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Topic Review (Newest First)
21st December 2009 01:15 AM
helium opinions

Some of my personal impressions. I bought a prototype neil pryde 8.5 helium from neil pryde maui last spring .
I raced and generally sailed with it this past summer on my old F-2 lightning race World cup edition ( 249 liters) in everything from 0 to 35 + knots.
More specifically one light airs day, 0 to 7 knots Myself and two others went out to compare longboards .
We all had different 8.5's, which we had time to get our impressions of as well.

The boards were: a new 2009 phantom race, an f-2 lightning world cup edition, and a mistral equipe xr.
The sails were, as follows: on the Phantom a Loft dagger, again I had the helium, and the Equipe 2 had Neil Pryde v-8.
we all weighed approx 200 lbs.
Now the wind died on us, as such we had no time to change rigs on boards, we did have time to try each others setups.
Ideally we should have all had the same boards to compare sails, or to compare boards, all the same rigs .
To that point like most board/ sail tests this was highly subjective and subsequently not exact .
We sailed one following the next, close but the following sailors stayed well to windward to stay in clear air.
we sailed beam to broard reach. While in point mode the phantom really pulled upwind which was a function of its huge rails and daggerbaord.So this point of sail was not good for comparing the sails only.
So i wont this into account.
The helium felt in hand like the lightest sail, followed by the dagger then the v-8 which had the heaviest build.
The helium seemed to have the best pull of the bunch in light conditions. The loft dagger sailor was really impressed by its light wind pull. I agreed and was suprised by how little the dagger seemed to pull in comparison.
The v-8 being the heavist build, seemed heavy in the hands no suprise there.
The helium was very tuneable giving a deep pocket with min outhaul, in comparison the v-8 and dagger were less sensitive to outhaul adjustments, the v-8 being the worst.

The speeds of the board were pretty equal, but the helium pulled a bit head over time. Not a huge difference but noticeable. Now in light airs one has to wonder how much perfomrance say a 20% better pull or lift is going to show up in board speed. It is after all light airs.

Now sailing the helium in heavy airs proved to be difficult. Hevay air one needs cntrol and that is hauling on the outhaul to flatten the draft.
Now with the helium it seemed to take presssure off the cams, But this resulted in a very backhanded sail as the draft moved aft. Max outhaul and the sail was a monster.
The weekend of this reagatta was gale force event( three people were killed 100 kms away the same night when their cabin was thrown into a lake !! I kid you not!!) In some of the over 30 knot gusts, while I could keep the point on, a beam reach lead to monster backwinding and a few high speed crashes. Now while I am no "awnold" the governator swazzeneger, I am 200 lbs and work out all the time. Nonetheless my biceps and forearms died mid second race trying to hold onto this beast.
The v-8 was more high wind orientated, as evidenced by its build and my friend found it overpowered and "tolerable" in the same gusts ( the dagger wasnt used by the phantom sailor this weekend, he wisely used a RS slalom)
Now I used a 460 X-3 mast , no not the top of the line mast BUT it is one of the mast options.
While neil pryde advertises this sail as a tight leeched sail like previous designs years back it isnt as tight leeched as one would think.
Putting this sail beside a mistral IMCO OD sail the leech is every very loose. But not as loose as the v-8 .
those old north prismas ( the original prisma's)and Imco sails still have the tightest leechs around.
find a old big prisma ( good luck) for light air pull and your golden.

Anyways hope this helped

jeff Earnshaw aka shredulato
f-2 lightning
formula 155
stype 104
a few other old sticks.
14th December 2009 06:57 AM
John again


Thank you for the information. I did not realize that about the mast for the Helium. You just saved me some money that I would have had to spend.

John (the guy who asked the original question)
12th December 2009 03:51 PM
PG It is not just a sail question, it is also about having the right mast for the sail. If you already have average bend curve masts SDM masts that fit Severne sails then the ultimate powerhouse is the Severne Glide 8.5.

According to the German Surf magazine it indeed has the power of a 9.5 but in a lighter package. The other tractor sails could not compete in the low end. I think they claimed they were able to get it going in 9 knots. But it of course overpowers relatively early as well, not recommended for gusty locations.

Pryde on the other hand requires a flextop mast to work properly, and you probbaly don't have any of those :-)
12th December 2009 11:13 AM
Unregistered Me again--the guy who asked the original question. Sorry I forgot to leave a name, but it is John.

Okay, the first post suggested I try a Maui Sails Titan. I have a Maui Sails 2008 MS2 (the predecessor to the Titan) 7.5 meter and love it. It rigs easily, rotates easily, gives me good speeds, stays in control when super powered, and planes easily. As far as early planing is concerned, it is very good, much better than the Retro 7.5 I had before. In fact, one day last summer I was on that sail in wind I shouldn't have been planing in and I was flying back and forth, wondering what was going on to make me plane so early. But, the Maui Sail is not what Pryde claims the Helium is--something that provides the power of a sail a meter or two larger than it actually is. It is a darn good sail, but does not provide the equivalent power of a sail two meters larger. Soooo, I am still curious about the Pryde Helium.

Mark, thank you for referring me to those web sites. They explained a lot. The sites make the Helium sound as though there are some big tradeoffs: you get light wind planing from a smaller sail, but you lose top end control. The sites were useful to me in that regard. Where I live the wind can change from 12 to 45 in a matter of seconds, so I am thinking a sail with more twist off than the Helium might be better.

By the way, my 8.5 and 9.5 are Severne Elements. They seem like good sails and rig on a smallish boom because of the clew cut out, but they are not as powerful as Pryde claims the Helium to be. As I said, I live in a place where the wind can come up very suddenly, and one reason I was thinking of the Pryde Helium 8.5 was so that I could possibly get rid of my 9.5 and yet not losing any planing. The 9.5 is fun, but I got overpowered--down in the water overpowered--about six times last summer on it. So a smaller sail had some appeal.

So, what I am saying is that this information was helpful but I am still trying to figure out if the Helium 8.5 is right for me or not. If anyone has more info, please let me know by responding to this forum. I am leaning in the direction of saying the Helium is not for me.
12th December 2009 07:14 AM
mark h I remember Boards magazine testing the Helium Vs V8 and the Gaastra Plasma Vs Matrix. I think they concluded that the Helium and Plasma had a slight advantage other their sister sails, but all benefits where off-set as they both had a very narrow wind range and could NOT be tuned for higher winds due to the way the sails were cut/designed. They became very back handed once they were out of their sweet spot.

Personally I feel there's going to be a slight benefit, but mostly marketing hype. Much better to take a normal sail .5 to 1m bigger and know that its going to have a decent wind range and not a "one trick pony"

Here's a couple of forum links to help you decide


12th December 2009 03:47 AM
Unregistered Mauisails Titan

The best and a lot cheaper, try it.
11th December 2009 10:25 PM
Pryde Helium 8.5M

I am looking for the most powerful sail I can find, the best sail for early planing that is a reasonable size. Can someone who has experience with the Neil Pryde Helium sail please tell me if they are as powerful as Pryde says. Pryde is promoting the sails as having power equal to a sail one square meter larger--for example, Pryde says the 8.5 has the power of a 9.5. Pryde says the 8.5 has a sail range of 7 to 12 knots--which seems very low. (I don't plane with my 9.5 until 12 knots.) Are those numbers realistic or marketing hype?

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