wave sail. The pull position is well forward, helping to provide great top end control and waveriding characteristics, but does make the Ice slightly less grunty at the bottom end. The 5-year warranty is testament to North’s confidence in the build quality.