Don't mess with success. The 2009 Torch is built on the hugely successful 2008 design, which has been praised by magazines and riders around the world as the best C kite ever made. The new Smart Paneling in the wing-tips increases the control of turn completion and improves depower smoothness. This provides all the advantages of a power C kite with the depower range approaching that of an SLE. The flying characteristics are unmatched. Never before has a kite had this amazing combination of fast turning and perfect pull during turns, while maintaining a very friendly overall riding feel. The 2009 Torch targets intermediate to professional kiters who demand the greatest possible hooked-in and unhooked performance from a power C kite. Combined with the 2009 Shift System, the Torch returns to defend its worldwide test winning status and remains the most technically perfect performance C kite in existence.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
The Naish bar has been an attractive piece of equipment for the last few years. This year, it's white again, looks really clean, pimp and is a comfortable and tweaked evolution of the Shift System. The main difference is the below the bar depower cleat located on the chicken-loop. It's a personal preference as to whether you prefer above-the-bar or below-the-bar depower systems. The bar has a stainless steel loop in the middle with a self-facing piece on top of the chicken-loop, making it really easy to hook back in again.
The kite looks a little deeper in terms of profile to last year, but that could just be the colouring having that effect. It looks a little beefier, with a set of wide shoulders and a little more slimmed down in the wing-tips. This eight metre almost does the job of a ten and seven metre. The kite loops are powered and fast; not so fast that it spins too quick, but still catches you on your way down at the top of the window rather being half way through its second loop. The kite loops hold lots of speed and power and, although it's not the highest jumping kite, it will get up there in the right conditions. You get a very predictable glide. When you're up there you can feel it all working and you're never left wondering where the kite's gone in the sky. The landings are steady as it holds power above your head and drops you down gently. There's plenty of good low end power packed into the Torch and it's super lively, almost too lively for some guys that we know that are dedicated wake-style binding riders and want the kite to sit perfectly still. You've got to have a good amount of skill to deal with the kite as it can move around a bit when you're doing some tricks if you're not careful, but on the flip side, a lot of advanced riders crave that instantly lively and rapid feel. Unhooked it's super stable and really easy to manoeuvre; there's no lag. You get lots of precise control and good feeling through the bar. The way it delivers the power is very intuitive and you never get so much power when you pull on the bar that you feel like it's saying, “Have some of that!” It's never insane and the amount of depower you get on these modern C kites now is good.
This year's Torch seems a little more stable and relaunches beautifully, requiring less pulling of the fifth line. What hasn't changed is the fact that it's just a joy for general riding, providing a steady pull for whatever you're learning, be it basic transitions or advanced tricks. But once you get into unhooking and wanting a constant power delivery for kite loops, you'll love it even more.
The Torch is all about speed and function. There's reasonable re-launch, it goes upwind well, is sublime unhooked and would even be a great unhooked wave kite. It's been there and done that and the 2009 model is a quality evolution. If you're of a good intermediate riding level and upwards and want an uncomplicated, well behaved but finely-tuned Golf GTI of C kites, this is a classic of its time.
KW LIKED: The constant power delivery and brilliant handling and feeling unhooked.
KW WOULD CHANGE: We'd move the depower system back up above the bar where you can get more leverage.
16, 14, 12, 10, 9, 8, 7 and 6m
This test is in issue #40