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2012 Buyer’s Guide


Photo Paul Lang

2012 Gear is Here! Once again it’s that time of the year when the kiteboarding manufacturers release the latest and greatest round of gear and the rest of us are stuck with the decision of which crispy new pieces of gear will be added to this year’s quiver. With the incredible range of choices out there it can be difficult to cut through the marketing hype to find the right gear that will work best for you. We were able to get someone from 19 different kiteboarding companies to sit still long enough to answer our questions about what their new gear has to offer riders out there. You’ll find that some companies have made major changes to their product lines while others have made smaller refinements to continuing products. Of course, the best way to find the right gear for you is to get out there and give it a try on the water, so we hope to see you at one of our KiteXpos this year. Meet up with us in La Ventana (January 19-22, 2012), Pismo Beach (April 13-15, 2012), or Cape Hatteras (April 29-June 6, 2012) and get your chance to kick the tires on some brand new gear. As always make sure you keep your eyes on www.thekiteboarder.com to stay up on what’s going on in the kiteboarding world. See you on the water! 2

gear guide ‘12


Airush..................................4 Best....................................10 Blade.................................16 Core..................................20 CrazyFly................... 24 Epic.......................................32 F-One................................38 Firewire......................... 46 Liquid Force...........50 Mystic........................... 60 Naish..................................66 Nobile...............................74 North...............................82 Ozone..............................88 Promotion................ 94 RRD....................................... 98 Slingshot................108 Switch...........................116 Underwave............122 3


airush

Photo Ralf Bauchschuster

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gear guide ‘12


With an extensive line of seven kites, eight twin tips, four surfboards, and four specialty boards, Airush has a huge offering of products for 2012. New for this year is the Varial X, a combination of the 2011 Varial and Vapor X kites. Airush’s Marc Schmid answered our questions about what we can expect from the latest Airush products. What are some of the specific improvements over the 2011 line? What is some of the rider input Airush used in the development of the 2012 kite line? The designers sat down with our product manager, marketing manager, and team riders to discuss what the current and future Airush rider was looking for in a kite, board, or accessory. With this in mind we simplified the Airush range and increased performance on 2011 products. Our flagship kite model, the Lithium, had major changes in its flying characteristics. Going from four struts to three gave the kite a lively feeling while keeping the low end and bar feeling that our older Lithium customers loved. The newest kite in our line, the Varial X, was the result of taking two of our kites, the Varial and Vapor X, and morphing them into one solid kite that riders would enjoy. The hardest part was finding the middle ground in which we had three totally different designs that we tested with Varial and Vapor X customers to find a consensus between them. The Varial X gives you the boosting, relaunching, and range of the Varial while delivering the direct and lively C-kite feel of the Vapor X. The Airush team riders always have a say in the certain ranges that they feel passionate about. Eight-time World Champion Gisela Pulido was very vocal on the Razor C-kite while two-time Vice World Champion Alex Pastor gave input on the Razor and his board, the FS Team. Of course they were looking for more pop, stability, and smoother landings for when they are competing. On the other side of the spectrum, Bas Koole helped us design the Protoy and Protoy Team. Finding the right amount of flex and response was his goal to make the perfect freeride/freestyle board for the masses. Bear Karry rides a lot in California so the Quad was his baby that resulted in a lot of back-and-forth between our board designer, Clinton Filen, and Bear to create something that matched the Cali conditions perfectly. Can you talk about the V3 Bridle used on most of your kites? The V3 Bridle system is used on all our kites except the Razor. It was designed to increase the range of the kite but more importantly offers a full flag out system when you engage the quick release. The full flag out system tensions the front two lines and kills power in the kite. The V3 bridle allows for riders to safely recover their kites after engaging the quick release. The One has been updated for 2012. What are the benefits of a onestrut kite? What does a smaller leading edge (compared to 2011) do for the One? The smaller leading edge makes the kite fly further forward in the window making it a more nimble feeling kite in the air. The One is even lighter than before (almost 1/3 lighter than a kite of equal size) which allows the design to be more stable in the sky, gives great drifting characteristics for waves, enables the larger sizes to move quicker in the sky, and allows the kite to fly in less wind. Last but not least the simplicity of the one strut design (no single point inflation) and a smaller bridle keep the plug and play rider stoked!

Click here for more info about the 2012 Airush line

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best 10

gear guide ‘12


Photo Adam Koch

Best has made significant construction and design changes to its 2012 lineup of next generation products and has also added a few new products to the mix as well. The new GP C-kite features patent pending Reflex curve technology and Best will also be introducing a new freerace/fun board called the Kiaola. Marketing Manager Simon Clark answered our questions about what we can expect from Best for 2012. The Taboo is returning for 2012 with a new name. Why the name change? Is the TS sticking with the same design philosophy as the Taboo? The name change is something that was forced upon us. Gaastra used the name previously for one of their watersports products and complained about our use even though theirs wasn’t for a kite. So we paid them to be able to use it last year as the kites were already made and on sale, but this year we’ve opted to change the name. TS stands for Taboo Series. The design philosophy, tuning different sizes to specific riding styles, has not changed, but the implementation of that philosophy has. There have been radical changes across the board in the new TS line. The smallest sizes (4-5.5m) are now 3-strut kites, ultra solid, and built for abuse in insane winds but shaped to be controllable and stable even in the worst gusts. The medium size TS kites have all lost the sixth strut. In going to five struts they lost weight, gained low end power, reduced drag, and above all else we tuned them for amazing unhooked stability. If you want an open-C style kite with all the benefits of our proven SLE bridle performance then the medium TS kites offer it in spades. The 15.5–17m TS kites now have all struts on the EZpump system, so you can pump that center strut up extra hard to make them even easier to relaunch. For light wind riding, in particular for heavier riders who don’t want to ride a large board, the 17m TS is simply unbeatable. It retains the responsive handling from last year’s kite and now gains more low end power. For 2012, Best is introducing the GP C-Kite. How should riders, especially those that like to unhook, choose between the TS and the GP? Well the best way to choose is to try them both and see which fits your riding style best. The GP is a no-apologies 100% freestyle competition kite. It’s designed for riders competing at the very highest level who want every advantage to help them beat the competition in every heat. It’s designed to be ridden unhooked, almost all the time. In fact, it loves to pop and has the longest slack line feel making it easy to land any trick. Also, it’s a 5-line kite. It won’t perform on 4 lines so don’t try it without the GP-Bar. The GP is focused on being the best freestyle 5-line C-kite available. The TS is different. It’s an open-C design and has wider appeal. Anyone who rode the Taboo last year will notice straight away just how good the new TS is unhooked and at the bottom end of its range, but it’s not just for freestyle and new school. The different sizes offer different performance and handling characteristics suited to all styles of riding. Can you discuss how the GP’s Reflex leading edge works? The Reflex curve in the leading edge of the GP is patent-pending technology that gives you several unique performance advantages. Because the LE curves away from the trailing edge at the wingtips, it increases the wingtip depth, giving you more area to steer the kite with. It just turns faster than standard wingtip designs. The Reflex in the LE actually soaks up the line load from gusts and the load you put into the lines and kite as you go to pop. It smoothes out the gusts like suspension on your car and gives you amazing slack line feel after you pop and never snatches the bar back from you mid-pass. Lastly, the Reflex curve also brings the front of the center strut forward. This extends the lift area in the middle of the canopy, allowing you to jump higher and hang longer. This has the secondary advantage of increasing the effective AOA in the canopy, so you get more depower and a higher maximum upwind angle. Is the GP only for advanced riders? It’s certainly not a kite we would recommend beginners to try to ride on. 11


