October 2014.  


On North Warp, a personal review.


6 years with the Warps.


Important: This is an advancing review, written gradually as new experiences have emerged. Consequently, you may find conflicting information. If so, the latest updates overrule earlier writings.  


Some 6 years ago I finally gave up sailing with Neil Pryde race sails. Having sailed the brand for many years I was indeed very happy with the general performance of the sails. Strong in all disciplines and very intuitive and friendly to sail.


But they certainly had their issues. First of all they were much too frail - cracking their luff panels, breaking their top and bottom straps, maculating their extremely complex (but hard rotating) camber inducers, breaking their batten tips when de-rigged etc. Oh, and breaking their masts, probably because of too extreme a luff curve. And on top of that a culture within the company that always blamed the costumers for incorrect handling of the Neil Pryde equipment when it broke. Evidence of this sad story can be seen here: http://peterman.dk/windsurf-NP-RS-series-780gb.htm.


So, no Neil Pryde anymore - but then what? After the Neil Pryde experience the first and foremost criterias were reliability, no-nonsense construction, and back-up from the company. And if these qualities came at a price (in terms of money or reduced performance), then so be it. I was looking for contrasts to my Neil Pryde era.


The arrow quickly pointed at Northsails. North has a reputation of making quality products that are tested out and that are backed up by fine guarantees. As to the sails North seems to be rather conservative with not too many "breakthroughs" (good!). And where their corporate culture is concerned they seem to have a more European (German-Austrian) attitude than an American/Far Eastern attitude, which we've come to associate with un-reliability, empty words and strict cost-benefit focus. Well at least that were the expectations of me and my son, who joined me in my switch to North Sails.



Experiences with the Warp sails.


Just to clarify: We're certainly no slalom racers. What we do, I guess, can best be described as "freeracing". That is sailing with our surf buddies, covering relative large areas (long legs of upwind, downwind and beam reaches) in a variety of sea conditions and wind strengths - and where the main objective is simply to not be the slowest guy on the water. Jibes are mostly necessary evils that often turn into pure punishment.


If you're curious about our (moderate) level and way of sailing, here are a couple of videos to give you an idea: https://vimeo.com/album/2851238/video/73816539, https://vimeo.com/album/2851238/video/71924037, (and more here: https://vimeo.com/album/2851238). 


Our evaluation of the Warps are of course subjective and in no way the result of structured, comparative testing.





None of our (almost 20) Warp sails have had any of the fatal faults with cracked luffs that haunt the Neil Pryde race sails (and to a lesser degree a couple of other brands we've had short experiences with, for instance Severne Reflex II). The closest we've come to that fault was a North Ram from 2008 that cracked in the luff panel a year and a half from the date of purchase. And for that sail, repair was not "offered" within a couple of months (as is common practice in my country for Neil Pryde sails - if the sail is less than 6 months old!). No, the sail was immediately replaced with a new Ram model 2010. But like I said: No such issues with the Warps.


The only complaint we've had about the durability of the sails turned up this spring, when the bottom camber on my Warp 9.2 F2013 refused to rotate. Upon examination it turned out that the batten had penetrated the batten pocket and jammed against the mast through the camber inducer.


The warranty "offer" from the North company was not that impressive (50 Euros to have it repaired at a sail loft), so I respectfully declined and found a way to repair it myself. What happened to the 5 years warranty ... !?





The bottom camber in the F2013

9.2 refused to rotate. With the

camber removed it's obvious why.



Click the picture to enlarge.



Only in no-cam sails have I witnessed

the batten running out through the

batten pocket after rubbing against

the mast. Here there was no rubbing.


Click the picture to enlarge.



A kind of solution: Fixing a batten

pocket end from an old "Reactor




Click the picture to enlarge.



The new batten pocket end is exactly

narrow enough to squeeze inside the

camber. With guarantee that the problem

 won't ever be coming back.


 Click the picture to enlarge.



I'm still a bit puzzled about the damaged batten pocket, as the tip of the pocket never touched he mast. The hole in the batten pocket tip consequently wasn't the result of wear by rubbing against the mast. I suspect that generally the F2013 Warps are built a little more flimsily than normal North standard, and that this is reflected by the mere 2 years warranty for F2013s in contrast to the normal 5 years warranty for all other Warps. Never mind, on the whole this has been our only complaint about the durability/craftsmanship of the Warps.

As to the camber inducers, they are made from relatively soft plastics and have a tendency to deform and wear a little over the years. Certainly no big issue, and it seems that if you use a Hypercam spacer shim (from harder plastics) there's no problem at all.


Bottom cambers are pretty tough to polyamide coating of the masts, so the masts have to be strengthened from time to time with a little resin filled glass- or carbon weave. I recon that this little issue isn't a problem for North alone.



After long time of use (years) the relatively soft plastics
of the cams show sign of wear (the camber to the right).
If you use a spacer shim in an already deformed
camber, it'll break.
Compare to the new camber and shim to the left.

 Click the picture to enlarge.

It takes a long time before the cambers wear out and
need to be replaced. But then, why the necessity for
all my spare cambers, you'll perhaps wonder.

The reason is simply that every time a Platinum mast
breaks inside a Warp, it splits open the mast pocket
- and at least one (most often two) cambers disappear
into the sea.

Click the picture to enlarge.






As stated: We didn't convert to North Warp for reasons of performance. And to be honest, generally the North Warps have their own distinct "taste" compared to the majority of race sails from other brands. Let's break up the picture a little:



The pros.


1. Superior camber rotation.


The Warps have always (well, at least the last 6 years) been trendsetter in effortless rotation. Compared to other race sails the cams (the "hypercams" that is) have a no-nonsense design, they are made from relatively soft plastics, and the rollers are placed in front of the cambers. To my knowledge, there are no downsides to this design - for instance the profile stability is at least as good as the competitors'.


2. Very good top speed.


The speed in high (and partly in medium) winds is very good, at least if you have the power/weight to handle the sail. So, at least on flat water you can make some very fast runs.


3. Great profile stability.


Also, the stability of the profile is extremely good. In fact we've very seldom (if ever) experienced a problem with an overpowered Warp per se. When we've felt overpowered the problems have almost always been with the rider (not having the power/weight to tame the sail) or the design/trim of the fin or board, resulting in tail walking or not managing the chop convincingly.


4. Explosive acceleration in high winds.


This is the positive side of the very direct feel you have with the Warps. No doubt that if you have plenty of wind and keep sheeting in the Warp during the first meters of planing, it'll reward you with serious speed very quickly. Don't expect the Warp to dampen the power.


5. Very light weight (static).


The static light weight of the Warps have been paramount to the competitors the last several years - partly because of the 7 battens design. And the dynamic feel of the Warp is also pretty good. The lack of "grunt" helps in this respect, while the directness and nervousness retracts a little.



The cons.


1. Poor low end power.


Poor planing ability, poor pumpability, lack of low end power and only moderate speed in light winds are Warp (and generally other sails from North) characteristics. Sail designs are the result of certain choices, and apparently some choices are mutually exclusive. It's pretty obvious that some Warp-qualities (very stiff and rigid with comparable shallow profile) don't leave room for the Warps to excel in low winds. And North knows what the main complaint has always been: Every year for the last 6-7 years, the presentations of the next year Warp have claimed that NOW North has addressed the very same low-end problem. Have a look:


2009: "Better acceleration" obtained by "lower tension for the mast sleeve area ..."

