SURF MAGAZIN 11-12 2018 / BOW 7.8 2019
THE IDEA: GunSails developer Pieter Bijl explains the concept as follows: "Conventional sail design is all about combining good light wind power with control in strong winds. For maximum power, you need a tight leech that doesn't twist or waste energy. For top control, however, the leech must turn away and let off pressure, so we used to need the loose leech. So in the end you went round in circles as a designer, it was all about balancing the different requirements - power and control - and making compromises. With the Bow we want to throw the constraints of conventional sail design overboard. The leech should be stretched to avoid wasting energy. Due to the very soft mast at the top, the top should tilt downwind in strong winds and prevent the sail from becoming top heavy. In one trim, the Bow can cover a much larger wind range than conventional concepts."
So much for theory. Here are our impressions:
ON THE BEACH: The mast is one of the core elements of the new concept. All three Bow sizes work on the same 490 mast length - the 6.9 only extends a few centimeters, the 8.7 just under 25 centimeters. On the outside, the Bow mast looks like any normal SDM mast. But if you press the mast into the sand with your top, you immediately notice how soft and flexible it is in the upper part. For rigging, the mast is pushed into the wide mast pocket above the camber, as is usual with most camber sails. The best way to push the mast through to the end is due to the strong pre-bending of the mast sleeve in accordion style. Even without luff tension, the Bow now has almost as much mast bending as normal freeracing sails in fully trimmed condition. The folding of the four cambers is also quite simple, if you know the decisive trick: Put the luff halfway through and press the clamps directly from the front of the mast sleeve - you should start with the camber above the boom. Only then is the luff pushed through. In view of the low trim forces, one seriously wonders whether one is really rigging a 4-cam sail at the moment. With a small trim aid, such as the trapeze hook, a halfway strong surfer can easily pull the bow through, the otherwise necessary trim cranks for racing sails can be completely dispensed with. You first have to get used to the fact that the bow is designed without loose leech, so apart from some small wrinkles in the top area, the leech always stays tight. Before the boom is fixed to the mast, a thin mast sleeve made of hard plastic has to be put on, which should allow the mast to turn in the boom head piece. The boom is also only loosely attached to the boom, as known from freerace or race sails. With prices between 669 and 699 Euros, the Bow is in the lower price segment for freerace or race sails - direct sales make it possible.
ON THE WATER: The Bow has a deep profile and is very stable in the hand. In the lower wind range the sail already develops a lot of basic draft, who pumps on, notices in fact that in the top range of the sail nothing does itself: No fluttering, no rustling, the Bow loads up with light wind well. In full glide, the sail feels balanced in your hands and remains drivable for a long time even with little tension on the outhaul. Whether the mast actually rotates within the mast cuff, as the designer intended, cannot be checked during the ride - and ultimately doesn't matter. What is certain is that we had no problems with the boom slipping, it sits just as tightly on the mast as usual. We were positively surprised by the camber rotation in particular: On sails with a very deep profile, sometimes the crucial point, the profile of the bow changes sides without any problems, all four cambers rotate completely. In terms of weight, we think the Bow is within the normal range for this sailing category.
SURF-CONCLUSION: The Bow really has what it takes to be a revolution. Just the fact that you can pull a 4-cam sail almost without any trim is remarkable. In our opinion, the goal of the developers to develop a concept that covers a large wind range in one trim has been achieved. Despite its user-friendliness, the Bow remains a sail that is primarily recommended for sporty windsurfers who are looking for a powerful motor for freerace and slalom boards and who don't have any problems with far out foot strap setups and water starts.
A small drawback: You can't avoid the special mast (399 Euro) under any circumstances. During our test on Sylt the wind conditions changed a lot - from gliding conditions to full speed runs everything was there.