THE HYPE:hanging around the chicken-loop when the kite is depowered.
Answering the demands of C kite riders, the 2011 Naish Torch comes loaded with smooth power and aggressive turning characteristics. Rugged, predictable and reliable, no other C kite comes close to the Torch's high-end performance, which is why more top riders choose it over any other C-kite on the market. Moulded TE reinforcements, Aramid patches and moulded bumpers help provide the armour, while a Dacron trailing edge, Velcro closure and reinforced strut zippers are the new additions to an already impressive resume. Whether to win competitions or take your freestyle riding to the next level, the Torch is your answer. Super smooth, easy handling, hooked-in, unhooked, impressive depower and fantastic relaunch all come together to create an unsurpassed weapon of choice that will allow you to take on anyone, anywhere.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
The Torch has been one of the flag bearers for C kite reliability for years. 2011 looks set to be no different. The differences over the last few years have been small, but there just hasn't been any need for anything drastic. These kites have instead been tweaked and refined each year and, what you're left with, is a super-smooth, evolved design that works without any quirks. There was more of a jump between the 2009 and 2010 models when Naish added a bit of girth to the middle of the kite to become a pure muscle machine, but other than tweaking some attachment points, now being able to get into the struts themselves more easily and some nice Hawaiian designs and extra reinforcements on the canopy, the nuts and bolts of the kite are very similar.
The bar system looks amazing, all white and check-me-out gangster. Our only grumble is having an under-the-bar trimming system on a kite that's so good at being ridden unhooked. Often the line in the cleat is pulled tight by the tension in the front lines, so when you pull on the trimming strap it can pull the chicken-loop out of your hook. Not all the time, but sometimes. However, if you're used to below-the-bar systems it's clean and simple. Torch still operates on a fifth line system. So how has the Torch stood up and fought its 'backto- basics' corner against mass market Delta and hybrid opponents? For starters there are no bridles, so the feeling through the bar is very direct, but not in an uncomfortable way. In fact this bar feeling is probably what most kite manufacturers are looking for in their hybrid/Delta kites. You get an utter awareness of where the kite is in the sky all the time. Along with the square tips, the kite is responsive, some might say too responsive for new school wake-style, which is why a lot of riders choose to use very short bars. Perhaps C kites through years of development and refinement have become so rapid that they've become a little too much for those hardcore wake-stylers that were championing them a few years ago, now perfectly suiting the 'power and amplitude' style needed in today's competition environment.
But what the Torch has become is a kite loop monster, driving with full force all the way round. When it gets round to five o'clock there's no pause and shudder, instead the kite continues round with this incredibly strong upstroke. The kite is already up when you're coming down and all you have to do is redirect it and it'll catch you before you hit the water every time. It's got a full set of eight cylinders, all firing together beautifully. Unhooked this is lovely. It's what C kites are famous for and the Torch is no slouch in this department. The characteristics of the kite don't change and the Torch actually drives forward out of the loop. Perhaps that's why Naish have brought out the Park kite, which could be more suited to pure wakestyle, sitting back further in the window and pulling like a tractor? The Torch is nimble, agile and responsive. Something that we also need to emphasise is what a good jumping kite this is. You go properly high. A boost machine, it climbs like a rocket – something you wouldn't expect from traditional C kites. You know that if it's windy you're going to be able to go big, but then also pull on the strap and go straight into unhooked shenanigans a moment later.
You give a little tug on the bar and you know there's something satisfying under the bonnet. Refined and powerful, the Torch still clings to its rough side like all our favourite characters should. Yes this kite is quick, but it provides you with the pure joy of kite flying. Intermediates and above shouldn't be put off buying one of these as there is so much more depower and, therefore, range, than C kites ever had in the past. Evolved and polished it brings out the grin factor in kiting every time you go out. It has that 'je ne sais quoi' factor that Delta / hybrid kites don't. The Torch is still the business.
Top drawer, exciting handling and performance.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
The length of trimming strap
SIZES: 16, 14, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7 and 6m
This test is in issue #48