Appendix to the article


Some experiences with the Neil Pryde RS Racing sails.


Response by mail from Pieter Bijl, the 9th December '08.


Originally, here was a print from a mail from Pieter Bijl from the Neil Pryde Design Center. However, after answering my public article Pieter Bijl got discouraged and sent me this mail:


"Hi Peter,
I would really like it if you could not put our discussions online as 
this is personal discussion."


Reluctantly I shall respect Pieter Bijls wish to remove his mail (although I've never asked for a confidential mail from an employee from the Neil Pryde company, and I've never wished to have a personal discussion with Pieter Bijl). Neil Pryde obviously don't want too much publicity on the problems of their rigs ...


Sorry, but you'll have to be content with my answer to Pieter Bijl.



Reply to the response.


Hi Pieter - and thanks for taking the time to answer.


First of all, some of your points are pretty difficult to separate from the writings in my little article. And consequently I'm a little surprised in being taught about these things, that I point out myself. A couple of examples:


You write:

"4. Batten breakage, the RS products are performance products that need 
the most of care, meaning rigging and de-rigging properly! When you 
see the tight curve on the batten when de-rigging you should always 
push the cam of the mast and make sure it doesn't happened, this is 
common sense!"


Thanks for your advice! Here's what I wrote:

"Mostly the tip breaks when you de-rig the sail and forget to actively push off the cambers from the mast (never let the cambers pop off by themselves by just loosen the downhaul tension!). It's almost entirely the two lower battens that break during de-rigging. But from time to time the tips also break from other more diffuse or perhaps not explainable reasons, and when frequently inspecting the batten ends you'll often observe that the ends show small signs of de-lamination under the shrink material."




You write:

"6. In your report you write you are not using X9 mast on RS:Racing 
products. The RS:Racing is specifically designed around the X9 mast, 
this means cam placement, luff curve, rigging specs etc. etc. The X6 
will not be that different for the rigging dimension but for the cam 
tension the mast thickness is a big deal. As the OD on the mast 
increases you will find less space on the sleeve side as well as on 
the cam side, causing the cams to get loaded to the point that they 
could fail."


Thanks for telling me that the X6 mast is not ideal for the RSR. Here's what I wrote:

"Talking about the X6 masts - many RS Racing sailors (including myself) at my place have opted for the X6 mast to replace the recommended X9 mast. This is certainly not an ideal choice, but given the fact that no one has come up with credible information that NOW the X9 mast finally has achieved a level of quality that correspond to the astronomic price level, the choice of the rather inexpensive China-made X6 mast might be understandable.

The first thing you notice about the X6 mast is that it's somewhat heavier than most high end 100% race masts. The larger sizes are claimed to be made from 100% carbon(!?), but still they're pretty heavy. It seems that the weight come from the wall thickness, and if so the the action-response speed have to be somewhat slower with consequence for the performance. Furthermore the X6 masts don't seem to have exactly the same bend curve as the X9 masts ... "


As to your specific telling me that "... for the cam tension the mast thickness (of the X6 mast) is a big deal..."

OK, but how does this correspond with the Neil Pryde praise of the Ultracam: "... This means that the cam is free to move back and forth relative to the sail-body and adjust its position until a 50/50 tension split is reached. This makes the cam self adjust to different mast diameters ..." (




You write:

"7. When after rigging the cams are on an angle you should always 
straighten them so that the rollers are flush with the mast. This is 
clearly demonstrated in the rigging guide."


Again no big news here. Here's what I wrote:

"Some other thing to be observant on is the strings that keep the cambers in place vertically. Sometimes the strings are not fitted properly from the factory, allowing the cambers to tilt on the mast and cut deep grooves around the mast. If you don't discover the grooves caused by slack strings pretty soon, it might be too late for saving the mast!"




You write:

"8. Batten tension should not be added to the sail while it is under 
full down-haul tension, it is simple that you are fighting about 400KG 
of down-haul tension with the batten, this is going to he a tough one. 
You should always let of about 20 cm of down-haul, tension the battens 
and add the down-haul back on."


Hardly any disagreement here. Here's what I wrote:

"However, if you try to operate the Pryde tensioners while the sail is down-hauled there's a bad risk that the plastic "leafs" shall break."




You write:

"9. When breaking a batten in the RS sails with the Ultra cam it should 
be easily removed by pushing it back to the square, grabbing them with 
pliers and pulling them out."


Couldn't agree more. Here's what I wrote:

"With the new RS Racing (and the RS Slalom Mk. II) this first step ("... to push back the broken tip out of the batten sleeve ...") is much easier, as the batten tips are "floating" in plastic containers held in place by strings."