blade 16

gear guide ‘12

Photo courtesy Blade Kiteboarding


For 2012 Blade simplified their kite line by removing the Vertigo, which was possible because of two bridle configurations available on the 2012 Trigger. Blade is also offering the Fat Lady, a light wind-specific kite. Blade’s Yaron Barlev answered our questions about the latest Blade products. At first glance, the 2012 Blade kite line looks like a refined version of the 2011 line. Is this the case or are there any large changes that we missed? Why has the Vertigo been removed from the line? Every year we approach the design of the new line starting with what works well and what we still need to improve. The 2011 Trigger was a great kite that generated fantastic feedback from customers and magazines but we knew we could make a few changes and make it better. Blade kites are known for their quick turning but we were able to make changes that made the 2012 Trigger turn even faster while still keeping the direct feel that our customers love and move the kite further into the window to give less tension on the back lines. After lengthy testing, we came up with two bridle configurations that we really loved. One configuration is more powerful and direct which will be great for most riders and the other is the wave configuration which is essential for wave riding performance. It’s a great solution both for freestyle and wave riders and especially for those who love both. With the development of the two bridle configurations, we realized that the 2012 line didn’t need the Vertigo model anymore since the new Trigger is essentially two kites in one package. What are some of the specific improvements over the 2011 line? The most obvious improvement is the two bridle configurations that will now come with each Trigger kite which will make life much easier for wave riders. We have also made a number of improvements on the kite’s construction including new aerodynamic 3D molded guards and new attachment point construction to beef up the kite’s leading edge. Please describe the target rider for each of the 2012 kites. We make specific kites for specific people. The Trigger is designed for powerful, playful, and dynamic riders who like to have fun in all sorts of conditions — jumping, cruising, wave riding, and even racing. The kite is quick and very lively, characteristics that could make a few riders nervous but thrill other riders. Also, the new Trigger has different options for bridle settings which is great for wave riders and a bonus for all-around kiters. The Prime is designed for aggressive, precise, and technical riders who want a specific kite to help them with all the newest freestyle and new school tricks. The riders who choose the Prime are serious riders who are fearless and working to master their technique. The Fat Lady is designed for people who don’t just want to kite in lower wind ranges, they want to enjoy themselves. While there are other large kites that let you cruise in light conditions, the Fat Lady makes you believe you are out with a smaller kite in stronger winds. It is the fastest turning 17m kite I have ever tried and it is just pure fun.

BLADE 2012 KITES Kite Name Trigger 4th Generation Prime 4th Generation Fat Lady

Sizes 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14m 7, 9, 11, 13m 17m

Number of Struts 3 5 3

Target Freeride and waves Freestyle and wakestyle Low wind

Date Available Now Now Now

17


CORE 20

gear guide ‘12


Photo thorstenindra.com

Core Kiteboarding is a subsidiary company of HissTec Fehmarn, which also owns Carved, a German custom board company. The complete Carved team along with input from some of Germany’s best riders help Core in the design and development of their kites. Now with distribution in the United States through 7 Sins Kiteboarding in California, Marketing Manager Philip Schinnage answered our questions about Core’s 2012 kites and new Sensor control bar. Core has two kites in its 2012 product line up, the Riot XR2 and the GTS. Are the changes for 2012 significant or smaller refinements? According to our product cycle, the GTS remains the same for 2012. The XR2 is the new generation of the legendary Riot XR Crossride kite and comes with significant changes. Due to the Intelligent-ARC, an optimized profile for early planing and easy upwind ability, the XR2 offers ondemand massive airs and endless hang time. Fast turning and maneuverability go back to the new tip geometry while absolute linear and direct kite feedback along with perfect auto relaunch can be attributed to the improved delta design. The all-arounder has also upped its game in the waves. The kite is even easier to steer when fully depowered. It comes with our Core Speed Valve, a true innovation when it comes to one-pump systems. It will get you onto the water more quickly, guaranteed. Why would you recommend a rider choose the GTS over the Riot XR2? The GTS is orientated towards the progressive freestyle and new school rider, hooked and unhooked, who demands a more aggressive kite. Wave riders will relish the GTS’s ability to steer when depowered. Riders who love to go huge but don’t unhook very much and want a more forgiving kite will probably like the XR2 better. Core has a new release for 2012, the Riot XR2 LW. Why is it in its own special category and not just a larger kite within the Riot lineup? Especially in Germany, light wind riding is a category of its own. That´s why we put enormous effort into the development of our three LW kites and gave them a separate label. They are weight optimized and all of them have a special profile to get the most out of your light wind days. The Intelligent-ARC, a first in the XR2, makes it a true jumping machine even in the lightest breeze. Intelligent ARC comes from nature. Like a bird that glides for long periods without flapping its wings, the Riot XR2 spread its wings when the bar is pulled in to the maximum. Similarly the projected area is reduced when the kite is depowered. This biomechanical principle also results in an increased power delivery that improves planing without developing side forces.

