Neil Pryde Combat (2008)

Ed Davis

Sizes:

3.3, 3.7, 4.0, 4.2, 4.5, 4.7, 5.0, 5.3, 5.6m.

Manufacturer’s mast recommendations:

Pryde masts tend to be flex-top in bend curve (by our definition – though Pryde call them “progressive flex”) and of average stiffness. Neil Pryde recommend the X9 or X6 (SD) masts and RD X-Combat mast with all their wave sails. Last year we found their Alpha to perform best on the RD X-Combat mast.

Our mast recommendations:

Neil Pryde wave sails tend to set with high levels of twist in the head allied to high levels of rotation and relatively tight foils in the midsection. These characteristics are promoted and exaggerated by flex-top and SD masts. So, although the Combat works well with its own SD mast we would have loved to have tried it with other less flex-top masts, both SD and RD because it appeared to rig well even with very stiff-top RD masts. (However, we can’t vouch that the performance on the water would match the looks on the beach.)

Changes for ’08:

Pryde have reduced skin tension for this season by reducing the luff curve in the sail.

Set:

The Combat has quite a bit of pre-set shape in the bottom of the sail. It needs a fair bit of downhaul although the excellent pulley makes this quite easy. It sets with a very twisted head but tight mid-leech and tight body. It has a lot of shape in the front of the sail below the boom and a lot of rotation in the lower two battens. 2-3cm of outhaul were needed to reduce the fullness, but excessive outhaul does further tighten the already high-tension foil.

Performance:

With its taut feel and despite relatively deep forward fullness it is not a sail that feels particularly powerful or responsive in marginal conditions, but it has a nice light feel and easy natural balance that makes it very easy to sheet correctly and sail with. It feels quite flicky, crisp and precise, being easy to manoeuvre even though it doesn’t go completely neutral. Upper wind range is good and it seems to have a very good range on one setting without needing further tensioning as the wind increases.

Overall it’s a very well balanced, easy handling sail with a forward centre of effort that is fun to blast and ride. It’s the all-rounder of the Pryde range, sitting between the more powerful Alpha and the softer, lighter, Zone, neither of which we were able to try out this time round.

5.0m – £445

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