Neil Pryde Alpha (2009)

Ed Davis

The Alpha is Neil Pryde’s ‘power wave sail’ developed for good low end and onshore wind performance.

Alpha Set:

There is a lot of pre-set shape in the bottom batten seam and quite a bit in the next up. This gives considerable fixed shape low down and quite well forward. Compared to previous Alphas the twist is a bit less head-biased and not as extreme, though still considerable. There is rotation in the lower two battens and the foil is relatively stiff, yet while it needs quite a bit of pressure (or wind) to start the derotation, there is also plenty of give or spring in the sail. It didn’t seem to be very ‘set critical’, working well across a range of outhaul and downhaul settings. We found that the bottom batten sometimes didn’t rotate well through transitions. We used the Pryde X9 400 (standard diameter) which we have previously measured as being a flex-top mast.

Summary: Everyone agreed that there was a high ‘freeride’ factor to the Alpha as it is extremely easy to sail with its definite, pinpointed and well forward centre of effort giving a very constant and reliable pull that is extremely easy to use. It remains exceptionally stable, great for blasting, jumping and getting upwind. The fullness and weight of pull is less of an advantage for manoeuvring and waveriding but the sail proved extremely forgiving and reliable and has a great wind range.

Matthew: “The Alpha is a nice sail to use with a good tuning range, maintaining a pleasant feel through the range of settings. It felt particularly comfortable blasting around in the large swells ‘out back’ and gave confidence when far from shore to go for some long high jumps off the larger swells. “The drive of this sail is quite low and forward so I think it would suit a flatter rockered board and a bump-&-jump sailor more than someone seeking riding heaven. The relatively soft and twisted leech is wobbly clew-first when riding in onshore conditions, but makes the sail nice for blasting around and comfortable to jump. It is not that highly reinforced for a wave sail, and feels physically light in the hands.”

Emile: “The 4.7 especially seemed a great deal more powerful than a lot of others on the test; almost too powerful for me at times and with a low foot and a stable rather than flicky feel it has a freeride feel to it. I was less keen on it in stronger winds and waves, but liked it a lot in lighter winds.”

Ed: “Powerful but not too powerful, with a range of settings making it easy to rig well. Good for heavier riders and those who like the sail to do some of the early planing work. It is easy to see what the brief was for this sail and it meets it well.”

Ian: “Very forward pulling compared to most, which makes it extremely easy to sheet correctly. I found it the most reliably easy and powerful sail on test and as such a great bet for testing boards when you didn’t want to concentrate too hard on the sail. A really excellent all-round high wind sail.”

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