gear guide ‘12 21


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crazyfly 24

gear guide ‘12


Photo Courtesy CrazyFly

A family owned company based out of Slovakia, CrazyFly has 13 different models and 37 different size options in its board lineup for 2012. The most dramatic change to its kite line is the introduction of the company’s new Sick control bar. Tech rep Brent Reagan from PKS Distribution answered our questions about what’s new and what changed for CrazyFly for 2012. CrazyFly made only kiteboards for 10 solid years before bringing in kites to its product line. What was the catalyst that made the company decide to get into kite design in 2010? CrazyFly brought out their first LEI kite in 2010, but stepped it up in 2011 with three models. They got into kite design and wanted to make a line of kites around 2008 when their board lineup was drastically expanded after collaborating with Jeff Howard, the owner of North America’s CrazyFly distribution and a long-time kite product designer. With the recession starting at that time it wasn’t a good time to bring a new kite on the market anyway, so they spent the next couple of years on R&D. The bottom line is they are a family-owned company that only builds kiteboarding equipment and it was inevitable for them to make kites. Now in their third year of kites, all the finer details and kinks of the early models have been ironed out. I guess if there was a single catalyst for timing it would have been the economy stabilizing a bit, but it’s been in their minds for some time. Please describe the target rider for each of your 2012 kites. The MooWii is a super stable low-aspect 3-strut 4-line bow kite with great low end grunt that is targeted to beginners for its ease of control and big range and also to schools for its stability, predictability, user-friendliness, firmer bar pressure, and slower turning speeds. The Sculp is a medium-aspect 3-strut 4-line flat delta hybrid that combines the flatter nose of a bow kite with sharp delta tips for ridiculously easy relaunch, smooth turning and power, long lofty jumps, and great stability in a kite with great wind range and depower. The Sculp is a beginner friendly kite, but more geared toward intermediate riders and even advanced freeriders with its big jumping and good unhooked capabilities. The Slash is a high aspect 5-strut 5-line depowerable C-kite hybrid with a smooth steep C-shaped curve in the LE and a lack of bridling. The Slash goes into hybrid classification with its delta-shaped tips, tons of depower, and standard 5-line setup. For intermediate to advanced riders, it is a freestyle-targeted (though works for wakestyle and advanced freeride too) faster, more-powered-turning kite with great unhooked riding, yet relaunches easily and excels in high-powered conditions. What are the biggest changes that previous riders will notice? The new Sick Bar is the biggest change people will notice, as it was completely redesigned for 2012. For the MooWii you’ll notice less heaviness in the bar and feel of the kite, but it retains a bit more bar pressure than the others to maintain kite awareness for beginners. The Sculp has been tuned to be a tighter, faster, and smoother turning version of the 2011 and the onepump system has been upgraded to a standard 9mm valve. For the Slash, the biggest noticeable change was the gain of a solid one-pump system to replace the multipoint inflation of 2011, but it was also tightened up and tuned where needed from its predecessor model. 25


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Epic 3G


Photo courtesy Epic Kites

As opposed to referring to products by model year, Epic has decided to refer to products by generations. This is the year of the 3G (Third Generation) line of Epic products. New for this year are two brand new surfboards, the Judge C-Kite, and a 13m Limited Edition Renegade. Epic’s Dimitri Maramenides filled us in on what we can expect from the latest line of Epic gear. This year the Epic Kites are being referred to as 3G (Third Generation) models. Does this mean Epic won’t be referring to products based on model years? You can call it 2012, 2013, or even 2019 if you want, but from now on we will call them by generations. In the past few years, Epic has provided amazing and innovative products to riders of all styles. These innovations were based on rider feedback, passion, and desires. By the riders, for the riders! We are looking at kite development a little differently, and the results are truly exciting. We see no value to the rider in using a model year on kites. We make the best gear, and sometimes we’re so excited we bring it out as soon as possible without regard to what other companies are doing, like the Renegade 13m Limited Edition for example. We couldn’t keep it all to ourselves, so it was released early. On the other hand, sometimes our ideas take a little more time to refine, like the new Judge C-kite which is just now being introduced mid-season. All of our kites have new concepts applied and a very fresh unique look. As a matter of fact, the graphics on our kites are pretty awesome. Check them out! New in the line is the Judge C-Kite. Where does this kite fit into the line? Is this kite only for advanced-level riders? A few people have been asking us to up come with a C-kite. We have been working on the Judge for at least 13 months and finally came up with a C-kite that is even better than the old generation kites. Anybody can use the Judge because we made it to be very friendly, but it’s a totally different kite than the Renegade and Screamer. If you are into wakestyle, powered moves, and wave riding you will enjoy the Judge. It has the pop but not as much hang time compared to the Renegade and Screamer, and some riders want this so they can do their wakestyle tricks low to the water. Please describe the target rider for each of the 3G models. If you are a beginner, like to teach, love wave riding, or want a kite that can do everything well the Renegade is your best choice. The Renegades have been our best selling kites. On the other hand the Judge C-kite was designed for riders that are into wakestyle and power moves, but we made sure that anybody can use the Judge. We made the Judge to be a friendly kite but with the advanced performance of a C-kite. I actually taught my daughter on the Judge to see how it would work, and she had no problems. We made it fast to relaunch and very stable with good turning speed but not too fast so you don’t have to worry about having the kite move while you are doing powered moves. The Judge has amazing pop but the hang time is nothing compared to the Renegade and Screamer. If you are an adrenaline junkie and you are looking for big jumps, big hang time, big board offs, big handle passes, and racing, then the Screamer is the kite of your choice. The Screamer was designed for a specific type of riding. It’s made to go big and stay up there. This is my kite of choice for freestyle, but if I venture into the waves I use the Renegade or Judge. gear guide ‘12 33


