4.2 COMPACT WAVE SAILS - COMPACT & BIJOU
(This feature originally appeared in the September 2013 issue of Windsurf Magazine. Print and digital subscriptions for readers worldwide are available HERE. You can access more equipment tests HERE. )
This is probably the last time we’ll test sails in a specifically ‘compact’ category. For those of you who’re catching-up on modern sail developments, the term compact started when a movement towards, broadly speaking, lower-aspect ratio (I.e., shorter luffed sails) spread throughout all the main brands as the benefits of lower swing weight, shorter and therefore stronger masts, less battens and associated weight savings – and more - became commonplace. Now almost all wave sails are ‘compact’ – so next time we’re likely to purely concentrate on size and purpose.
The 4.2 – 4.5 bracket is an interesting one. Even for fairly featherweight individuals this is a sail size that is mostly going to be used in a pretty powered-up scenario and rarely used in a pure ‘float ‘n ride’ scenario for most body types, so designs will be tested in their ability to deliver in, not only all-round high-wind use, but also in pure waveriding terms.
ONE GOOD TURN DESERVES ANOTHER.
Prior to this test, in the interests of staying on-the-pulse, we did our usual counselling of a host of main-player brands on what they think we should focus on when reviewing [wave] equipment. The majority wanted us to assume buyers of wave kit are advanced sailors who know what they want and like, based on experience and personal preference and style.
Specifically they seemed to think how sails and boards turn in the surf should be the priority rather than their general sailability. Fair enough. You’re big boys and girls and may well know your onions. After all, with wave gear, making turns is what we’re hopefully going out to do and so we decided to go along with this focus, until …
… presented with less-than-ideal conditions in Tenerife’s El Médano, we soon found that, actually, all-round use is vital. You have to be able to ‘get around the park’ and be able to get to the peak and be in the game – ‘in it to win it’ if you like. Even skilled sailors will struggle if there’s sketchy wind or a lot of water moving around a narrow take-off zone, so general rideability is key.
Sadly we didn’t get a lot of water moving around or loads of banging 4.2 wind, so it’s pertinent to say these smaller sails got way less water time than the larger gear we had with us, which got a much more thorough examination.
You’ll read about this and our the next point shortly – and more in coming tests too, but, basically, we found that all the latest boards and sails, mostly in larger sizes than right here, tend to fall into two camps.
The first being those that are awesome wave riders, that perform and feel at home in-the-moment and on the face of a wave, but are not necessarily the easiest to motor about on.
Or secondly, those that are just ‘invisible’ and easy in all aspects and generally just make life easier. However, what is interesting, is that amongst all the board and sails we had, the ones that are easy and effortless to sail around in a straight line are often the most joyous to turn as well – and if that is so in tricky, onshore, small wave conditions (and as we know that much of this selection is billed as dedicated down-the-line stuff), that this type of gear is then likely to work absolutely everywhere.
POINT OF VIEW
It is a matter of perspective though. While were there the PWA was in town and, regardless of whether we liked it or not, all the gear we had – and more – was flying around and performing in awe-inspiring fashion, proving that often it’s the sailor who limits the gear more than anything.
All-in-all we like to think that we’re decent and experienced enough sailors who’ve ridden a lot of kit over the years to pass comment, but clearly we’re more like you than Philip Koester and friends, so all of our feedback is with your kind of sailing in mind.
In a nutshell, if we can unlock the performance of the vast majority of these pros favourite sails and boards, then we’re confident you’d go on the same trip and reach the same conclusions.
Like all sails we try not to judge on appearance or specs first and try to get an initial feel on the water first. Often sails and lines need a little ‘bedding-in’ first too. (We’re always surprised on the first morning how battens need tensioning again after their first outing, plus of course down and outhaul lines stretch.)
These 4.2s were mostly only used late in the trip, so this time we had to make our notes on outline and construction first, but all the specs are quite similar with boom lengths all within 10 cm of each other, with only the North, Severne and Simmer having differing luff lengths from the main crowd.
