The 2011 North Vegas is a pure C-shape kite that embodies radical new-school riding and delivers the precision feel needed to stomp today's most technical tricks and challenge tomorrow's limits. A nocompromise design that delivers massive pop, steady pull and a predictable, direct turning radius. Get set to pull the trigger and launch yourself into massive mega-loops or unhook with confidence into a mobe, aided by a rock-solid pull and unmatched steadiness. Delivering high de-power with the widest range of use, this is still a C-kite primed for full-on powered wake-style. Want a kite that provides style and conviction without compromise? You've just found it.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
North's fifth element bar is one the industry's longest serving models. Robust, neat and tidy it has always inspired confidence in terms of strength, comfort and safety. The cleat above the bar is super smooth and easy to make quick adjustments, but two slight niggles of the system on the water are that sometimes the fifth line tends to rest in the cleat at times and, on relaunch, the fifth line doesn't slide through the chickenloop as smoothly as it might when feeding it back through for relaunching. But these are only slight imperfections that actually take nothing away from the overall enjoyment and performance of the kite. North have definitely got their freak on with the Vegas this year – it's lairy! The old boys might question the need for swearing on the canopy, but the initial impressions of it are good. It's very C shaped with fairly square wing-tips. Perhaps the kite looks more high-aspect than traditional C kites, but the freestyle pedigree is apparent from the off. Now, brace yourself: there's no one pump on the Vegas... but we actually quite liked that on such a top end performance kite!
Usually we moan like the rest of you at having to put in any extra effort before hitting the water, but straight away we could get the struts pumped up rock hard, something that rarely happens with most one pump systems. North have also introduced a new valve system with a sliding lock over the top of the nipple which work very smoothly. Plus, the selfsealing valve itself worked perfectly every time for us. So with a nice, solid kite, there are two set-up settings on the kite freestyle and standard. We took it out on the standard setting first... On those first sessions the Vegas felt light with lots of depower and good drive towards the front of the window. The bar pressure is light but comfortable and the kite really is simple to fly straight away. There's plenty of oomph for sent jumps and the hang-time is impressive, not dropping you quickly out of the sky after you've reached your peak. If anything, the turning was more pivotal than we'd imagined it could be on the Vegas, especially in the kite loops in this standard setting, but overall the kite flies with a silky smooth and refined feeling. Sent jumps are simple, no issues at all and it'll do everything you ask of it very well. Slightly less grunty than the Torch in the standard setting, it's very easy, fun and, again, this has that extra level of performance over most Delta / hybrids. The kite's basic setting was tested when we took a more focussed wakestyle board out with bindings and more rocker. The increased drag from the board meant that loading up for a trick sent the kite just too far forward in the window to get the pop you'd want for powered wake tricks.
On a faster twin-tip it had behaved brilliantly, so we came in to switch to the freestyle setting, moving the front line attachment points back towards the tips. The kite immediately sat back and complimented the slower, more powered and aggressive riding style. The turns were much slower, more drawn out and powered. For unsent tricks and grabs it continued to pull at a lovely, steady angle, rather than drifting too far forwards and losing power. We then went back to straps in this setting and there was just a bit too much power to ride comfortably and get the most out of the kite or board. The ability to hold more power in bindings really worked with the grunt from the kite in its 'Bruce Lee' mode. Back in regular mode the pivotal turns, good forward speed and depower also make the Vegas a handy and accomplished tool in the waves.
In standard mode the Vegas is surprisingly manageable and easy-to-use for a topend performance kite, instilling confidence ridden in and out of the hook. Doing so many jobs so well, if you want to freestyle, hack at some waves and get into riding unhooked or in boots then this will work for you on every level, plus, it's bomb proof.
Unexpectedly suited to a huge number of riders.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
Slightly sticky fifth line on relaunch.
SIZES: 14, 12, 10, 9, 7 and 5m
This test is in issue #48