On Sunday we had great winds here and the water was reasonably flat. I sailed my 7.8m Ram the whole afternoon but guys were on sails right down to 4.7m. This session worked me hard and reminded me of a problem faced by many who buy and use pure slalom sails. These high tech sails are the fastest things on the water for getting through a slalom race. If you want to win at the highest levels you have to use them. They are however, highly technical and are quite difficult to sail for most windsurfers. You need the skill and strength to keep the board on the water at the high speeds the sails are designed for. If you are not able to do this then a camless design is going to be so much better for you.
The 7.5m to 7.8m slalom sail is a particularly problematic size for many windsurfers who perceive it as a light wind sail. The problem is that this size is not a light wind sail at all and it only comes into its own when fully powered up. Only when you are fully maxed out do all the engineering aspects of the sail come into play and enable you to access the performance the sail was designed for. So often I see guys wobbling about in light winds on their 7.8m slalom sails getting worked over by the weight, the cams which do not always rotate and the sleeve which fills with 100l of water when they fall in and have to water start. I rode Andre's 7.8m Reflex2 the other day in overpowered conditions and there too realized what a great design this sail is when fully lit. This high energy sailing really works you however and the pure fun factor is not really there. Also, when the wind drops, all the weight and technology seem to punish you and sadly many windsurfers never get out of the punishment zone with these machines. The message then is, if you can handle the power and want the ultimate then by all means buy a good slalom 7.8m sail, haul it down and sail it in strong winds. If you are like most of us, buy a good camless design (NCX 7.5 or Savage 7.8) and go faster and easier than you would be able to manage on the slalom equivalent. I'm firmly in the camless camp now and will not be replacing my Ram with another cammed sail.
On Sunday I noticed Andy smoking all comers on his 110l Manta with a 2 year old Vandal camless sail (6.5m). The design of this sail is one which has always appealed to me. It is simple (no cutouts, no big batten above the boom etc) and is light, easy to rig and easy to sail. It is also blisteringly fast on a fast board with a proper fin. An ideal setup for most of us who want to go fast and have fun.
Talk to you soon