From the one track mind of Mike Burns
- Mike Burns
- Nags Head, NC, United States
- Windsurfing has ruled more than 1/2 my life. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about how it feels to fly across the water, fly through the air, or spin around in circles on my windsurf gear. So to help spread the stoke (and further give in to my addiction) I started this blog. I hope you find it entertaining and a place to go for some useful information.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
2013 Northsails Idol Review: taking the red pill
If you're a fan of "The Matrix" all you needed to see was the title of the post to get a pretty good idea of how much I like these sails. I say it's like taking the red pill, because it was truly eye opening about just how good a sail can be. Things that you thought impossible before, are now easily attainable!! It's taken me this long to write a review of the new 2013 Northsails Idol because I felt I really needed to try all the sizes I had to make sure the entire range was good. Why did I feel the need to try all the sizes? Well, the Idol is Northsails new 4 batten Freestyle/wave sail, with the focus on freestyle. Last year I was on the ID, which was a revolutionary sail unto itself. The light weight and crisp handling made it my original choice for sails when I was ordering this year. That is until one of my European friends who had already tried the Idol at one of the early release expos told me that the idol was better than the ID! Better than the ID!!! Now he had my attention!! Still I was skeptical because I was definitely not a huge fan of Norths other 4 batten sail, the Hero. Although the 2012 Hero was superb, and perhaps one of the best at what it was designed to do (wave riding with multi-fin boards), for powered up bump and jump blasting and freestyle it was very lacking in lightness, speed, maneuverablility and stability. So you can imagine how much arm twisting it took for my buddy to convince me to not order the best sails I've ever ridden with the ID, and go for another North 4 batten, of which I was already skeptical because of my feel for the Hero. So I ordered the Idols for the entire quiver. My fingers were shaking as I hit the send button for the order really thinking I was making a huge mistake not going with the ID again. They arrived about a month later and the day that they arrived, it was blowing 30 knots!! The moment of truth!! Can the new 4 batten have the stability and live feel that I loved about the ID? So the first session was with the 4.0 Idol. Rigging the sail, you notice that the boom length is shorter than on the ID. Perfect for freestyle! My buddy Chachi also just received his quiver of Idols that he also hesitated about ordering since he liked the Ice so much. We hit the water at the same time. the beach was West Meadow beach where there are head high waves on the outside and glass flat runs on the inside. Chachi was working the loops on his wave board on the outside and I was working the freestyle on the inside. After about 45 minutes of sailing we came in to compare notes. Our words were exactly the same. "I'm never ordering a 5 batten again!" We both felt the same thing. The Idol is WAAYYYY more stable than the hero was, and easily as stable as the 5 batten North counterparts. So for blasting in flat water, freestyle or for wave riding the idol does it all! For freestyle, the 4.0 was incredible. Even in super gusty conditions (20-40 mph) I never felt out of control. For the freestyle trick, dear god, there's never been anything like it!! It wants to spin and lift! In all my years sailing I've never used a sail that was so in control while at the same time having that "lift" that you need to get the extra height in the tricks. The first day on the sail I was sailing better than I ever had, hitting tricks cleaner and with more speed than ever before. Later on, another buddy of mine Ryan showed up and rigged 4.2. He was coming off Maui Sails (notorious for lacking power and wind range), so his reaction was even bigger than ours! He's 200 lbs and was planing earlier than guys on 4.7s and 40 lbs lighter! Normally he would have been struggling on his 4.7 Maui when I was full power on my 4.0. Now we had the same perfect power, me on 4.0 and Ryan on 4.2. Another stoked Idol owner!! Later on that day the wind backed off a bit and I rigged the 4.5. It was the same great feel that the 4.0 had. Very light, speedy and locked in even when overpowered. I couldn't believe this!! I was totally expecting the 4 batten sails to be easily overpowered but they weren't. The only thing I was thinking is that as the battens get further spaced out, like in my 5.6 that there's no way the sail would still be as stable. This is why I took forever to write the review. I really didn't believe that a 5.6 with only 4 battens would have any kind of wind range. Finally a few days before we left for Bonaire (2 weeks ago) I got a day on the 5.6. It was cold and gusty. To my surprise, not only did the 5.6 have great range, but it also had a really nice light feel to it. It has plenty of overlap with my 5.0 and jumping straight down to the 4.5 from the 5.6 is a definite possibility although for freestyle, I'd still want that 5.0 in the middle to always have the perfect power for learning new tricks. As for how the Idol will react in the different tricks, it does EVERYTHING!!! For all the new duck tricks like Konos, burners, Air Funnels, the sail will duck exactly where you duck it. No guess work or adjustments. It goes where you want it and it won't slam back up in your face or dive down to the water. Duck it, let go and it will float where you leave it until your ready to blast off! Then when you are ready to take off, you will find much more lift available than anything else I've tried. This extra lift also has transferred into other tricks like ponches, shakas, and double moves. So if you're up for bouncing the second flaka, or after a shaka bounce into another flaka, it has become much easier! To the point where on the ID I used to only get the second bounce on occasion, to now I can get it almost every single time. And that was from the first session on the Idol. For moves like vulcans, spocks, or even helitacks, they will be much easier from teh shorter boom length and high cut sail foot. No longer will you have to worry so much about catching the clew and the sail dragging you over. It will just go!! So for me the Idol is the perfect sail in EVERY size. The range is much, much better than I expected, the speed is much better than I expected, and so far everyone that I know that has tried one has been blown away by the overall performance of the Idol. I would recommend the Idol to anyone looking to windsurf!! The one thing to keep in mind is that it is just about all full monofilm, so if you're in wave where the sail might hit a reef and tear, it would be something to consider. However there is still x-ply on the impact areas by teh mast sleeve and on the lower foot of the sail where you might end up crashing on it. And trust me, I crash on there A LOT!! For any sort of flat water, or high performance wave sailing, and especially freestyle, this is THE sail!!! Don't even hesitate! More power, lighter handling, and better tricks are waiting!! Seriously, I've never been so stoked on any sail. They are that good!! If you're in the market for a new sail, you need to at least try one. Oh, and one more thing to mention, the Idol comes in about $100.00 cheaper than the ID and is also the cheapest freestyle/wave sail in Norths lineup. As if we needed another bonus!!!