f-one gear guide ‘11 38

gear guide ‘12


Photo Gilles Calvet

F-One has made some major changes to its 2012 product line. Returning for 2012 is the fifth generation of the Bandit delta kite. US distributor Nicolas Ostermann walks us through their extensive lineup which now also includes SUP boards and paddles. F-One’s signature kite, the Bandit, went through a major redesign for 2011. For 2012, can we expect more major changes? With the Bandit, our goal is not to offer just a versatile kite but rather the best kite for each discipline and style of rider, from the beginner to the pro. To be successful in all areas, it is a real challenge from an R&D perspective and is proving to be much more complex than developing several highly specialized kites. The most difficult challenge faced with the B5 was to improve upon the B4. We focused on three areas: Wind range, weight (reduce weight to improve underpowered performance), and maneuverability. The 2011 Bandit 4 featured a three strut design and new canopy shape. Were any changes made to the construction or design of the Bandit 5 for 2012? The whole structure of the kite, its profile, and its bridles were reworked to achieve the three main goals listed in the previous question. Its construction has also been updated, both in the use of materials and the manufacturing processes. Because the structure of a kite is soft, it can deform and twist allowing the kite to rotate. Therefore, maneuverability and responsiveness depend directly on the ability to twist, which we greatly improved thanks to a thinner leading edge, a new 3-point bridle system, and a new strut shape. Reducing the diameter of the leading edge, with almost 25% less volume, brought an important gain in terms of weight and aerodynamics. The result is better performance in the low end and also in the high end thanks to improved handling. The B5 also has a new flatter profile. By reducing the curve of the profile, it is easier to depower to keep control in the high end. In the low end, a flatter kite is more forgiving when powered up, providing constant power. The result is better control of the kite aerodynamics, less lateral traction, and less effort in your legs when the wind picks up. Each year, we test more than 60 prototypes and spend more than 120 days on the water to develop each new collection. Our initial objectives have been largely achieved with the B5 over the B4. It’s lighter, more maneuverable and responsive, even more forgiving, and ultimately more enjoyable regardless of the category you are in. You introduced the Airlite bar in 2011. Did much change on this bar for 2012? The monobloc aluminum Airlite bar introduced in 2011 represented a major improvement. Two details were reworked this year. A more flexible part replaced the molded strap you use to trigger the safety system and the chicken loop includes a new donkey dick which is now adjustable in length depending on your personal preferences, harness buckle shape, and your active discipline. Some consumers continue to be skeptical about F-One’s Velcro safety release system. What’s your response to this? When it comes to release system, we believe that you need something that works all the time in all

gear guide ‘12 39


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FIREWIRE 46

gear guide ‘12


Photo Chuck Harlan

For 2012, FireWire has updated the construction of their kitesurfspecific line of surfboards and has introduced the Deviant Fin, a canting center fin to replace the trailing fin on any tri-fin surfboard. FireWire’s Brian Friedmann answered our questions about what’s new from FireWire and how riders should go about choosing the correct FireWire for their needs. Do the shapes of the FireWire Kitesurf boards differ from the equivalent boards in the surf line? All of the FireWire Felix Pivec Pro Kitesurf models are identical shapes compared to their FireWire surf-specific counterparts. FireWire has spent years developing technology and shapes that are proven to work for some of the best surfers in the world including two top ten contenders. Additionally, the same 3x4mm Parabolic Balsa Wood Rails and Future Shapes Technology (FST) methodology is used to preserve similar flex characteristics found in our surfboard line, a key component to ensure the same surf feel is maintained in our kitesurf line. FireWire is committed to making certain that our kitesurf boards are identical in shape and performance as our surf models. We strive to provide a variety of boards that will let you surf with a kite. When’s the last time you paddled into a wave with your kitesurf board? FireWire kitesurf boards are the real deal and intended to kite or surf. How is the construction different from the FireWire surfboards? Our kitesurf boards are reinforced compared to the surfboards with an emphasis on the deck areas due to the additional load that kiting puts on a board. A double 4 oz. layer of cloth combined with a reinforced laminate on the top deck and a highdensity skin provides the additional strength required for our kiteboards. In addition, there is a layer of bamboo under the hi-density deck skin to provide more strength and to control the flex due to the higher loads inherent in kitesurfing. We have done extensive testing to ensure you are getting a long lasting board that provides an excellent balance between weight and strength. Has the construction changed from the first round of kite-specific boards? Yes, our kitesurf line is continually evolving with incremental improvements being introduced throughout each individual model lifecycle. We found the first round kite-specific boards could be improved by increasing the strength of the board with minimal weight gain. The current production kitesurf boards are stronger than ever while retaining all the great qualities we originally set out to create in the boards. FireWire is known in the kiting industry for its commitment to providing high quality exceptional craftsmanship boards and we believe incremental changes to our board offerings is one mechanism allowing us to meet this objective. With five different boards in the line, how will someone without a strong surfing background choose the right board? Our lineup provides boards for all rider levels and conditions. First, all models come with inserts for straps if desired. Let’s work from smallest to largest size. The KHF506D is a 5’6” HellFire with 5-fin configuration that can work great for a smaller or medium sized rider as a lighter wind board or larger rider as a high wind board. A deep double concave and a wider outline make this a very versatile board. It’s considered a “performance hybrid” which in simplest terms means it’s going to get up and plane quickly but turn on a dime when you want it to. The KDM508R, a 5’8” Dominator, is another 5-fin “pure hybrid” shape. Again, it will get up and plane quickly but will provide slightly more stability for a rider with its wider outline. It works great in light wind for the small or medium rider and has a really round outline that would suit a new directional board rider well. 47


liquid force gear guide ‘11 50

gear guide ‘12


Photo Paul Lang

For 2012 Liquid Force has drastically updated its line of kites, with only the Envy continuing from last year. Liquid Force is also offering an extensive line of twin tips and an updated surfboard line that includes collaboration with Fletcher Chouinard of FCD. Gary Siskar and Julien Fillion answered our questions about the large offering of 2012 products from Liquid Force. It looks like the 2012 LF line has gone through a big change compared to last year. Why did you retire the Havoc? When we took a very close look at our kite offerings, we really started to see the lines becoming blurred between the three 2011 kites. We realized we needed to make products that satisfied riders looking for particular performance charicteristics in a kite. What we have now in our 2012 line are three kite models (four if you count the NRG Light Breeze) that are designed around what certain riders want to feel in a kite. The Havoc was our flagship kite for years, but with the popularity of 3-strut kites the Envy became our most popular kite. Also, the design features in the Envy such as the LF Diamond Wingtip and USB 3.0 bridle placements started to make the overall feel of the Envy closer to the Havoc. Based on this we decided to create the NRG to satisfy kiteboarders that are looking for a different feeling, response, and needs from a kite. For the pure freestyle lovers, we came up with the Nirvana, the most radical high performance C-kite shape we have ever made. The Nirvana is the result of the very high demands from new school freestyle riders all over the globe. What are some of the specific improvements on the Envy for 2012? Making improvements on the Envy was a difficult task! We have to say thanks to our team riders, schools, and loyal LF supporters around the world for pushing us to make a better Envy. With this input we have created the most effortless and easy relaunching kite on the market. We were able to increase the raw power and low end feel for the Envy with some very slight modifications that we will keep secret! We have retained the Beyond Delta hybrid profile of the kite that generates smooth consistent power and a direct bar response feel. These changes were made while keeping the Envy as one of the most reliable kites on the market. Please describe the target rider for each of the 2012 kites. Everybody loves the Envy. It’s powerful, easy to use, reliable, and good in waves, flat water, and snow. This kite simply excels in every single condition. The 3-strut platform makes the Envy very stable and predictable. With this predictable design and reliability the Envy makes riders progress. Whether you are just starting or are a seasoned rider, the Envy will take your riding to the next level. Another bonus is that it is a very affordable kite! The NRG was designed for riders with high demands and needs. It’s for kiteboarders that are looking for pure power, low-end grunt, lofty hang time, and light wind performance. The 4-strut, high aspect, flat profile is designed for riders who love to feel the power of the kite through the bar. It was very important for us to also give the NRG the LF durability and reliability stamp of approval, making this kite good for everything from the slick to the surf. Kite looping, mega looping, unhooked maneuvers, and massive controlled jumps; the Nirvana is made to answer the high expectations for C-kite riders. The Nirvana is LF’s 5-line rocket ship. While extremely powerful, agile in response, and quick in the turns, the addition of amazing depower makes the Nirvana a standout in the crowd of C-Kites. What are the differences between the NRG and NRG Light Breeze? The NRG Light Breeze is the 14m and 16m version of the NRG. It’s made to ride in the least amount of wind possible. While working on the NRG in the smaller sizes we quickly realized that