As said, about your points (4, 6, 7, 8 and 9) I'm a little confused that you tell me things that I've clearly pointed out myself. Forgive me for entertaining the thought that you're not only answering me - that you're perhaps most of all addressing another audience, that perhaps haven't read my little article. Hope I'm wrong.


OK. Lets go through your remaining points (1, 2, 3, 5, 10, 11 and 12):


You write:

"1. Luff Curve increase from RS1/2/3 to RS:4 was only 6% so that is not 
that much, I don't think that can be the blame for the mast breakage."


But then please tells us what is to blame for the very frequent mast breakage (and luff cracking/splitting). Not knowing better I referred to a "widespread theory" (for instance in serious windsurf mags), and furthermore I referred to the Gaastra race masts and MS SRS masts, that for a few months some three years ago (until the companies pretty quickly responded to the claims and beefed up the masts) broke at a rate, that was comparable to the X9 breaking. And from what I understood from the discussions around the Gaastra an Maui Sails race masts then, the cause for the breakage was to be found in the imitation of the increased luff curve of the RS4 and on ...

But according to you it's probably not the increase in luff curve that causes the many X9 breaks. I'm exited to learn what then is the cause ...




You write:

"2. ...The RS:4 did have some small issues that where covered under warranty and those problems where clearly addressed on the RS:5 onwards both for the splitting inside the luff sleeve and the luffsleeve spitting!"


Respectfully - to call the problems of the RS4 "some small issues" is, I think, a kind of usage of speech that doesn't correspond to the experiences of the lots of unhappy RS4 sailors, who got their windsurf season totally messed up because of serious RS4 failures. That kind of understatement doesn't ad to the credibility of the Neil Pryde company.

As to having "clearly addressed" these "small issues" on the RS5 onwards I can only say, that it's probably grown better. But if it has grown good enough - that's what my little article tried to help to expose.




You write:

"3. Do you have any RS:S or V8 sails that have split inside the luff 
sleeve? What year and how many hours would they have been used?"


Yes, I've had a RS5 7.8 splitting in the luff after some 20 hours of sailing (was sent directly to the scrap heap due to the severe damage; you'll find a picture of the damage in the article (picture No. 3, click to enlarge). Because of the very bad reputation (well deserved) of the RS4, very few RS5's were sold at my place, so it's impossible to anticipate the overall damage rate. I can only say, that the only RS5, I've seen (my 7.8), were damaged beyond the possibility of repair.

As to the V8, you'll also find a picture from the cracked luff of this sail (picture No. 8, click to enlarge). It's a 2006 V8 9.8, bought from new, that cracked in the luff after 10 hours on the water. Lots of V8 have cracked in their luffs at my place, and for the moment the tendency is to replace the V8s with North Rams, as this sail seems to rig fine with the X6.



You write:

"5. What team rider was it that suggested you to put Kevlar tape around 
the cams?


Shortly after receiving my first RSRs I addressed the importer concerning the Ultracam breakage problem, and he send me the following mail (4th June '07, I'll try to translate): "Concerning the cams of the RS:R, we've noticed a few that have cracked, but as far as I know that's because of sailors just letting the downhaul go instead of rigging down according to the way described on the sail. That has caused some sailors to strengthen their cams by wrapping their cams with Kevlar tape ..." (a local team rider (KL) was mentioned using this strengthening method).

In fact, it was in the same period that the importer told me that "... we've noticed incidents when sailors have tensioned the batten pockets so hard that there are no wrinkles, but that's not the idea at all..." (30th July '07). And that "...none of the Danish top sailors tension all the wrinkles away .." (1st August '07).




You write:

"10. If you could please provide us with the receipt from your dealer 
we will refund you the full amount that you have paid for your Ultra 
Cams. I believe you should have received them free of charge anyway??"


The first 2 broken cambers were replaced by the importer. He claimed that the "new" cambers were beefed up, but placing the cambers on a precision weight revealed absolutely no difference compared to the broken ones.

The next cambers I've been paying for. As to the price, apparently this was so surprising to my dealer, that he contacted the importer (or one of his employees (RK)), who confirmed the price (350 Dkr. per camber, that's some 60 US§ each). I seldom keep receipts for smaller windsurf expenditures (my wife might have a too realistic impression of my windsurf budget!), and that goes for my buying Ultracams too. But if you intend to try to change the price politics of the local importer, please do.




You write:

"11. Down-haul strap, The down-haul strap is not common to break, can 
you please let me know after how many hours they break. Do you use a 
DH tool."