Posted by Mike Burns at 7:47 AM
Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)
Thanks for this great review. North sail has created some insane sail with the Hero and now the idol. I own the 5.3 and 4.5 hero 2012 and I would say they are just incredable sail. What you say about the idol reflect almost exactly how I feel about those Heros, except maybe for the high end as the hero lack a little bit of stability. Anyway maybe (or not) I should try those new idols. It might be tough for my budget though...ReplyDelete
The hero is a great sail, but it only really shines in the waves, where the Idol is more of an all around sail with a much lighter overall feel than the hero. This is exactly what each sail was designed for! If you like the hero, the Idol will blow you away!!! Northsails really has everything dialed across the entire range. It's not like many companies where one size of the sail can be good, but the next is funky feeling. The whole range is really really well thought out and put together.ReplyDelete
Hey Mike, Andrew from Melbourne Australia here, great review on the idol couldn't agree more I'm going to get rid of all Hero's except the 3.7 and get idols! Do you think a 4.0 idol would have almost the top end wind range as a 3.7 idol? Had a wierd scenario the other day my friend and I were both on 4.5 Hero's with exactly the same 400 platinum north masts with the same downhaul setting yet my sail felt more draggy and unstable. Even to look at on the beach his seemed to have a better foil shape with the draft much further forward I don't get it???? Our masts are the same year production and have had similar use, do masts reflex and curve deteriorate over time? Mine had slightly less batten tension but not a huge difference! Might just get rid of the mast and sail anyway and get a 4.5 idol and platinum aero 400!! Thanks AndrewReplyDelete
As for the 4.0 idol having the same top end as the 3.7 Hero? You said 3.7 idol, but I'll assume Hero since there is no 3.7 idol. I think there's a good chance it will be right there. The boom is really, really short on the 4.0 idol which makes it very controllable on the top end. I also have a 3.7 volt. I picked that up because when I went from my 4.5 ID to 4.0 Ice last year, there was a bit of a gap. Now with 4.5 and 4.0 idols, everything is perfect. I still haven't had to break out the 3.7 Volt, so it's hard to say what the spacing will be like for that one.
Anyway, if you get a 4.5 idol, get the 4.0 idol as well. The sizing is perfect!! I spent 3 days on the 4.0 last week with the 89 ltr skate and that sail is a dream. I never had so much control ducking a sail in 30-35 knots.
There are a couple of things I can think about with you remarks about the Hero. One is that one hero is a 2012 and the other is 2013 which would make them sail a bit different and rig different. Another would be that, yes masts do loose some liveliness over time, but it's a looong time! The more likely scenario is that it sounds like somebody (you) are getting way more use out of the 4.5 Hero than your buddy. After a dozen or so uses, the sail materials start to stretch out. They stop noticeably stretching after a while, but when the sails are new, they need a chance to fall into their natural shape. So If you have a sail that was used 20 times, and he only has used his sail 5 or 6 times, you might need 2 more cm of downhaul to get the same shape from the sail that he does. With the sails on the same downhaul settings, you wouldn't have enough downhaul making the sail feel heavy and slow. I noticed that the past 2 or 3 years, my norths would get rigged with at least 2 cm less downhaul than recommended when they were right out of the box. Then after a bunch of times using the sail, they would stretch and fall into the specs written on the sail. So the easiest thing would be to rig to the min/max marks on the top of the sail for downhaul to be sure to get the proper leach tension every time.
As for the Aero Mast, I haven't used one yet. But I do ride for another mast company, and we've been testing prototypes for that are actually lighter than the Aero! What a difference!!!! I've had it since August and so far, so good. When I tried someone's North Platinum in Bonaire, it felt like a tank. The proto is only 0.1 Kilo lighter than the North Aero, so the Aero should have the same effect. Holy cow those things make such a difference. Like making the 5.0 feel like a 4.5! The only problem was that I only have one prototype! So all my other masts feel like crap now! I would definitely recommend the aero if you can fork over the $$$.
