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MauiSails TRX Review

Created by berowne > 9 months ago, 11 Mar 2014
NSW, 1135 posts
12 Mar 2014 12:34AM
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MauiSails TRX Review
The latest MauiSails race sail, the TR, is now onto the tenth iteration, hence the romanesque name: "TR-X". And while the generational changes have led to the current sail, the heritage is obvious. One of the first to use 9 battens, until recently, the TR's made use of a hard-topped spar that has finally been dispensed with in favour of the more common constant curve, a challenge to those with older masts, that I will discuss later.

This review has been written by an amateur windsurfer with 25 years experience, and shouldn't be considered as a full magazine style comparison review. I have used the new TRX sails for about 3-4 sailing sessions on a 91L Exocet RS2 and iSonic 121 in winds from 12 knots to about 25.

As one would expect from a sail manufacturer like MS, the TR sails look incredible when first unrolled. Workmanship and attention to detail are first rate with many useful features we have come to expect built in. Inside the tack sleeve there is a pocket for the batten tensioning Allen key, and excess down-haul. My personal favourite is perhaps the simplest, the stretchy 'tie up' rope that is now almost universal, preventing the rolled sail from unraveling before you store it in the sail bag.

A 'Metalised Scrim Laminate' used in the upper leach is reminiscent of the more durable 'XT' versions of previous (and more expensive) MauiSails, while the high-load zones and window are constructed of traditional low-stretch, clear and crisp monofilm.

I have just one criticism of materials choice... the lone piece of monofilm between the tip of the mast sleeve and the first batten needs to be replaced with the softer and more crushable metalised scrim laminate film. This small area of the sail gets twisted and creased the most during rolling and would therefore benefit from being made of anything other than monofilm.

While not as easy to rig as a wave sail, the depth of the luff arguably makes rigging easier than a free-race twin-cam sail. The mast slides easily into the broad luff, which tightens towards the top of the mast. With moderate downhaul, and full outhaul, you can pop the cams on before re-trimming the out- and down-haul to your final preference.

After a few uses of the sail in various conditions, it has become apparent that the recommended trim settings are the 'minimum' tension settings. In stronger wind conditions, towards the upper end of the sails wind-range, you will appreciate the added control that comes with a flatter profile! But even with moderate outhaul, the sail maintains a relatively deep lower luff, providing that low-down power that keeps the board trimmed flat on the water.

The battens ship untensioned, so it is important to allow extra time when you first rig the sail so that you can add the required tension to each batten before rigging, and then adjusting again once rigged. It is recommended that you check the batten tension after every few times you take the sail out, as the materials stretch and adjusts to your individual mast curve and tension settings.

Briefly, the batten tension should be set tight enough that any wrinkles perpendicular to the batten are removed, but not so tight that the material parallel to the batten pocket is stretched inline with the batten. When looking for a visual indication that the tension is correct, it helps to hold the sail at the leach and force a deep curve into the batten by pushing the end towards the tip. Changing the angle of the sun also helps reveal any wrinkles. Just don't over do it!

"Power-Speed-Acceleration" According to the MauiSails blurb, the focus of this years sail has been on Acceleration and Control in Gusty Conditions, and the new sails certainly delivers! Without any formal comparison testing I have sailed a few runs and can now hold my speed closer to some of the other Sydney sailers that I've struggled to keep up with in the past. With these new rigs (and a carbon fin) it seems I have no more excuses other than my own fitness and technique...

Control wise the 7.7m2 sail seems to handle winds that maxed my old 7.0 out. I've also laid some nice arcs on Botany Bay with this beast, proving that gybes are no issue. Cam rotation was a bit stiff on my older, thicker SRS masts, but we will get to that soon. Unfortunately I've yet to test the 6.3 maxed out.

One thing I notice with the TRX is how deep they rig at the default settings, with almost the whole sail touching the boom from about the front-hand position back (if your not careful). This depth is limited to the lower 3 to 4 battens before flattening of rapidly into the upper 'twist' zone of the sail, keeping the power low and controlled.

With an adjustable outhaul or quick tweak of the boom length, the sail flattens off easily, giving even more control as the wind picks up, as you would expect from a modern race sail.

One trick I have found useful, that also aides cam rotation is this; when gybing, go in fast (as always!), and flip the rig when mid-turn. Now, rather than continue turning, flatten the board off on a broad (deep) reach, and grab the new side of the sail as far back as possible in one smooth motion, and sheet in, hard. As you do this, the sail fills with wind, and your back-hand has enough leverage so that you don't need to sheet out as the sail fills with wind, forcing the cams to rotate immediately!

Regarding the weight and complexity of a 9 batten sail, Kevin Pritchard (Maui Sails test rider) comment on the TR2 saying:
"I tested the two sails that were pretty much identical except for the battens and when we tested them it really made a huge difference. The feeling felt even lighter, I think because of the stability".

