Windsurfing UK’s editor Tez Plavenieks recently tested Witchcraft’s Karma 5m for the magazine. Off the back of this he’s now playing with a 4.7m and 5.3m version. We recently spotted Tez getting to grips with wind foiling, both the 4.7m and 5.3m being used to good effect. Here at Witchcraft we may be known for making hard wearing wave sails (and boards) but this pricked our interest. As such we wanted to find out more.
Tell us about the Witchcraft sails you’re currently using and what stands out about them?
Having tested Witchcraft’s Karma 5m for Windsurfing UK I was intrigued to see how the 5.3m and 4.7m performed. I’d been using four batten sails a lot and didn’t expect to appreciate the smooth riding and super stable nature of the Karma 5m as much as I did, which is a five batten. Some sails have a magic size so John Blackwell at Sailrepair.co.uk (Witchcraft’s UK importer) and Bouke Becker (Witchcraft owner/designer) suggested I try out these other sizes for comparison. Using both the 4.7m and 5.3m across various conditions it’s now become apparent all three share the same traits. From a buyers point of view this consistency is comforting – they’ll know performance won’t alter across the range, which inspires confidence, especially when looking at quivers.
We’ve seen you foiling with the WC Karma. Tell us a little about this.
I’m certainly no expert when it comes to windsurf foiling – I’m pretty much still learning. As a windsurf mag editor I can’t ignore that foils are big news and could shake things up big time for the freerider – especially those wanting to plane in sub-20 knots and not be using large rigs. Many of the main brands have now stepped into the foiling arena, advances in technology and materials allowing products to become mass market. For both the good of the mag and my own personal sailing I decided that learning needed to be done so I could communicate findings to readers.
At first I was tentatively dabbling but of late I’ve ramped up my foiling hours considerably. Whilst not cracking it – only when you become super consistent do I believe this to be the case – I’ve certainly pushed on in terms of skill.
And how have Witchcraft’s Karma sails served you during this time?
Foiling is such a different way of windsurfing when compared to conventional hook in and blast methods – in fact, it’s not really windsurfing at all. A period of familiarisation as you lift and fly is needed before sailors get comfortable with these new sensations. What you think you know about windsurfing should also be left at the door, as should egos. There’ll be a lot of crashing during the initial learning phase before things start to settle down and become more familiar.
One thing that became apparent straight away is the need for light and balanced rigs. When flying the foil it’s all about subtle movements, backwards and forwards, sheeting in and sheeting out, to keep the power on or switch it off – you need to control the foil’s lift or you pop out of the water and/or stack it! Both the Karma 4.7m and 5.3m are light in the hands yet have a decent bottom end allowing the foil to fly in lighter winds. Once up and foiling they’re both superbly balanced, smooth and make controlling the foil that bit easier. I’ve used a variety of different sails for foiling and it’s the Karma pair I keep coming back to.
What kind of wind speeds are you using these sails in?
I can get foiling on the 5.3m with 12-15 knots in the mix. As winds increase I switch to the 4.7m. I’ve foiled in 22 knots on the 4.7m but at this point, with the foil I’m using, it starts to become a handful. Mainly because it’s a light wind foil with a big front wing.
Do you think foiling will take over the lower wind spectrum part of windsurfing?
It’s the word that’s on everyone’s lips currently. Foiling brings windsurfing back to its sailing routes, which a lot of riders can associate more with than busting the latest freestyle move or high wind wave sailing. Foiling also means the need for big cumbersome rigs is eradicated. That said, nobody should enter the world of foiling thinking it’s going to be a doddle – it isn’t! You crash a lot at the beginning and just as with all of windsurfing time spent practising is key. But, if you’re prepared to persevere and improve then you may get to a point where big sails are no longer needed. Or alternatively you use your 7.5m (or similar) to foil in even lighter winds – it’s really addictive! It’ll be interesting to see how wind foiling develops.
You can check out Windsurfing UK’s review of the Karma 5m here – https://www.windsurfingukmag.co.uk/smoothly-does-it-witchcraft-karma-5m-wave-sail-review/