Simmer Icon (2009)

Ed Davis

Simmer make four wave ranges although two tested on this occasion are the same design in different construction. Those are the Mission and the Mission X. The Mission is their “Ho’okipa heritage” wave sail designed to be direct and responsive with low twist and quick depowering. The Mission X is the same sail in X-ply with a PVC window. It is said to be the same sail but a lot tougher and with a slightly softer feel occasioned by the material. The Icon is their ‘take anywhere do-it-all’ all-round wave sail, billed as handling all wind directions and wave states as well as choppy and gusty conditions. The Iron, not tested here, is their ‘power wave’ sail.

Set: These sails were made and flown in specially for our test, and some of the stitching on the luff sleeves had clearly been been done in a hurry, which in some cases resulted in extra creases in the set. Otherwise they appeared extremely well built, and felt heavy and solid in feel. The basic outline, shape and set of the Mission X and Icon seemed quite similar, although the slightly lower aspect Icon appeared to have a little more twist in the head, a little more fullness and rotation and a little more spring in the foil.

Both sails appear to feature a fair bit of preshaping low down, with more apparent in the larger sizes. They are relatively low twist sails with heads that don’t go very loose, and the twist concentrated quite high in the sail. Although the Icon has quite a bit of spring to the foil on the beach, both sails seem preshaped and tautfoiled on the water, feeling more tight and stable than soft and flexible. They are physically quite easy sails to rig, but we found that they benefit from quite a bit of experimentation to find the best combination of power and release. Both sails have high cut-outs for those who like a high boom.

Simmer have asked us to point out that whereas our teamall found the sails felt at their best at the low / middle of their wind range, the Icon is widely regarded as having excellent top end performance – as is evidenced by the fact that Victor Fernandez used it to win both the windiest wave events on theWorld Tour this year (Pozo and Sylt).We’re going to do some more work with the Icons on our next test trip andwill report in a future issue ifwe do come to different conclusions.

Summary: The Icon is at its best in underpowered to nicely powered conditions when it feels very neat, direct and responsive. It is not perhaps as easy and relaxing for simply blasting along with in all conditions as some, but it is nicely manoeuvrable in the waves and controllable for jumping and gybing.

Matthew: “The sail’s geometry is very nice with a higher feeling clew and more upright and less raked stance. It is therefore a sail that feels quick into a manoeuvre as it is already sitting quite a way forwards when sailing along. When overpowered in chop the sail throws you around more than is comfortable – there doesn’t seem to be a way to mitigate this with down and outhaul, as when set too flat it gets twitchy and awkward handling. This might well not be a problem in good wave conditions but in the chop of El Médano it was evident. However, when underpowered to comfortably powered, this is one of the better riding sails as the higher clew and higher drive of the sail combine.”

Emile: “A stunning looking sail which I enjoyed sailing, particularly towards the bottom of its wind range. With its upright stance it had a go for it feel that I liked and the stiffness made it feel stable and direct and I would be happy to own one.”

Ed: “Looks good on the water. There is a lot of tightness in the rig with the only noticeable flex in the top panel, so it’s not the best at exhausting excess power well on the water. However, if you have the right size for a given steady wind speed then this sail has a very nice direct feel and is very likeable.”

Ian: “Although I prefer a sail that is a bit more forgiving on sheeting angles and releases gusts more easily the Icon is a good all-rounder with a nice immediate feel that is very easy to waveride, with a nice tight leech for going clew-first.”

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