Test and Review of the Loftsail Skyscape Windfoil Sail.


I have been using the Loftsail skyscape 6.4m for the last 3 months and I will now share my thoughts about this sail.

Test conditions:

Wind: Several sessions between 8 knots and 20 knots

Board: JP Hydrofoil 135 ES

Foil: Neilpryde Aluminium and Bug freeride carbon foil

Sail: Loftsails Skyscape 6.4m

Mast: SDM 430 – 100% carbon

Spot: Flat or choppy Norwegian fjord

Intro: A dedicated windfoil sail

The Skyscape is a new addition to the Loftsail assortment in 2018.

A windfoiling sail you said? Many would think that this is a marketing trap to take advantage of the windfoiling hype, just to sell more gear.

While it’s true that any sail can be used to windfoil and that windsurf brands exist and grow by upselling, I’m absolutely convinced that a dedicated windfoil sail can also really improve performance and comfort during the ride.

For a beginner, I would probably advise to try windfoiling with his/her conventional windsurfing sail. No need to invest in a dedicated foiling sail for the first few times. A light freeride sail with one camber or even without would be ideal.

However, when you progress and search for an increase in performance, you will appreciate a powerful sail for pumping in light wind, which at the same time offers flight stability at high speeds.

The concept behind the Skyscape sail

Before designing the Skyscape, Loftsails’s head designer - Monty Spindler - asked a bunch of advanced foilers what would their dream windfoiling sail feature. Their answers were consistent:

  • Light

  • Slightly higher aspect ratio (shorter boom)

  • Slightly firmer leech twist.

This has been the brief when designing the sail.

Presentation: A quick look at the sail

A strong but light sail:

The first impression we get when looking at the sail is that it’s sturdy and made to last, with many high-quality details: an integrated mast protection, kevlar strip reinforcements, neoprene boom cut-out with zippers to avoid water from entering, these are some of the main features which show that this is a premium product. The monofilm is also strong, as it once tackled a sharp stone in the shore break with no issues!

The shape is different from what we have seen from Loftsails before. More volume in the lower part of the sail and a cut-out at the clew, which allows the rider to use a shorter boom for a sail of that size (182 cm). This shows us that the sail is indeed answering the design brief.

Our 6.4m has only 5 battens to reduce weight, but on the other side it has 3 cams. The cams are obviously increasing the total weight but they give a deep curve in the sail which is important when windfoiling in light airs:

Because the foil can fly through the water with so little drag, you often ride faster than the wind and the wind angles become different. The apparent wind (created by your movement) shifts forward, and is coming more in front of the board than in regular windsurfing.

Having this wing shaped sail enables you to keep the sail powered up and more stable during the ride.

The sail comes with 2 sets of cams and can be used both with SDM and RDM masts, which is a great feature making it more versatile. The test was done using a 430 SDM mast.

On the water

I have been using the Skyscape in different conditions, from light wind and up to 20 knots fully powered.

I was expecting that the extra reinforcements, cams, and quality details that were added to the sail would have an influence on the weight, but even if it’s not the lightest sail I have tried (4.9 kg), it definitely gives a light impression when riding. The short boom is definitely a contributing factor in giving the impression that this sail is much smaller than it actually is.

In light wind, pumping the sail is what will get you up and flying. One of my concerns was indeed how the sail would respond to pumping. I was afraid that the cams would make the sail stiffer, as a race blade, and less efficient than a flexible freeride sail. I was pleasantly surprised by the smoothness of the sail: When pumping the sail, the sail reacts quickly and the flexible top and the firm leech helped to keep the power in the sail. This gives a great propulsive power and a very early flight compared to other sails of that size.

In flight, the low aspect ratio makes the sail very stable and easy to manoeuver. Also, with the deep curve of the sail, the sail keeps powered up when flying faster than the wind.

In stronger winds (18+ knots), the sail becomes very powerful but still manageable in the gusts as most of the volume is down below. It’s however not a sail built to sail overpowered due to the deep curve and the firm leech, and you would rather rig a smaller sail if the winds really picks up. Alternatively, you could also replace your windfoil board with a regular windsurf board that has a fin, as the Skyscape works also very well as a freeride sail.

A small issue with the cambers, which needs to be mentioned: I experienced at first that the cams were not turning very well around the mast. They often needed a small push with the hand to make them turn, especially when the wind was light. I found out that it’s necessary to have a lot of tension on the outhaul and less tension on the battens to make the sail flatter and make the cams turn more readily.

I have not tested the sail with RDM, but the reduced size of the mast may solve the issue.

Conclusion

The Skyscape is really engineered for windfoiling, no doubt about it. You can of course windfoil with any kind of sail (we have even experienced people foiling with their old triangle-shaped windsurfer sail from back in the 80’s!), but you will obviously improve your performance with a dedicated windfoil sail like the Skyscape. Windfoiling requires different features than with regular windsurfing: A light sail offers more stability in flight and more propulsion when pumping to give an early flight.

Loftsails’ head designer Monty Spindler has brilliantly managed the task in offering these features with the Skyscape. With this 6.4 and the carbon freeride foil from Bug, I am able to fly when my anemometer shows an average of 10 knots on the beach. It would be great to test the 7.2 or even the 7.8 to see how low you actually can go, but there is no doubt that this sail is very performant in light or even super-light wind.

The biggest take away from the test is that flying with the Skyscape is easy, smooth, and very enjoyable. A dedicated windfoil sail is an enjoyable luxury and you will hardly want to switch back to a conventional sail when you give it a try!

Windfoil Zone is distributing Loftsail products and you will find the Skyscape in our online shop.

We offer free shipping!

You can also read more about the Skyscape on Loftsail's webpage.

#Test #loftsails #Skyscape

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