“Right for all conditions and skill levels, this sail is an all-round performer. Hold your own against the fastest cambered freerace sails while leaving the hassles of rigging behind.” – gaastra.com
on the beach
The Matrix has one of the longest luffs (479cm) in this test and the second longest boom length (203cm). The foot is cut high enough for manoeuvres, and when overlaid on the other sails it’s apparent that the head is quite a bit narrower than most. For simplicity Gaastra offer just one clew eyelet and have so far avoided the current fashion trend of cutaway clews.
When set, the Matrix rigs with a slightly flatter profile than most of the other sails (particularly in the two battens above the boom) and also a tighter leech. The fact that the head of the sail is narrower probably contributes to the leech looking tighter than the other sails. Make sure you get plenty of batten tension on the lower battens to help encourage a bit more ‘feel’ and drive from the sail.
While no visual trim system is offered, the Matrix does allow reasonable flexibility in tuning. Be careful not to overdownhaul the sail as it loses a lot of power in doing so. We found the Matrix to work best with a fairly minimal amount of outhaul.
on the water
The Matrix feels very light in the hands, and despite its sizeable luff and boom lengths it certainly felt one of the smaller / more manoeuvrable sails on the water, making it a lot of fun in transitions. In a straight line the Matrix offers speed to match any of the other sails in this test.
Like the Pryde and the North it encourages the rider to adopt a more upright blasting stance, helping the board to ride lighter.
It’s noticeable that, in the hands, the Gaastra offers a slightly more ‘passive’ feel than the other sails. Improvers are likely to welcome this more ‘settled’ performance, but very advanced riders may prefer a little more feedback and response. It mostly comes down to a matter of personal preference.
We would describe the Gaastra as being light in the hands rather than grunty, and as such, a more subtle technique is required to get going in lighter winds. Once going, the Gaastra has good ‘glide’ and will keep you motoring through the lulls. As the wind increases, the Gaastra becomes more at home. It’s one of those sails that never gets unsettled in a blow. You sail around on it, waiting for bigger and bigger gusts to hit and then you realise that people around you are sailing on 5.5s and you’re still pretty comfortable – it’s that stable!
It actually takes a fair bit of wind for this sail to come truly alive in the hands. Again, less experienced riders will probably relish the very soft, cosseted ride that the Matrix offers. But for straight-line performance very advanced riders may find the sail a little lacking in the ‘excitement factor’. Nevertheless, the lightness and manoeuvrability of
the Matrix may make a worthy trade-off.
The Matrix is a top performer in stronger winds and really stands out for its light handling and manoeuvrability. In a straight line it isn’t quite as responsive in the hands as some, but many freeriders will love the Matrix for its settled ride and easygoing nature.