Product Review: 2023 Simmer Blacktip Team Edition Sail
Huge window for increased visibility
Draft focused forward
Slightly more power than Blacktip and Blacktip Legacy sails
Excellent stitching, construction
More power than Blacktip and Blacktip Legacy sails
Only one color option
If you’ve sailed with me in the last several years, you know that I am a big fan of Simmer Sails. And why wouldn’t I? From their humble roots as a small loft on Maui in the early 80’s, to the legacy of hometown ripper, Kai Katchadorian, the sails have evolved over the last 40 years. Speaking of nearly 4 decades, no one has been sailing Simmer Sails longer than Kai. His design mind has acted like a sponge from many of the OG legends in the windsurf industry for decades. The dude knows how good design translates into performance on the water. I noticed his attention to detail when years ago, he scolded me on the beach for not having enough batten tension on the sail I had rigged. Fair enough, he was right.
I have enjoyed Simmer Sails over the years, as they are constructed well, perform well on the water, and look good. I have particularly liked their sweet feeling on the water, as well as their ability to handle gusty conditions well. The top end of their sails are excellent. As much as I would like to always sail in steady winds, we know that doesn’t happen as often as we would like.
While I have liked the Blacktip line of sails, I have particularly enjoyed the last two generations of Blacktip Legacy sails (from 2021 onwards). They look very similar to previous years, but minor tweaks took them to another level in terms of overall feeling and sail stability. So when Simmer announced the new BlackTip Team Edition sails, I was excited, but slightly nervous. My BTL sails are pretty darn good, why mess with a good thing? It made sense, as I had seen photos of Simmer riders on what appeared to be prototype sails white in color. And after reading the initial press release, it made sense to me. Simmer wanted to create an all-out high performance wave sail. It was designed for those with the highest standards in mind, that require a light sail that handled well in a variety of conditions. Makes sense. But what do I think? Read on.
I’ve been sailing Simmer Sails since the year 2000. The favorite sails in my Simmer quiver have evolved over time: Wave, Mission, Blacktip, Halo, Blacktip X,and Blacktip Legacy. Enter the Blacktip Team Edition. As mentioned, it is built with lighter materials, the stitchlines are different, and the draft is different from the regular Blacktip and Blacktip Legacy.
Fit And Finish
The first thing I noticed when I unrolled the sail is just how big and clear the window is. The window seems solid and thick enough to take some abuse, but the visibility is improved versus the sails that I have been using. The white scrim used in the majority of the sail feels high quality–it is light, but doesn't feel cheap or super delicate. The stitching is excellent. The pad at the bottom of the sail looks like it is smaller, but still very functional. The pulleys worked super well when I rigged my sail. What was interesting is that the battens came from the factory. After a couple sessions, I have not yet had to add more batten tension. When I pulled the downhaul of the sail for the first time, I immediately noticed that this sail has a different draft than previous Blacktips I have used. The draft appears to be a slight bit deeper and forward than the regular Blacktips. I knew this was a different sail design, not just a lighter version. The dimensions are also slightly different, which has created a slightly more compact overall sail, while maintaining a similar boom length.
On The Water
I used my 5.0 Blacktip TE on a blustery day on the coast. California has been pounded by atmospheric river weather events this winter, which has been great to replenish water in our drought-stricken state. But it has not been a great sailing season so far. I was happy to get on the water in between rain events. It was a little gusty, so I opted for my trusty 99 Flywave to float me at the lower end of the wind range. The waves were playful and on the small side, but it was still super fun out on the water. I have embedded a POV video from that first day here.
Huge Window And Visibility
I know this sail is new, but this sail has some of the best visibility I have used. If you watch some of the video, I am watching others catch waves through the window. I can see clearly down the line when on the wave, and I can also clearly see my surroundings when not on a wave. This is a big plus for me. My sense is that the window will stay clear for a long time if I continue to clean it. We shall see!
More Power, Light Weight and Final Thoughts
I noticed the additional power very quickly when I first sailed on the BTE. It pulls more than the regular BT sails, and it has a slightly more robust low end. It still handles gusts very well, but the power range (to me) feels as if it was shifted a little towards the lower end of the wind spectrum, so that it planes up quicker, and provides more power for critical moves and sections. My guess is that pros like to have that reserve power on tap for moves (that I dream of doing). This is neither a good thing or a bad thing, it is more of a preference thing. It also makes sense to create a sail that differentiates itself from the existing BT sail line. If you are familiar with the Simmer lineup, it feels like it incorporates the power of an Icon, which retaining handling of a Blacktip. That’s a good thing.
It is noticeably lighter than previous Blacktips I have sailed. This makes a big difference, especially in the larger size sails. And because there is weight savings at the edges of the sail, the swing weight is noticeably less as well.
I was initially stuck in this binary mode of trying to decide if I liked the sail or not. I realized that I did like it, but it was just different. Some people that enjoy a sail that has super high end range capability that doesn’t get overpowered easily, the regular Blacktips might be your sail. If you are comfortable with adding a little more power to your fingertips, then this might be your jam. It is still very tune-able, and it still handles much like you’d expect a 4 batten wave sail to. It is just a little different.
The lighter weight is super nice to have, especially in lighter wind scenarios. I frequently sail float and ride conditions, so it makes sense to use a lighter weight sail. It also makes sense to have slightly more power on tap at the lower end of the wind spectrum. It will likely become my go-to 5.0 and 5.3 Simmers at the beach. They cost a little more, but you know…you get what you pay for, right?