2010: "Better acceleration and pull", obtained by "deeper profile ..."

2011: "Better acceleration", obtained by "tweaked profile ..."

2012: "Maximum acceleration", obtained by "fuller profile ..."

2013: "Improved low-end acceleration and pumpability", obtained by "deeper profile and higher flexibility ..."

2014: "Low-end power and acceleration", obtained by "increased profile in the upper luff area ..."

2015: "More low-end power and pumping ability", obtained by "reduced luff curve ..."


The funny thing is, that in spite of all these claimed efforts the Warps have never excelled in the low end disciplines in (for instance) the Planchemag magazine slalom sail tests over the years (see links below). If North really thinks the Warps have been improved in this respect -  then the competitors have improved more. Maybe the F2015 will prove to be an exception, but the need of a special LW 9.0 in the line up may be indicative of otherwise ... *)


*) This is the last few lines from a "micro-test express" of the all new Warp F2015 7.7 in Planchemag. No. 367, Oct/Nov. 2014:

"The F2015 7.7 is very balanced, with a little more power to the back hand than last year. The passage of the cams is probably the best in the market. A stiff sail, that are more nervous than most others."

Seems that  the Warp F2015 stick to the same distinct Warp character that we've come to know from the previous years. But perhaps a little more low end power?


We feel that the Warp with the best low end performance has been the F2012, followed by the F2013. Unfortunately the (generally very good) F2012 is probably also the stiffest sail of the lot, having a massive (and mast-breaking!) luff curve.



2. Questionable control, unless you're a heavyweight.


If you think that the very fine profile stability of the Warps results in good control, you'll probably be disappointed. That is, at least if you're not a heavyweight. For riders under approx. 85 kg the stiffness/directness/nervousness of the Warps (sailed with the Platinum masts) are so overwhelming that you'll have a hard time controlling it in high winds, especially in chop. It simply feels that the Warps dump the power too late for the sub-85 kg riders.


For several years some sizes of the Warps were recommended with 30 cm longer masts than the competitors. So, until the F2013 Warps you had the opportunity to rig some of your Warps with shorter (= softer and slightly more relatively Flex Top, se this study: http://peterman.dk/windsurf-NP-X6-mast-study-780gb.htm) masts than were recommended. For instance, you could rig your Warp 7.0 with a 430 cm mast instead of the recommended 460 cm mast - or you could rig your Warp 7.8 with a 460 cm mast instead of the recommended 490 cm mast - or you could rig your Warp 9.3 with a 490 cm mast instead of the recommended 520 cm mast. My son (approx. 60 kg) and I (approx. 80 kg) have mostly rigged our Warps on the smallest masts possible, just to have a chance to survive in really high winds and chop. But as the latest Warps (F2014 and on ...) are now generally recommended with as short masts as the competitors, that possibility no longer exists (except for the 7.0).


In our view the most controllable Warp has been the F2013, closely followed by the F2012. In the other end we find the F2011, that we've judged to have a pretty narrow area of use.



Why this distinct performance character of the Warps?


I'm a little curious why North hasn't addressed the combination of questionable controllability (for lighter sailors) and poor low end power. Is it because the boards North test their sails with are very controllable and early planing boards (for instance the Starboard iSonic series), so that the performance character of the Warps is not noticeable for the developers and testing crew? No, in fact the North Warps seem to be tested with the Fanatic Falcon series (also from the Boards & More company), which has a reputation of fine top speed, but was never known for early planing or controllability (possibly because of designer Wenzels love for tail kicks and relatively short flats).

So, I'm still curious why the Warps year after year are biased towards this unforgiving stiffness/directness/nervousness and poor low-end power. As indicated it seems that the sail performance characteristics of North Warp are in line with the board performance characteristics of the Fanatic Falcon. A Boards & More philosophy?


For the F2015 Warps, North says: "On water and comparison tests have shown that there can be "too much" power and acceleration. If this is the case, the rider is struggling so much with the rig that the optimum rake, an acceptable handling and efficient transmission of the sail power into board speed are no longer guaranteed. Loss of speed and control are the result. Therefore designer Kai Hopf has found the perfect balance between maximum acceleration and optimum control when overpowered for each size of the new range, matching the weight of the prototypical PWA slalom racer (between 90 and 100 kg)."


As I read the statement, North finally admits that the Warps generally have been a handful to control near the upper wind limit - and that acknowledgement is definitely a first step towards designing a more friendly race sail. However, the last part of the statement completely ruins this prospect for the not-so-heavy sailors. Riders under 90 kg will apparently still feel the overwhelming stiffness/directness/nervousness of the Warps. And you no longer have the option to rig the Warps with shorter (=softer) masts than recommended, as North now (as said) actually recommend relatively short masts, in line with the competitors.



A wish.


Now that it's no longer possible to rig the Warps with shorter masts it might perhaps be a good idea for North to learn from Loftsails. Here you have the option to rig the race sails (Racing Blade) on RDM masts, if you aren't a heavyweight and prefer a softer sail. Apparently the Loftsails Racing Blade (above 6.3 square meters) are delivered with cams that fit both SDM and RDM masts. With the Warps being so stiff and (declared to be) designed for the heavyweights, why not offer a RDM option for lighter sailors?


Oh, and giving us the option of substituting SDM masts with RDM masts probably won't increase the mast breaking rate either!



A note on the trim.


The F2009, F2010 and F2011 we always had to rig with a very low placement of the boom. This was the only way we could hold the nose of the board down and keep the foot placed firmly in the front strap. Then suddenly, on the relatively powerful F2012 and F2013 we could raise the boom to "normal height" and still have a fast and controllable board feel (we've always ridden boards from the RRD X-Fire series).


However, that feel totally disappeared again with our only Warp F2014 (a 7.8). Compared to the Warp F2012 and F2013, which were both fine performance-wise, our F2014 7.8 was a disaster, and after a few sessions on the water we gave it up. Frankly, I had to humiliate myself by asking a windsurf buddy, to whom I had given my old F2012 7.8 (with several scars from breaking masts), to have it back - and compensate him with another Warp from our surplus stock. We simply couldn't trim the F2014 - and I suspect that (apart from our lack of ability) it was the pretty odd design with more profile above the boom that destroyed the trim. When measured and compared to our F2012 7.8, the F2014 7.8 has the profile placed a little more forward, and measured on the 3 lowest battens it had up to 1,5 cm less profile, while measured on the two next battens it had up to 1,5 cm more profile depth. Perhaps an even more Flex Top like mast than the 460 cm Platinum 2014 mast could have saved the trim of the sail?


Anyway, we gave up the sail that felt delicate and strangely "flimsy" to sail. It also felt a bit smaller than the previous Warp 7.8's, and as such it was difficult to fit into symmetric into the space between our Warp 8.6 (F2012) and the Warp 7.0 (also F2012). I don't know if North continues down this new road of design. Buying a new race sail is a lot about faith to the people around the designing process (you cannot have a test drive and when the magasines publish their tests its most often too late to order the sail).


NOTE/HENVISNING TIL SPECIEL SIDE: Probably unfair, but I'll have to say that the inclusion of Dani Aeberli in the North design team (and in the Fanatic team as well) might indicate fashion over sober designing. Have a look at this masterpiece from Dani Aeberli: . Hope not that this is the kind of ....that'll be built into the Warps in the years to come ...


