Our aim with testing is to describe the characteristics, strengths and weaknesses of the equipment as accurately as possible, enabling you to identify for yourself which product is going to be the most suitable for your needs. If something about an item of equipment is particularly good or bad, we will of course state it, but otherwise these tests will hopefully be considered as the next best thing to actually test riding the equipment yourself.
How to test a wave sail?
The thing about testing wave sails is that generally it’s a lot about personal preference. This makes it virtually impossible to say which is best, because more often than not it’s the individual characteristics of each sail that make or break its popularity with the rider, rather than the overall performance of the sail itself. So what we aim to do within our testing is to describe as accurately as possible the characteristics of each sail, enabling you to make your own decision as to which is likely to suit you best.
You might think that as these are mostly billed as ‘power waves’ the difference between them would be minimal, but in fact there are some big differences in feel. Some, for example, are very grunty in the hands, while others are very light, some are very soft and others quite firm. If you are at all unsure about what you require from a sail, please take some time to read our ‘What are we on about’ section. This should help you understand what style of sail might be most relevant to you, and then you can use the graphs to find the closest match to your preference.
The Test Group
This 5.3m sail test is aimed mostly at ‘power wave sails’ as opposed to the ‘crossshore’ and ‘all-round’ wave sails in our 4.7 test. Power wave sails are evidently the wave sails that offer the most power, but there are other factors that need to be considered. In general, they tend to work best with heavier riders as the sails are designed to work under the load of a heavier weight sailor (i.e. what someone of 65kg feels from a sail can be quite different to someone of 95kg, as the mast and sail react in quite different ways). The power position of these sails tends to be a little further back, and the sails are designed to hold the power a little more. This gives a reassuring pull in the hands, but can make them a little less light in feel, particularly at the top end.
We are aware that these power wave sails have quite a large range of use, which includes lighter weight riders in onshore wave conditions, heavyweight riders in cross-shore conditions, any weight of rider for freestyle, and also in some cases high wind blasting on flat water. We’ve taken this into account when testing the sails, and while the focus of this test is on wave use we’ve tried to indicate how the sails might perform for freestyle and flat water use.
Unfortunately, the production cycle of Gun Sails is different from the other brands, so we were unable to get hold of 2011 models for the start deadline of this test.
Construction and durability
With most sail prices somewhere between £400 and £600 in this test, you might be wondering why we haven’t scored build quality / durability in any way. The simple answer is that it’s very difficult. In the relatively short period that we have these sails for, it’s just not possible to get an accurate measure of how a sail might hold up over time. In future we hope to devise a way that will allow us to comment on the thickness of materials, reinforcements, stitching, etc, without having to take the sail to pieces. For the time being we’ve decided that it’s best not to comment at all rather than make inaccurate judgements, so we’ve intentionally avoided this subject within the test.
When testing it’s important to eliminate as many variables as possible. For this test we chose to use identical Fanatic boards in a range of sizes and styles to get the best picture of how the sails perform. We would like to thank Fanatic for lending us Quad 79 and Twin 86 boards to conduct the testing. fanatic.com
Still on the subject of equipment, it’s extremely important to be able to quickly readjust each sail at the water’s edge, so that we can pinpoint its best setting(s). For this purpose nothing comes close to the North Power XT RDM extensions for ease of use and quick adjustment. Thanks to North Sails for their help in getting our Clone test team geared up with these. north-windsurf.com
Finally, this and the 4.7m sail test were the first time the Clones left UK shores to conduct a wave test. With the UK wind drought there really was no option this year, so it was with great relief that Tenerife delivered such great conditions during our time there. The pictures speak for themselves. The Clones would especially like to thank the OTC crew for all their help, assistance and patience during the test trip. It really was very much appreciated! otc-windsurf.com
Also a big thanks to Anthony at apartamentosMédano.com. He’s an ex World Tour wavesailor and now the man to speak to if you want to rent a place in Médano. Thanks for sorting us out!