So while the extra battens make the sail physically heavier, when fully powered up the feeling and stability make it feel 'lighter in the hands', which is what matters most.

Old Masts
The new masts were designed to be more durable, not that the MauiSails spars were as bad as others. For example, I know of one NP user that has been through 6 carbon masts in 18 months.

So what do you do if you want to use the latest TRX on your old masts? My Personal experience is that the older masts make cam rotation a little 'sticky' and need a very firm pump in order to get the cams around. But there is hope for a better experience...
Modifying the Cams to suit the old hard-top SRS mast.
Finally! What to do if you find your Mauisails cams won't rotate when using the older SRS masts...

An anonymous tip I received has proven useful. Firstly, remove the cams from the sail, noting the position they come from. Then, using a round file or similar, remove some of the plastic from the sail inset of the cam, allowing the sail to sit deeper into the body of the cam, and therefore pulling the cam back away from the mast.

The batten pocket fits through the cam, and the sail sits against the back of the cam, in a little depression. Each cam is numbered, and I used the number as a guide into how deep to file down the cam.

I used a square file to take out the bulk of the excess material, then a round file to finish off and smooth out the new profile. I filed down until the indent was just below the top of the cam size numbers. I had to be careful not to over-file the cam, as the inside material is a lot shallower than the outside.

For a short video review of before and after see my youtube:

The new MauiSails TRX is an iterative improvement on the excellent race series product.
Overall performance and production quality are very impressive, meeting expectations in all areas. If you have the skill to keep the sail sheeted in to the centreline, the TRX will deliver all the speed, acceleration and control you can handle. However, there are a few minor niggles that could be improved, especially if you need to use the old SRS hard-top masts. Ideally, it would have been good if MauiSails supplied two sets of correctly fitting cams for those with the older masts. For comparison, Loft provide a set of standard diameter cams and another set for reduced diameter masts with their Racing Blade (and Switch Blade) sails.

NSW, 471 posts
12 Mar 2014 8:08AM
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So to sum it up :

TRX has a superb top end and sad bottom end (due to the softness of the mylar panels) - these sails are designed to be sailed overpowered and pull like a truck when done so And have awsome control in gybes when fully powered!

NSW, 985 posts
12 Mar 2014 11:01AM
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Nice review berowne, they are a good looking sail.

A couple of things that might help you.

- You don't actually need to put outhaul on to get the cams on when rigging - Downhaul it to about 10cm off target, pop the cams on (cam above the boom first), downhaul to target, put boom on and outhaul. This is called "boom off rigging" in the videos on the mauisails website.

- When rolling the sail up, to avoid crinkling that little top panel, squash the mast cap fabric flat, fold the mast cap directly down over the mast sleeve and initiate the roll from the mast sleeve side rather than the other side.

TAS, 1651 posts
12 Mar 2014 11:43AM
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Fantastic review

My Trx 5.9 and 6.6 rotate like a dream on my Naish SDM CC masts.
I have heaps of accellaration and top end control is mind blowing

Ask Remi for a Demo or me in Tassie I think many will be impressed.

no harm in trying

Regards Russ

WA, 6 posts
18 Mar 2014 3:00AM
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Select to expand quote
Roar said..

So to sum it up :

TRX has a superb top end and sad bottom end (due to the softness of the mylar panels) - these sails are designed to be sailed overpowered and pull like a truck when done so And have awsome control in gybes when fully powered!

I am not sure, where you got the "sad bottom end" from. But the fact is, that every sail manufacturer designs their top of the line race sails to stay controllable, when overpowered. If you look for more bottom end, usually free race sails like Neil Pryde H2, Loft Sitchblade etc will provide that.

I don't own any newer Mauisails, only Tr5 trough TR7, and while they rig very flat, they have plenty of low end power. Other things like fin, board, technique
and correct sail tuning will make a big difference for the "getting you going" part


TAS, 1651 posts
3 Apr 2014 8:15PM
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I am so looking forward to the next blast on my TRX come on wind send in a storm

WA, 6415 posts
8 Jul 2014 7:05PM
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Used my recently bought 5.5m TR9 on Sunday for first time. Wind was 15-25

Rigged it on a Severne Blueline SDM 400,rotation was dream like with this mast.

Gave it 412 rather than the printed 408 on the sail.

Foot is cut very high like a wave sail and extends way beyond the base on 408cm setting.

Has 9 battens and requires minimal downhaul pressure to get it twisted off.

Performance i'm not sure about as everyone went home when the wind died,but then came in for two hours.

Felt a little faster for topspeed than my 5.6m code red but again not sure.

Felt very stable. Gave it a lttle more downhaul when the wind picked up and it felt even better.

Took me a little while to get use to the very high cut foot but it certainly helps to stop the sail hitting the water and your toes.

A little heavier than the code red which is the lightest race sail i have used.

Overall,very happy with the sail.


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"MauiSails TRX Review" started by berowne