gear guide ‘12 51


mystic 60

gear guide ‘12


Photo Ydwer van der Heide

Mystic completely redesigned its 2012 collection of wetsuits which now come in front and back zip models and a multitude of other options to match your specific needs and budget. The harness line was fine tuned to make them even more comfortable and stylish and women will be especially stoked with their expanded options as well. New for 2012 is Mystic’s wake/cable line of wetsuits and vests along with an entirely new line of clothing and board/travel bags. Mystic’s Evan Mavridoglou walked us through what we can expect from Mystic in 2012. It looks like a lot of the Mystic harnesses from 2011 have carried over into 2012. What are some of the specific changes compared to last year’s models? After the Warrior III’s incredibly successful debut last year, it’s back and better than ever. It’s been fine tuned with softer edges, lighter materials, covered side parts, and the battle belt is the strongest yet for maximum reliability and support in the most extreme conditions. Mega loops, powerful freestyle, or pure freeriding, anything’s possible with the Warrior III. What are the differences between the Warrior III and the LEN10? Ruben Lenten is the most extreme kiter in the world and the Warrior III LEN10 is his chosen harness. A different spreader bar specifically designed by Ruben, a leash system on the back of the harness with a swivel for aggressive spins, and orange highlights throughout are part of Ruben’s 2012 look. There is also a rumor of the 2012 Warrior III LEN10 being offered with slightly stiffer foam for even more support, but we will let our customers feel the differences between the regular Warrior III and the LEN10 version. How is the Youri Zoon Shadow different from the standard Shadow? What does the PKRA World Champion in freestyle look for in a harness? Youri Zoon wanted a harness that he could forget he was wearing. The design had to be compact, feather light, and super flexible giving Youri maximum range of motion. The Mystic Shadow YZ enables him to pull his sickest tricks yet. The 2012 Mystic Shadow shares the same back support technology as the Warrior III with a narrower profile, super light materials, and increased flexibility for additional comfort and range of motion. Tell us more about the Code 01 waist harness. Mystic has pushed the limits combining innovative technology with design, support, and function. The 2012 Mystic Code 01 is the most advanced waist harness in the line with technology exclusive to Mystic. The Code 01 is packed with features including the revolutionary BOA Support Control that lets you adjust and control your back support with no ride-up. Simply click and rotate to control the tension for optimum support.

gear guide ‘12 61


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naish 66

gear guide ‘12


Photo Stephen Whitesell

Naish has made a lot of changes for 2012 including all new shapes and construction for the twin tip line, a new line of strapless only surfboards, and refinements to the kites and existing directional boards. Designers Ian Ponting and Damien Girardin filled us in on what Naish has in store for the 2012 model year. For 2012, Naish has three kites in its lineup. What are the changes compared to last year’s models? The Torch received a lot of improvements based on rider demand and thanks to what we learned last year on the Park. Due to a slightly shorter wingspan and lowered side struts that allow for a more rigid profile on the wing tips, The Torch is now more stable and has a stiffer arc. Technically this gives a crisper bar feel and a more responsive kite, making the kite better in overpowered conditions and finishing turns even better providing extra pull to land without making a hole in the ocean! The Park has been refined in order to provide added low end power without losing any of its light crisp feel. Its LE diameter and profile depth were tuned to improve the low-end pull. We also slightly reduced the sweep in order to get the overall platform closer to a real classic C-shape. In order to maintain the relaunch characteristics, we slightly extended the wing tips to keep the same leverage on the overall kite when the rider pulls on the back line. We also introduced our new Anti Stiction Windows that allow water to drain quicker out of the wing tip when relaunching. The result is that the rider can expect earlier planing without sacrificing handling. The bar feel is crisper, which means the rider can better feel what the kite is doing and can steer it with precision. On the Bolt, we focused on tuning each surface by reworking the LE diameter for each size thanks to our new automated LE calculation application. We also reworked the arc in order to have a better match between LE and trailing edge curve. The Bolt can now fly further forward in the window, provide better low end power, and is more lift efficient. Thanks to its Sigma outline and Geotech construction, it remains the most stable kite you can find to ride in gusty and shifty conditions. Who is the target rider for each kite? The Torch is dedicated to competition freestyle, unhooked waveriding, and power freeriding. The Park is really the kite dedicated to any rider, no matter his riding style or the conditions. The Bolt is for riders demanding superior stability, direct bar feel, fast turning, and easy jumping. Why would you recommend a rider choose the Park over the Torch? I think it would be easier to put it the other way around. The only reason you would ride a Torch over a Park is if you are really focusing on freestyle tricks, engaged kite loops, or unhooked riding. For all other applications like freeriding, wave riding (both hooked in or unhooked), any freestyle tricks that don’t require a lot of pop, making fun kiteloops, if you’re beginner, if you like the simplicity of back line pull relaunch, and all other aspects of kiteboarding, then you should get a Park. The Park is truly a kite that does it all. 67