We quickly gave up the Warp F2014 7.8 and althoug our quiver badly needs FORNYELSE we decided not to invest in any Warp F2015 sizes. Hopefully the UDVISTE performance of the


Of course, I recognize that there might be other opinions about the sail (for instance here: http://www.windsurf.co.uk/test/2014-north-warp-f2014-test-review-report/), and perhaps it'll have another chance sometime. Perhaps the sail is simply so different from the F2012 7.8 and the F2013 7.8 that we didn't succeed in adapting the right way of trimming/sailing the sail. As said above - we're certainly no racers.



Profiles along the battens.
Warp 7.8 2012 Warp 7.8 2014
Draft Depth Draft Depth
position, cm of draft, cm position, cm of draft, cm
Batten 1 (lowest)) 45 18,5 44 18,1
Batten 2 57 23,4 53 22
Batten 3 52 18,7 50 18,3
Batten 4 42 9,1 35 10,5
Batten 5 25 4,2 27 4,7

I simply couldn't figure out why I found the F2014 7.8 to
be such a lousy sail compared to the F2012 7.8 (and
the F2013 7.8 for that matter).
Here both sails are rigged with Platinum masts with
exactly the same stiffness and bend curves. It's not
easy to measure the profiles of the sails, but it
was given a try (see the numbers to the left).
 Click the picture to enlarge.



Here are some links to what the French Planchemag magazine test crew thinks about the performances of the past 4 years of Warp sails: F2011: http://peterman.dk/windsurf-mag-dk-900-slalomsejl2011-70-71.htm. F2012: http://peterman.dk/windsurf-pro-mag-dk-900-racesejl-78m-01.html. F2013: http://peterman.dk/windsurf-mag-dk-1200-slalomsejl-76-79-01.htm. F2014: http://peterman.dk/windsurf-mag-dk-900-slalomsejl2014-77-79.htm.




Experiences with the Platinum masts.



Bend characteristics of the Platinum masts.


I remember from the Cold War a theory about "convergence" between the two antagonistic types of society. I. e. that the opposite systems will learn from the fundamental thought process of the counterpart, thus coming closer to each other.


In the Cold War this convergence never really materialized, but in a totally different ballgame - the bend curves of windsurf masts - it's fair to talk about the mast schools coming closer together. Proponents from the Hard Top school (Barry Spanier/Phill McGain from (now) Maui Sails) have "adjusted" their race masts to be Constant Curve, and so too does Gaastra seem to have done in incremental steps. I'm a little more in doubt about the race masts of Severne - but I suspect that the brand has followed the route of MS and Gaastra. Otherwise Severne shall be pretty isolated. Why did they run away from Hard Top masts?


In the opposite end of mast bend thinking, Neil Pryde stepped a little back from the extreme Flex Top idea a long time ago (since the Race Pro masts). But for several years NP has still been the leader of the stiff bottom section/soft top section philosophy (the smaller masts intended to be most Flex Top like). That's no longer the case: At least some brands have adapted (or perhaps even overtaken) the position of Neil Pryde these past years. And among these are North (Gun and probably others) with the Platinum series. Latest measurings of mast bend curves indicate that Norths race masts have catched up (overtaken?) the race masts from Neil Pryde in terms of having a relatively soft top section of the masts.

So forget about North's Platinum masts being Constant Curve (bend curve 10-12). Platinum masts are (very close to) Flex Top (16-18). When measured, the latest 2014 Platinum 490 cm mast had a bend curve of 17.8! At least this size Platinum mast must now be a kind of market leader when we talk about Flex Top masts.


This more Flex Top like character is easily detected. If you for instance place a Warp F2012 8.6, rigged with a pre-2014 Platinum 490 cm mast, beside a Warp F2012 8.6, rigged with a 2014 Platinum 490 cm mast, the latter rig has a more "pregnant" look than the first. It has more draft down low in the sail, the top is looser, and the sleeve seem to have more slack around the boom cut out (to be removed with spacers). But there's probably a reason for this slide in mast bend character:



Why this general move towards relatively softer top sections/stiffer bottom sections?


In marketing stuff you often hear the different brands saying that they have designed the bend curves of the masts to meet the needs of their race sails. In general, that's perhaps not true any longer. Because of the massive breaking problems of the race masts that several brands have faced, it seems that an increasing number of brands now design their race sails to fit the strength of the masts, just to obtain a minimum of durability.


Masts generally don't break by over stretching the fibers on the outside bend curve of the masts, they mostly break by compression of the fibers on the inside of the bend curve. And since glass fibers are stronger in this respect than carbon fibers, some race masts now have glass fiber layers outside the carbon layers - at least on the bottom sections of the race masts. Sail designer Robert Stroj from Neil Pryde goes into details.


So, the bottom sections of the race masts have been "beefed" up - and the bend curves change in the direction of relatively softer top sections/stiffer bottom sections (= being more Flex Top). That's probably the reason why the general mast bend "convergence" is pretty close to the Flex Top interval.

As to the North Platinum masts, I'm informed that the new models don't simply have some glass added on the outside. They've been re-designed, the structure of the carbon layers has been modified, and it's pretty obvious that the wall thickness has increased.

If you take your time it's possible to draw the overall picture of mast bending development from this real world IMCS mast testing page: http://peterman.dk/masts-all-imcs01.htm.



Platinum masts have been breaking - a lot!


At least until recently, North has had some massive breaking problems with at least some of the Platinum masts. To deal with the breaking problems North (or perhaps more correctly Italica, the mast producer) has wrapped on some polyamide coating, adding sun protection and preventing scratches from cams, booms etc.). The masts have been beefed up by increasing the wall thickness by adding more carbon layers and ostensibly changed the carbon structure, and some glass weave (called Alutex) has also been wrapped to the bottom section. Finally North has declared that the luff curve of the larger sizes of the Warp F2015 will be reduced.


All the efforts to make more durable masts have added to the weight of the Platinum masts, but probably only to the bottom section where it can't be felt so much. And honestly, you can easily live with a weight increase - if only the mast doesn't break.


It has yet to be seen whether things will change for the future Platinum masts. If you accept the special feel and performance characteristics of the Warps, the only big (and that has been very big) issue with the Warp sails has been the extreme mast breaking rate of at least some of the dedicated North Platinum masts. As this is a personal review, of course you can't draw statistical conclusions from our experiences - but our experiences have been that the pre-2013 models of the Platinum 460 cm were at risk, and particularly that the pre-2014 models of the Platinum 490 cm were very prone to break. At least if put into the F2012 and F2013 Warps.


It has to be seen if North succeed (or has succeeded) in sorting out the mast breaking problems. As an individual windsurfer there can be some some delaying involved in detecting when a particular mast size starts being more durable. I mean - if you have an older mast with a little warranty time left and a all new mast from a warranty claim, it might be tempting (but perhaps stupid) to use the older mast until the warranty time runs out. And until you start using the new mast you can't be sure that it's of a better quality. And furthermore - how many sailing sessions do you need before you dare calling a mast size durable, especially if you've had bad experiences with that particular mast size until now? When you observe that your masts break on a more systematic bases, you're probably quicker to make general conclusions, than when your masts don't break in a row. Perhaps unfair, but a bad reputation builds up very quickly, but it takes time to build a good reputaion.


That said, since this review was launced I've had mails from Warp sailors claiming that they've observed that the 2014 490 cm Platinums seem to be very durable. Indications of light at the end of the tunnel?





