Review: Gaastra Spark 2015 8m

Gaastra Spark 8m
Gaastra Spark 8m

The 2015 Gaastra Spark is described as a crossover kite with superb low-end performance which should take you to the next level. It is not literally stated, but it seems the kite is intended for beginners, all though the Gaastra site states that the Spark is very popular with all riders.

The tested eight meter kite has five struts (three struts on 11m and above), the inflate is a classic wide -and quick- entrance to the perfect one-pump system and comes with the same four-line X2 bar as the freestyle oriented Pure which we tested (nine meter) at the same time with the Spark. The Spark is a bit cheaper (roughly 80 euro’s) than the Pure.

Test

We tested the Spark in steady 19 knots wind with some small waves up to 1,5 m. One thing immediately was clear; the promised low-end was certainly there. For example the eight meter Spark had more pull than the ten meter Best TS 2015 (which we also tested at the same time). The power is very clearly felt at the steering lines. In fact it was so powerful it reminded us a bot on the famous Slingshot Turbo Diesel from a couple of years ago. With one difference though; the Spark has a much smaller rotating circle and feels even a bit lively due to this. The power on the steering lines gives you a good feeling where the kite actually is, which really helps when you are a beginner. The down side of the huge amount of power on the steering lines is the intensive workout you get from riding with the Spark 2015.

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Review: Vanhunks Twin Tips Manakel and Bucca

The South African brand Vanhunks sales skateboard, surfboards, SUP, kite surfboards and twin tips. They have  three different twin tip models which are made in two to three different versions and are (except for the Anemoi) available in a short and a long version and most of them come in different colour options. Apart from the colour options there are 17 (!) different twin tips available. Apart from the size, Vanhunks still have nine different twin tips to chose from. To make a good selection from those nine different boards is a bit overwhelming. Too bad the graphical explanation on the Vanhunks website it too difficult to really help you make a choice. The two boards are 599,- Euro each (including straps and pads), which is not really expensive.

Vanhunks Manakel Cross over white
Vanhunks Manakel Cross Over white bottom

We used two of the Vanhunks twin tips and checked if they are also in it’s element in another continent. We tried the Manakel Cross over white 137*41 (large) version and the Bucca Flex 135*41 (small). We tested the boards in open sea with 25-28 knots of wind with medium waves with different kites like the F-one Bandit 7, the North Dice 2015 and the Ocean Rodeo Razor 2015. We didn’t do any freestyle moves, but we could test them for old school big air’s, upwind capabilities, comfort, speed and handling of chop. Continue reading Review: Vanhunks Twin Tips Manakel and Bucca

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Test: Ocean Rodeo Razor 8m 2015

The Canadian brand Ocean Rodeo comes with four different type of kites in their 2015 product line. The Razor is one of them and is branded as the C shaped freestyle shaped SLE (Spported Leading Edge; kite with bridles). There are some details which suggests the Ocean Rodeo R&D team have put in some long thoughts about some remarkable features the Razor needs to have. The two most obvious ones are the amount of struts (four) and the other one is the little twist in the leading edge just before the tip of the kite.

Ocean Razor 2015
Ocean Razor 2015 with 4 struts

 

Typical swing in LE
Typical swing in LE

 

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Review: JN Kites twintip Chit Chat Reloaded 134 and the Peacemaker 136

JN Chitchat and Peacemaker
Peacemaker (L) Chitchat (R) bottoms

Chit Chat reloaded 134

Today is gonna be a good day. One of the many cheering lines of the JN Kites Twintip Chit Chat reloaded. It has over 20 randomly chosen sentences written down, both on the top and the bottom of the board, which makes the looks of this board unique and cheerful. The Chit Chat is described as a an unrivalled freestyler in terms of pop, speed and landings.  We tested the Chit Chat reloaded 134 in several conditions; with 20 till 28 knots in choppy till rough (2.5 m waves) sea. Not the perfect conditions for a test of a freestyle board, but we tested the Chit Chat 134 * 40 cm to see if it is also in it’s element out of pure freestyle conditions. This should work out not too bad, since the aim is to bring you to the next level in freestyle and freeride. The 134 is the second out of the four possible sizes. We reckon this board is suited for kiters till 70 kg. A more heavy (or bigger than roughly 175cm) person will notice the 134 board gives some spray in the face and needs to get a bigger sizes board (138 or even 142). The board has a honeycomb core combined with a layer of carbon and is about 150 euro’s more than the Peacemaker. Both boards weigh, with dry straps, around five kg. The weight feeling while kiting feels medium till light; a bit lighter than most other boards, but not as light as for example the ultra-light North Select twintip. Continue reading Review: JN Kites twintip Chit Chat Reloaded 134 and the Peacemaker 136

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Review JN Kites: Prima Donna, Mr. Fantastic and Wild Thing revival

DSC_0088
Mister Fantastic

JN Kites, named after its founders in 2003 Bernd Jochum and Michael Nesler, might be known to you without realising it. Not only did they design kites for some of the big brands in the industry before 2003, but you might also remember that kite with the huge, funny looking flower on a kite…?! Yes that is a JN kite. We tested the latest models of three different versions they produce; The all purpose Mr. Fantasic third edition , the pure performance oriented C-shaped Prima Donna sixth edition and the fast responding performance weapon Wild Thing Revival 5th edition. The (list) prices of the kites and bars aren’t as cheap as you would have hoped. It is not a very well-known brand, which is not a bad thing if you want to ride something different from the crowd. The second-hand market is also a lot more limited for these kites.

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Pre-review: The WEZR Sensor. A device for a better wind forecast.

WRF for EU
WRF model for EU

A key impact on our kite sport; the weather. More precisely: the wind. Every kiteboarder has its way to get his wind prediction information; either websites like Windguru.cz, Windfinder, Predictwind etctera, local media, whatsapp-alerts or just by asking your (boy)friend. All these resources rely in the end on weather models.

Windguru, for example, has a fairly understandable explanations on these models. Two important facts on these models are the long run time and the limited frequency those runs can be done in a day. Those runs (mostly four times in 24hours) are rather complex, that is why they take about three hours to finish. One of the complexities is that it needs to run for a huge area. For example the WRF model in Windguru is covering Europe, popular spots in Egypt, and also Israel, Lebannon and south of Cyprus. Argentina, Chile and Uruguay.

Three hours behind

As a result everybody currently is looking at predictions which are at least 3 hours, but on average 6 hours, old. Another inaccuracy is that those models cannot take local effect’s into account. It is a fact that wind predictions for typical local conditions like in Cape Town from the south-east, westerly Poniente in Tarifa and the North Westerly winds in Leucate all are frequently up to 25 knots off. This is probably due to local thermal effects. Even when the wind is already blowing way above the predictions, they are not used to correct the current models.

Continue reading Pre-review: The WEZR Sensor. A device for a better wind forecast.

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