For the past two months La Ventana sailors have been putting the Panther to the test on the Sea of Cortez. They’re a group of windsurfers I call the Baja Test Crew. They call La Ventana, in southern Baja, home for several months each winter. The winter wind, waves, and swells are their personal playground. They represent the heart and soul of our sport, and their passion isn’t rewarded by money or fame, but by the pure pleasure of sailing every windy day, turning down a wave or swell and realizing you are in tune with nature. Why else do we sail?
I asked sailors to take the Panther for a test session on their terms…fast, slow, up wind, down wind, waves, swells, transitions, air…”don’t hold back”. All I asked is that they share their impressions and thoughts when they returned. So here is what they thought of the new 2011 Panther 3.
Baja Test Crew: JD, Alan, Dan, Stuart, Gary (Front) Chico, Rosemary, Val (out sailing: Jim, Al, Tami)
Al from B.C. Canada. Al and his wife Wendy currently have a quiver of ‘09 Panthers and are very happy with the sails. “The new Panther 3 has the power I count on in my sails. The Power (center) of effort was extremely stable. The noticeable differences in the 2011 Panther is that it feels lighter and more maneuverable…the 4.7 feels more like my 4.2 in handling. I took the booms from my 4.7 and put it on the new 4.7 and they sailed exactly the same with the exception of the lighter feel!”
Stuart from Ontario Canada. “Thanks for the opportunity to test your new Panther III. The sail did everything it was designed to do. Upwind, downwind, easy to depower in a transition, very snappy out of a jibe and a balanced feel .However, the main beauty in this sail is the workmanship, quality of materials and most importantly the way it is put together How can you go wrong with David Ezzy designing, Graham testing and a tech rep and ambassador like yourself.” (the last comment cost me a margarita)
Dan from the Central California coast. When Gary said to go test the 2011 4.7 Ezzy Panther I told him I didn’t see much sense since I had a 2009 4.7 Panther which I really love and doubted I could tell much difference. I got to sail both sails in the same conditions. First I sailed my 2009 Panther and thought “you can’t do much better than this” and then I tried the 2011. WOW, what a surprise! There was the same great balance and I didn’t have to move my harness lines at all but the lightness of the sail was evident from the moment I left the beach. It felt like I was on a smaller sail! So light and crisp and a joy in the jibes. Didn’t think the change in material or proportions in material could make much difference but Ezzy sure proved me wrong and has improved on a great product. Scares me to think what the 2012’s will be like … might have to sell my whole quiver!!!! Thanks for the ride!
Jim from BC Canada. My first impression of the Ezzy Panther 4.7 was the light feel of the sail, compared with my Ezzy S.E 4.5 (2006). The sail was smooth, with good low end power. It handled the gusty conditions very well. I did not feel overpowered in the gusts and I was impressed by the range of the sail.
Val from the Central California coast. “The Ezzy Panther 3 is fun to sail. It feels similar to the earlier Panthers (which I love) but it’s even more finely tuned. The Panther 3 is powerful, but easy to control. It feels light in the turns and the pocket fills quickly, which makes for smooth jibes that are easy to plane out of. I like that! The Panther 3 is even easier to rig than before –no guesswork involved, just follow the instructions on the sail; and it’s perfectly rigged every time. There’s even a little pocket to stow the downhaul line. All in all it’s an awesome sail. The Panther 3’s are very distinctive looking (love the mango) so it’s easy to find my friends on the water!”
Tami from the California Delta
Tami sails the California Delta. “It immediately felt comfortable and I knew it was an Ezzy…the power and balance is still there. But the biggest difference with the Panther 3 is that it feels so LIGHT! It’s so easy to waterstart, but it’s amazing how light it feels while sailing.”
JB sails the Delta. “Right off the beach the sail had a light and balanced feel…has to be from reducing the swing weight. One thing I noticed is in the gusts you don’t get over-powered…just more FUN! They also don’t have the punch or pop when powering up like my ’07’s. They just smoothly power-up and go. And in the waves I love how they hold the wind and make riding waves even more fun. The Panthers are awesome”
Alan and I did a side by side comparison of the Panther 2&3
Alan & Rosemary are from Ontario Canada. Alan and Rosemary represent one of the many windsurfing couples here in Baja. Being married to your sailing partner has many advantages; like being able to share a quiver or not having to convince your partner that spending the winter windsurfing in Baja would be a great idea…it just works! Rosemary’s thoughts: “they are so easy to rig and sail…you always know what you will get on the water by how you set them on the beach. The light weight of the sail is a big deal when you are smaller in stature; and I love the consistent and smooth power of the Panther.” Alan added, “what I like about the Panther is they way they spill the wind when over-powered. I’ve found that on many afternoons as the wind picked up, I could stay out by simply dropping in the water and adding a little outhaul. The range is really impressive along with how the smooth the sail is in transitions.”
Their final point was something that makes it easier to sail with your spouse, and actually makes a lot of sense. “The cosmetics of the sails make them really stand out on the water and we can always find each other, even from a long distance.” In La Ventana most sailors will head out a mile or more when the swells are up; so keeping track of each other adds a degree of safety while enjoying the Sea of Cortez.
Let me finish with the 5 things I love about the 2011 Panther 3.
1. balanced & smooth ride
2. unbelievable range
3. light weight
4. easy to rig & tune
5. uncompromising materials & workmanship
I have to agree with Jesse Brown, “there is something special about this year’s Panther”. For me, I can sail more relaxed and extend my time and fun on the water…and that’s a great thing for this old cat. Thanks to everyone who helped with this year’s test. We are so fortunate to be able to share this beautiful place with people like you. See ya on the beach, Gary & Nancy