So managed to finally get some breeze in the right direction and strength to get out and have a ride on the new Liquid Force WOW.
The WOW 2016 has been heavily marketed towards the ever growing wave-riding segment of the kitesurf industry. That’s not a problem for us at BBR as James is well into his wave riding and is a font of knowledge on available surfing kite gear!
So onto the kitesurf test and review of the 2016 WOW:
We used the 2016 WOW 8m kite straight from the bag, and the same for the new 2016 LiquidForce Response Bar, with a much better and improved chicken loop system for 2016. The Response Bar we left completely standard, and had it set on the widest setting.
Immediately starting to ride the WOW is slightly different to other wave kites, it is much softer in its low end power, but then quicker to deliver it once board speed increases. It feel like its using apparent wind much more than others tried, and requires less maneuvering than expected to generate power. The shape in the sky is not as deep as expected, nor as “globe like” as one would expect for a faster turning kitesurf kite. It sits right at the front of the wind-window, it’s also possible to oversheet, and didn’t appear to drift as quick as we were expecting.
So, doesn’t sound like a particularly good kite for dead onshore conditions that most of us typically ride in the UK does it?
On returning to the shop, slightly glum after testing, we went and read the usual marketing fluff, it was interesting to note that LF don’t actually point towards a dedicated wave kite. Indeed, their first line is “Born from our mission to engineer a top-performing wave-riding kite that also excels at all-around freeriding”.
Now a free-riding kite is great for waveriding, but only in cross-off , or completely offshore winds. The reason for this is that free-ride kites are built for upwind performance, so they accelerate to the front of the wind window very quickly (more so with the WOW because of its thin leading edge), and they also provide their power based more from apparent wind than projected area, this means they like to “get going” and need board speed before they will perform, they like to be ridden faster through the air as that what “apparent wind” is derived from, rather than giving low end power as soon as you move the kite. Notice all the pics of liquidforce riders on the WOW show an offshore wind – you can see the tops of the waves being blown off backwards. Now for wave riding in onshore or cross onshore conditions, you don’t want a kite that requires apparent wind as you will be kiting towards it a great deal, and as the kite is at the front of the wind, it won’t drift downwind of you, the lines become slack and you loose maneuverability. Ideally you need something with a deep canopy, but still with impeccable manners!
At BBR we know that what the majority of brands identify as a “wave kite” might not necessarily be a suitable wave kite for kitesurfing in the typical conditions we have in the UK, hence why we talk in-depth with our customers when advising on which model to go for.
Back to the WOW. We were slightly disappointed that it didn’t deliver what we were expecting out of the bag. Its a nice kite, the build quality is very nice, the bar is great, but we wanted it to be a wave kite, just like the pictures showed! Then we noticed some extra knots on the leading edge and that the kite lines had extensions in. There was hope yet!
We moved the front bridle attachments down to the lowest knot setting on leading edge, allowing the kite to lean back, and open up more, hopefully keeping it further back in the wind window and increasing the drift, whilst removing the 2m line extensions to really speed up the response of the kite and allow a much shorter, but quicker, power stroke to avoid those untimely pauses in power that were experienced the first time round.
We hit the beach again, full of anticipation and expectation. As expected the kite performed much better for our onshore/cross-shore conditions, having a faster and more pivotal turn. It still liked to remain upwind and so required a little more encouragement and forward planning/timing to be placed where needed when doing fast cutbacks to keep the power at a constant to allow the kite to continue to perform. We found the kite preferred a much tighter gybing radius as the kite was often already across the wind window before we had got the board all the way round behind it, such is the speed that it can move across the window due to that skinny leading edge. The upwind didn’t appear to be affected, still giving a better angle than other kites we were riding with.
So to surmise – In addition to those kitesurf kites that are very specific in their use, there are many kites on the market that bridge across genres of kitesurfing, however we have yet to ride a kite, apart from the North Rebel, that targets wave and freeride so equally. If you are currently riding a twintip and like the freeride kites that allow floaty jumps and great upwind performance, but are considering, or already have a surfboard that you are moving across to, then the WOW will provide all you need.
Check out the amazing North Vegas 2016 kitesurf kite (including the Hadlow Pro) used by the UK’s North Pro Centre – www.northkites.co.uk – who’s test and review rates this as one of the most popular freestyle kites from NKB in 2016.
Check out the amazing North Pivot 2016 kitesurf kite used by the UK’s Naish Pro Centre – www.brackleshamboardriders.co.uk – who’s test and review rates this as one of the most popular kites from Naish in 2016.
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”.