Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The new UltraLight SuperFreak review

A while ago Jeff gave me a UltraLight (UL) SuperFreak (SF) 5.0 to test.

Assuming everybody knows what a SF is, the UL is a version with most of the panels made of an ultralight dacron. Think about a parashoot or a kite and you'll have a pretty good idea of what kind of lightness we're talking about!
The photo below shows Ulli taking it out for a spin. The funny thing is that the other SF in the background is Micheal's and that's an UL too, and then there's a kite. In other words, everything you see in that photo is extremely light... other than Ulli maybe.

I didn't notice any difference at all in the performance compared to a regular superfreak. Instead, here's the advantages I found:

- every time you move the sail around it's better because the sail is
lighter: jibes (big time), tacks, bottom turns, top turns, backwind rides...
- it seems to absorb the gusts even better... which is hard to believe, considering how incredibly gust-absorbing the regular SFs already are!
- much easier to fly the sail when water starting. I had a couple of
emergency water starts in the impact zone with a bomb approaching and I went for it with no hopes to succeed.... "no way, there's no way I can make it"... and voila', the sail was out and my ass was saved.
- in SUPER light winds I even prefer it to my regular 5.5. In fact that's when I use the light wind water start technique (front hand on the mast below the boom and back hand on the foot of the sail) quite often. The difference between an UL 5.0 and a regular 5.5 in that particular case is huge. Way, way easier with the UL.
And when the wind is too light to even water start like that, uphauling an UL 5.0 is way easier than uphauling a regular 5.5.
Add the fact that with the shorter boom of a 5.0 I can be closer to the wave face and you'll understand how I now don't give a damn about that little extra power and upwind sailing ability that a 5.5 would give me.
Plus, in super light wind you don't use your harness that much. A lighter sail in your hands means so much less work.

Here's a video that (after a short introduction) shows mostly Jeff sailing an UL 4.7 in one those epic days we had in February.
When I showed it to Jeff, he went like:
"cool, who's that?"
"what you mean, it's you!"
"me? And when was that?"
"what you mean, it was that epic day, you forgot?"
"that day?!? You got to be kidding me! The waves look so much smaller than they were!!!"

Unfortunately that's what it is... the waves look smaller, but... da hell, at least it's something... Enjoy it! Ah, and if you want to see a better definition version, it's also on the Hot Sails Maui video section. Check it out, so that you'll have an idea of the quality degradation introduced by youtube...

If we're talking sailmakers that are trying to do something new/extraordinary/out of the box... the other ones will excuse me, but I put Jeff on top of my list.

Allright, what else.
Extremely strong and gusty wind continue here in Maui. Here's a forecast I read on surfline: Going into the longer range, the NPAC looks to take an extended break with high pressure asserting its dominance over the region. This will set up both breezy trades in the next few days and prevent any major storms/swells from taking place.
If I wasn't conscious of how lucky I am to live in Maui, I'd be depressed now...


Robin said...

Come live in the Netherlands and you'll be really depressed: We're supposed to have snow the coming days....

My SF U.L. has arrived today, even more curious after reading your report!

fswp said...

cool sail design !

GoooFy said...

complimentoni per il video...sei il migliore

cammar said...

Thanks for the comments.
Robin, let us know (here or on the HSM forum) what you think when you try it.

Huge swell headed towards Bells Beach. Don't forget to tune in ripcurl.com to check out the event on Friday.

benjaminpink said...

Hi-is the SF UL available for purchase yet? When is the release date?

cammar said...

Ben, absolutely.

In the existing color list you'll find a little "UL" red sign for the colors available in UL.
524 different colors... unreal.
Hot Sails Maui is too ahead...

You guys seen the new Smacks? They look incredibly good... can't wait to try one...

benjaminpink said...

Hi GP, thanks. So does that mean that the UL freaks are only available as a custom order?
Also, the new smacks...are you talking about the 2009s or 08s? Are there pics of the 09s yet?

cammar said...


an UL freak can be ordered via the HSM website. I believe that the fact that there are existing colors available already makes it a non-custom order.
A custom order is when you:
- choose the colors of all the panels of the sail (don't think this is possible yet for a UL).
- or send a custom graphic design of your own to be printed on the sail (this is possible for the UL, but will cost more and will have more waiting time).
This thread on the HSM forum explains a little more.

cammar said...

As for the Smack: I meant the 09 prototype I saw (not that the 08 looks bad...). There's some photos in this post where you also find the link to Ray's website with more photos.
The other day I saw Juan with a fucsia and gray one that I really digged...

Nelisblog said...

Hey Cammar!

Stil into longboard windsurfing? check this one out!
Ze crezy french guy, Patrice used to be a PWA pro and is now a absoluut pro with his log board. New format for the PWA.....


cammar said...

Thanks Nelisblog.

PWA should have introduced longboard wave riding as a parallel competition for the athletes in those days in which the wind is too light for a shortboard contest (which are the majority!) year ago.

No need for the athletes to bring their own boards. Just pick a brand and have four (plus a couple of backup ones) at the event spot.

I remember one event in Maui that I was judging: 7 days straight with perfect longboard wave riding conditions. As a matter of fact, I was the only one in the water wave sailing at Lanes on my longboard... everybody else waiting on the beach for the wind to pick up...

The return for the industry would be huge.

Oh yeah, of course... it's easy to criticize, what do I know how difficult it is to organize all this, blah, blah...