NOBILE gear guide ‘11 74

gear guide ‘12


Photo Lukas Nazdraczew

For 2012 Nobile will be introducing a new freestyle kite, a light wind/race kite, and a wave directional board as well as a new control bar while the rest of the line has been tweaked to improve construction and performance. Two new customer service reps were also brought onto the team who will handle all demos and US and Canadian customer and warranty inquiries. Nobile’s Maciej Wacławczyk answered our questions about what we can expect from the company’s 2012 product lineup. Nobile has two returning kites in its 2012 line up, the N62 v3 and the T5 Koinobori. As next generation kites, what are the biggest changes made to each? Both of the kites deliver the latest generation of innovative design. We’ve taken what aerodynamic science has to offer and implemented it into our kites’ construction. Improvements include a redesigned leading edge, flattened wing tips, and thinner bridles and steering lines. These changes enabled us to optimize the performance of our kites by maximizing lift, minimizing drag, and fine tuning turning speed to a rider’s desired level. Additionally, the side-strut kite valves have been moved to the outer sides of the struts to gain the “catch-free” location. Now it’s almost impossible for the bridles to catch the valve when launching the kite. Our new kites also feature reinforced bridle attachment points. Why did Nobile discontinue the NHP kite which was targeted at new school and freestyle riders? At Nobile we always make all possible efforts to develop products that meet the highest standards in performance and quality. The NHP kite will be soon replaced by a new freestyle kite, the 50Fifty. This new kite will be even more new school focused and dedicated to advanced and professional riders. With this kite we want to set new standards in this sector and set the bar higher when it comes to freestyle kite performance. The final product is in its final phase of testing and will be introduced to the market soon. You also have a new light wind/race kite in development. Tell us a bit more about it. Our light wind kite will feature new light wind materials, huge power, excellent upwind abilities, and a high aspect ratio. Nobile’s light wind kite may be used even when the wind is under 10 knots. Which kite does your top PKRA rider, Mike Blomvall use? At the moment Mike “The Knife” Blomvall uses the T5-Koinobori and is helping us with the development of our 50Fifty kite. Soon you will see him competing on that kite. Why would you recommend one kite over the other? Which is better for wakestyle, surf, and all around freeriding? The N62 V3 is an all-around kite, dedicated to beginners and intermediate riders who want a user-friendly kite to start out on but can also help advance their skills when ready. Our 75


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north


Photo courtesy North Kiteboarding

For 2012 North is offering an extensive line of five kites, eight twin tips, five surfboards, and three specialty boards. Highlights for 2012 include new Adaptive Wingtips on the kites (except the Vegas), a track system on the twin tips, and new surfboard construction. North’s Dan Schwarz filled us in on the changes on the 2012 North line. At first glance, the 2012 North kite line looks like a refined version of the 2011 line. Is this the case or are there any large changes that we missed? Actually it’s a pretty mixed bag. We did some small refinements and we also made some major overhauls. If you really wanted to sum it up simply, I’d say that the response to our entire 2011 lineup was overwhelmingly positive, and so we improved as much as we could without compromising the core elements that attracted people to last year’s gear. What are some of the specific improvements over the 2011 line? Besides the usual subtle tweaks to all sizes of all of our kites, we have added a new feature to all of our kites (other than the Vegas). The new Adaptive Wingtips allow you to tune the feeling and turning speed of each kite easily. It’s like having two kites in one. Are the Rebel and the Fuse still similar flying kites? Why would a rider choose one kite over the other? Obviously, the biggest difference is that the Rebel is a dedicated 5-line kite with no bridles or pulleys. While it is not possible to 100% mimic the feel and performance of a 5-line kite with a bridled 4-line kite, the Rebel and the Fuse are extremely similar. As Ken Winner has not finished designing the Fuse for 2012 I can’t give you specific comparisons, but there are generally fairly subtle differences between the two that seem to get more subtle with each iteration of the Fuse. Now with the Adaptive Wingtips on both models I expect the differences to become even more subtle. Please describe the target rider for each of the 2012 models. The Rebel is the ideal kite for 90% of the riders out there. It is an extremely forgiving kite with a direct connection feel and all of the depower you could want. The Fuse has a similar description, but will work on either 4 or 5 lines. The Vegas is back as a dedicated C-kite aimed towards freestyle and wakestyle oriented riders who are looking for a high performance kite for unhooking and looping. The Evo, our Delta-C shaped kite returns as a do-everything kite which works great for waves and also for unhooked freestyle/wakestyle progression. Finally we will have the Dyno available this spring as a light wind and racing machine. What has changed on the Vegas for 2012? Again, we were very happy with the Vegas in 2011, so we just wanted to make some small improvements while maintaining the performance and feel of the 2011 kite. The kite now feels somewhat more uniformly stable when unhooking under various stages of depower. We also made the freestyle setting slightly more freestyley, especially in the smaller sizes where last year’s seemed to be a little too fast even when set to the slower settings.

gear guide ‘12 83


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ozone gear guide ‘11 88

gear guide ‘12


Photo Stephan Kleinlein

Ozone released their first 2012 kite, the surf-specific REO, in June and is now releasing updated versions of the rest of their kite line. Among the kites returning for 2012 is the race-winning Edge. Ozone is also continuing to produce depowerable foil kites for snowkiting and now offers an ultra-light version of the Frenzy that weighs 30% less and packs up smaller. Steve Barrett from Ozone Kites USA answered our questions about the 2012 Ozone line. At first glance, the 2012 Ozone kite line looks like a refined version of the 2011 line. Is this the case or are there any large changes that we missed? Ozone really hit the mark in 2011 with unsurpassed kites like the Ozone Edge used by Johnny Heineken and Adam Koch to dominate numerous course racing events across the globe. The lineup of kites for 2012 will see slight refinements in design. The names and overall riderspecific appeal will remain true and continue to impress all those who put an Ozone kite in the air. The REO was the first 2012 kite released in late June and pioneered a wave-specific addition to the lineup. The response from the REO has been huge and being the first 2012 Ozone kite it has left other companies racing to establish such a contender in their lineup with characteristics so tuned for wave riding. The REO was a late season 2011 kite. Will it be updated for 2012? The REO was released in late June to the lineup but was the finished version and is considered the first addition for the 2012 line. The REO features incredible down the line drift, speed, and stability like you have never felt. Please describe the target rider for each of the 2012 models. The Zephyr is a 17m light wind specific kite, however it boasts one of the largest wind ranges for a kite that size and can easily be handled in excess of 20 mph. This kite is meant to get out in little to nothing with the right board, but really comes alive as a true wakestyle weapon in lower teens due to its park, stability, and loads of pop. The C4 is a mini-bridle C-kite hybrid geared for those riders looking to excel at mega loops, wakestyle, and also have great unhooked performance throughout a huge wind range of over 20 mph. Being able to unhook confidently in gusty conditions is paramount for those looking to really progress their trick book. The overall performance with responsive near internal pivot point allows for great wave riding as well! The Edge is the ultimate in performance. Built with a course racer in mind, it has the best upwind performance of any kite I’ve ever ridden. This is due to its super high aspect design which begs for you to cut upwind. The larger sizes provide great park and ride ability, but as you start to build speed you notice that the kite progressively pushes you faster. The smaller sizes have proven just as valuable in upwind performance, but they also offer some of the longest and floatiest jumps imaginable when you pull the trigger. The REO is geared for wave riding, but this notion can be put to rest within the first minute of flight as it offers unrivaled speed and stability. The stability when you ride toward the kite (also known as drift) is what makes

