The dualist – XO Sails Fly 7.8m windsurf sail test

Pics: Nick Kingston, James Jagger

XO Sails’ Fly 7.8m is new from the French brand and aimed at covering both windfoiling and slalom. Now, as we all know, this isn’t a new concept, and actually sails in this vein have been tested by Windsurfing UK before…

XO’s Fly 7.8m is triple cam affair that sheaths fairly easily. It requires a decent amount of down and outhaul but even so the leach remains taught and the main part of the sail has a lot of belly. You can see from the Fly simply lying on the beach there’s a lot of power here. And actually, when you think about it from a foiling POV, you can understand this. A 7.8m will mostly be used in the lightest of airs for foiling, when lulls are sometimes bigger than the gusts. Therefore ‘engine’ power is a must.

But the Fly isn’t just a foiling machine. We used the 7.8m to great effect in slalom/blasting mode. That low down power is actually great for early planing in light wind windsurfing scenarios. In fact, we could pretty much get a 125L board planing in about 12 knots with the Fly.

Blasting comfortably from the get go it’s a super stable sail that allows riders to lock down and vroom. Even when faced with choppy environments there’re no bad manners coming from the XO. Instead it allows sailors to focus on the job in hand. Round corners you do notice how hard the cams rotate. But this in itself doesn’t detract from pure slalom/freeride bliss.

So what of foil mode? Well, as stated you can pretty much get planing in 12 knots on the 7.8m so it comes as no surprise that the Fly allowed us to levitate in the lightest wind we’ve ever foiled: 6 knots. With a few back hand tugs we enjoyed a few sessions in ultra light airs. And once up and flying it keeps momentum and generating power to carry on flying. We can’t help but wonder if the XO Fly 8.6 would give us any extra and allow flight times in even less? Maybe we’ll get to test this – stay tuned on that one.


As a dual purpose sails, that crosses both windfoil and slalom/freeride disciplines, XO have a design that’s super powerful, with a beast of a bottom end, that also displays impressive manners once up and flying or blasting. Comfortable in standard windsurf mode across flat and choppy waters whilst remaining composed and easy going in the lightest of wind for foiling. If you’re a sailors looking to make the most of less than 15 knots, in either foiling, windsurfing or both, then XO Sail’s Fly 7.8m wouldn’t be a bad choice for power source.



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