Apparently the horrific Platinum breaking rate has led

someone with enterprise (or humour?) to sell special

"Survival knives for Platinum mast breakage".





Click the picture to enlarge.



Close-up of a "Platinum survival knife". In fact it's no stupid

idea to bring with you such a folding knife on the water.

When a mast breaks, one of the hurdles is to untie

all the knots, downhauls and outhauls so you can pack

 the gear and paddle back to the beach. Cutting the lines

is a lot easier and very time saving.


Click the picture to enlarge.



Conclusions and experiences with the company.


Like I said, I switched away from Neil Pryde primarily because of the seemingly endless lack of durability, and because I as a costumer was always blamed for mishandling the sails, when they fell apart.


Did the shift away from Neil Pryde race sails to North Warps help in these respects?



Regarding the durability...



Very durable Warps, but the breaking Platinum masts has turned  them into very fragile rigs.


The Warps per se definitely are much, much more durable than the Neil Pryde race sails. The craftsmanship, the choice of (light!) quality materials and the no-nonsense design with simple/strong cams, batten tensioners, pulleys etc. guarantee day after day sailing without having to send the sails to the sail loft for repair - or to the scrapheap.


Furthermore, North backs up their products with very fine warranty conditions. On most Warps, North offer a 5 year warranty, but only the normal 2 years on Warp F2013. This warranty doesn't include cracking monofilm, nor apparently (as mentioned above) defects in batten pockets. But generally, they have a warranty policy that is second to none in the windsurf business.


With regards to masts, you have the opportunity to have a 2 years unconditional warranty on Platinum masts (but not Gold masts), if you fill out a warranty registration. This is a unique offer in the industry, and apart from communicating the trust North has to their Platinum masts, there has been a historic reason for the offer. We certainly have been registering our Platinum masts, and I must say that until recently we've been using the 2 years unconditional warranty a lot - especially for the 490 cm Platinums.


And that has been the snake in the grass: Some of the Platinum masts. But you might think: that's "just" a mast problem. NO, in fact it quickly turns into a Warp durability issue too. When the Platinum mast breaks (mostly just above the boom, but occasionally also below the boom or in the ferule area), as a minimum it also breaks out through the sleeve - and if you're unlucky it completely ruins your Warp. The North warranty only gives you a chance to have the broken Platinum mast replaced. There's no chance that North will replace the destroyed Warp or pay for a repair. And of course, forget about compensation for the lack of resale value.





Most Platinum masts break

just above the boom, but

the masts keep surprising you. This one gave up in

the ferule area.


Click the picture to enlarge.

This Platinum mast broke the
normal way - just above the
boom. And just as normal
is the "collateral damage"
- a split open
Click the picture to enlarge.

A long time ago I gave up sending
the Warps with destroyed sleeves
to the sail loft. In accumulation
it was simply too costly.
Repairing a sleeve by hand
(with contact cement, leather
string and holes made by a
very thin soldering iron)
 normally takes 3-8
hours.  Cheap, but the
resale value is totally
Click the picture to enlarge.

The result of another DIY
repair after yet another
Platinum breakdown.
 Click the picture to enlarge.



In fact, you probably can't blame only the Platinum mast itself for breaking and all the consequences thereof: When rigging the Warps with masts from other companies (and mast producers), the masts still break in the Warps. I haven't got the statistics to show that "foreign" masts break in the Warps at the same alarming rate as the Platinum masts have done - but they do definitely break. Why's that?


The problem seems to be that, in search of ultimate performance, the Warps have some extreme luff curves that give the masts a hard work. In fact, our favorite Warps (performance wise) - the F2012 (and F2013) - have also eaten the most masts by far. Warps from other years have also been hungry for masts (we haven't had any experiences with the F2014, as we quickly dumped our 7.8 due to odd trim), but the F2012's were the most gluttonous. I guess that a substantial cause (tough luff curve) for the extreme breaking rate has led to this promise by North regarding the F2015 Warps sizes 8.4 and up: "... the luff curve got reduced." A promise that apparently doesn't include the 7.8 (according to our experiences a mast breaking size too!) and down.


So, durability-wise some Platinum masts sizes have been the Achilles' heel of the Warps, and until North proves that the Platinum mast breaking problem is history, I'll hesitate to call the Warps (as part of the rig package) durable. But when looked at in isolation, the Warps are in fact damn durable and top notch products - at a price. The Warps are perhaps not trend setters in friendly all-round performance, but in product quality they're among the very best. A pity that the Platinum masts have been mudding the picture.





Using the durable 2014/2015 Platinum 490 masts with pre-2014 Warps.



So, the massive mast breaking problem with the pre-2014 Platinum 490 cm mast now seems to be history. From 2014 the Platinum 490 cm masts are as durable as any. Congratulations North, congratulations Italica and congratulations to the Warp/Platinum sailors with one big problem less to worry about. End of story - and a happy ending?


Not quite. In the effort to avoid the breakings the Platinum 490 cm masts have been beefed up considerable in the bottom section. Which means that the masts by the IMCS norm have developed to be very Flex Top. OK, over time there has been a gradual movement in this direction, and the sails of course have been shaped according to the masts. But from 2014 and through 2015 the Platinum 490 masts have added more than 2 points to the bend curve compared to the 2012 and 2013 Platinum 490 masts. And the 2012/2013 Platinum 490 masts were around 2 points more flex top than the 2011 masts.


Concluding from measuring relative few masts always involve the question about statistical validity. But anyway, this is the picture:


2011 Platinum 490 mast, Bend Curve 13.5 (1 mast measured).


2012/2013 Platinum 490 masts, Bend Curve 15.5 (average from 5 masts (16.3; 15.8; 15.0; 14.1; 16.2)).


2014/2015 Platinum 490 masts, Bend Curve 17.8 (average from 3 masts (17.8; 17.9; 17.8)).


This means that (thinking of the very fragile pre-2014 Platinum 490 masts) sooner or later you'll have to put a 2014/2015 Platinum 490 mast in your sails designed for older (and much less Flex Top like) Platinum 490 masts. How will the sails react?


Our experiences are mixed. Our 2012 Warp 8.6's accept the 2014/2015 Platinum 490 masts. OK - the sails are deeper in the bottom section and looser in the top, the mast sleeves around the two lower cambers are flapping because of too loose fit, and the feel is definitely different. But the cambers rotate (with a bit more resistence), and in all it's all right.


With our 2013 Warp 9.2 it's another story. The sail simply wont accept a 2014/2015 Platinum mast. One thing is that the sail is very deep around the boom and very loose and flat in the top - but the lower camber simply doesn't stay put on the mast. First time you try to rotate the sail the camber jumps off the mast. And if you aren't aware of the problem, the batten simply breaks.


Unfortunately there's nothing you can do about it. The lowest camber has been substituted with a new original one, we've constructed a new batten with softer and a more circular curve in an effort to give the camber a more favourable angle towards the mast, and we've experimented with a lot of cambers from other brands. All in vain. When it comes to the Warp 9.2 from 2013 The lowest camber wont cling to the 2014/2015 Platinum 490 masts because of the stiff bottom section.


So, when your put a 2014/2015 Platinum 490 mast in your pre-2014 Warp (because the old one has broken) you can be lucky (as we were with our 2012 Warp 8.6's) or you can be unlucky (as we were with our 2013 Warp 9.2). And by unlucky I mean that you'll simply have to trash the sail.



The picture above:

If you ignore that the lowest camber
pops off. there's only one outcome.

