This is a freestyle board for the mere mortals among us. The Monk offers untamed sailing without the limitations normally associated with this style of riding. Hyperflex tips (created using Shinn's new FS mould) and a new constant curve work together to create the easiest to access (yet limitless) ride ever seen. A back door into the high-performance world of kiteboarding or simply reality personified? You decide.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
First thoughts from most of the test team was that the Monk was probably going to be quite an average board for intermediate riders. Really robust, it looked and felt big in the hands and had this huge gorilla's face on the bottom. The looks on the faces of every one of them when they came in from their first run told a different story, though. They just could not believe the performance they were getting from it. Starting with the pads and straps which are all new from Shinn, the pad itself is enourmous, luxurious and very thick, slightly thicker in the heel than the toe with an indent for grip.
The pad is also thick and very easy to adjust with two Velcro straps underneath the main top Velcro covering. Fitting an average man's foot very well, if you have small feet you can get grip but have to push your feet a bit further in. Super comfortable though and without any pinching on the side of your feet either and the top strap offers huge coverage for virtually all of the top of your foot. The 135 gets up and going incredibly smartly, rides fast and soaks up any choppy lumps and bumps without a second thought. If you look at the outline of the board, it's actually very wide in the middle, unlike a lot of modern, square freestyle boards. This massively benefits the Monk in its carving ability. Combined with the flex pattern in the middle of the board, that wide section and more narrow tips means that you can really gouge a turn without catching the tips and the flex holds right the way through the turn, only pushing back seemingly when you're ready for it to do so when you've completed your carve, rather than spitting you out of your turn too early.
There's grip right through the turn, which perhaps doesn't make for sliding from heel-to-toe as simple as on other boards, but in every other aspect it's hugely benficial. The Monk charges upwind like nothing we've seen. With such good, fluid and grippy carving abilities you also really wouldn't expect the Monk to pop so well, but it really does. The relationship between the rocker, flex and stiffness in the tips provide a beautiful mix of new school and freeride. Super fast but controlled to ride, when you load it up you get a fantastic punch off the water and then absorption on landing. Out of interest we got a few other riders on this and every one of them loved it, from our intermediate girlfriends just learning to jump and carve to seasoned freestylers visiting Cape Town. No one had a bad word to say.
Shinny says this year instead of making small incremental improvements he thought he'd experiment and start off at the extremes. He hasn't given us any more information, but whatever he's done it works. This is a dream board. Intermediates jumping on this won't quite understand just how good it is and how lucky they are to have one, but anyone who's owned a few twinnies will do. Boards often get better and better the flatter the water. This is just good at everything all the time.
The subtle blend of new school pop with freeride comfort and agility.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
The plastic spacers between the board and the head of the fin screw are quite weak.
SIZES: 135 x 44, 135 x 42, 132 x 41, 130 x 40, 128 x 39 and 126 x 38cm (We tested the 135 x 42cm)
This test is in issue #50