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Witchcraft Karma vs Slayer sails

Witchcraft Karma vs Slayer sails

This is not really a review of the sails, having a hand in designing the sails that would be a bit self serving, but with two ranges of wave sails people can often wonder which one they should buy and in this blog I will attempt to explain the differences. 

Which range? Like with the Witchcraft boards you are best to look at the conditions each sail is aimed at. With a brand like Witchcraft this is easier to do this than with some of the big international brands who will design some of their products on Maui but the intended use is on a lake in Germany. 

The Slayer is designed for the North Shore of Fuerteventura especially in the winter. That will mean nothing to you unless you have sailed there but it is easy to sum up the average conditions – big waves, rocky launches and moderate winds. So with that in mind, how does the Slayer meet those specific demands. Firstly  The Slayer has optimized sizing which means in the small sizes the sails are designed for optimum control while the larger sizes get progressively more powerful. The 5.8 is getting quite specialised as its design brief is to get you onto the waves in the lightest winds. But once on the wave it still has to be able to go neutral at high speeds on big waves –  The Slayer has the drive to keep your board secure during the bottom turn and then the short boom to help open the sail up in the top turn. The sails have large tuning ranges so that you can tune the sail to the way you want to ride. But there is no point having all the performance in the world if the sail is only going to last a couple of months so the slayers are made to take high pressure loads associated with large waves landing on them. So in summary the Slayer is optimized towards front side wave riding.

The Karma is designed more for the summer winds of the Canaries which tend to be stronger and often cross on rather than cross off. The Karma was made with spots like Pozo and El Medano in mind. In other words the Karma is designed for sailing when your main power source is the wind whether that is 10 or 50 kts. With the Karma you have an extra batten  which adds a bit more structure to the sail with the aim being that the sail at one setting will cope with well powered up conditions when one minute you might be jumping and then a minute later you are riding clew first. 

While this blog is about comparing the two sail ranges against each other I should say that compared to most other sail brands the Witchcraft sails are capable of getting you planing earlier. On the witchcraft website on the sail specifications it states what size sails the witchcraft sails are equivalent to. So a 5.2 slayer may well get you going at the same time as a 5.5 for other brands. Due to that optimized sizing the differences are biggest on the larger sails. Many people say “I don’t want a powerful sail for wave riding” but they are looking at it the wrong way. You can generally use a smaller Witchcraft sail than other brand sails. 

Which sails to choose? Personal preference has a big influence in which range to go for, so maybe the best way to look at it is to consider the conditions you tend to sail in.

Ground swell home spot – If you are lucky enough to live on a Island stuck in the middle of the Atlantic be it Fuerteventura or Tiree and you have the opportunity to nearly always pick a cross shore break and your preference is riding over jumping then the Slayer is the logical choice but having said that the Karma is more than capable in all wave situations.

If like a lot of people you tend to sail in a wide variety of conditions from “cross off down the line” to “bump and jump”  and you are happy to take any air time on offer then the choice of which range to go for is not clear cut. This situation would apply  to my own sailing and I go for Karmas in the larger sizes and Slayers in the small sizes. So I have a 4.2 and 4.7 Slayer and then 5.3, 5.9 and 6.5 Karmas. I find this works well for me. I would be equally happy if my middle sail was a 5.2 Salyer. I also have a 3.7 and it is a Karma as I am looking for maximum control and range in that sail size.

If most of your sailing is blasting over chop, taking what air you can then the Karma will suit you the best as it tends to have a bit wider wind range without having to retune the sail. 

The Witchcraft sails have also proved popular for wind foiling and both the Karma and Slayer ranges are equally good and indeed offer an easier flying experience than some of the dedicated foil sails!

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Which Witchcraft board?

With a range of 5 wave boards people in the UK can find it hard to decide which would be best for them so here is my take on what board does what best.

Wave 5.0 – A refined wave board for powerful waves. This is the board for when most of your power and speed are coming from the wave rather than your sail. As an indication of what these boards are best at you just need to look at where they are developed. In the winter in Fuerteventura  you can often have 15 to 20 kts of wind and mast high waves. These are the boards for places where you can choose cross shore conditions “big smooth race track faces” 

Recommended for Cornwall, Tiree and the West coast of Ireland.

Haka – Again a full on wave board but this is for when both the waves and wind are “big”. The Haka is for when you have chop on the wave face, maybe overpowered out the back. It is the logo high and 30 kts cross shore board.

Recommended for Cornwall, Tiree and the West coast of Ireland and those occasional South coast epic days. 

Shaman – Again let’s look at the spots where it was designed for – places like Pozo and El Medano. In other words sunny versions of England’s south coast. Not quite as tight turning as the above boards but a bit quicker to help you clear the inside mush and the Shaman will carry speed when riding frontside in cross on conditions ie when you aren’t getting much help from your sail. 

Recommended for South coast, and most of the UK shoreline. 

Reaper –  The “new kid on the block”, so what’s it for? Whereas the above boards work best being driven with front foot pressure, with the shorter reaper you can sail it like that or use your back foot more, it allows a more aggressive riding style. With the footstraps slightly further back than on the other boards there are a lot of tuning possibilities allowing you to set the board up suitable as a fast wave board ideal as your largest board but also as an aggressive high wind board for tearing around the break. The harder you push the board the more you will get out of it. 

Recommended for all coastal conditions. 

Chakra – While the Chakra gets the Freewave tag in the Witchcraft line up, don’t think it is not capable in sizeable waves. It is quick and easy to sail, ideal for gusty conditions as the board keeps going through the lulls very well. The flatter the water the bigger the center fin you want to maximise drive and speed in bump and jump conditions. 

Recommended for all coastal conditions plus flatter water. A good board if your local spot is flat but you like to have a few days away to some wave beaches.

With five ranges there is obviously a large overlap in what the boards can do and using the above guidance you won’t go far wrong. Unlike many other brands Witchcraft offer the  boards in more sizes which helps you choose the right size. If you find yourself unsure between two sizes always choose the larger one.