Sorry for the long silence but I needed a break from the blog. Anyway I’m back and would like to give some feedback regarding the soft kit for high wind racing as promised in the last post. I will also share my feelings regarding the camless 7.8m Gaastra Savage. I have sailed mine extensively against different sail sizes and configurations so I am in a position to give a reasonable verdict.
First, I want to explore the reasons for the astonishing performance achieved by the likes of Harry and Andy with soft sails in high winds. The problem with pure race stuff is that its sole purpose is to go as fast as possible (assuming optimal board/fin/mast combination) in a given wind range. In wild water, this speed means that one is continuously faced with the very real prospect of becoming airborne off the top of steep chop. The only way to avoid flying in these situations is to sheet out. Sheeting out on a race sail reduces mast foot pressure causing the board to tail walk. The racer then, alternates between sheeting out to avoid taking off (on the one hand) and being out of control because the board is tail walking (on the other). This is all happening in nuclear wind and vicious chop. Not a recipe for speed. Harry and Andy are so fast in these conditions because their boards (Rocket 105 and 3S 96) are kinder and a little slower than slalom boards. Their sails are Gaastra Remedies which are quite happy to be sheeted out with little effect on board trim. They are therefore able to control their speed and their equipment over wild water.
The equipment then, enables them to sail in relative comfort (compared to the racing guys) and therefore, maintain control. As I've said before - comfort=speed. Having said all this, it must be added that both of these guys are highly skilled and extremely fast sailors (it is not just the equipment but the equipment allows them to do what they do best).
The above points only apply to wild conditions of course. As soon as the water flattens out, slalom kit rules.
My feedback regarding the Gaastra Savage 7.8m is as follows: The sail is extremely fast and comfortable. It is easy to rig, light in the hands and a joy to gybe. All in all, this sail is really nice to live with. Having said this, I have to add that although I can keep up with 7.5ish 3 cam race sails across the wind, I battle as soon as the course turns up or deep downwind. The cammed sails are simply more efficient. If your purpose is to race this size of sail then I would recommend a sail like the Gaastra Phantom 7.8m or Severne’s Overdrive 7.8m. I rode Karel’s 7.8m Phantom and was astonished at the performance and ease of use. Light in the hands and it rotates like silk. Awesome job Peter Munzlinger!
The new Manta 116’s have not arrived so I can’t give any feedback yet. I will briefly discuss some rigging points for the Gaastra Cross in the next post