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94

ProMotion


Photo Doug Bixel

Dedicated to windsports for the past 30 years, ProMotion Wetsuits was founded by waterman Dana Love. In 1984, Dana moved his company to the Gorge which he said has proven to be an unbeatable location to design and test wetsuits with temperatures ranging from below freezing in the winter to above 100° in the summer. On any given summer day, it’s not uncommon to see the ProMotion bread truck parked at the Event Site while Dana enjoys an afternoon session. We caught up with Dana between sessions regarding what ProMotion has in store for the 2012 season. ProMotion started out as a San Diego-based company catering to surfers. What made the brand start focusing on suits for windsports and triathletes? Growing up surfing and sailing in Southern California, I took an early interest in windsurfing to extend my time on the water. When the Gorge turned on with windsurfers in the mid 80s, it was a no-brainer to move the company to Hood River to chase wind. When kiteboarding came on the scene, it was a natural transition for the business to get involved as I personally took up the sport. On the triathlon side, ProMotion had been commissioned to make rescue wetsuits for lifeguards in the early 80s. These same wetsuits were discovered by triathletes and became the first triathlon wetsuits. We have been making both types of wetsuits ever since. Why doesn’t ProMotion have a wholesale channel for retailers to expand the brand? We made a decision some years ago to limit our distribution to our company store in Hood River, Oregon, and our website (www.wetsuit.com). We feel that selling customer-direct helps us maintain a closer connection with our customers while offering better customer service. Most shops only stock a few wetsuits and can’t offer the variety of models and sizes that are available directly from us. By focusing only on wetsuits, our staff can be better educated on the products we sell and if a customer ever has a problem they can talk directly to us. How are new products developed and released? Our windsport wetsuits have evolved over 20+ years, so we have a solid benchmark of understanding from which to start. From our existing product line, we continue to make improvements. Our location in Hood River gives us a daily opportunity to test design concepts and prototypes in a wide range of conditions. It is not uncommon for us to build a prototype and get it on the water the same day.

gear guide ‘12 95


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2012

TKB CALENDAR

s. Photography to by: Abreu Bro an, Maui | Pho Shawn Richm

FEBRUARY

JANUARY

MARCH

Enjoy 13-months of wish you were here and insane riding shots in a wall calendar format. http://store.thekiteboarder.com/category_s/26.htm Cover

om

tana.c www.palapasven g Photo: Paul Lan

ventures.com www.alaskakitead Boulgakow Photo: Pascal

MAY

lifornia.com www.classicca g Photo: Paul Lan

JUNE

an shows his Shawn richm at his home turf unique style on ui. Kite Beach, Ma s Photography

Photo: Abreu Bro


rrd gear guide ‘11

98

gear guide ‘12


Photo Nic Bothma

The 2012 RRD Kitesurfing line is more extensive than ever before. Roberto Ricci and the RRD team in Italy have developed unique products for specific riding styles and conditions. The 2012 RRD kite line up offers six kite models, 10 different twin tip kiteboards, seven different kite specific surfboards in 24 sizes, and two IKA registered course racing boards. RRD is confident that it has the right product for every level and type of rider out there. North American distributor Evan Mavridoglou answered our questions about RRD’s extensive line for 2012, including their new ultra lightweight twin tips, which average about 3.6 lbs. with pads and straps. At first glance, the 2012 RRD kite collection looks like a refined version of the 2011 line. Is this the case or are there any large changes that we missed? For 2012, we have six different models of kites that are specifically targeted to perfectly match a rider’s style and riding conditions. Five of the kites are next generation models, continuing their programs from the previous years. These kites have been refined to improve performance while retaining the qualities that riders liked in the 2011 line. For 2012 we also add a brand new C-kite, the Obsession Pro. What are some of the specific improvements over the 2011 line? Each model brings in improvements and new ideas for 2012. The flagship freestyle and all around kite, the RRD Obsession, gets even smoother. The smaller sizes (5, 6, 7, 9m) are now even more stable, while all the sizes get a little more power and higher jumping. The kiteloops are smooth with steady power while the upwind performance and quick response and flying of the kite remain key characteristics. In the hands of the advanced freestyle riders, the Obsession unhooks, jumps, and loops like no other SLE kite on the market. The Religion MK II is the kite that every wave kiter has been waiting for. The 2010/11 Religion was a huge success. Designed specifically with side on and onshore conditions in mind, the Religion MK I was the fastest turning kite on the market. The 2012 Religion MK II continues on the path of its predecessor, but adds more low end power across all kite sizes and more stability on the smaller sizes. The Dacron wave-specific frame of the Religion kites creates a solid and uniquely strong structure, making the Religion ready for any unplanned wave wrestles. The 2011 Vision was introduced in spring of 2011 and will remain unchanged until spring of 2012. The Vision is the 3-strut design from RRD that is taking over the allaround performance kite scene. With a full year of testing and R&D, the 2012 RRD Addiction MK III is the fastest race

