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2011 Highwind Board and Sail Tests...with BONUS coverage

Apr 13, 2011

Here you'll find the individual reviews and the complete tests intros for both the 2011 highwind board and sail tests.

Click for individual Board reviewsClick for individual Sail reviews


Highwind Board Test Intro... 

Find Your Next Wave, Freestyle Wave or Freeride Board
Looking at these boards head-to-head is a great way to narrow it down to a few choices that are perfect for you. The eight boards tested are divided into four groups to make things easy: wave, wave-oriented freestyle wave, all-around freestyle wave, and freeride. Solosports Adventure Holidays ( at Punta San Carlos, Baja hosted the wave portion of the test, while Worldwinds Windsurfing ( at Bird Island, near Corpus Christi, Texas, provided a base for testing on flat water.

 Wave: Of the three wave designs tested, the Naish Wave 87 is, by far, the most dedicated wave board lending itself to competent wave sailors looking for the ideal tool to push themselves in the most demanding conditions. The Exocet U-Surf 84 and Starboard Evo IQ 86 have a bit more all-round appeal, with planing performance allowing them to rip in onshore waves as well as the occasional bump-and-jump day.

Wave-oriented FSW:
The Goya One 86 and Quatro Freestylewave 85 are equally as at home in the waves as they are in bump-and-jump conditions. They will be a great choice for anyone who’s progressing in the waves but still needs a board for back-and-forth blasting. While these two boards match up well performance-wise, there is a distinct difference in their feel on the water: the Goya prefers to be carved off the tail, and offers a ride that inspires confidence with its voluminous nose riding high above chop and white water; the Quatro has a livelier ride that’s easier to find speed from, and it carves and rides with a more front-foot-weighted stance.

All-around FSW: Coming in the form of what we expect from a freestyle wave (FSW) are the Fanatic FreeWave 85 and RRD FreeStyle Wave 85. Both of these boards put bump-and-jump performance at a higher level than the wavier shapes. That’s not to say they can’t be fun in the waves, though, and for those new to wavesailing, their consistent performance may make them boards you’ll progress faster on. We find their individual performance closely matched, but if forced to split them up, we would comment that the RRD’s playfulness was loved by everyone, regardless of style or ability, while the Fanatic is the choice for sailors with the skill to find a board’s top speed and use that ability to rail through full-speed jibes.

Freeride: The JP All Ride 96 stuck out from the crowd with its extra volume and flatwater design. It was, by far, the easiest board to ride in the test, and impressed with its performance potential. In the same conditions the 85’s were at their best, the All Ride was nearly at its limit—the larger the chop became, the more out of place it felt. But on the days the 85’s were barely going, we were cruising on the All Ride, ripping through fully powered jibes.

Highwind Sail Test Intro...

Nine Versatile Wave and Crossover SailsSail design is becoming a refined art. You’re virtually guaranteed that any sail you choose will perform in a huge range of conditions—especially with smaller sails. In this test we see everything from pro-level wavesails to less specialized back-and-forth blasters. While it’s easy to look at how a sail does in its intended conditions, it’s more amazing to see just how well it can do outside its comfort zone.

Power Wave: The Goya Eclipse, Sailworks Revolution (aka Revo) and Naish Force all feel very light in the hands and are perfect sails to cross over from wave to bump-and-jump conditions. The Eclipse and Revo go about making their weight reductions in different ways, but both do a great job of remaining stable when overpowered. Of the two, we give a slight edge to the Eclipse if waves are more of a priority, while the Revo has a bit lighter rotation that freestylers will like. If you want the sail to go neutral a little sooner, then the Naish Force is the call. It also has a slightly tighter leech that can help in certain freestyle moves, but make sure you keep the Force from getting too overpowered.

Crossover: At the forefront of the lightweight revolution is the Severne S-1. It was the quickest sail in the test to go neutral, and a joy to sail in the perfect waves of Punta San Carlos. Plus, on flat water, you can’t help but still be impressed by its light feel, so long as you stay within its wind range.
      The RRD SuperStyle and NeilPryde Fusion hold their own in the waves, but also work just as well on flatter water. The RRD’s higher draft takes a little more concentration to ride, so, of the two, it’s the one for more advanced riders. The payoff is that it adds greater pop to your jumps and will allow you to more aggressively set the rail in your jibes. The light feeling and incredible tuning of the Fusion makes it a true one-sail-wonder that everyone will be impressed with, and it has a little more stability and speed potential than found in wavier designs.
      The North Curve, Aerotech Phantom and MauiSails Switch are all more flatwater oriented, but each has a different feel, making it easy to choose the right one for you. The North Curve is a great sail for the progressing rider, especially if you’ve still got plenty of skills to learn that do not require planing conditions. The deep-drafted six-batten Aerotech Phantom has a locked-in feel that will make any lightwind speedster feel immediately at home on smaller sails, and its short boom allows enough manoeuvrability to add some style to your sailing. The MauiSails Switch also has six battens, but seeks a more straight-line performance. It has a more typical boom length for a flatwater sail that makes finding power easy and helps provide an unrivaled straight-line ride.

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