The picture to the right:

Even if you make/get hold of
a batten with a more even arc
(the grey batten), the lowest
camber wont stay put.

Click the pictures to enlarge.






Regarding the company ...



North is a major brand with a fine reputation of backing up their products. But there are exceptions:


In the spring 2013 a couple of our new Platinums 490 cm masts literally started braking around us. When addressing the importer we were told that Boards & More had informed that "there has been a failure on a production of 490 Platinum masts" (translated from Danish).


As we still had a new 490 cm Platinum masts left that hadn't broken yet, we (urged by our retailer, in fact) asked the imported if we could have it substituted with a specimen from a no-failure production. No need to experience a mast breaking on the water with all the implications (destroying the sail, a long and risky swim/paddling back to the shore, etc.), we thought.


But apparently the policy of North was to wait for the masts to break - not notifying people about the problems - and only send the costumers new masts when the socalled "failure production" masts broke and people reacted. North answered:


"We cannot replace a mast before it is broken. Please note not every Platinum

mast is breaking because of low serial number. Thanks for understanding."


I suspect that it was this questionable behavior from North that was referred to in this interview on windsurf right-of-law in the German "surf" mag. from August 2014 (the relevant words marked with blue).


In my country you can easily have 2 Gun Sails 100% Select masts for the price of 1 Platinum mast. For the costly price of a Platinum mast you could perhaps deserve a little more empathy than having to sail far ashore with the not especially reassuring words tumbling in your head, that  "there has been a failure on a production of 490 Platinum masts ... but not every Platinum mast is breaking." A scratch in North's reputation, I think.



The other side of the coin: Decent answers to serious questions.


I have to praise the willingness of the product manager, Raoul Joa, to answer your questions in depth. It's been a while since I've addressed Raoul Joa, and I don't know if he's still around at North. If he is, and if you have serious questions about the North products, you'll probably get very honest answers from Raoul - answers that are miles away from the sales babble you much too often get from most other brands and their team sailors(!). And if he asks for a little discretion in his answers, that's the least you can do.



A company for the windsurfers or the shareholders?


The "corporate cultures" within the businesses for windsurf gear probably moves towards a global, universal short sighted, pure commercial way of thinking and acting. I mean, the companies of course try to make us think that their primary goal is to develop windsurf gear for the windsurfers in love with windsurfing. In reality, it's perhaps more likely that it's purely about business, and that the companies don't give a damn if what they're developing, producing and selling is windsurf gear or chopped pork. They probably focus more and more exclusively on the bottom lines of the annual accounts.


But of course there is room for variation, and the more we as windsurfers/costumers take decent behaviors of the companies into our considerations when choosing a brand, the more room for variety. I mean, there's a tendency to talk about "development" as something objective outside our control - often without wondering who is (also) driving the "development". We (the costumers and users of the products) are a driving force with our freedom to put feelings into our choices at the expense of more cynical incentives. We still have the option to not only hunt for the best products at the lowest prices - but to be guided by stupid concepts like, for instance, "sympathy".


Perhaps a little naive, I still find at least some difference between North and for instance Neil Pryde. If there is, in fact, no difference in the substance, then I will congratulate North for having been able to give me that impression.






Warps for the future? A personal note on race sail brand decision making.



Unfortunately, choice of race sail brand from a performance perspective is not so much about facts as about feelings and trust to the designers, the design process and promo words. Why's that? Well, except from a very few brands (Gun Sails?) you can't go through the normal buying process when it comes to new race sails. It's not like buying a car, where you can collect all the information you like before actually deciding (reading the specifications, examining others views, reading tests results, having a test ride ... etc).


If  you decide that you need a couple of new race sails for the coming season, you'll have to order the sails from the retail shop/the importer averaging 3 months before delivery (in my country). The time when you could actually see and touch the sails before ordering, and when you could learn from tests and people around you how the sails performed, is long gone. Generally the shops no longer have stocks of race sails to choose from.


At the time in the developing process when you have to order, you barely know the specifications of the race sail. Often you'll have to guess about the exact sizing (is it a 7.8 - or a 7.6 or a 7.9 for the next year?), you don't know if there's a change in masts (recommended lengths, bend curves) or boom lengths (more or less cut out?) than last years model - changes that might force you to buy new hardware in addition to the sails. And what about the design parameters - dare you rely on the declarations of intent about more control, more power, softer handling etc.? And the important magazine tests? Forget it - the magazine tests are published looong after the deadline for ordering the sails. The function of magazine tests these days is to give you a hint if the sails you ordered 3 months ago are competitive sails or doors.


The point is that ordering new race sails is all about confidence and trust - in the absence of the possibility of having the sails in your hands or learning from the experiences of other sailors. And having to trust the will, ability and words of designers and marketing people of course opens for many relevant and irrelevant speculations, as you're left in a twilight of uncertainty. In the case of the future North Warps you might for instance speculate ...


1. Are you confident that the traditional Warp design peculiarities are a sound a base for a competitive sail? For instance:


- By a fair margin the Warps traditionally have the smallest cut outs among the race sails from various brands. Is this a deliberate choice - or is it because the profile for whatever reason is designed so stiff that a larger cut out would be counter-productive? Speculations that are probably wrong ...


- The Warps for several years have sticked to the 7 battens concept - while the race sails from other brands mostly have 8 or even 9 battens. Is there a reason why other brands mostly opt for more battens - for instance that this allows them to use less seam shaping, for the benefit of a softer and more forgiving feel? Does the Warp 7 battens concept so to speak lock the sails to a stiff, unforgiving feel with little possibility to design a damp, early planing sail? Speculations that are probably wrong ...


2. Is it productive for your confidence in the Warp concept that you several years in a row have been promised that NOW the new Warps shall have competitive low end power - but that you exactly the same number of years in a row have had to accept that this was yet another unfulfilled promise.


3. Have you faith in the people designing the Warps. What about Kai Hopf? He's obviously following his own design route - but is this a sign of an ability to design state of the art race sails - or is it a sign of not being able to catch up with designers from other brands, designers that the last several years have launched race sails that generally have been higher valued by magazine testers than the North Warps? And what about this new man - Daniel Aeberli - that seems to be placed in the slot between the designer and the international sailors (testers?) in both North and Fanatic. What's his qualifications? Is he a guy with drive and knowledge, or is he merely a smiling marketing guy? This product from his personal fin brand perhaps isn't too promising.


Again - speculations that are probably wrong and unfair. But speculations caused from having to decide which race sails to order with no actually knowledge. And the less you know, the more paranoia ...


For me personally - also in the light in of my (to be nice) mixed experience with my latest Warp F2014 7.8 - I've decided not to buy any new Warps for the 2015 season. If the magazine tests of the F2015 Warps indicate that the Warps are catching up with the race sails from the other brands (performance wise and as to user friendliness in particular) I'll renew my quiver with new Warps in 2016 (I've got a lot of Platinum masts that can't be used with much other brands!). But if the magazine tests indicate that nothing has happened I'll probably switch to another brand in 2016. GA Vapor and Loftsails Racing Blade have been tested to be very balanced and friendly/comfortable sails for a couple of years - but so has the Gun Sails GS-R to some degree. And the GS-R has the advantage of at least having a chance to fit my later very Flex Top like Platinum 490 cm masts - as probably the only race sail brand on the market! 



