TEST TEAM NOTES
Best known for their well crafted board range, CrazyFly have also been making good progress with their kite line over the last several seasons. A three-strut, flat delta, the Sculp has been ever-present in their range since 2011, designed as an all-round freeride kite with easily accessible performance and bags of low-end power.
Certainly eye catching out of the bag there’s also plenty of evident reinforcement in the key areas of the canopy, but this year has been used a little more strategically to reduce weight (which is down by 10%). The 2016 canopy is made from double ripstop in an effort to increase rigidity and durability. CrazyFly have also opted for the mid-sized Boston inflation valve that several brands now use, which is straight forward and works very well.
The first thing you notice upon launching the kite is the lift you can feel in your harness. Even on the beach you can instantly feel the grunt at 12 o’clock. The bar pressure is reasonably heavy and with a natural bar position at more than halfway up the depower throw, there’s a lot of latent power waiting to be unleashed once you get going.
The power is even more apparent on the water and the Sculp’s low end grunt gives it a tremendous park and ride ability. Dive it into the power, set the kite in position and before you know it you’re steaming along. The handling is very predictable with steady power through the turn (and rather a lot of it too). The response is moderate, which many will find comfortable and there is no disconnect in the steering as this year there’s a markedly improved communication between the kite and the rider. While the Sculp can feel quite big in relation to some nines, we were very impressed with how quickly you can get tuned in to it. You need to be quite insistent with your input at the bar, which reduces unwanted and unplanned kite movements, especially when jumping and when getting to grips with rotations.
However, this isn’t just a kite aimed squarely at beginners. In fact, considering all the kites we’ve ridden, this year the Sculp was one of the most gratifying when it comes to jumping; as if it’s pre-programmed to automatically make you a better booster. While its handling isn’t exactly rapid, the sheer lift is impressive and the amount of hang-time you get before touchdown is, frankly, awesome. The Sculp gives you a noticeably extended amount of time to start spotting and planning your landing. Thanks to the amount of sheeting available to you, you can decide for yourself (to an extent) when and where you want to land as a pilot. It really is an extremely easy kite to jump with as you need only edge and aim the kite vaguely above your head for guaranteed air time. We were able to eek a lot of height and ‘boostiness’ out of it, but a less experienced rider will also really appreciate how gratifying the performance is without having perfect technique.
Sitting quite far forward in the window, coupled with the aforementioned low end power, the Sculp is a solid engine for tracking upwind, even if this is something you struggle with. The ability to just park it allows better riders to cruise along comfortably, while less accomplished kiters are afforded the time to focus on body positioning and edging, rather than worrying about what the kite’s doing. The relaunch is also simple and reliable, even for novice riders.
One thing to look out for, however, is the kite loop. Some flatter delta kites can be very pivotal through the loop and a bit gutless, but the Sculp impressed us, pulling heartily throughout. There’s no hiding from it and even sending it when the kite isn’t fully lit delivers a pretty solid kick, which more advanced riders will really enjoy.
In terms of crossover potential, the Sculp is dependable and solid enough to cope with anything, but the relatively slow steering and power through the turn make it quite a handful in some disciplines. Very predictable and manageable when unhooked at its lower wind range, it pulls relentlessly when fully powered. There are options to mix up your riding styles with the Sculp, though. We also rode it in some pretty good waves and, while it flies far forward enough to be workable, you do need to show it a bit of respect and sheet out when throwing the kite to initiate a carve, or you may find yourself being pulled downwind pretty rapidly. The relatively wide turning circle makes it quite challenge to put in quick, sharp turns, but that isn’t really what the Sculp is designed for.
The control system is good and is made in house in CrazyFly’s European factory. Clean and incredibly functional, the carbon Sick bar is light and fitted with everything you could want. There’s a below-the-bar swivel, which is always a plus point for us, as is the chicken-loop being a great size with a very easy to use trigger and reassembly mechanism. The bar’s smooth but grippy rubber is comfortable and the trimming cleat works very simply. This is one of the more straight forward bars on the market and all the better for it. Some people might find themselves wishing the bar had chunkier EVA line floats giving them something more reassuring to grip hold of when relaunching, but it’s not something that hinders the relaunch at all.
With its Boeing 747-like air time and the dependable ease-of-use, the Sculp will suit an array of freeriders. There are more easily maneuverable kites on the market but there are few kites on which you can so easily accumulate as many air miles. If you want impressive low end power that facilitates easy, early planing and a quick pick up in board speed, accessible jumping performance and very predictable turning then you’ll instantly get along with it. Lighter riders will also get a lot out of the Sculp, but should perhaps consider a size smaller.
Unbeatable lift and hang-time mixed with easy low end power. You won’t learn to jump more consistently on anything else.
KW WOULD CHANGE
For more freestyle and wave performance, look elsewhere in the range.
SCULP BALANCE POINTS
Build quality: 8
Full package: 8.5
Low end: 9
Top end: 6.5
Steering speed: 5
Turning circle: 6
Power through the turn: 7
Bar pressure: 6.5
Water relaunch: 7.5
SIZES – 14 / 13 / 12 / 11 / 10 / 9 / 8 / 7 and 5m
Here’s the official Sculp product video from CrazyFly