Control vs Speed [sails]

Control=Speed, this quote can be read on almost all websites of the big windsurfbrands. But how do the brands get control? This post is about full-racesails & control.

There are different ways, neilpryde RS:Racing has a focus on drive&power however the sail does not really give a lot of (vertical) lift (nose lift). The sails is as stiff as I can handle (I am using a shorter mast than recommended).

But other brands like to add some softeness into sails, from my experience it can work. I sailed Gaastra Vapors for 1.5 year and I liked the sail a lot, but a sail with plenty of vertical lift!

What about softness:

With a "soft" sail you've limited performance in some conditions but it could be Faster too. For example take a racecar on a downhill course, but instead of a 2 inch exhaust take a 1 inch exhaust, and the torque&power gets a little bit less. You'll see on a downhil course with no bumps it will go as fast as the other cars, sometimes in hard cornering you will have some more control over the accelerator. (yep this might be a strange example...)

It is the same with a soft sail, on a quite flat course with steady wind you will be very fast, and in small gusts/windgap you can sometimes even get a little bit more speed than stiffer sails. Because you can maintain your stance in small gusts.

But when the "adjusted" car has to climb a hill, he will lose. The same with sails when a "softer" sail will hit a strong gust or windgap it will lose.

Now there are 2 different kinds of soft sails:

1) Wind-profile sails
These sails need wind to form their "fast" profile, problem is, without wind they suffer a bit. Most soft racesails have this design. Brands: Maui Sails TR-serie, Point 7, Severne
These sails you need to rig 0,5-1,0 m2 bigger than for example pryde RSR. But the sails are never nice in windgaps

2) Stressed-leech sails
These sails have quite a locked profile, and not really an 'open' leech. However in strong gusts it is impossible to keep the sail in good shape, the sail will deform. So you have to release to much backhand, and that is not very efficient . Brands: Gaastra Vapor, Loft Sails. These sails have to be rigger 0,3-0,8 m2 smaller than the pryde RSR. Fly true windgaps, but watch out for strong gusts.

Don't be fooled that we windsurfers need stiff sails, or carbon wings!!! I will be the last speedsurfer that will mention that. All sailors need a back-up in gusts, and you've to explore how much back-up you want. Not everybody can handle the acceleration/stiffness of a full-racesail. Some sails you have to commit 100% or you'll crash.

Erik Loots

Erik is windsurfer for 10+ years. In his daily life he is professional in construction dewatering, advisor, troubleshooter. Erik likes adventures, explore and to challenge himself. During his life he is trying to get the best out of it and have respect for the earth, nature and future generations. The modern world is about sharing, in this blog Erik shares his experiences, selfreflection and lessons learned.


  1. Hi Eric
    What do you mean with exhaust?
    Do you mean suspension instead of exhaust?


  2. I mean decrease of power (engine) can result in easier handling. With lots of enginepower it is hard to keep grip.

    Yes it is a bit strange example...

    With surfing this is the same with soft sails you can maintain your stance, which is the best. In the same strong gust a very stiff rigs the rider has to adjust his stance (giving more or less mastfoot pressure).

    There isn't a lot written on the internet about it, but I think on a windsurfer it isn't fast to adjust your stance a lot. You have to find a stance for the course you have to sail, and than try to keep that position.

    Sometimes it is impossible, in very gusty conditions lots of riders suffer. It is one of the main priorities this year for me to become more aware of conditions. I have to use my head a little bit more on the water.


  3. What category would you place the Simmer XCrace sails in. When I compare it to my Tushingham I find it very slow to get going and a lot heavier (the leech material is very thick!)
    The Tushingham I would class as soft, as I can give it a shake and get planing in a small gust, but cannot do this with the Simmer. It is probably more a skill thing though as I have only been using cams since Sept09, and only been sailing for about 3 years now.

  4. I think from your respond the Simmer could be a sail for strong windsurfers. Here described as stressed leech sail. (However these sails I would called it locked in bottom section)

    I read on your blog you prefered the standard Tushingham mast instead of the speedmast, my guess would be you like a neutral feeling from a sail (I also like this, and severne reflex 2010 is pretty neutral)

    Soo conclusion could be, replacing with another sail with more neutral feeling should help you out getting rid of this heavy simmer feeling. It is very hard to transform a sail from locked-in feeling towards neutral (and still have a fast sail)