“The S1 is ultra-light, manoeuvrable and encompasses the latest technological advances in Severne materials and shaping. With a flatter profile and tighter skin tension, the S-1 responds at light speed allowing for placement of the rig with absolute precision.”– severnesails.com
On the Beach
Let’s start by talking about sail weight. 2.87kg might not mean much to you, but if you take a quick look at the weights of the other sails you’ll notice that the S1 saves as much as a kilo over some other sails in this group! That’s a staggering amount, and in fact only the Naish comes anywhere near it for weight.
What’s more impressive is that it doesn’t feel or look like a flimsy sail. Severne assure us that the weight has been saved through use of high-tech materials, not cost saving and corner cutting, and looking at the sail gives no reason to doubt them.
It’s certainly an eye-catching sail in its bright orange colour scheme. The foot is cut very high, and the clew eyelets are also positioned a little higher than most.
The S1 is designed to help the board lift, rather than pin it to the water like the Blade. Which style you prefer is a question of preference, but you can quickly see how the S1 achieves this lift. It has a fairly flat profile, a relatively tight leech, and even the angle of the boom (higher at the back end than most) helps generate lift.
We found the S1 to be pretty much a one set sail. Unlike many of the other sails here, it’s not designed to have massive wind range – it’s designed to provide maximum performance within a more specific wind band. Don’t try and downhaul it hard for stronger winds, as it just doesn’t work. It’s best to set it with fairly minimum downhaul, a minimum amount of outhaul, and then aim to change down when the wind picks up.
On the water
The first thing you notice about the S1 is how light it feels in your hands and how sharp and responsive the power delivery is. It’s a real on/off type of sail.
It feels quite flat and firm in the hands and delivers its power largely through the back hand. The S1 feels a very compact sail and is extremely manoeuvrable. It’s the sail of choice of Severne Team riders Jaeger Stone and Dany Bruch, and in proper waveriding conditions you can see why they are so fond of it.
At the bottom end there is plenty of grunt and power, and the S1 scores as (joint) second within this test group for bottom end power and early planing.
At the top end, the S1 is out of its comfort zone. The power gets held on the back hand a little too much and the sail becomes quite a handful. You need to change down early, or alternatively if wind range is important to you, opt for their Blade range instead, which as far as we can tell has a much better top end.
The gusty conditions of El Médano probably weren’t the finest testing ground for this sail with its lack of top end control. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to test this sail in proper down-the-line conditions, but we can imagine it to be awesome in this environment.
The S1 feels like a more specialist product than the Blade, with a more niche appeal. It’s unbelievably light in the hands, has great bottom end power, and feels manoeuvrable, compact and very responsive. The back hand pull of the sail just gets a bit too much as the wind increases, and consequently limits its top end performance. If you’re happy to change down early, then the S1 will be fine. If you want a sail with a broad wind range, then you should look at the Blade instead.
Right to reply...
Firstly, testing is always difficult to get right. Especially in a short time frame with a lot of different sails to test. We were in Tenerife the week before this test sailing all the sizes of S-1 from 3.7 to 6.3 and had quite different results. (We were comparing them to 010 sails, not 011, but I didn’t read in all the other sails’ write-ups that they all had way more top end than 011).
From looking at the photos, and reading the section in the test write-up about the S-1 being a one set sail, don’t downhaul it for stronger winds and run minimum outhaul I can see why the testers found it got out of its comfort zone. The photos show the sail to be pretty bagged out... I would disagree with the rigging advice within the test.
The S-1 works better even in lighter winds with more downhaul and outhaul. (Enough downhaul to pull the lower battens back to the middle of the mast, and enough outhaul to then pull the battens to within 1cm of the back of the mast.)
It was also interesting to read that it scored joint second for bottom end power. I think this is also a sign of it being incorrectly rigged, as I’ve never found it to be a grunty sail. It does plane early, but that’s due to the light weight and efficiency – it doesn’t have that back hand pressure (grunt) when rigged right.
And secondly, testing is always difficult to get right.
I would agree that the Blade would be a more suitable sail for someone that wants a more stable sail, whereas the S-1 is the sail for the manoeuvre oriented wave or freestyle sailor that craves ultimate performance.