99


slingshot gear guide ‘11 108

gear guide ‘12


Photo Lance Koudele

For 2012, Slingshot is continuing the Fuel, RPM, Rally, and Turbine kites and also introducing a replacement for the Key HD, the Z. Slingshot’s board department also has some exciting things happening this year as they are now producing their twin tips locally in the Columbia River Gorge. Also, Slingshot is offering some of their surfboard in two constructions, a strapped and strapless version. Slingshot’s Chris Schey answered our questions about what riders can expect from the 2012 Slingshot Kiteboarding product line. What are some of the specific improvements over the 2011 line? All kites in the 2012 Slingshot line, except for the Z kite, will be built with Splitstrut Integrated Strut Design. Refined sizing is another key improvement that allows riders to precisely build quivers to their specific riding conditions and needs. New sizes will be the 9m in both the RPM and Rally and a first ever 6m has been added to the Fuel quiver. Other improvements to the lineup include additional mark cloth and ballistic Aramid reinforcements that increase durability and aerodynamics by reducing flutter and drag. The first thing you’ll notice is how clean and improved the canopies look overall in the sky, especially during high powered maneuvers. This will ensure total stability, performance, and long term longevity. Please describe the target rider for each of the 2012 models. The Fuel is built on a 5-strut platform, making the kite incredibly rigid and stable in even the toughest conditions. For 2012, the Fuel reintroduces one of our most important design features ever to hit the industry, Splitstrut Technology. The combination of dedication, design, and technology creates a kite with unmatched deliberate power, fearless looping, and unwavering recovery making the Fuel the C-kite expert rider’s weapon of choice. With its 3-strut “Open-C” canopy and Full Suspension bridle design, the RPM delivers limitless performance and unmatched tuning options for all riding styles. The RPM is the one kite that allows for top performance while executing unhooked freestyle, powered wakestyle, snow, and unhooked down the line surf styles. It’s also the first and only non C-kite to take a PKRA World Championship! Any rider looking for superior stability when unhooked, good line slack for passing the bar, and direct feel should look no further then the RPM! The Rally is the top choice for crossover freestyle and surfminded riders. Proven delta features such as low-end power, responsive pivotal turning, endless lofty hang time, effortless relaunch, and unbelievable range are matched with predictable C-kite power and uncompromising stability. The 3-strut design of the open delta C delivers smooth efficient power through the stroke and offers a balanced lightweight build for maximum flight stability. The Rally is great for everything from onshore, offshore, strapless, hooked, unhooked, and excels in all conditions including 109


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switch gear guide ‘11 116

gear guide ‘12


Photo Jeff Pfeffer

Having just launched in June of 2011, Switch is a new kite manufacturer that only sells kites directly to consumers. We talked to James Overington about Switch’s product line (including the upcoming Element kite) and about how they differ from other kiteboarding companies. Switch is a new company with a unique business plan. What makes Switch different than the other companies out there? Switch does not use the standard distribution model used by most kite companies. We sell direct to customers all over the world via our online store. Our sales strategy is to offer a great quality top performing product while keeping our margins to a minimum and selling at the absolute best price. By cutting out the middle man we can offer prices only a distributor would normally enjoy without sacrificing quality or performance. How can interested riders get their hands on a Switch demo kite? To get our kites out there and allow interested people to demo our gear, we have a network of team riders that spans the globe. Switch team riders will gladly show you any of the kites they have on hand. The locations of our team riders and the kites they have available are all listed on our website at http://switchkites. com/headquarters/team_rider/team_rider.php. You will find our team riders are friendly, approachable, and only too willing to spread the good word! Will Switch be on a traditional annual new product release schedule? Although we are absolutely committed to ongoing product development, Switch does not have a policy of releasing new models at the same time every year such as most other manufacturers. Instead, we will release new products when we have significant improvements to offer. This may be more or less frequently than other brands depending on what innovations we develop and how long it takes us to implement them. As we just released our current kites in June of 2011, there is not likely to be another release this year. Besides the distribution plan, what other things set Switch apart from other companies? We have world class designers and engineers matched with world class riders working together to develop our products. We strongly believe we have achieved our goal of offering the best value for money kites on the market. We also opted to invest a substantial amount of time developing

gear guide ‘12 117


122

underwave


Photo Gilles Calvet

Soft launched in North America in mid2011, the full collection of Underwave apparel and water wear will be available at your local dealer in 2012. Underwave’s North American distributor Nicolas Ostermann explains why his distribution company is bringing the brand to the US market and highlights some of the key products he is most excited about. Underwave is a European accessory brand that is being fully introduced to the North American market in 2012. What made you decide to bring this brand in? The current accessories market for kiteboarding has not seen a lot of innovations in the past few years compared with the kite or board market. There is room for a new and innovative brand that offers top-notch quality and truly innovative products along the way at reasonable retail pricing. We believe Underwave has the potential to do just that with a complete collection that offers a multitude of gear choices built specifically for the kiteboarding market. From harnesses to a full line of wetsuits, vests, booties, and beach wear, the designer behind the collection is a veteran of building great technical apparel and this was a critical point for us. Having Underwave is a nice addition and complements the F-One collection we have distributed in the North American market since 2006. The company’s new Vacuum Imperial harness is an industry first. Tell us a bit more about it. Yes, the Vacust harness is totally new for 2012 and is truly a custom fit harness using patented technology that sucks air out of an airtight pocket. The more air that is sucked out, the harder the shape will become. The load distribution is optimal and harness comfort is being redefined. It does not get more custom than that. Aside from the vacuum technology, why would you recommend a rider choose the regular Imperial, Sultan, or Argo harnesses instead? Some riders prefer some movement and rotation in their harness or are looking for a thinner profile model that is lighter. The price point on the Sultan can also be something that will attract a lot of riders with the Vacust being the top of the line. For 2012, the Sultan, which was our top seller for 2011, is being improved upon with a new soft area around the waist to better protect your ribs.

gear guide ‘12 123


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2012 TKB KITEXPO Photo Paul Lang

DEMO SCHEDULE

Free to the public, come demo all the new gear, enjoy pro rider clinics, and party like a rock star at an upcoming annual TKB KiteXpo event. La Ventana Classic and KiteXpo, Baja Mexico January 15-22, 2012 www.laventanaclassic.com

Pismo Beach Kitexpo, California April 13-15, 2012 www.xtremebigair.com/kitexpo Hatteras KiteXpo, North Carolina April 29-May 6, 2012 www.thekitexpo.com


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The Kiteboarder 2012 Buyer's Guide  

The Kiteboarder Magazine 2012 Buyer's Guide contains 126 pages of knowledge on 2012 kiteboarding gear. This is the largest collection of gea...