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“Got kitesurfing on the mind, mixed with some search & classification tech, and a dab of political ranting”

North Vegas ’06, a true one kite quiver for the SF Bay Area

Posted by direwolff on September 5, 2006

At the beginning of this year’s kitesurfing season here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I decided to start testing out various kites to see how well the technologies being deployed by the manufacturers would work for my riding style. For the past three seasons I had been riding Slingshot Fuel kites which I really enjoyed because of their grunt, the One-Pump system for getting out there quickly, and how awesome the air was when you sent it. The ball stopper on the bar was also nice to lock-in the bar to a comfortable setting based on the wind conditions. For those really gusty days you wouldn’t use the ball at all, but when riding in the smooth winds at Sherman Island, you could really set the stopper to the perfect spot for minimal effort on your arms. This of course translates to longer sessions which is all any of us care about ultimately.

The first new kite I tried was really at the end of last season, and it was the GK Sonic kite. The relaunch on this thing was amazing and I blogged about it soon after that first ride. After getting back on it at the beginning of this season, my negatives were the lack of grunt and the sense I got after riding it a few more times was that I couldn’t get a feel for the kite given such little bar pressure. While this can be a positive since it extends ride time, too little bar pressure makes you loose the feel for where your kite is at all times and this began to bother me.
The next kite I got on was RRD Type 7. This kite moved really fast and with the Total DePower bar, it was nice to know that in high winds there was additional safety and control. Having a few friends who were riding this kite, I was predisposed to like the ride it generated. It had the ‘C’ kite grunt, but with the additional safety of the depower capability. However, my bigger issue with this kite was its range, especially as I was hearing about the range of the bow kites (aka. flat kites) that were coming out from the various manufacturers. It was a bit too narrow which meant I’d have to move to a 3 or 4 kite quiver again as I had had with my Slingshots.

I next tried the Slingshot Turbo Diesel. This was a very cool kite, as it could move fast in the waves and had a different stopper mechanism that I still think is the best in the industry. The Turbo Diesel is a flat kite, and a small one at that. The flight path of the kite is really nice, but the power thing kind of bothered me here as well as seeing several incidents where the kite folded up on itself and became unrelaunchable. When all was well, it relaunched great, but when things got strange, I couldn’t count on it to get itself back together. Because it was so light, I had a lack of confidence in its ability to handle difficult situations or grunt me out of tough spots (ie. big lulls).

The Best Waroo was actually a pretty excellent ride. It’s more of a hybrid kite so it has the elements of grunt I like but had the flight path of a bow kite and didn’t crash very easily (otherwise said, no “Hindenbergs”). I got to fly the 12m Waroo in what might be considered conditions for a much smaller kite and it handled the extra wind like a champ. I could depower with no probs and send it BIG. That same day I got on a 9m Waroo which was equally user friendly and gave me excellent grunt and power even though it was a smaller kite in similar wind conditions. My bitch with the Waroos was how far the bar throw went. It actually went beyond reach which meant that after any tricks involving spins or rolls, unwinding the lines meant holding the bar as you twisted it. When you’re used to letting go of the bar as you spin it to unwind the lines, this new maneuver is a real buzz kill. As well, the construction of the kite didn’t inspire confidence with a lot of single stiching on the struts which experience suggests can come apart after heavy use. The 12m kite could have been a one kite quiver for me, but these little hassles weren’t going to cut it, thought the price was most definitely right.
It’s then that I finally got turned on to the North Vegas ’06. This kite has everything I could hope for and more. First off, it’s got the grunt of a ‘C’ kite, the depower of a bow kite, it’s able to spin on an axis for kite loops, and it’s got the most amazing high end of any kite I’ve ever been on. The 12m is the only kite I’ve ridden this season in conditions ranging from 14 mph winds to 33 mph. On the very high end I’ve had to move my front lines one knot up (approx 4 inches), which has made the kite fly more like a bow kite but as soon as I send it the air that it gets is just scary big. This past weekend, I experienced pretty much all of the wind conditions and could still pull off all of my toughest tricks regardless of the wind speed. Front and back roll reverse kite loops were easily handled. I’d say this kite makes any ride better regardless of skill level.

To me of course, the most important benefit was that with one kite I could be in virtually all of the conditions that the Bay Area can muster and that’s a big deal. As I consider my options for next year, I may add a small kite to my quiver for big wind ocean days because for those it’s important to be able to drop the kite in the window regardless of the power of the wind. A Vegas 9m should be the perfect call :-)

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