All the best,
I hesitate between a north idol,a duke or an hero 5,0. It's for bump et jump with a jp freestyle 99 de 2009 and a jp freestylewave 78. My weight 70 kg. Can you help me ?
Best regards. Phil (sorry for my English)
For bump and jump sailing, the Hero shouldn't be on the list. It's a dedicated wave sail for use with multi-fin boards. I heard the 2013 model is better balanced than the 2012 I sailed, but it had a long way to go to be comfortable in flat water..... So it's between the Duke which was discontinued and merged with the Ice in 2013 to make 1 sail range, the Volt. Any which way you put it, the Idol will be your pick. It's very stable, more power than the volt and so much lighter feeling. The Idol has been the biggest leap forward in sail design than I can ever remember (I've been windsurfing for 23 years) My 5.0 and 99 ltr skate is a perfect match, so I would imagine it would be perfect on your 99 ltr JP as well. Don't even hesitate to pick up a 5.0 Idol!!! The only problem is that soon after you try it, you'll be ordering a full quiver....
My wife who only sails a few times per year and is working on her jibes tried my 5.6 5.6 idol for the first time yesterday and said it was the most comfortable sail she's ever ridden. I've gotten the same reaction form every single person I've let try these sails. Much more power than what they are using while at the same time not being overpowering. Just smooth acceleration much sooner than you would think.
Enjoy your new idol!!
All the best,
Two more questions.
What do you think about the idol construction ?
May I go to the small waves (one meter) with it ?
the Idol is a full monofilm sail. I have no worries when I take it out in the waves. I think I actually give the sails more of a beating doing freestyle. I've bounced off these things more times than I can count. So far, so good. I think it depends more on what the bottom is like in your shorebreak area. If there are a lot of shells and junk on the bottom that can cut the sail like a razor blade, then it might get shredded in the break if you're in there a lot. If it's a nice sandy break, then you shouldn't have to worry too much. If you're only going in the waves once in a while like me, then you shouldn't be worried about it. The idol does use a thicker monofilm than the ID, so it can take a little abuse. I don't think some chest/head high waves are anything to worry about. It will hold up to the force of the waves, it's just a matter of if you hit the sail on anything and cause a tear. The funny thing is that the only sail I've ever shredded beyond repair was a full x-ply "totally bombproof" sail while using it in flat water bump conditions before I even started with freestyle.......
And if you should happen to dive headfirst through a monofilm panel, they can be repaired for pretty cheap, and is an extremely easy repair. I had my 4.7 Ice's main panel repaired a couple years ago. Fell on it from about 20 ft up. They had it back together the next day and I couldn't tell any difference in performance.
Soooo, Idol all the way!!!
Hope that helps,
Great review on Idol. Finally, I am ordering Skate 110 and two new North Sails to start with. I am 78kg. We have usually light wind condition here around 14-22 knots. I am thinking about ordering Volt 6.4 and Idol 5.6. Do you think Idol 5.9 or Volt 6.4 and Idol 5.3 would be a better choice?
All the best,
Congrats on your new toys!!! You're going to love everything. As for your choice of Idol or Volt, it depends on what you want to do. The idol 5.9 will probably have more get up and go than the volt 6.4, and the 5.9 idol is also much lighter for freestyle. MUCH lighter feeling through the transitions. But with the volt the sail will be a little faster and more responsive than the idol and will also have a little more upper end to it. The volt also has the x-ply panles if you're going into the surf. If waves aren't in your future, go with the idol 5.9. If you're doing any sort of freestyle the idol 5.9/5.3 combo will be the perfect choice maybe even think about idol 5.9 - 5.0. And if you do want the volt for the big sail, it wouldn't be a stretch to do Volt 6.4 and idol 5.3 instead of 5.6. My quiver that I settled in on this year was actually x-type 7.3 and Flacon 125 straight to idol 5.0 and 99 ltr skate with plenty of overlap..... The idols have a TON of low end and still really good top end. So far the idol is by far my favorite sail I've ever tried. One of the main things I like is the total control and constant feel through an incredible wind range. I'm hoping the idol ltds I ordered for 2014 will have just as nice a range....
All the best,
Thank you for your response. It helped me more than you think. I went with the 5.3/5.9 Idol Standard and Skate. 2014 ltds seemed lighter and had a narrower boom length. It would be interesting to try them. In the summer time, I am thinking of ending Idol 4.7 to my set.
Hi Sel. You're more than welcome. Your'e going to be really happy with those idols and skate. I'm looking forward to trying the Idol LTDs also! I think for the ducking moves they might be even better with the shorter boom, but the downhaul range on the LTD isn't as much as the regular Idol. So I'm hoping the LTD's have nearly as good a range as the standard Idols. We'll see...ReplyDelete
And yes, a 4.7 idol to finish off your quiver would be perfect!!
All the best,