Thank you to everyone who has e-mailed with feedback on this series of articles. Thanks for your time and attention - much appreciated.
Today I am going to be discussing a hugely important sail in the range - the 7.8m. The right 7.8m sail can be used in light to medium winds with the big 81cm board. It can be held as the wind picks up and used with the 68-71cm wide board with a 43cm fin. It can then be held in quite strong wind on the same board with the 39cm fin. Downhaul it properly and you will surprise yourself at how deep into the strong wind you can hold it. Our challenge therefore, is to identify a sail which will enable planing in light winds and still give the control needed to facilitate high wind blasting with optimal comfort and maximum fun.
Up until about a year ago my belief was always that if your sail was bigger than 7.0m, it had to have camber inducers. This season I am challenging this point of view and will be replacing my North Ram with a camless 7.8m sail. I'm not sure that this is a wise move but we will see and I will be reporting back to you on its performance compared with similar sized race and freerace sails. My short list for this sail is as follows:
- Sailworks Retro 7.5
- Severne NCX 7.5
- Gaastra Savage 7.8
- North X Type 7.8
Gaastra's Savage is too heavy at 5.4kg but this is not enough to exclude it from the list. North's X Type is surprisingly light at 4.8kg (I usually criticize North for the weight of their sails but this one is fine) and the Severne is of course the lightest at 4.6 kg. Every one of these sails has 7 battens and sets on a 460 mast. The North may look a bit softer and less performance orientated but don't believe this. My experience with North sails tells me that this is one special sail - fast, light and easy.
I can't get through to the Gaastra site for the Savage - they must be doing maintenance.
Because our local dealer sells Gaastra and Severne I am probably going to buy a Savage in this size for myself. I know that one of the other guys is buying the NCX 7.5 and another is considering a Retro so I will have lots to compare with and will keep you informed. The bottom line is that any of these sails, rigged on the right mast with proper downhaul and outhaul will give you the speed, control and fun we are looking for.
Before I close on this I would say that if you have never owned a pure race sail and are toying with the idea of getting one, then this is the size to go for. Unlike the 9.0m race sail, a 7.8m is at least manageable and not too difficult in the gybes. A pure race model will tie in beautifully with the two bigger slalom boards in the quiver and will be something to hone your racing skills in winds that are not trying to kill you. So although I do not recommend a race sail anywhere in these articles, if you want one, then this size is the one to flirt with. Have a look at the new Avanti sails. With their super light masts they are looking pretty cool to me right now. Loft's Blade looks great with an RDM mast and Severne's Reflex3 is an engineering masterpiece and potential giant killer.
I'm going to opt for fun and will not be going near any race sail but if you have the strength and ambition to race, go for it.
That's all for now. All the best and good winds