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.
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.
The 4-lines Gaastra Pure 9m 2015 has 3 struts, a bridle with no pulley’s nor any battens and a high split point of it’s front lines. The very colourful green-yellow bag comes with numerous -functional- pockets and includes a huge size indication. The bag certainly does get the attention on the beach. The inflate is a classic wide -and quick- entrance to the perfect one-pump system, including a unique protection padding. The X2 bar is a bit thicker than most other bars but looks very slick at a first glance, including the lines.
Though when looking a bit closer to the bar, there is an issue: although there is a safety ring, it doesn’t fit over the chickenloop. The manual of the Pure suggests for suicide mode to connect both the chickenloop and the safety to the leach. Our North safety leach however did not fit. A bigger leash connection would fit, but it would certainly compromise the safety, since the end of Gaastra’s X2 chickenloop is wider at the end. The chance a leach connection will be stuck to the chickenloop when using the safety system is very real. So a safe suicide mode is not possible. This is a bit strange for a kite branded as A freestylers dream weapon.*
Dutch Gaastra supplier Newsports, provider of the test kites has read our review and had a reaction to this issue (see below review).
Gaastra’s website is very clear at the aims of the Pure; It is dedicated to freestyle competition with most direct c-kite character, optimized kite-loop performance. The kite indeed has a sort of C-shaped look to it, but for a freestyle kite the split point of the front lines is quite high. This normally ends up with a fast turning kite. Something the opposite freestyle kiters need.