Nov 27, 2011
Test Team: Ingrid Larouche, Shannon Esslinger, Tanya Ferguson, Julia Jones, Becky Rapacz, Shana Shweitzer, Diane Chacon, Christine Morlock Vogt, and Katie Crafts.
On a nukin’ day in the Gorge this late August, nine hearty women took to the water with one common question: Is there a small sail that will make these crazy conditions a little less intimidating?
As the winds at Doug’s Beach averaged in the low 30-knot range, we drove east from Hood River with a handful of tiny 2011 sails to see how they compared in the big winds. We are all competent windsurfers and enjoy a good 3.7 or even 3.3-metre day, but something happens when the Gorge starts blowing into the 30s. It’s just not an easy session anymore… or so we thought.
So when this small sail gear test started to take form, we were excited to compare notes and see how the different sails faired. The good news is that we all found at least a sail or two that we love and felt immediately comfortable on. The conditions were certainly challenging – much more so than an average 3.7 day – but on each of our “true love” sails we all felt significantly more comfortable than we expected we would.
We learned a lot from our testing. First, it’s really helpful to test several sails back-to-back. Anyone considering a new quiver purchase should demo gear whenever possible. Second, these tiny sails sometimes perform differently than they do in their bigger sizes, so take your time before deciding which 2.9 is your perfect match. Third, small sails need to be rigged right. If you find you aren’t comfortable then playing with the sail settings before deciding the sail isn’t for you is critical.
Special thanks to Shannon Esslinger for coordinating all the gear. Also big thanks to Steve Gates and Daryl Morrisey of Big Winds, Dave Nunn of Windance, MJ and Charlie Burwell at Naish, Gary Morris who tech-reps for Ezzy in the Gorge and Ryan Kolberg of NoLimitz.
Ezzy Wave Panther 2.9
Luff: 318-319 Boom: 127-131
Strengths: Power; Jumping
The Good Comments: “It handles power very well and is stable. I like its ‘pocket’ for extra pull and lift with jumping!”; “One tough cookie… it can take a beating.”; "Decent power."; "Doesn't get backhanded when overpowered."
The Complaints: “It felt a bit heavy to me.”; "A little twitchy."
MauiSails Legend 2.9
Luff: 344 Boom: 132
Strengths: Transitions; Overall Feel
The Good Comments: “It feels very light.”; “Very forgiving in high gusts! Good for jibing in high winds. Went into neutral easily.”; “I immediately felt at home.”; "Light with a nice big window for visability."
The Complaints: “A little too flat for my taste.”; It became backhanded in the biggest gusts."; "Not as much lift as some of the others."
Naish Force 3.0
Luff: 326 Boom: 125
Strengths: Control/Stability; All-around Performance
The Good Comments: “Very stable and comfortable. The easiest sail to get used to.”; “Light and it is able to spill power in transitions and in the swell.”; "Not twichy and has good power."; "Light and easy to find the balance point."
The Complaints: “Rotation was a little stiffer then on the others.”; "It's deep pocket made it harder for backwinding or during moves like Shove-its."
Sailworks Revolution 2.6
Luff: 327 Boom: 119
Strengths: Power; Speed
The Good Comments: “Good power for its size.” “Super little. Super fast and powerful little sail. Had fun riding swell with and felt like I could ride down the whole river and never loose power and speed.”; " This sail was pure acceleration and speed. I think I got my biggest air on this sail."; "Very fast!"
The Complaints: “No easing on and off of power.”; "I couldn't slow down in the chop and I did a lot of tailwalking."
Severne Blade 3.0
Luff: 333 Boom: 137
Strengths: Control/Stability; Transitions; Jumping
The Good Comments: “Extremely smooth, stable, and well balanced in overpowered conditions. Rode like a Cadillac!”; “Loved this sail! It was really easy to jibe and oversheet and was always in control.”; "Sailed with the control of a larger sail! Forgiving in the high winds. Felt powered at all times but not too much."; "Depowers like a dream--would also be wonderful in waves."
The Complaints: “The boom cutout is too high.”; "I couldn't feel much acceleration in the gusts and I like to feel that acceleration."