Update March 2015:


The Planchemag Spécial Tests 2015 just arrived, and a quick look at the slalom sail department ("Voiles de course 7,6-7,9 square meters") confirms the worst expectations. Seemingly the North Warp F2015 7.7 is even more peculiar than the Warps of the last couple of years. In short it's the same old story - but perhaps even worse: Top rates in lightness and rotation, but extremely stiff and direct (a big problem in chop, as I understand) with the worst rates in early planing and control among the tested sails.


As said elsewhere, according to North's description of the Warp F2015, North seems to be well aware of the classic Warp performance problems (late planing, lack of control and much to much stiffness). Cite from http://www.north-windsurf.com/: "... designer Kai Hopf has found the perfect balance between maximum acceleration and optimum control when overpowered ... (the Warp F2015 is)  even more powerful and much more flexible."


Sorry to say, but if the 2015 test in Planchemag shows a right picture of the Warp F2015, there's a huge gap between what the designer has tried to achieve and what he has in fact been able to come up with. And especially the two worst rankings are puzzling: Normally the it seems to be highly problematic for the designers to combine good rates in the Early Planing performance and in the Control performance. If you score high on Early Planing, you tend to score lower on Control - and vice versa. And in the Planchemag 2015 test no brand succeed to score highest rate in these two performance categories (closest are Gaastra Vapor (9 and 10 respectively), Loftsails Racing Blade (10 and 9) and Neil Pryde RS Racing (9.5 and 9.5). But what about the North Warp? Pretty sensational the Warp scores the worst rates in the test in both Early Planing and in Control. That must be almost as difficult as to score high in both performance categories!


Does this make the new Warps to bad race sails. Of course not, in the right hands the Warps can - and will - probably win races in 2015. But for us ordinary mortals it'll be very tempting to seek the brands making race sails that perform better AND are easier and more friendly to sail.


What a pity that the people capable of making sails of a very high standard (durable wise) apparently haven't got the ability to design competitive slalom sails (performance wise) for sailors on a non-PWA level.






Update October/November 2015.



Important: As said in the start of this page, it's an advancing review, written gradually as new experiences have emerged. Consequently, you may find conflicting information. If so, the latest updates overrule earlier writings.



1. More on mast breakings, the causes and sail durability.


Remember I said that our F2012 Warps are the best performing Warps we've had? Better than earlier Warps and better than later Warps. The fact is that the very good performance of the F2012 Warp series first and foremost seems to be a result of a very, very strong luff curve that stabilizes the sails better than any other Warps (in my view). However this luff curve comes at a price - and the price is lack of durability. Durability for the masts and - very seldom - durability of the sail.


It's no secret that the very strong F2012 luff curve breaks a lot of masts. My Warp F2012 8.6 alone has cost me 4 Platinum 490 masts with a 3 times destroyed mast pocket when the masts broke out through the sleeve.


I've noticed a (potentially) very interesting phenomenon regarding the mast breakings in this particular sail: The 4 masts broke in 4 distinct different spots in the sleeve: One in the boom cut out, one just above the boom cut out, one further up the sleeve and one yet further up the sleeve. Every time the masts broke out through the original stitching of the sleeve at the same side of the sail. Afterwards, the broken stitching was repaired (very durable!) by hand using a soldering iron and leather string, totally without considering the resale value.


But why haven't the masts broken out through the sleeve at the same spot twice? Why have the masts "chosen" a new and not-strengthened/repaired spot to break out through? A coincidence, or ...? What if the order isn't 1) mast breaking, 2) destroyed stitching? Isn't it feasible that the order is 1) the very strong pre-bending of the mast (over-)loads the stitching of the sleeve and makes it give up, and 2) the mast - not being supported by the sleeve at the torn spot - is point loaded and breaks.


This could explain why the masts haven't been breaking at the same spot twice, because the break-out spots on the sleeve are later strengthened by the strong repairs. Probably not the whole truth about the mast breakings in my Warp F2012 8.6. But perhaps part of the truth?



The Warp F2012 8.6 has
"consumed" 4 Platinum 490 cm
masts. All masts have broken
in a not-reinforced (= repaired)
spot. Was it in fact a weak
sleeve (bad stitching) that
caused the masts to break?

Click the pictures to enlarge.



The strong luff curve of the Warp F2012 is probably the reason why the luff of my Warp F2012 8.6 has cracked. This certainly isn't a normal incident for the Warps (as it is for other brands, guess who?). But when a luff cracks in a Warp it's kind of logical that it happens in a Warp F2012.


Luckily, I noticed the crack before it spread through the whole luff, so it was relatively easy to repair (I've got a lot of experience in the luff repairing business from helping myself and my windsurf buddies with our cracked Neil Pryde RS Racings). I didn't report the cracked luff to North, as I've learnt from earlier incidents that the 5 year warranty often means a 50 Euros contribution to have the sail repaired at a sail loft. At least in my country a sail loft will probably not even open the sleeve for 50 Euros! Furthermore, it's my experience that it's pretty seldom that sail lofts succeed in repairing a cracked luff in a lasting way. I suspect that the demand from some costumers for an aesthetic repair is the main reason for the bad statistics.




Certainly not a common sight with
sails from North: The luff on the
 Warp F2012 8.6 has cracked.

Click the pictures to enlarge.

The crack is repaired by hand. An
aesthetic disaster - but much
stronger than letting a loft
do the job.

 Click the pictures to enlarge. 



2. The North Platinum 490 cm bend curve evolution - and implications for using new Platinums with older Warps.


I have to say that reading the North homepage about the bend curves of their masts grows increasingly surrealistic (see the bottom of this page http://www.north-windsurf.com/eng/nodes/display/pages/mast-technology). No need to go into detail, but while a Platinum 2013 490 mast typical had a bend curve of IMCS 15.8, my 2014 and 2015 Platinum 490 cm masts have been bend curve measured to around IMCS 17.8. And my all new 2016 Platinum 490 mast has been measured to bend curve IMCS 18.6!


Of course, it's perfectly OK if the sails are designed around this kind of Flex Top/Superflex Top bend curve masts - but why not tell us? Why tell us that for instance the Neil Pryde masts can't be used with the Warps because they're too Flex Top, when the truth is that they are generally less Flex Top than the Platinum 490 and have bend curves very close to the Platinum 460? See http://peterman.dk/masts-all-imcs01.htm.


Unfortunately, the Platinum 490 bend curve evolution caused me to visit another brand (hopefully for a shorter period): When a Platinum 490 cm 2013 mast (IMCS bend curve: 15.8) broke in my Warp 9.2 F2013 I replaced it with a new Platinum 490 cm 2015 mast. However, the new mast turned out to be incompatible with the sail. The lower part of the sleeve became very loose, but even worse: The lowest camber simply couldn't stay put on the mast. Different cambers from other brands and modifications of North cambers were tried out, but in vain.


All this happened mid-season, and as all Warps generally have to be ordered pre-season at my place, I was forced to look for a replacement sail from another brand. The choice fell on a Gun GS-R 9.5, mostly because of the mast exchangeability between North and Gun, but also because of a very competitive prizing and a reputation for being attentive to the costumers. How the Gun GS-R 9.5 sail performs compared to the Warps I'll probably write a little about another time.


In the meantime I've probably found a kind of solution on the problem with the lowest camber falling off: Some Velcro fixed on the camber and wrapped around the mast keeps the camber in place. The solution works when rigged on the beach, but it hasn't been tested on the water.