Usually we set them with a good deal of outhaul first and minimal outhaul and then tune from there to find the sweet spots. The annual Médano wave test trip is also interesting as, with the PWA in town, many designers, Product Managers and pro riders are on hand to swing by and give insight into their gear and development directions and pass on tips for maximising the settings.
WHAT DID WE FIND?
• Unlike some of the larger sails, all were super stable in high wind bump ‘n jump scenarios and wave riding
• Most had power-clew/backhand bias for wave riding, making sure you felt you had something in your hands to tighten up turns and put you on the back foot when you wanted to be
• All had a lot of tech with lightweight stretch control to keep everything nice and tight. (There’s a lot of scrim and technora cloth on the market – plus a Dacron revival – and not many pure film sails left on the market.)
• Most of the designs were compacted with big roaches
• All had a good low-end grunt and stability when super powered than sails of years-gone-by
• Compact sails work even better now with the next generation of quad/tri/thruster fin boards as they are more secure in all conditions
• All rigged easily, but now more than ever, correct mast selection is a must to get the most out of them.
Chris Rainbow 75 kg
Julian Da Vall 85 kg
Brian McDowell 95 kg
Tenerife Windsurf Solution (TWS) of El Médano, Tenerife made us feel very welcome during our two-week trip. Marko and his team have a great setup in the South Bay that has direct access to the gentler waves of ‘Chicken Beach’ and is a short beat to the nearby Harbour Wall reef that offers side/side-on conditions as well as being a further leisurely cruise upwind to PWA venue Cabezo.
TWS (formerly ‘The Official Test Centre’, or OTC) continues the concept of being more than a rental centre, with the best masts and pro edition boards on offer for serious punters to try out in advance of a purchase.
We must say that this is an excellent idea, especially in view of current prices. Trying kit in what is actually pretty similar conditions to many ‘euro’ beaches – with a little extra power in the reef waves thrown in – gives you a good overview of what’s on the market and what categories of kit you get on with most considering your style and ability and targets.
They mostly have wave and freestyle wave gear as well as some quality freeride equipment that the majority of the south bay is perfect for getting to know.
More at tws-windsurf.com
HOT SAILS MAUI QU4D 4.3
Due to lack of wind, further testing was required on these sails, some of which are published in our January 2014 Issue.
GAASTRA IQ 4.2
GOYA GURU 4.2
NORTH HERO 4.2
POINT-7 SWAG 4.2
TUSHINGHAM ROCK 4.2
Click here to read more:
Click here to read more: Windsurf Magazine
2014 NEILPRYDE COMBAT 4.2M
NEILPRYDE COMBAT 4.2 TEST REVIEW REPORT
Refined power and decent handling for riding and rotational manoeuvres. A strong choice for all types
of conditions with a nice level of backhand feedback for riding.
Any type of wave or freestyle wave board, especially multifin models.
There is some tuning range but keep some tension to unlock the best performance at either end of the scale.
‘With versatility and performance as its main design objectives, the Combat shines in all conditions. A totally new design including a 4-batten layout in small sizes has resulted in an even lighter and more responsive Combat. You’ll give up long before it does’.
Due to some logistical delays, the NeilPryde sails arrived too late to make our full assess-and-compare sessions and as such were straight out of the box and onto the water to maximise time. Without being to go over them with a fine toothcomb side-by-side with the competition, these are our basic observations on the build quality.
Outline: All of the Pryde wave sails are ‘compact’ but the Combat is slightly higher aspect than most of this group, with a narrow head and a stepped leech above the boom.
