GA AirRide 7.7 ('20) vs Freeride sail

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webguy
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GA AirRide 7.7 ('20) vs Freeride sail

Just some quick thoughts on my new to me '20 GA (Gaastra) AirRide 7.7 and comparing it to the '18 GA Cosmic it replaces.

The Cosmic is a 2 cam freeride sail that was my bread and butter in winds up to the low 20s for three seasons. It has 7 battens and rigs on a 460 SDM mast (476x216). I paired it with a MauiSails 100% CC carbon mast and it worked well. It was easy to rig, rotated nicely and was fairly lightweight. It also held up well to a lot of use and was still in good shape when I said goodbye to it a few weeks back.

The AirRide is also 2 cams but only 6 battens which at first concerned me. It's a little taller and shorter in the boom, 487x210. I'm using the same mast.

So, what do you get with a "foil sail"? This is a question a lot of new foilers ask, worried that their old quiver will have to be tossed out. Personally, my 6.7 (again, a Cosmic) and below are all "normal" sails if that means anything.

Briefly, foil sails tend to less battens, shorter booms, less twist and, in larger sizes, cams are popular. With less pressure on the sail from the efficiency of the foil, the sail needs less structure so weight can be saved eliminating a batten or two. Shorter booms means a more efficient, higher aspect sail. It also means that in large sizes, there's less variation in the center of pressure/draft which can upset foil trim. Since there isn't the same need to power out of a jibe and deal with chop like on a slalom board, again, booms are shorter and less twist up top is needed. Cams stabilize the profile and, again, make the foil more stable as the power delivery is more consistent over a wide range of wind speeds.

Pros

  • More efficient
  • Easier to rig, less stress on mast
  • Shorter boom is more stable and less swing weight
  • Better upwind
  • Slightly lighter weight
  • Better performance in margins

Cons

  • Money
  • May require new mast
  • If you need to use with a fin, you'll give up a bit of performance
  • Not as easy to pump in very low winds
  • Marginal performance difference if you just want to foil around and not push boundaries

So, is a foil sail worth it? I'd say a qualified yes. The AirRide, like many big foil sails, also has a deeper luff pocket and less luff curve. That means rigging is much easier since you aren't having to force the mast up the luff sleeve. Popping the cams on is easier and there's less bending stress on the mast (a big reason the Severne HGOs have it). The deeper sleeve means better upwind performance, too. The slightly shorter boom is nice but barely noticeable. Despite having one less batten, there's really no difference in the stability much to my surprise having had both sails well powered in the lower 20s. The AirRide also feels just a touch more slippery in very light air but I don't have any data to support that so it could be a placebo effect. The Cosmic feels like it might pump up better at the very bottom end but, again, that's only a feeling and we are talking about the slimmest of margins in super light conditions.

To get the best out of either sail foiling, an adjustable outhaul is a must. The AirRide sets slightly flatter but both sails benefit greatly from flattening both as you accelerate and as the wind comes up. I'd say anything 6.5 and up would benefit but definitely for your biggest sail.

I rig both sails with at least moderate to a decent amount of downhaul. I'm not a fan of trying to power up a sail with minimal downhaul - it doesn't work for me. Pumping isn't noticeably better and the sail feels like it can't breathe and accelerate.

Should you rush out and get a foil sail? Maybe. I think once you are comfortable flying you'll notice a difference. Whether that difference is worth money depends how much you like to push the edges of the envelope. Is maximum performance in light winds, going up and downwind and stability over a large range of wind speeds important to you? Are you spending 80% or more of your time in lighter winds on a foil? I think the more you foil and the more it's your primary ride in light winds, the more you should consider it. If you have access to a decent 1-2 cam freeride sail like the Cosmic or Severne TurboGT, North S-Type, NP V8, etc, you can certainly make do until you want to more commit time and money to it. If you do feel ready, there are a lot of non-race choices including the Flyer, FoilGlide, AirRide, Loft Skyscape just to name a few.

Afterthought: While I love the sail, the angled batten pattern means the sail is a pain to roll and the nice little elastic wrap at the bottom just leaves a big bunch of foot not tightly wrapped. Points deducted.

Top: '20 AirRide Bottom: '18 Cosmic

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zaosan
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Re: GA AirRide 7.7 ('20) vs Freeride sail

Nicely presented William, thank you.
When Gaastra announced that they reserve "Gaastra" labeling exclusively for their leisurewear, I decided not to buy any more sails from them. For me, "GA" is a disrespect of their history, but times (and customers) are changing.

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webguy
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Re: GA AirRide 7.7 ('20) vs Freeride sail
zaosan wrote:

Nicely presented William, thank you. When Gaastra announced that they reserve "Gaastra" labeling exclusively for their leisurewear, I decided not to buy any more sails from them. For me, "GA" is a disrespect of their history, but times (and customers) are changing.

I still call them Gaastras. Biggrin On my sails, at least, they still print the word "Gaastra" -not sure about the 21s. That's how I felt after the "Atlanta" Braves baseball team moved across the river to the suburbs. After four years, have yet to attend a game at the new stadium that's 10 minutes from my house.

Oddly enough, while their website says GA, the title of the page is "Air Ride '21 - Gaastra Sails".

Doing some googling and reading old seabreeze posts, I think ownership of the windsurf and clothing sides of the brand split in '14 and there may have been limitations on the usage of the name - similar to what North -> Duotone was about (my speculation). The opinions on the new name and logo back then were not kind either. The original logo was one of the icons of the industry.

Their logo was based on this water gate in their original home town of Sneek, Netherlands

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