Facing incompability problems
with new (post-2013) Platinum 490
masts and older Warp sails?
A possible solution on "the
lowest camber falling off" issue.

   Click the pictures to enlarge.



Receiving some new Warps F2016.


Generally, the prizes for windsurf gear have raised to astronomic amounts this year in my country. Rumours tell that the weak Euro relative to the US$ is the main reason. However, thanks to North and the Danish importer I got a very favourable offer for 4 Warps F2016, a 7.7 and a 8.4 for my son and the same for me.


We received the sails at the beginning of October, and so far we've had some 4-5 sessions in far from optimal conditions. So, we certainly haven't formed a firm opinion on the new Warps. At the most we've notice some sketchy outlines of their characteristics.


Performance wise we've got the impression that the draft has moved somewhat forward compared to our until now best Warps, the F2012 7.8 and 8.6. And perhaps I feel a tendency of a bit less stable drafts compared to the F2012 Warps. At least the placement of the harness lines aren't as obvious and distinct as I'm used to. But still very, very interim impressions, gathered in gusty conditions.


The sails are very quick to get up in speed, and the top speed seems to be comparable to the F2012 Warps (which is very good). In this very early stage of the trimming process I have found it necessary to lower the boom a couple of cm's to have my feet fixed securely in the front straps. This is probably intended in the design, as the boom cut-out seems to be placed a little lower compared to the F2112 Warps.


The sails feel a lot more compact than the F2012 and the F2013 Warps - which in fact they are (a lot shorter luffs). So, not surprisingly they feel somewhat more agile in the manoeuvres, perhaps unless you're a light weight. They also feel a little less direct and a little more "hesitating". They still accelerate very good, but in a softer way than the F2012 Warps.


In the last sessions we've had so far, the conditions were less challenging, and when discussing our impressions we agreed on a characteristic that's a little difficult to realize: The average speed is very high. The F2016 Warps kind of don't feel especially speedy in the peak moments, but when looking at the surrounding sailors you're very competitive in the periods when the conditions aren't ideal. And as the conditions are seldom ideal for long periods, you have a good chance for being in the lead after a couple of legs with the Warp F2016. Still early days, but in a subtle way the new Warps seem to smooth out the speed, compared to the more stiff on/off performance we've got used to from earlier Warps.


My son is a lightweight sailor, and the next time he takes his 8.4 on the water he'll probably try it with an extended Platinum 460 mast instead of the recommended Platinum 490 mast. To have an idea if this is a proper way to go, we've actually measured a Platinum 2015 460 mast (extended to 500 cm) and a Platinum 2015 490 cm mast (extended to 500 cm), and the figures are:


Platinum 2015 490 cm mast extended to 500 cm (with 40 cm extension up in the mast):

IMCS stiffness: 28.7; IMCS bend curve: 17.9.


Platinum 2015 460 cm mast extended to 500 cm (with 15 cm extension up in the mast):

IMCS stiffness: 26.0; IMCS bend curve: 15.5.


The reason he'll try the 460 cm mast setup with the sail is that the first and only time he tried his Warp F2016 8.4 he found it a little heavy in the jibes (in marginal wind, though).


As usual, the first couple of sessions the cambers feel a bit sticky, and you'll need a little wind to help them rotate. However, from experience we know that after a few times on the water the cambers rotate flawlessly. One of the 8.4's has been on the water 4 times by now, and it already rotates as our good old F2012s.


The all new sleeve (made from a new non-stretch material) makes the sails feel somewhat more crisp (camber rotation sounds like gun shots!), and probably some of the performance advantages are caused by this. However, the new sleeve construction also demands that you rig the new Warps somewhat more gently than older Warps. For instance, it's absolutely necessary to push the cams (especially the lowest cam) in place from inside the sleeve - contrary to what has been recommended in the pretty old rigging manuals from North so far. If you try to push the cambers in place from outside the sleeve you'll risk to damage the non-stretch sleeve material severely. Oh - and of course it's certainly not advisable to kick-rotate the cambers; and as said, after a couple of sessions it's not necessary either.


As a matter of fact we've already experienced the vulnerability of the sleeve material: After the first (and so far only) session with my sons all new Warp 8.4, it had some cracks around the lowest camber. He was not aware that he had done anything bad to the sail, and of course we at once asked a loft to repair and strengthen the area. As a kind of insurance I told the local importer about the issue - in case it should later happen to the other new Warps too. And to my surprise the importer (having been in contact with North) very quickly told me that it is vital to rig the sails without pushing on the cambers from the outside, as this may overload the sleeve material. And he pronto changed the general North rigging instruction (for camber sails) on his homepage. And a fortnight later North placed a new (and revised) Warp rigging video on their homepage (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57czeE9zu1U&feature=player_embedded).


Both the importer and North implicitly suggested that we had rigged our new Warps, following the old guidelines. And that this was the cause for the cracks.


The (potential) problem is that we've always rigged our Warps by pushing on the cams from inside the sleeve, either through the zipper openings or the boom cut-out, and so my son of course also did in this case. And furthermore, the cracks showed on the port side of the sail - that is to the opposite side to where the cracks should arise, when you rig it zippers-up (starboard side up).


For now we just hope that my son by accident touched the sleeve too hard while sailing, and that this caused the cracks. But we'll be very observant if the problem will also show up on the other of the new Warps. I think that our Warps are from an early batch, and if so, North probably has the possibility to strengthen the lower part of the sleeves in future production series of the Warp F2016?




This may very well be the result if
you don't follow the new rigging
instruction on the Northsails
homepage: Cracks in the pretty
vulnerable sleeve material.
The actual damage did not
happen because of wrong
rigging procedure (see text).

Click the pictures to enlarge.

  The cracked area repaired and
strengthened at a sail loft.


Click the pictures to enlarge.




Next improvement of the Warps?



I think one of the next steps for improvement among the race sail brands is the centred placement of the batten pockets. As often is the case (for instance the clew cut away, now adapted by all other race sail brands), Neil Pryde is a forerunner here, presenting the symmetric batten placement design in their RS EVO 6 series in 2014. Hopefully the design will proliferate down the other brands in the years to come. *)


The classic way to design a kind of symmetric sail is to place the batten pockets alternately on either side of the sail. This is also the case with the North Warps, where the longest batten pocket (the one starting just under the boom cut out and ending just above the clew) is placed on the port side of the sails.


The placement of the longest batten pocket determines on which tack the most important part of the leech of the sail "hooks" (flaps-down) or "flips away" (twists, flaps-up). The more pressure you put on the batten, the more pronounced the asymmetry.


Although mostly a tendency (most felt with my Warp 7.7), on the new Warps, I've noticed that on port tack the sails seem to have the draft placed a bit more forward than on starboard tack. This gives the sails a bit more stability on the port tack (the twisting leech so to speak locks the draft in place forward) and a bit more low end on starboard tack.


It's a tendency that can be almost levelled out by the placement of the harness lines. But unless you place the straps on your slalom board a little asymmetric (on starboard tack a bit more backwards to neutralize the backward draft of the sail) you'll always risk the feel that your front foot on starboard tack is sitting looser in the strap than on port tack. Unless, of course, you lower the boom to get more pressure on the front foot; but then it costs in early planing ... and so on. The point is that a symmetric sail is a lot easier to trim. At least in theory.


