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Buying a Windsurf Sail?

This is a kind of continuation of my post called
When is it time to change a windsurf sail ?

If this is the first sail you have EVER purchased, you are in for a big task. I hope you at least have some experience windsurfing because if you do not, then the task becomes even more difficult !! Not to despair though.

There are many questions to be answered.
1) What size sail are you looking for?
2) Do you already possess a mast and/or boom?
3) Are cambers to be considered?
4) What type of sailing is the sail meant for?

The first question depends on your size, your board, your experience and what you want to do with the sail. In other words, the above questions are NOT mutually exclusive... James Douglass has a sail calculator spread sheet that can be used as a “rule”. The reason I call it a “rule” is I developed a strange quote one time that has some truth in it: “Rules are meant to be broken and guidelines are meant to be followed!” In other words, take these numbers with a grain of salt. They are merely a starting point. This “calculator” can be found at : If it is your first sail, you will need to downsize since you are NOT accustomed to the power of the appropriate sail for your weight in the related wind speed. Hopefully a local shop or on-line forum will be able to help you!

A couple more questions I neglected to list above which are equally important are:
1) Do you really need that sail? I have issues “stopping the shopping
2) Are you inclined towards certain materials – example: monofilm okay or not?

Okay, back to the original discussion – sorry, I do get side tracked -  even in my own mind ...
The mast and boom question ...  The boom just needs to fit with the least extension if possible; and on larger sails, for racing and/or heavyweights some people consider carbon booms. With the word carbon in them, you got it, it gets expensive. There are booms approaching carbon stiffness for less money. Believe they are the “Aeron” booms with a special triangular shape on top making them stiffer.

Now masts on the other hand .. “buying a Mast is a joyless purchase, a boom or a sail is a great feeling” . People say one must or should buy the mast with the manufacturer’s brand stamp on it. This may be the “ideal”, but nowadays there are charts and measurements showing you which brands are in which category ie hard top (Maui Sails, Gaastra, Severne) , constant curve (majority of the sails/masts) or flex top (Neil Pryde, Tushingham). There is a company called UNIFIBER that makes masts in the various categories and has a grid of the various well-known sail producers and where they fall. Their grid can be found here: So, if you already have a mast, then ideally you need to find the sail that works best with that mast. If you have the money and no mast on hand, purchase the mast with the manufacturer’s brand stamp. Of course carbon content becomes another item to consider. Unless you are made of dough, usually 55% and 75% is as far as you will need to go. Even the race sails like the MS TR-7 has been shown to work fine with the 75% carbon masts.

Not everyone likes cambers and they are NOT just for racing. They lock the sail shape better and thus help retain shape as one “glides” through wind lulls. They are typically found on larger sails ie larger than say 7.5 and on race/slalom sails. This is a personal choice. I like them and have them on my 6.0, 7.0 and 10.0. I do not have them on my 8.5, but am reconsidering at this time of sail re-evaluation. {Actually in 2011, I purchased a used MS-2 8-oh with matching 490/75% mast. This sail has two(2) cams and works well on my longboards too}

There are many styles of windsurfing such as formula, slalom/racing, freeride, wave, bump n jump and longboard. Each discipline requires a different type of sails and these often are in a size range as well.

Do you really need that sail? The reason I ask this is I analyzed the sails I used the most and discovered that I did NOT really need a 7.5 sail – for now. My most used sails are the MS Pursuit 8.5 and the MS TR-4 10.0. Sometimes I use the Gaastra Flow 3X 7.0. There does NOT seem to be any hole in my sail quiver.

The whole reason I started this discussion is more about monofilm versus X-ply. I have a 2006 MS Pursuit 8.5 that I purchased at the end of 2008 for a reasonable price – about $500 with taxes in. This sail has been used in the summer of 2009 and 2010. This is ONLY two (2) seasons. Before I purchased it, I asked many questions about monofilm because it has been quite some time that Ezzy Sails has bragged that their sails are NO longer containing ANY monofilm. Everyone seemed to console me that monofilm was okay and durable. The monofilm has gone milky, has some heavy creases and even the stitching around some battens – like #2 – does not look too good.

After sending the question out to several forums and receiving different answers like: use it until it breaks, trash it and repair it yourself; I decided to keep using it until it breaks.

Okay, I did use the sail in the winter as well, but even that was “okayed” by Barry Spanier of Maui Sails. So, when does it come time to replace the sail, what do I intend to do ??

Locally it feels like the sails are just way too expensive – from new to used. People do not seem to use 8.5 much here. As a heavyweight I love this sail in 10+ knot winds on the snow, 10 to 15 knot winds on the longboard and 15 to 20 knots on the AHD FF 160liter/79cm shortboard. If I do not buy locally, it seems the best option is internet in the USA where shipping within the 48 States in usually FREE.

What about monofilm? Do I buy a 2009 MS Pursuit 8.5 or go for something like a 2009 Severne Elelment 8.5 with 2 cams and apparently NO monofilm?

I found a used 2009 Severne Overdrive 8.0. What disappointed me was: the owner was three(3) hours away and did not know that Severne is hard top flex. He was using a NP mast which is flex top and was satisfied with the results. What does that do to a sail when rigged incorrectly on the wrong mast?

As I have already stated, I will continue to use the 2006 MS Pursuit 8.5 until it dies. At that time I will make a decision. If it is sooner than later, it is VERY likely that I will NOT replace it with the same sail and instead get the X-ply Severne.
If it does last another season or two(2) , the likelihood that it is replaced with the same sail goes up !!

Follow-up: Found a set that a fellow did NOT want to split - MS mast 490/75 + MS-2 8-oh prototype. The mast was like NEW and the sail slightly used. This way I can see if the Autima constant curve is really as good as the mast that was meant for the MS Pursuit... and i have a spare when the Pursuit dies. Not sure how the MS-2 will go with a longboard or in the snow - butt i will definitely have fun trying !!

Since it was a prototype sample, i asked about it on the MS forum:
what i do find interesting is:
the sail seems to be a PP sample / pre-production signed by Barry
the mast ? it is like a "no-name" from Phil ie NO MS markings and came in a NP bag with a 490 marking
Barry replied:
not bizarre at all. we sell protos, photo shoot sails, team stuff, and sometimes pretty much anything that someone else (the odd mast in the odd bag) that anyone wants sold. the marked up sail is something we used and it may or may not be a final design, and the way it works is also possibly not production worthy, the chance that comes with buying the non production gear. most things are not far off, or they could even be 'the one', but definitely not the same as when you get the real thing from a dealer.
all that said it probably still works reasonably well.

conclusion: for me $600 + for a new sail is out of my budget. Especially if a boom and/or mast are required. I will be only buying used or end of season specials from now on !! MauiSails often puts stuff on e-bay and i may try that next time i really need a sail. For now I am all set !!! For a new buyer - this is NOT easy. And I am having issues selling my Pursuit 8.5 and Autima 490. Both are good to go for a few seasons !!!


  1. Great post Joe.

    I just rigged my new MS MS2 8.5 sail on my Neil pryde 490 75% mast and it snapped it in two within 30 minutes. I wish I'd read up about the hard top masts needed for ms sails.

    Now it looks like I have to drop $600 on a ms mast!

    1. sorry to hear about your BAD luck
      there are other hard top masts as well
      unifiber is now on the market with hard top, CC and flex top
      for hard top Gaastra and Severne are supposed to be compatible

      glad you enjoy this post
      read on :-)


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