Some comments regarding manufacturers in the industry.
Gaastra has lost Dan Kasseler and I'm not sure whether this is a good or bad thing. Dan is a talented individual and knows how to make fast sails but my feeling is that his sails are not always the easiest to handle. I had the first wide sleeve Naish Stealth. A fast thing evidenced by Finian's world speed record at the time but a more unpleasant sail would be hard to imagine. Rotation was almost impossible and a days sailing with it resulted in feeling like you had been thrashed with a very large, heavy stick. Peter Munslinger is a good guy and I must say I have always been impressed by the Point 7 brand. My only concern is that they have also been quite heavy and sometimes difficult to rotate. I hope he doesn't bring these things with him to his new position. So Gaastra has some question marks over it. One Gaastra sail which is highly rated in these parts is the Cross (formerly the Remedy). An awesome sail if used on the correct mast (ie not one from Gaastra ). I suppose their 75% silver mast is OK but we use Fiberspar's Radius RDM for the ultimate Cross spine. We hold 6m Remedies here when visitors are down to their 4.7 wave sails. The new Savage looks interesting and our local supplier had one on the water a few days ago and spanked some full race sails.
North is to be commended on its Warp which despite the road paint colour looks the business. If you watched the pro-tour video of the race where Cyrill destroyed the field using a smaller sail than everyone else you will agree that these sails work. I admire Kai for continuously cutting weight (and recently, batten counts) of the Warp. I have already expressed my feelings about sail weights for the other sails in their range but despite this I'm sure that all the sails work.
What can one say about Pryde's new sails. The slalom sail is elegant, light, fast and beautiful on the water and has the right number of battens and cams. Robert Stroj is one of the masters - no doubt.
Ka sails continue to produce awesome stuff. I own a Koncept 6.6 and it is one of the best sails I have ever ridden. Their Koyote looks awesome as well. I have never ridden one but am sure that it is probably on a par with any camless sail on the market. Light too!
Severne is becoming a really impressive brand. They pulled out all the stops with the new Reflex and I recon that the Reflex 2 is probably the state of the art in race sails right now. As stated above they seem to get the need for light sails as well so hats off to them. I rode a friend's NCX 7.0 the other day and smoked on my Falcon 104. Very impressive. I have my doubts about the large batten overhang above the boom however. My concern is that it places more sail area above the boom at the expense of area below and this seems to result in a sail which is out of balance. None of this seemed to make the sail any slower however. The Severne Enigma masts have had some extensive testing by my collegues and they are by all accounts awesome. Used with Severne, Pryde, Gaastra sails they absolutely rock. Fantastic masts (a bit heavy for me but I could live with this for the performance)
Point 7 is a nice brand and I hope that the departure of Peter is not going to effect their future success. I feel that the tie-up with Challenger Sails can work because of their flexibility and cleverness. Whenever a good, passionate sailor is directly involved with a brand and its development of equipment good things result (Patrik Diethelm, Anders Bringdal, Robbie Naish to name a few) and Andrea Cucchi is just such a man. I like the way they do their selling and like the sound (and specs) of their masts. My only concern is the weight issue mentioned earlier and the rotation of the full on race model. The testers had a 3 cam slalom model here this year and I was disappointed by the weight of the sail. That black stuff is not as light as it looks.
Sailworks continues to make great products. There is not much more to say than that. Their Hucker would be great in our conditions and I would love to take some sizes for a blast over our lagoon.
Naish as mentioned before has really got the weight thing between its teeth. Major respect! In the slalom line the testers only had the Indie here so not really a full on slalom but very slick and light. I think it gave a pretty good account of itself against the 3 cam sails in the test. Our local supplier had a falling out with Naish some time ago so no Naish equipment is welcome here. I still have some old Naish stuff but would never want to rock the boat so I don't even consider owning any new Naish equipment. Pity. I note from their site that there is no full slalom board and no Stealth for 2011. I hope they have not moved out of this segment. What will their racers (Sarah Herbert for example) use?
OK Guys - to bed but in the next post I will try to get something down about some of the pro's and who is going where. I will also discuss boards