At A Glance
North has been making a big entrance into the foiling market in the last year or so. The Sonar foils are at the pinnacle of that. Out of the box, it is immediately obvious that this is high-quality gear. The foils come in a fully padded bag with individual covers for all of the components.
The Sonar foils are fully modular. So the HA850 & 1050 on test today can be easily switched up with any of the other Sonar foils North has to offer, including the new surf wings that I’ve heard rumours of arriving in the near future.. This also means that the masts, fuselages, & tail wings are all interchangeable. I’m a big fan of when a brand does this, buying a complete foil setup is not a cheap endeavour, so being able to add to it & change it up at a much lower cost is well worthwhile.
We had the CF 72 Mast, S270 Carbon Stabiliser, and 700mm Fuselage to go alongside these HA front wings.
If you didn’t already know, HA stands for High Aspect. That means that the nature of these wings is faster than that of a mid or low aspect wing, with a faster stall speed. It also means that the wing will glide further once at speed, giving it the potential to excel in downwind conditions.
North’s attention to detail is next level. Both the bolts & the inserts are labelled to make it absolutely clear what goes where when you’re putting it together. I actually find this invaluable, especially for newcomers to the sport. If I can find bolt sizes complicated with the amount of gear I ride & test then I can’t imagine what it’s like for someone learning. This is a great addition.
On The Water
I was fortunate enough to both wing and prone the HA1050, and wing the HA850. I’ll start with my thoughts on the 1050 and come back to the 850 later. To give you a picture of my setup - I was winging on the Swell 38L & Mode 4.2m (see those tests in this issue) in classic UK winter conditions. Gusty winds anywhere from 15 - 30 knots & messy but fun 2-4ft swell.
As I was using a sinker board with the HA1050, I was initially interested to see whether a higher stall speed would make it difficult to get on foil. I was relieved to find that this wasn’t an issue, it will of course be a combination of the board & wing too but pumping up onto the foil was much less strenuous than I thought. Once on foil, it built speed very quickly while maintaining its stability. I actually feel like stability is the key word, the wing span counteracts the smaller foil size meaning that I always felt comfortable going at some serious speed!
Turning downwind and riding the bumps was an absolute joy, the speed of the wing meant I could stay on fast-moving swell with little effort to swap between the bumps. I did of course find that if I accidentally lost speed going ‘uphill’ it was game over and I lost lift, therefore having to pick up my wing and regain speed (or crash). But if you’re careful not to lose speed it was so so good! It’s crazy how far we’ve come since the wings of a year or so ago that just didn’t have the speed to stay with the bumps. I was really impressed with the turning capabilities of this wing, I’d expected something unresponsive looking at the wing span but was pleasantly surprised. Banking over hard on the steeper bumps was great fun. At this point I also discovered that it breaches well, when the wingtips came out in the turn I barely noticed and was able to continue my turn on the wave with confidence.
When I got a prone session in I used the same 38L Swell board on the 1050. It’s worth bearing in mind that the waves of the south coast of England lack the power & speed when compared to Hawaii, California, or Australia. When paddling into and catching the wave, I found the 1050 accelerated down the line rapidly. It was an exhilarating feeling! Pumping back to the next wave was doable but I found I had to be super accurate & maintain a high & fast pumping style. The waves I was on were a little too small for this foil but I can see it would hold its own on a bigger day or when tow foiling.
So, what can I say about the HA850? It’s easy really, it’s the 1050 on steroids! Feels insanely fast with a tighter turning radius. The stall speed gets quicker again but it would definitely be the weapon of choice winging on a big day or towing into chunky swell. I found the speed of the wing meant that jumping with the Mode 4.2m felt massive.
If you’re an intermediate to advanced wing foiler looking to go to the next level then the Sonar HA foils are for you. Whether it be riding waves, sending it downwind or into the stratosphere, the speed & glide of these wings make all of this an absolute joy. North has put together a seriously well-thought-out product that is going to last you for many seasons to come.
With regards to prone & downwind, I believe they have huge potential for skilled riders. I’m excited to put more time into these foils in bigger surf, I could really feel the potential in the small surf I prone foiled in and know the extra speed of bigger waves will unlock its full potential.
This review was in Issue 15 of Tonic Mag.For more information visit North