Loftsail recognizes that windfoiling is an emerging and major new market, so they’ve designed a set of sails specifically tailored to the windfoiler’s needs.
I have been using the Loftsail Skyscape 6.4m for the last 3 months and I will now share my thoughts about this sail.
Wind: Several sessions between 8 knots and 20 knots
Board: JP Hydrofoil 135 ES
Foil: Neilpryde Aluminium and Bug freeride carbon foil
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Sail: Loftsails Skyscape 6.4m
Mast: SDM 430 – 100% carbon
Spot: Flat or choppy Norwegian fjord
Skyscape: A Dedicated Windfoil Sail
The Skyscape was a new addition to the Loftsail lineup in 2018, and each year they’ve refined it to give foilers what they want – a sail designed for windfoiling.
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A windfoiling sail you said? Many would think that this is a marketing trap to take advantage of the windfoiling hype, just to sell more gear.
While it’s true that any sail can be used to windfoil, I’m absolutely convinced that a dedicated windfoil sail can also really improve performance and comfort during the ride.
For a beginner, I would probably advise trying windfoiling with his/her conventional windsurfing sail first assuming they already have one. No need to invest in a dedicated foiling sail for the first few times. A light freeride sail with one camber or even without would work great.
However, when you progress and search for an increase in performance, you will appreciate a powerful sail for pumping in light wind and at the same time offers flight stability at high speeds.
The Concept Behind the Skyscape Sail
Before designing the Skyscape, Loftsails’s head designer – Monty Spindler – asked a bunch of advanced foilers what would their dream windfoiling sail feature. Their answers were consistent:
- Slightly higher aspect ratio (shorter boom)
- Slightly firmer leech twist.
Design: A Quick Look at the Skyscape Sail
The first impression we get when looking at the sail is that it’s sturdy and made to last, with many high-quality details: integrated mast protection, kevlar strip reinforcements, neoprene boom cutout with zippers to avoid water from entering, these are some of the main features which show that this is a premium product.
The monofilm is also strong, as it once tackled a sharp stone in the shore break with no issues!
The shape is different from what we have seen from Loftsails before. More volume in the lower part of the sail and a cut-out at the clew, which allows the rider to use a shorter boom for a sail of that size (182 cm). This shows us that the sail is indeed answering the design specs.
Our 6.4m has only 5 battens to reduce weight, but on the other side, it has 3 cams. The cams are obviously increasing the total weight but they give a deep curve in the sail which is important when windfoiling in light wind:
Because the foil can fly through the water with so little drag, you often ride faster than the wind and the wind angles become different. The apparent wind (created by your movement) shifts forward and is coming more in front of the board than in regular windsurfing.
Having this wing-shaped sail enables you to keep the sail powered-up and more stable during the ride.
The sail comes with 2 sets of cams and can be used both with SDM and RDM masts, which is a great feature making it more versatile. The test was done using a 430 SDM mast.
On the Water
I have been using the Skyscape in different conditions, from light wind and up to 20 knots fully powered.
I was expecting that the extra reinforcements, cams, and quality details that were added to the sail would have an influence on the weight, but even though it’s not the lightest sail I have tried (the Skyscape is roughly 4.5kg at 6.4m2), it definitely gives a light impression when riding. The short boom is definitely a contributing factor in giving the impression that this sail is much smaller than it actually is.
In light wind, pumping the sail is what will get you up and flying. One of my concerns was how the sail would respond to pumping. I was afraid that the cams would make the sail stiffer, like a race blade, and less efficient than a flexible freeride sail.
I was pleasantly surprised by the smoothness of the sail: When pumping the sail, the sail reacts quickly and the flexible top and the firm leech helped to keep the power in the sail. This gives great propulsive power and a very early flight compared to other sails of this size.
In flight, the low aspect ratio makes the sail very stable and easy to manoeuver. Also, with the deep curve of the sail, the sail keeps powered up when flying faster than the wind.
In stronger winds (18+ knots), the sail becomes very powerful but still manageable in the gusts as most of the volume is down below. It’s however not a sail built to sail overpowered due to the deep curve and the firm leech, and you would rather rig a smaller sail if the wind really picks up.
Alternatively, you could also replace your windfoil board with a regular windsurf board that has a fin, as the Skyscape works also very well as a freeride sail.
A small issue with the cambers, which needs to be mentioned: I experienced at first that the cams were not turning very well around the mast. They often needed a small push with the hand to make them turn, especially when the wind was light. I found out that it’s necessary to have a lot of tension on the outhaul and less tension on the battens to make the sail flatter and make the cams turn more readily.
I have not tested the sail with RDM, but the reduced size of the mast may solve the issue.
The Skyscape is really engineered for windfoiling, no doubt about it. You can of course windfoil with any kind of sail (we have even experienced people foiling with their old triangle-shaped windsurfer sail from back in the 80’s!), but you will obviously improve your performance with a dedicated windfoil sail like the Skyscape.
Windfoiling requires different features than regular windsurfing: A light sail offers more stability in flight and more propulsion when pumping to give an early flight.
Loftsails’ head designer Monty Spindler has brilliantly managed the task in offering these features with the Skyscape. With this 6.4 and the carbon freeride foil from Bug, I am able to fly when my anemometer shows an average of 10 knots on the beach. It would be great to test the 7.2 or even the 7.8 to see how low you actually can go, but there is no doubt that this sail is very performant in light or even super-light wind.
The biggest take away from the test is that flying with the Skyscape is easy, smooth, and very enjoyable. A dedicated windfoil sail is an enjoyable luxury and you will hardly want to switch back to a conventional sail when you give it a try!
Windfoil Zone is distributing Loftsail products and you will find the Skyscape in our online shop.