North Ice (2008)

Ed Davis

Sizes: 3.4, 3.7, 4.0, 4.2, 4.5, 4.7, 5.0, 5.3, 5.7, 6.2m.

Manufacturer’s mast recommendations: North recommend SD masts with their wave sails and although they do produce a skinny mast it wasn’t the most popular in our examination of 430s last year, and North were the only sails that we preferred when rigged on the brands own SD masts. We used the North Platinum Hybrid shape. North SD masts tend to be towards the flex-top side of average and of roughly average stiffness. The whole Ice range is engineered so that they can be set on a 400 if required.

Our mast recommendations: The Ice doesn’t seem to be particularly mast critical. The relatively flex-top SD mast it recommends gives a lot of rotation and a rather tight foil, and it looked better rigged on average to flex-top RD masts. Stiff-top RD masts take a lot of the rotation and tightness out of the luff which may well improve performance in lighter winds but which would probably compromise stronger wind control.

Changes for ’08: It is said to be more “aggressive and direct” and more neutral in waves, as well as having a softer feel for pumping. Set: The VTS is still an industry-leading system for regulating the setting of the downhaul tension, and it seemed to work well on the 5.3 that we tried. The Ice has pre-set fullness in batten 1 and quite a bit right at the front of batten 2. When rigged, however, it sets relatively flat with a little bit of fullness very well forward in the sail. There is considerable rotation in the bottom two battens and the foil is quite tight. The leech twists moderately near the head. We found it best with a couple of centimetres of outhaul. Performance: It is characterised by its very light and well balanced handling. The flat set with very forward centre of effort makes it extremely easy to sail with, allowing a very upright stance. You don’t need to crank it down in committed style to turn the power on and this allows very quick and easy manoeuvring of the board even though the sail itself doesn’t go completely neutral. We found it lacked a little movement in the foil in marginal winds and – in part as a consequence of this – it struggled a bit in the lulls. It is not easy to set for marginal winds without sacrificing its natural comfort. However, it is very well behaved in stronger gusts, continuing to accelerate as it powers up and holding shape nicely. In manoeuvres it feels very direct, quick and light to handle, and easy to reposition. Much more of a manoeuvre biased sail than a high wind all-rounder.

+ Very light, easy handling, good balance with good upper wind range

- Not so powerful or flexible in moderate winds

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