KW’s review of one of the first ‘soft tops’ in kiteboarding
This test first appeared in Issue #85 in January 2017
TEST TEAM NOTES:
The S-Bryck is one of three boards in Brunotti’s unique Soft-Tech series. Until we first rode the S-Brymm (which appeared in Issue #83) we never imagined seeing ‘soft top’ construction making its way into kitesurf board design, but the S-Tech technology made for an immediately playful kiteboarding experience. The key differences to normal kitesurf boards are the soft, grippy top sheet, the channeled plastic base and the ‘Flex Fins’ which are designed to withstand being driven into the sand without snapping or causing you to ping out a fin-box, which can happen when you push your luck too close to shore on a regular directional.
At only 4’10” long, the S-Bryck is the shortest board in S-Tech range and has the squarest outline with a broad cut-off nose and a tail that’s almost as wide. It’s less surfy in appearance than the other boards in the line up and looks more tuned to flat water strapless freestyle with straighter rails and a relatively wide shape that offers up plenty of surface area to help the board stick to your feet mid-air when you show the base to the wind.
We put the S-Bryck to the test in a variety of conditions, using it with big kites on a downwinder, comfortably powered in a shoulder high swell on a 9 metre and absolutely maxed out on a 7 metre in small to medium sized waves. At first the ride feels different and quite corky / floaty underfoot and it’s not natural to easily bury your rail like you can on a performance stubbie for example, like a Naish Skater or a North CSC. Add to that the skatey ride feel and the S-Bryck starts to feel quite unlike a regular surfboard. Plus, being so light you have to readjust how much force you put into it when you shove it round mid-tack; as it’s easy to exert too much force and find yourself on the way to a full 360!
The lightness and the buoyant feeling of the board, alongside its comparatively flat rocker line, do play in its favour when it comes to punting airs off small kickers or chop. Popping off the water and taking flight easily, the S-Bryck doesn’t feel weighty underfoot and as the board sticks to your feet nicely in the wind, you find yourself comfortably gaining extra hang-time during strapless airs. There’s also no need to worry about putting heel dings in the deck during heavy landings because of the soft top construction, which makes you feel even more comfortable about pushing it a bit with your aerials. Matt is our biggest tester at over 90 kilos and not only did the board stand up without worry to his heavier landings, it also had loads of get up and go, which you may be surprised as given the small sounding size of 4’10”.
The skatey feeling of the board means it’s also really easy to drive the fins out. Matt spent most time on the board and found that the playful ride characteristics and wide stable platform underfoot really inspired a good feeling for trying out new strapless tricks, like basic shuvits, 180s and wave reverses. More novice riders will also love how stable it feels and how much room for manoeuvre there is when it comes to tacking, gybing and adjusting foot position when bearing off downwind. Anyone can get something out of this board.
Less experienced riders often end up buying surfboards thinking that they’ll double up as light wind boards, but a performance surfboard really won’t do any better than a big twin-tip in light winds. Often people will buy a second hand board that’s not really designed for novice surfboard riders because it’s cheaper and seems like a cost effective way of getting into riding directionals. However, the S-Bryck retails at roughly half the cost of a performance surfboard and is far more suitable for a beginner due to its robustness and early upwind planing ability, so it’s a great bet as a first surfboard that won’t break the bank or prove too difficult to use.
It doesn’t have the snap off-the-lip that the surfier outlines in the S-Tech range provide, but still allows for a tight enough turn in small waves and the ride comfort makes it enjoyable in a range of conditions. Comfortable in lighter winds on a bigger kite and it felt equally manageable in all but the choppiest of waters when fully maxed on a small kite.
A performance surfboard this is not but, if you’re looking for a board that don’t need to worry about strength-wise that you’ll feel comfortable pushing your strapless freestyle level on in mainly flat waters, then this is a great option. If you don’t have a steady supply of decent waves and want something to have fun on before progressing on to a performance stick, then this is a great board to consider. If you still like the idea of a throw-around soft top but want a bit more wave credentials then look towards the S-Brymm and the S-Byron.
Fun factor and a great platform from which to build your strapless manoeuvres.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
Needs more grip and shape for more serious turns in waves.
S-BRYCK BALANCE POINTS:
SET-UP: Quad fin
CONSTRUCTION: 8 (Not super high-tech, but super tough)
BUILD QUALITY: 7.5
FIXTURES AND FITTINGS: 6
IDEAL LEVEL: Surfboard beginner to freestyler
SIZES: 4’10” and 5’1”
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