Build Quality: The Combats all boast laminated clew and tack panels containing woven kevlar and polyester yarn that disperse the high loads from these sections and prevent stretch. All these panels are stitch free, which bodes well for long-term durability. Elsewhere Pryde are generous with the dyneema x-ply and all the graphics are printed prior to lamination so should stay pin-sharp for some time to come. There’s a moulded PU and rubber head protector piece, (4.2 is fixed head), key-less batten tensioners and batten tip protection on each tack, nice flat sewn-in mini battens, and loads of double-stitched seams as well. There’s also all the usual foot protection piping and a nice moulded, padded tack fairing with a stainless 3-block pulley.
As you’d expect from a Pryde the power delivery is nice and smooth, the combat having good acceleration and a slight amount of spring. The 4.2 is super-manoeuvrable in the hands and loves to be turned and ducked and generally thrown about. The bottom turn is nice with a lot of feedback as you sheet in to keep you in touch constantly with the power and it remains composed and controlled off-the-top. Our heavier testers did find some top-end wind limit with a slightly scattier behaviour so the scope of use and levels of drive are better at the lower and medium end of the scale, but it’s by no means a sail for light riders only as traditionally the combat’s been much-loved by testers of all shapes and sizes.
READ THE OTHER REPORTS
Click here to read more:
Click here to read more: Windsurf Magazine
2013 NEILPRYDE COMBAT 4.7 TEST REVIEW REPORT
The Combat is NeilPryde’s versatile all-round wave sail line that’s been completely redesigned for 2013 with lighter weight and more responsive handling the objectives. The larger sizes of the Combat, 5.0 and bigger, all have five battens, while the smaller sizes have just four. It’s available in either clear window or HD (Heavy Duty) full X-ply constructions.
A very compact outline with a short luff and a four-batten frame. The leech is slightly stepped to reduce the boom length and it features a moulded tack and head protector. The build quality and attention to details is as you would expect from NeilPryde and this sail is packing plenty of re-enforcement with Kevlar and ArmourWeb Dyneema X-ply for durability.
Using a 370 as recommended we tested it with a NeilPryde Matrix 100 RDM. It was easy to rig and it has a wide tuning range that can be set to suit any conditions – it is important however that you don’t under downhaul it.
The Combat is light in the hands with its compact shape and soft feel that make it very easy to control or throw around. It has plenty of bottom end power and gets you going very quickly, even in lighter winds. It has a solid forward drive and holds some power in the backhand, which gives you good feedback and plenty of control to drive into manoeuvres or turns. At the top end it remains easy to handle and it’s not until it gets super windy that you need to think about changing down.
The Combat’s changed a lot but is packing heaps more power, with far better bottom-end. The added get-up-and-go is at the cost of some top-end range – although, in terms of using a quiver of them, would allow you to get out on a smaller, more throwabout sail earlier. It performed really well in all conditions, both on the water and for jumping too, making it a highly capable, take-anywhere wave sail.
READ THE OTHER REVIEWS:
Click here to read more:
Click here to read more: Windsurf Magazine
NeilPryde introduce their Ricardo Campello signature sail, the Combat Tour…
Combat Tour will suit a rider looking for extreme durability and versatility, performing equally well in all conditions. The Tour’s clear window improves visibility for better positioning on the wave – or just to keep an eye on your competition.
ArmourWeb construction for optimum durability – with monofilm window for optimum visibility.
Moderate luff curve and shaping making the sail extremely versatile.
Low aspect ratio keeps the power low down where it can be controlled easily.
Progressive luff curve: Makes the sail tuneable to accommodate its versatility. The sail will always have a reasonable draft in the bottom, under minimal and maximum downhaul settings.
Ricardo Campello: “Combat is easily tuned to suit many conditions, from onshore to side-shore. TeamPryde needed a competition-ready version of this great, versatile sail. Adding a clear window to the Combat gave us the added advantage of better visibility in the waves. Having Combat Tour now makes me prepared for all competition conditions.”
SIZE / LUFF / BOOM
3.7 355 148
4.0 365 152
4.2 372 156
4.5 381 160
4.7 389 164
5.0 404 168
5.3 416 172
5.6 428 176
More at www.neilpryde.com