Well, you almost got me there. In my little article I only showed a picture of one of my broken top straps, but for your sake I just went out to the dull cold Danish winter night and photographed the replaced/repaired down-haul strap of my RSR 9.8 (I believe it broke within the first 20 hours of sailing).

As to your suspicion that I expose my sails to exceedingly downhaul force, I can only say that ...

- no, I've never used a downhaul tool (and shall probably never do),

- I'm 59 years old and accordingly weak,

- I've lost one of the biceps (don't know the right expression) on both arms

  (one last year and one the year before that - during out-hauling my sails on

   the fly, by the way).

No big deal, and mostly said in jest. But no Arnold here. My sails are down-hauled to the specs "by fair means".




You write:

"12. There is always the NeilPryde help-desk you can refer to, when 
replacing a batten tensioned leaf for example. This is an easy 
operation if you have done it before. So referring to some expert help 
in some cases can make things easier and might also help in the faith 
you have in a brand by the support you are getting from them FREE of 


I'll remember that. Several years ago I by accident came across a NP batten tensioned leaf, that could replace a broken leaf without having to cut and sew a new string in the sail. I've tried to order this "replacement leaf" from the importer (through my dealer) - but the answer was, that they've never heard about such an item.




To your final words.


You write:

"For the next time if you have any product issues I would kindly 
recommend that you either drop me an e-mail or take it up with the 
Danish NeilPryde importer."


As you can see (from above and from the article) I HAVE taken issues up with the Danish importer - who's a nice and friendly guy, by the way. However, no mater how nice guys you and the importer are, contacting you won't change a lot as to the frustrations associated with sailing a very good sailing product - but a much too fragile product, where the very frequent failures keeps you away from the water much too often and much too long.




You write:

"It doesn't do anyone good to have these things out in public...."


I don't agree. I believe so much in human sense that I think an open discussion like this shall help us understand Neil Pryde thinking (and perhaps the Neil Pryde corporate culture) AND give you the kind of feed back that goes beyond the biased and flattering words that's always the risk of a closed community. I know that it's difficult and at times perhaps troublesome to run a kind of forum, and I can figure out that perhaps you can only identify that kind of effort on your sales figures with difficulty. However, Starboard, Maui Sails (and other smaller companies) have the guts to have a kind of open talk with the users, and perhaps it's about time for Neil Pryde to re-open your forum. If so, who knows, perhaps it's not even necessary to bother to write articles about your products?


In fact, I think that you are partly excused for the (supposed) lack of knowledge of the vulnerability of the Neil Pryde sails.

First of all, I don't think I'm the only windsurfer, who has given up waiting for months for having my Neil Pryde sails repaired by a Neil Pryde authorized sail-loft. Nowadays I mostly just go to the local repairman and have the sail repaired within a couple of days - without notifying Neil Pyde.

Secondly, I think you surround yourself by a kind of "filter" - for instance by not running an open international forum.

And thirdly, I suspect that many RS4 (if any left), RS5, RS6, RSR, V8 and RSS (I and II) riders aren't aware that the luff of their sails in fact might be cracked. To my knowledge the reinforcement of the sails since the RS4 days has meant that smaller cracks can be confined to the luff for a longer period before splitting through the panels. I shall only encourage Neil Pryde sailors to frequently inspect the luffs of their sails very, very closely. The first sign of a crack might be a little more "spongy" sail, then more wrinkles in the sleeve, and at a later level having to give a little more downhaul to have the usual loose leech.




You write:

"We are trying to grow the sport of windsurfing and sharing a passion we all 
have, but writing such negative (even though it is only your opinion) 
we are scaring people away from this beautiful sport rather then 
attract them. I believe this is in no persons interest."


I don't see my little article as negative (underlined by the fact, that 5 of your points coincides with the article). I conversely hope and think that this kind of writings is helpful to windsurfers who hunger for unbiased information about windsurf products, told by windsurfers who have in fact used the equipment. And who haven't got the suspicion hanging over their heads, that their words are guided from a commercial belonging.

"We are trying to grow the sport of windsurfing ..." Yes, I believe you are - but you're also trying to grow the selling of Neil Pryde products. Some of us are ONLY trying to grow the sport of windsurfing, and we are not threatened to our credibility by having commercial purposes.




You write:

"I hope we can communicate openly about this, please feel free to 
respond in anyway!"


Yes, I hope so too. That's why I've chosen to answer you in a way that's not hidden from other interested windsurfers.



Again, thanks for your response.