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It’s no secret that North are a well-resourced brand, with access to some world-leading sail technology, so it makes perfect sense for them to be at the forefront of new materials for inflatable wings. With the Mode, they’ve implemented this into a race and speed focused design, utilizing an all-new, in-house manufactured and completely unique and proprietary material they’ve coined N-Weave. It sits 40% lighter than traditional Dacron and promises to be three times stiffer. It’s available in three sizes: 4.2m, 5.5m and 7m.
We’re presented with a solid handled twin boom design, with the grip lock handles in a pleasant narrow diameter and comfortable EVA coating with generous length to allow for easy micro trimming. The general outline of the wing is quite square tipped with less dihedral than the current Nova, therefore presenting more sail area to the wind. The tips are squared off quite curtly and it’s certainly a fairly compact shape in terms of span. The solid handles make it easy to flip round the corners if you race jibe and reach the mini boom positively and consistently during a tack. The windows have been positioned to give decent vision when changing direction, particularly downwind, which is an important factor in a busy lineup for a wing with race intentions. Inflation is handled by two bayonet-style Hyperflow valves, minimizing weight and allowing for different pressures in the strut and front tube. Once up to pressure, it’s an impressively rigid wing, with the N-Weave really locking its shape into place with sensibly sized, efficient looking tube diameters and a mid-level inflate pressure of 9PSI on our 5.5m. As it inflates, you can watch the pre-loaded tension build across the sail, this ensures the canopy is fairly tight and is subsequently a joy to pump against, with a mid-size depth profiled piece of ripstop running the entire length behind the strut.
Whilst the Mode has been designed to thrive in its high end in the 4.2m and 5m sizes, where it definitely shines in terms of stability and forward speed, we found the low end to be fairly impressive also, with a wider wind range per size than expected, particularly when paired with a fast high-aspect foil. It’s a wing that runs well on apparent wind, building power as your velocity increases, and is lightweight enough to handle round the corners. The upwind and forward speed angle is definitely quite aggressive, and you can feel the race derived design influences. It’s a simple procedure to span the handles with a harness loop if necessary but due to the forward translation of pressure it’s not a wing that develops much arm fatigue, which is impressive.
The Mode satisfies its design goals incredibly well, with searing forward speed and a great deal of stiffness and a precise feel, which is going to propel you around a racecourse with extreme efficiency. The upwind performance is obviously impressive, but even if the VMG acronym means nothing to you, it’s still a wing to be considered. What’s not to be overlooked is the wave and freestyle performance that’s brought along with this. Loading up for a jump, the Mode is very eager to get you airborne, and the stiff airframe offers plenty of support and float for your landing, particularly if you’re on the heavier side and have deformation issues with traditional material wings. Way more than a race wing, the Mode performs in every sector with power and precise control and is an intelligent use of groundbreaking new materials at their disposal.