Using last year's model as a solid foundation, the Blade team set out to maintain the impressiv turning speed, extensiv depower and great pop, while they cancelled the slight delay in response and increased the kite's power and pull. By implementing specialised leading edge sizes and a distinctive profile, drag has been minimised, turning speed increased and a direct steering feel which is rarely seen in pulley bridle systems. The result is an all-round kite that can endure the demands of every kiter, especially wave riders and beginners and lives up to the standards that kiters have come to expect from the Blade products.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
The kite is well featured with a one pump system and of good build quality. The bar feels small and compact in your hands and has a stepped-back grip that is very natural and comfortable. Good quality features with the oh shit handles, sliding stopper and two webbing trimming straps above the bar that work cleanly and smoothly. The chicken-loop safety is more than adequate and reliable, the ends of the bar are quite hard though – there's not a lot of padding there for your fingers when they're rammed at the ends during aggressive kite loops, but there are some small floats. The bar system isn't the most bling looking but you cannot fault the simplicity and functionality, which is what it's all about.
The Blade is a lightly bridled five line kite, which we haven't seen many of this year. Five lines are becoming a bit of a personal choice and many people love them for their predictably relaunch technique and safety and we'd have to agree. The kite looks fairly high aspect, but sits just a little further back in the window than similarly shaped kites and its freestyle attributes reflect that while its upwind performance is more like that of a high aspect kite – gliding you upwind with ease. Also, unlike long, thinly shaped kites it doesn't have enormous boost. It does jump well but this kite isn't all about the boost and hang-time. It's very quick up and down – ripping you off the water aggressively. You really shoot up quick and it's a fun, fast kite to ride. The C kite intentions really shine through in the turns and the kite loops are powerful, fast and direct. There's absolutely no stalling through the loop and it flies quickly through the window, easily getting back to safety at the top of the window in time to catch your landing. This kite does favour the progressive rider without being too much for an early intermediate. It depowers well, handles predictably and relaunches nicely – all good qualities for people who haven't been kiting very long, but pushing its buttons, there's definitely good performance in there, with good pull and constant power. It rewards you having a go and doesn't punish you too severely when it all goes wrong.
The Vertigo sits plum in the middle of being a freeride cruising kite and a competition freestyle kite, which seems like a good idea to us. There are other kites better for blasting backwards and forwards and simply boosting and throwing a few rotations, but if you're looking to go out on a weekend and want a kite that will give you a chance at having a go at everything, from your first unhooked freestyl, to wave riding, this is it. An interesting player.
True all-round and good, fun capabilities
KW WOULD CHANGE:
Maybe a bit more bling, but we're shallow.
14, 12, 10, 9 and 7m
This test is in issue #39