Pics: James Jagger
Attach the ‘freestyle’ moniker to a product and it can be an instant turn off for many. With a large proportion of sailors fitting the freeride mould thoughts of aerial contortionism and bendy man/woman shenanigans couldn’t be farther from recreational windsurfing realms. Yet the benefits freestyle tools offer actually suit everyman windsurfers more than you’d think: early planing, efficient upwind ability, easy manoeuvring and so on.
Loftsails’ Airscape 4.8m is the second 2018 sail we’ve tested from Monty Spindler’s long time brand. There are a few things that jump out, both on the water and off, the first of which is how high the foot of the sail is cut. With boom attached this becomes even more noticeable with an elevated clew primarily designed with ducking in mind.
Following an easy rigging process hitting the water is also an interesting premise. With many sails billed as early planing, whereby riders can get away with using one size smaller, the Airscape 4.8m REALLY allows for this possibility. The sail’s bottom end grunt is significant with a positive pull from the front, driving windsurfers onto the plane even in marginal and/or gusty winds. When others are on 5.3m’s (ish) there’s no reason why an 85kg rider (with some skill and the right board) won’t be up and skimming on the 4.8m.
Blatting along and that high clew is indeed noticeable. It lends itself to a very upright and centred stance that may take some getting used to. In a short space of time, however, most riders will become comfortable and not find it an issue.
Through moves the Airscape 4.8m rocks – even flat water carving style manoeuvres are great fun. There’s loads of drive that’ll power you through gybes whilst that high cut foot is extremely efficient for ducking all kinds of monkeys and reverses. If you’re an advanced sailor then whippy is a term to associate with the Airscape. There’s also loads of lift generated which becomes noticeable through aerial moves like forwards. With only small ramps on offer the 4.8m boosts riders higher and allows for maximum water clearance.
For riders considering higher wind manoeuvre orientated sails Loftsail’s Airscape 4.8m is one to scope (even if you’re not a freestyle trixster per se). Offering all the elements windsurfers desire the Airscape 4.8m is an early planing and upwind machine that’ll suit old school carvers who love gybe variations as much as new school power move aficionados looking to bust out air inversions and such. Well made and distinct looking it’s one to consider for when the wind picks up. Also works well in windfoiling mode.