Light, rapid handling delivers real high performance for both wave riding and foiling
THIS TEST FIRST APPEARED IN KITEWORLD #104 IN MARCH 2020
You may want to read our North Reach kite review, published September 2020 in issue #106 – read the extended test report here!
TESTED BY: CHRIS BULL AND JIM GAUNT. FIND THEIR DETAILS AND TEST SCORE BREAKDOWNS HERE.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
WORDS: JIM GAUNT
We had the bright yellow of the three colour combinations that North do, and it’s a real smiler of a tone! Not only are you going kiting, but as you pump up this bright yellow machine, your mood instantly lifts.
We rode the Carve in close succession with the Religion and they’re quite different. The Carve is softer in feel and initiates its turn more subtley but has a wide ranging, expansive drive. The top end therefore feels more comfortable, but the Religion trumps it at the bottom end. The Carve is also quite back line sensitive in lighter winds when you’re sheeting in more. Good riders will have no problem dialling into that as with just a very slight sheet out you can nudge the kite back into gear to drive forward again, but it’s just a trait of the North. What this and its big air brother, the Orbit, both have in common is that as the wind increases they both just get more potent, feeling like they’re in their happy place with pin point and effortless control throughout the sheeting range.
My first session on the Carve was actually on a hydrofoil in small but clean, waist to chest high waves in around 12 knots. What a session! Although the Carve is a bit back line sensitive in super light winds, it never backs up too much and on the flip side has outstanding drift capabilities. There were so many times when I ran along a wave and then turned over the back of it when downlooping the kite. Totally at the mercy of slack lines, the Carve just drifted along with me, seemingly completely weightless until I’d completed my turn and the lines re-tensioned. I’d sheet out and the kite would glide forward and I was back in business.
North’s lines seem quite thin and perhaps this really helps the kite drift and turn softly. I was using a bigger 1050 Naish foil, so had a lot of leeway with that, but the combination was great. I did ditch the kite a couple of times getting greedier and greedier in terms of how far downwind I was pointing on longer wave rides and even in very light winds with a bit of coaxing the kite relaunched well. At times it was dropping to below ten knots and was quite a gusty session.
LIGHT TURNING FEEL
Moving into waves and the Carve is undoubtedly at home because it turns with one of the lightest but most consistent bar impulses on test. Good shut off power combines with the light feeling to create a really throwable kite. The Carve doesn’t rush as far forward as the Religion for example, so although there’s a lot of soft depower, it can feel quite powerful when you fly it sharply across the window in strong winds, but the range and comfort generally mean that you push the top end of the six a bit further, when you’d probably be better suited to changing down a size.
ACCESSORIES AND BUILD
North also offer a really simple click in-click-out series of three chicken loop sizes, reflecting the complete approach they’ve made to their first gear range. ‘If we’re going to do it, let’s do everthing’ seems to be the approach.
The Carve isn’t the heaviest reinforced kite but that’s likely why it turns so lightly, consistently and drifts well. I love a turny wave kite and while this isn’t a six I could get on as early as some other kites, it’s definitely my sort of kite when riding it within its prime wind range. I’m 70 kilos and between 20 and 30 knots I’m happy on this.
The only thing we can’t comment on is longevity because North products have only been on the market for six months at the time we tested this kite. In producing their first bar, North have propelled themselves easily into our top five bar systems with the Navigator because it’s very neat and functional, but also very comfortable, is extremely smooth in all its functions and everything is nicely covered, including the centre lines.
Soft feeling, fluid through turns and very comfortable, the Carve’s light, rapid handling delivers real high performance for both wave riding and foiling. Very little overhead lift means that for strapless riding it rarely unsettles you when the kite’s moving overhead and in its main range can really be thrown around aggressively. Beautiful sheeting feel along the smooth centre line.
KW LIKED: The light impulse, rapid feel is really energising for long sessions in waves or on the foil.
KW WOULD CHANGE: As the Carve is very tuned to operate in an always very switched-on part of the window (slightly back) in its normal range, you do need to keep an eye on it in much lighter winds when the back line pressure can tend to drift the kite back a bit further. Never so far that it completely stalls though (remember: great drifting in waves), but when you’re moving the kite around to get going in really light wind, just a little sheet out soon has it driving forward again.
CARVE BALANCE POINTS:
Build quality: 8.5
Full package: 8.5
Low end: 7
Top end: 8
Steering speed: 7.5
Turning circle: 3
Bar pressure: 5
Water relaunch: 8.5
Crossover: 7.5 – Wave / foiling and some cruisy freeriding
Ease of use: 7.5
SIZES: 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4 and 3m
Find out more: www.northkb.com