HOW AND WHEN WE TEST
We test equipment all year and in a range of conditions, but all the gear featured in this issue was tested in Cape Town, somewhere we head back to every year because of the reliable, strong winds and frequent swells. We want to see how equipment performs in challenging conditions when there’s chop, waves, strong and sometimes gusty winds – and Cape Town offers that up in spades!
Cape Town also experiences lulls and light wind mornings, at which point we’re on it and rinsing the equipment’s low end performance, too. Our testers don’t set out to find the best products for pro riders, but instead focus on what’s important for every day riders. In Cape Town we ride gear in as many different conditions as possible for six weeks to really squeeze the feel out of a product.
We don’t just sit around weighing material. Senior tester Chris Bull is 49, 80 kilos, and has been kiting for 21 years and tested more gear than anyone we know, outside of gear developers themselves. He runs CBK-Hayling Island, a lively school, club and shop and understands what riders really need from their purchases.
Jim Gaunt is 41 and 70 kilos, editor of Kiteworld, has been kiting for 17 years and rarely rides the same gear for more than a couple of sessions, so has a detailed understanding of current directions / trends.
Rob Claisse is 43 and 95 kilos and joins us for foil testing – founder of Progression Sports, he makes kitesurfing instructional videos, runs training camps and has helped the BKSA develop their hydrofoil training syllabus.
HERE’S A GUIDE TO WHAT THE SCORES MEAN FOR EACH KITE AND BOARD
TEST SCORE KEY:
KITE BALANCE POINT SCORES / 10:
BUILD QUALITY: 1 = Sew it yourself / 10 = Indestructible
FULL PACKAGE: 1 = Pigtails sold separately / 10 = Comes with its own wind
LOW END: 1 = More power in a handkerchief / 10 = Like a raging bull
TOP END: 1 = Force 3 feels like gale force 8 / 10 = Feels manageable in a hurricane.
STEERING SPEED: 1 = Barely turns / 10 = Blink and you’ll miss it
TURNING CIRCLE: 1 = Most pivotal / 10 = Likes to scrape the water
POWER THROUGH TURN: 1 = You won’t notice it turning / 10 = Could move a house
BAR PRESSURE: 1 = Light as a feather / 10 = Get down the gym
WATER RELAUNCH: 1 = Superglues itself to the water / 10 = Cat on a tin roof
DRIFT: 1 = Always at the edge of the window / 10 = Goes directly with the wind.
BOOST: 1 = More lift in a wet towel / 10 = Heading for space
HANG-TIME: 1 = Short haul flight / 10 Long haul flight
UNHOOKED: 1 = Collapses or pulls your arms out of their socket / 10 = Who needs a chicken-loop?EASE-OF-USE: 1 = Makes you book more lessons / 10 = Makes you look good
BOARD BALANCE POINT SCORES / 10
BUILD QUALITY: 1 = Warrantied for the weekend / 10 = Hand it down through generations FIXTURES AND FITTINGS: 1 = Some chance of assembly / 10 = Accessories from the Gods SPEED: 1 = Whales will overtake you / 10 = Induces wrinkles in your cheeks
POP: 1 = Like a lead balloon / 10 = How’s the view?
DRIVE: 1 = Constrained in chains / 10 = Fuel a space mission with the energy
FLEX: 1 = More movement in a concrete slab / 10 = Bends like paper
COMFORT: 1 = Like riding over rocks / 10 = Like cruising on fluffy clouds
LOOSENESS: 1 = Lacks direction / 10 = Like its on rail tracks
GRIP: 1 = More traction in a tea tray / 10 = Like a Formula One car
UPWIND: 1 = “We’re all about the downwinders anyway” / 10 = America’s Cup challenger SLIDER PROOF: Yes / No
FREERIDING: 1 = Makes flat water feel like moguls / 10 = Ride fresh powder every day FREESTYLE: 1 = Stuck to the water / 10 = Responds best to rough treatment
EASE-OF-USE: 1 = Build your own / 10 = Features auto trick learning button
*DT = Didn’t test, so not prepared to score
CURRENT GEAR TESTS ON THE SITE:
We test gear all year, not just in Cape Town. Here’s a list of gear that’s still current that we’ve already tested that you can find here on the site: