Its been quite a while since we’ve ridden a Slingshot that has got the juices flowing, but today was a little different. It’s not that the Slingshot kiteboard brand isn’t good – the kites and boards have always had a reputation for solidly built quality – but they havent produced anything that fitted my style of riding – predominantly waves.
So what’s different for the Slingshot 2016 lineup?
Well, pretty much everything!
Lest start with the “Sentinal” bar and lines. You’ll recognise the lines and swivel, and the OSH on the rear lines. But thats where it ends. The quick release system is completely new and has been taken from North Kiteboarding’s industry leading ‘ironheart’ system and tweaked a little, so that in principle it works the same, but a few bits are different. Safe to say that it is a long way infront of what they used to have. The swivel system on top of the quick release is very free moving and smooth.
The changes continue with a very comfortable bar and then the ‘piece de resistance’ – the above the bar depower! We’ve been waiting for many manufacturers to finally catch on to the fact that above the bar depower is just so much simpler and safer to use, and it seems that Slingshot have, if not totally as they offer the below the bar still, come around to this fact also.
Again, very similar to the North system in that the cleat used for depower can be moved towards and away from the rider, so that people with shorter arms can reach the depower simply by moving the cleat further towards them, whereas those with arms like apes (ed.-James?!) can have a maximum bar throw and just the tiniest amount of depower on the trim – ideal for wave riding when you wish to completely kill the power from the kite.
Moving on to the 2016 Slingshot SST wave based kite, new to the lineup this year, a simple 3 strut kite with a deep chord and orb-like shape in the air, with the tips pinching in ever so slightly when viewed from below. This shape seems to give the kite a very smooth turn through all aspects of the arc. A bar pressure slighly heavier than the rally gives great feedback and the kite is very very hard to stall even when underpowered and hanging off the bar – a great aspect for beginners in addition to those who can be a little heavy handed. The kite turns nicely and predictably, again even when underpowered, and doesn’t ‘snatch’ when given slack line – good for strapless. Like all wave kites its not going to win awards for pure upwind performance, however we were staying upwind when others were doing the ‘walk of shame’ along the beach with kites 2 sizes larger, so it’s still good!
The wave boards they have previously brought to market have been built like armoured tanks. Which is great if you want it to last 15 years, but there really was no need. The graphics were also, how can we put this, slightly ‘leftfield’ for most of us. Naked ladies on a board when you’re 20 is cool, when you’re mid 30’s, it’s not great.
The 2016 Slingshot wave board lineup is almost like it’s been produced by a completely different company to last year! The boards not only look great, they weigh less, are still very well built, but ride very very well. We were blasting around on the 2016 Trex (angry swallow). The name doesn’t do it justice as it floats over the chop, gets going early and is confidence inspiring- even with no wax. At speed in the chop the rails throw a bit of spray from just behing the nose giving the rear leg a bit of a wash, but we have to get that picky in order to find fault. We also like the use of the quick-fit fin boxes.
2016 has the potential to be a great year for Slingshot, be sure to call or email us with any questions.
That’s the feeling from riding the new Jimmy Lewis 5’11” “Kwad” kitesurf board (Kwad KT).
Same as the Canary we tested last month, the Kwad is built incredibly well with an immaculate finish to it. 2-pack paint sprayed provides a hard and durable finish, yet the board is by no means overweight. A full deck pad is attached as standard and straps are included too. Fins are quality ones and the board also comes with a fantastic travel bag. Although on first view the board gives an appearance of being ‘gunny’, the hips are still quite far forward making the board very docile at lower speeds, quick to get up on the plane and removes any urge to bowdive if you are a little late on the wave, or a bit over enthusiastic with front foot pressure.
We took it out 2 days in row in different conditions as we were so surprised at how well it handled everything thrown at it. Chop inbetween the waves is smoothed out. Lumpy faces made smooth and buttery. Super grip from the tail gives confidence in powered bottom turns, even in lumpy water. We rode it strapless in some gusty lumpy mushy stuff and it simply exudes confidence, due mainly to the grip from the rear and the lack of any board chatter from choppy water. This lack of chatter means the board is also more comfy to ride with less stress on the knees and ankles. It heads upwind very easily and we really struggled to find anything bad to comment on – A passing comment on the supplied footstraps being functional, but not amazing, but most would ride this board strapless anyhow. Interestingly although the quad fin provides grip during the bottom turn, a bit of weight shift forward and a push of the back foot makes it still very easy to throw spray off the top turn in our local conditions, and the board rides flat at speed under control.
The fact that the board performs so well, should not really be much of a surprise. Jimmy Lewis has been shaping kitesurf boards for more years than most and so knows exactly what works and what doesn’t.
We know that you won’t be disappointed with this board.
Slingshot is thrilled to introduce a radical new kite to its 2016 lineup – the Wave SST. With a design that will redefine the meaning of a true surf-specific kite, the Wave SST (Slingshot Surf Technology) features a Compact-C canopy and compact direct-connect bridal that looks like a cross between an RPM and a Rally, but performs unlike any kite on the market.
Built with significant and unrivaled upgrades to Slingshot’s already bombproof construction, the Wave SST (offered in 6, 8, 10 and 12 meter sizes) is sturdy enough to take a pounding in the surf, but light enough to track magically downwind, downloop on a dime and whip across the window at the flick of a wrist. For kiters serious about taking their wave skills to the next level, the Wave SST is the kite to take them there.
The Wave SST is equipped with a modified version of Slingshot’s revolutionary new shock-absorbing IRS bridal (featured on the 2015 RPM), which provides instant feedback and response, unrivaled stability and is condensed enough that it can’t get wrapped around wingtips if rolled in the surf.
With a shape that favors serious downwind drift, unbelievable turning speed even when fully sheeted-out and a feather-light feel when shredding down the line, slashing faces and bottomturning, the Wave SST has set a new standard for what a wave kite can do for its riders. Slingshot coined the term “Surf Tough” nearly 15 years ago with its unique seam technology, and its designers have taken that concept to another level with the Wave SST.
The kite is constructed with an extra heavy duty Rip Stop Surf Grid canopy material and has extra panels reinforced in a gridded quilt pattern to provide increased strength in the event of a water landing. These upgrades compliment Slingshot’s already rock-solid construction that makes our kites the most resilient on the market.
Although built specifically for surf, the Wave SST is also an outstanding kite for easy-going strapless riders and the rapidly-growing fraction of foil boarders due to its incredible depower, feather-light feel and unrivaled turning characteristics.
All of Slingshot’s 2016 kites come with our new One Pump Speed System, which increases inflation efficiency to get you out on the water faster and with less energy than before.
1 COMPACT C Blends the proven C kite performance characteristics like power, stability, edging, control and direct feel with an innovative compact wave shape that deliver faster turns, improved aerodynamics, and increased rigidity. Allows for a feather lite feel and a kite capable of flying further forward in the wind window.
2 THREE STRUT Improves the Drifting capabilities.
3 COMPACT DIRECT CONNECT BRIDLE A much more compact bridle design – built to eliminate line tangling in the surf.
4 MODIFIED IRS BRIDLE The Wave SST is equipped with a modified version of Slingshot’s revolutionary new shockabsorbing IRS bridal, which provides instant feedback and response, unrivaled stability and is condensed enough that it can’t get wrapped around wingtips if rolled in the surf.
5 RIP STOP SURF GRID A material with extra panels reinforced in a gridded quilt pattern providing increased strength in high stress areas.
6 RE-ENFORCED SEAMS Reinforced glued seams and additional stitching increases the durability and life of the kite.
7 T9600 TEIJIN CANOPY A high tenacity polyester yarn that is tear resistant, super light yet very durable.
8 45˚ ANTI-RIP BIAS CUT Panel layout and construction has been designed, built and cut to stop rips and tears before they start. Taped seams aid in protecting against weak points as well.
9 ONE PUMP SPEED SYSTEM Dramatically reduces inflation effort and time during setup, as well as making for a faster, easier, hassle-free deflation of the kite.
10 SPLITSTRUT INTEGRATION Splitstrut integrates the strut and canopy into one rigid wing creating a lighter, stable and more durable kite. This construction is proven to enhance power delivery under heavy load and creates efficiency in the overall frame.
11 TRI-TECH PROTECTION Ballistic Kevlar, Mark Cloth, and Neoprene. Individual scuff guards, strategically placed in the most vulnerable areas of the kite to optimize durability.
12 SURF TOUGH SEAMS Sets the standard for minimizing and containing canopy tears. Now with improved, reinforced trailing edge durability.
Well the doom of January is now over and we look into February with great expectations of another great kiting season ahead of us.
So whats hot for 2015? The market is full of great gear this year and the choices are vast. The differences between the top brands such as North, Naish, Liquidforce and F-One and Ozone are slowly reducing, with all brands now offering a worthy quick release system and great production quality.
So, how do you tell the difference? what makes one brand better than the other? On what basis should you make your decision on which brand or model to purchase?
Many of these questions can be answered quite simply. Based on brand familiarity, exposure, and of course availability of support. Quite simply there is no point buying brand X for cheap money if you can’t get a depower line replacement within a reasonable amount of time, when your old one wears out. We can’t imagine anything worse than sitting at home watching the trees swaying, when all your friends are ripping it up down at the beach.
Also, there is no point buying from some bloke in his bedroom who just happens to have a few going cheap, if you need to use a warranty for any reason, as it will be worthless unless tied to an official dealership of that brand.
So what else seperates each brand from another? Feeling.
Yep i know its sounds all gushy, but we’re not talking about the kite having feelings for you, we’re talking about kite feedback and the “feel” of the kite that you experience. And this is where we hope you’ll agree that no two kites, or two people for that matter, are the same.
Everyone has their preference when it comes to kitesurf gear, as some prefer more depower, some prefer less. Some prefer more bar feel, others prefer less. Some people want a fast kite on the waves, others prefer slow.
This is why when you call us up for advice on which product to go for, you’ll find us asking many questions in order to establish what you “really” want from a kite, so that we can advise not only on brand, but also on feel. Those more astute will also notice how we often ask the same questions in different ways to really extract exactly the information we need to ensure you get the gear that will suit YOU the most.
Hopefully you’ll find our service is not just smiles and deals, but also using our years of experience to ensure that when you ride for the first time on your new kite gear, whatever brand you choose, you’ll be thinking “this is exactly what I wanted”.
I’ll be the first to admit that over the years I’ve become more and more ‘picky’ about when to go out kiting. Probably because like most other kiters, spare time becomes less and less and we really want every session to be as perfect as possible. Most recently it’s got to the point where I wouldn’t even bother rigging up unless there was at least an average of 20knots and a ripple of a wave rather than standard UK chop.
Problem is, it just meant my time on the water was becoming less and less, and this appeared to put pressure on the fewer times that I did manage to escape to the water, so that when I was out it had to be a “perfect” session everytime, and I’d get frustrated very easily if it didn’t turn out that way.
There’s only one way to solve this, and that’s to get out more often. For some this means going to the ultra lightwind of foiling boards and race boards. For me it just meant going out in conditions using kites bigger than a 9m and trying new stuff. And guess what, I’m really enjoying it.
I’m now finding that light wind is a great opportunity to either try new stuff or brush up on exisiting stuff. Lighter winds enable you to take full advantage of larger kites stability and predictability, meaning less effort needs to be given to the kite and more concentration can be applied to whatever it is you’re learning.
Of course, not everything can be well practiced in very light conditions, for example learning mega-loops on an 18m is no fun! However, there’s enjoyment to be had in these summertime lightwinds, just in a shorty wetsuit in this great weather we’ve got at the moment, and learning stuff in warm water without getting dragged all over the place by big winds.
Even if you don’t want to learn something new, an hour on the water, and a chat with the guys on the beach (and possibly a cold beverage on the way home 😉 works wonders for the soul and extra hours of fun are never wasted time.
With the abundance of decent 12m available and the release of amazing dedicated light wind kites such as the North Juice, Naish FLY and Liquid Force SOLO having power and good turning speed too, along with some great surfboard/lightwind boards then there’s nothing stopping you from getting out on the water more often – and enjoying it!
So, I’ve got to admit from the start that although curious, I wasn’t really expecting great things from Liquid Force kite’s new addtion to the 2014 lineup, the LF SOLO, having ridden one strut designs in the past.
Before we delve into the details, lets have a quick review of what one strut kitesurf kites have to offer. Firstly, they are lighter, which means in the lighter winds there is less weight to support, they also have less drag (if made without a huge diameter leading edge) and so are good in light wind conditions. One strut kites like the SOLO also have the ability to turn quickly. The reduction in weight and wide wind range make these kites ideal for travellers wanting to pack light, but also serve for waveriders wanting something that turns very quickly.
The Liquidforce SOLO doesn’t disappoint. I was on the surf board riding the 6.5m SOLO when everyone else (even those on surfboards) were on 9’s and 10’s (even the odd 12m) in 18-23knots of wind. The kite, much to my amazement, has a thin leading edge and the single strut is not not much thicker than a push-bike innnertube, this is in complete contrast to other commercially released one-strut designs.
The thin leading edge means the kite has less drag so accelerates quickly and is happy to move to the front of the window when required, allowing a much better upwind tack angle than other one-strut designs I’ve tried. It also means that the kite is inflated in seconds, making for a very quick rigging time.
On the water and the kite is very nimble and the power delivery very smooth. The SOLO turns almost within its own dimensions, kiteloops are predictable and fun with none of the “snatching” that was expected from a one strut kite.
I have to admit that a bit of trailing edge flap was present during the kite loops, its to be expected, but i’ve ridden 5 strut kites that have flapped more. The kite’s ability to soak up the gusts, to be able to maintain such a smooth power, and yet i tried and tried to oversheet the kite without sucess even in such lightwind conditions for a 6.5m.
Water relaunch was also as simple as any other kite, just pull on a back line and the kite is straight out the water, I even tried “hot launching” through the middle of the window when out at sea, and so long as push the bar right out, it was really no drama. Speaking of the bar it was, again, suprisingly different to what was expected. Generally because of the wide deep canopies on one-strut designs, a heavy ‘sluggish’ bar response is expected, but not the case here. The bar was right in the middle, no arm ache, but able to feel where the kite was at all times.
We’ve yet to explore the upper wind ranges of the design, but if the changeable condtions of this test are anything to go by, then it’ll be a breeze. We can’t wait to get back out on it.
The Liquid Force SOLO one-strut kite is avilable from Bracklesham Boardriders from mid May 2014.
North Neo 2014, is now becoming a world famous wave kite. This kitesurfing Kite is very low aspect so giving it the ability to sit or fall deep in the wind window. It drifts always being in the right place. The kite is faster again than the 2013, giving a more direct faster feel on the bar. Great low end grunt, and super stable. If you love riding waves, but dont want to miss the comfort of freeriding then the Neo is for you