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WINDSURFING JAHRBUCH 2020 / SEAL 5.0 2020
ON THE BEACH: The Seal is the compact handling sail from GUNSAILS. The measurements remain unchanged for the third year, as does the exemplary feature set. There is plenty of X-Ply in the sail. In the main window it is quite large meshed to allow an almost clear view of the wave lip. Still the long batten above the clew is conspicuous. The new stitching in the top, which we praised last year - which significantly improved the seal's control and twist - has disappeared. In the upper sail panel there is now a continuous square-ply panel, which is supposed to push the sail weight further down. We experimented a bit with the rigging and trimming and pulled the luff a few centimetres further than indicated. This makes you aware of the most important innovation: If the luff is well tensioned, the lower three battens still show a beautiful, pre-shaped sail belly with a clearly pre-tensioned profile.
ON THE WATER: Directly after the start you notice that the Seal has changed a lot, because the sail is much firmer in the hand than in previous years. And so much in the beginning: This is really good for the sail! The boom is one of the longest in the wave test, which is a matter of taste and the spirits in our test team were somewhat divided. But the team around sailmaker Renato Morlotti has done its homework. If the Seal was a relatively special product with a limited target group last year, this will no longer be the case in 2020. Because it is now an entirely good sail. The planing performance has been noticeably improved, it is no longer behind others. Also the control in strong winds is now excellent. A real plus when it comes to jumping is also the top speed. It is also very impressive. We were excited to see how the sail would perform on the wave. There it's easier to hold and can be directed faster than last year. It offers a mix of neutrality and drive that tends to be more OFF when steered with the back hand. Thanks to the precise handling it can be put down very well in the bottom turn and thus be set neutral by riding technique.
CONCLUSION: The GUNSAILS Seal is a positive surprise and will be on the market in 2020 with a strong improvement. Thanks to better planing performance and controllability, it is not to be criticized as an all-round sail for any wave conditions. With a firm feel and control, the Seal is now also fun on the straight and offers precise handling on the wave.
PLANCHEMAG NOV-DEC-JAN 2020 / SEAL 4.5 2020
A BALANCED COMPACT WAVE SAIL
ON THE BEACH: The brand's 4-batten compact sail continues to evolve in design, but retains the Square Ply 3 mil (90° angle of the threads), thin and light in the upper part. Only the luff panel is made of softer Dacron, the rest is reinforced with X-Ply. The two clew eyelets are well separated, the loose leech is very noticeable.
ON THE WATER: Super compact, this year lighter in the hand, the Seal, with its pronounced profile behind the mast, pulls strongly forward for a 4.5 m². Its good firmness/softness ratio is supported by the Dacron mast panel in high gusts without being more elastic. We benefit from a balanced pull on both hands on the straight as well as in waves, while always having a power reserve on the wave. The wind can increase, control is maintained with an effortless back hand, which means a wide range of use with a single setting. It just invites you to let loose a few percent, like in the bottom, where it pulls pretty forward and provides maximum speed and drive on the edge, then lets out the pressure at the top of the wave. You always stay connected to the elements thanks to classic power/depower management, but it doesn't achieve the ultra-reactivity or the ability of some competitors to shut off the drive all of a sudden. The Seal favors the relationship between handling and stability. We also like the low centre of gravity, close to the rider, with a certain ease to put the sail down on the water and raise it, all with balanced pull on both hands.
CONCLUSION: A waveriding machine built to ride wave after wave with Multi Fin Boards without effort, but with higher stability than average in the wind, giving it a very wide range of use.
WINDSURF UK JAN-FEB 2020 / SEAL 5.0 2020
OVERVIEW: The Seal is Gunsails’ 4-batten compact wave sail, sitting alongside the five-batten Horizon and championed by notable team riders such as Florian Jung. For 2020, there is also an eye-catching Seal Membrane available - a four batten wave sail, constructed in a single-piece 0.7mil film with Technora fibres sandwiched in such a way that the forces are absorbed and dispersed evenly, leaving a light and extremely direct feeling sail. Back to the standard Seal on test and it is the only 5.0m sail here to set on a 370cm mast, its outline short and relatively boxy. Build quality is good, with x-ply of various weights used throughout its panels and plenty of detailing on show, such as beading along the length of the bottom batten, a seamless foot panel, and the tack roller oriented for easy downhaul. It was rigged for test on a 100% Select mast, although is still said to be compatible with an SDM if desired.
PERFORMANCE: Sheathing the mast easily into the Seal’s head-cap, it is clear that there’s plenty of luff curve in the sail, the downhaul nonetheless easy to apply thanks to the softer mast. Gunsails’ handy trimming guide FRED was not present on our test version, although this is due to it being one of the first off the production line; all future versions will see FRED return. Apply tension and the leech opens progressively along its length, with plenty of looseness in the ‘double mini-battened’ top panel. There is then only a subtle amount of profile in the batten below the boom, the Seal setting flat and neutral above, with both lower battens keeping rotation around the mast. In marginal winds the top clew eyelet was utilised, giving the boom a little more leverage and the sail's power more purpose. Light and easy at rest, as the wind fills the sail breathes into a deeper profile, aided by the movement in the Dacron luff panel and luff sleeve. It is also very pumpable thanks to the longer boom length, the flex in the softer mast and the amount of area low down in the sail. Once going the Seal settles into a comfortable cruising stance, the centre of effort focussed low and forward in the draft. Easy and forgiving to use for long periods, you’d be excused for thinking the Seal is a user-friendly high-wind freeride sail! The low-cut foot shape, soft progressive power delivery, and high rake to the boom angle (even more so in the lower clew eyelet) makes it a pleasure to use, and very accessible for novice sailors and pros alike. Used in heavy coastal seas the Seal can act as a blasting weapon, the upper panels twisting smoothly as the draft’s softness absorbs any jarring forces from the terrain, its low power position pinning the board down to the water’s surface and mitigating any board control issues. It means the active rider can charge out and hit ramps at will, the sail feeling compact and manageable in the air. Yet use the Seal in a manoeuvre role and you’ll not be let down either. The power provided into transition is smooth and measured rather than sharp or assertive, but power it up properly and it provides enough for most, encouraging a more flowing surf style, going wonderfully light and neutral as it is turned off mid-turn.
THE VERDICT: A compact feeling all-round contender with impeccable manners, the Seal offers soft progressive power and real versatility in its application across an impressive range. If 5.0m is your biggest wave sail, there’s the added practicality that one mast could satisfy all, and at €489, it represents excellent value for money.