It's obvious that the hooking or twisting leech issue has to be seen in connexion with the amount of clew cut away, the placement of the clew eyelets and seam shaping along the battens - but now it's becoming a bit complicated. Here're some old (ignorant?) words about this issue: http://peterman.dk/windsurf-flaps-up01.htm.


It's difficult to imagine how Neil Pryde has constructed the symmetric placement of the batten pockets without creating a lot of friction around the battens (making adjustments of a rigged sail a hard work). But if it can be done without being too vulnerable, it would be nice to have that feature in the future Warps too.


And just to put it in perspective: This issue with the Warps isn't nearly as dominant as with some other race sail brands. For instance, my 2015 Gun Sails GS-R 9.5 sail way more asymmetric than any of my Warps have ever done. Perhaps a result of much more clew cut away, inappropriate placement of the clew eyelets (too low relative to the dominant batten), simpler battens, looser batten pockets, not ideal batten tension system, a seam shaping issue - or just generally a way deeper sail?. The fact is that the very asymmetric performance of my GS-R 9.5 caused me to place some new foot strap plugs in my Fanatic Falcon 152, simply to place myself further back on the board to get in line with the draft on the starboard tack.



For the Severne Reflex race sails the Reflex system for years has (partly) addressed the "asymmetric sail syndrome". And googling the symmetric placement of battens it seems that the Simmer SCR and the Avanti the Machine M-2 have entered this path too. It also seems that Ezzy Sails has had their "Endobatten Shaping" for years, but perhaps not for cambered sails(?).





A note on user reviews: Not a necessarily a punishment for the companies.



From a reliable source I've got the impression that North isn't totally satisfied with the reviews on this site. I think North should be, and I'll try to explain why:


I think there's a room between the babbling marketing folks and their wagging tails (the obliging, but in reality say-nothing sponsored sailors - and other professionals with interests in biased views) - and the always negative, over-critical and not-constructive folks, for whom nothing works and who see a conspiracy behind everything.


It's in this room most of us operate. Sometimes as small-talkers on the beach, sometimes as readers and sometimes as writers. It's in this room the better windsurf forums (for instance http://www.seabreeze.com.au/forums/Windsurfing/) and the better windsurf magazines (for instance the German "surf" mag. and the French Planchemag mag.) are situated. Here lovers of the windsurf sport exchange experiences and ideas, mostly cleaned for irrelevant personal or corporate interests. In genuine solidarity with other windsurfers the communication/reviews come with honesty and modesty.


It's in this room I try to give my small contributions to our sport. As an (literally!) quite ordinary windsurfer - sailing perhaps a bit too advanced equipment for my ability - I try to communicate with other ordinary windsurfers who perhaps also sail equipment on the border of their capability. I write what I find and honestly mean, but I try to be fair and not too definitive in my valuations. And unless finding very convincing evidence I (usually) don't claim that what I've found is statistically valid.


Why should companies like North welcome this kind of communication/reviews?



1. Feed back.


All of us know stories about bad, bad products that have partly destroyed the reputation of a windsurf brand. Products, where bad designs and flimsy "solutions" weren't changed for years, in spite of massive warranty claims.


Of course, it's costly to change a design, and probably it's not even possible mid-season because the gear perhaps aren't manufactured continuously, but in small series for stock. But that doesn't explain why some companies don't rectify design and manufacturing flaws for the next season. For instance, it simply doesn't make sense that a major sail brand since 2004 for years and years again didn't find a solution for the cracking luff panels of their race sails. I mean, it's not rocket science to strengthen a luff panel so that at least it doesn't crack for the majority of the race sails. Other companies have had the same problems, but to a much lesser degree. But more important: If the race sails from other companies have shown similar issues, they have (to my knowledge) rectified the problem the following year. But not this major brand. Why?


I can only find one explanation: Some companies simply don't receive real feed back from the dealers and the importers. The dealer/importer layer functions as a kind of "rockwoll layer" between windsurfers with problems and the companies. The companies simply don't get a realistic picture of the dissatisfaction with their products among the costumers, because the information is intercepted and handled in the retailer/importer layer and never reach the company.


To follow the example, in my country the mentioned major brand have a very skilled (windsurf wise and commercial) importer, who apparently regard it as his task to "solve" the warranty problems by himself without (seemingly) involving the mother company. He takes action with much energy, very often by convincing the costumers that their claims are unfair and that they have to blame themselves.


Perhaps the mother company has defined his role like this, and probably the company's very satisfied with his efforts. But in fact it shouldn't be. The prize for having a "wave-subduer" importer might be that gear problems run for years without the company having the full picture. And not having the full picture means too little initiative to rectify.


In my place, the recent years we've noticed a movement towards buying gear from companies without a heavy (and expensive) importer/dealer apparatus. That is companies that deal directly (or almost directly) with the costumers. For instance, Gunsails has had a big boost at my place, not only because of fine performance and build quality at a very good prize, but also because of a reputation for rectifying problems very quickly. To illustrate, a couple of years ago Gun ran into a bad batch of masts from their mast supplier. As soon as Gun realized the problem - which I guess they did very quickly because of the direct communication with their costumers - they mailed the buyers of the bad masts and asked them to cut and return the 30 cm bottom part of the masts. And within a fortnight the costumers received some all new replacement masts. A pre-emptive action, before the bad masts actually broke! And a kind of responsibility too seldom seen in the windsurf business. The contrast to the years and years again with the breaking Neil Pryde X9 masts without ANY action taken by the company - except from blaming the costumers - is clearly visible!


In general I think the traditional chain from manufacturer to importer to retailer to costumer is under attack. And not only because of the on-line companies ability to cut the costs. Also - and more important in this context - because of their ability to rectify design and manufacturing flaws very quickly, based on the direct communication with the users and costumers.


So, companies with the traditional importer/dealer chain to the users/costumers are exposed to the "rockwool layer" syndrome. Especially for these companies the reviews in the magazines, on thge internet forums and from individuals might be very useful, perhaps essential - if they want the full picture.



2. Choice of gear and decision making.


There's another reason why the companies should be observant on the unbiased windsurf communication/reviews: When I try to recall my personal decision making process when buying windsurf equipment, it's never based on a persuasive dealer or promotion stuff from the companies. Most often I have a vague idea of my needs, so I start to look for comparative tests in the magazines. Next step is to search the internet for personal experiences (individual writings and opinions on the forums). And if anyone on the beach has some qualified input - or better: If anyone on the beach show overwhelming performance without necessarily being a better sailor than me - then of course I'm influenced.


The fact is that I never choose equipment based on biased sources like promotion stuff, dealer speech or team sailor babbling. Or at least: Not that I'm aware of.


Of course I read promotional stuff, watch promotional videos, listen to team sailor stories, etc. But the interesting thing is the timing. On a time-line, my need for biased information is always placed after the actual decision making. When the gear's chosen and ordered, I move into a phase of expectancy, mixed with a need for confirmation: "Please tell me that I did the right choice." And strange to say, the careful selected promotion stuff always tell me that I've done the right choice.


If my decision making procedure is representative for most windsurfers, I think the windsurf companies ought to be interested in the "un-authorized" and un-biased communication and reviews among windsurfers and use a less energy and money on promotion that probably doesn't matter that much in the real world.


So, my claim is that what really moves us, is sober, balanced information. And I don't see why serious windsurf companies shouldn't benefit from user reviews, even if it contains fragments of (constructive) critique. If a reviewer has a sober critical/constructive approach, perhaps his/her choice of brand may have a positive effect for the image of that particular brand.