We get to grips with a larger Religion
THIS TEST FIRST APPEARED IN KW #99 IN MAY 2019
Words: Matt Pearce
Note: this is primarily light wind wave kite test. Matt is just over 90 kilos and was riding in 16 – 20+ knots.
We usually test wave kites in the six to nine metre range. Those smaller, nippier sizes are the ones that will normally deliver the kind of rapid response we yearn for in the surf, but what about bigger kites for light wind wave sessions? In the last three years as a reporter at GKA Kite-Surf World Cup events I’ve seen finals won and lost on 10-12 metre kites and some of my most enjoyable summer sessions at home in the UK have been in lighter breezes, when a nine metre wouldn’t have even gotten me off the beach. I’m don’t think that if you can’t ride waves on a nine then you should just jack it in and go foiling.
We review the Religion every year, and we’ve always tested six or seven metre sizes, so I was interested to see how the biggest size in the range – the 12 – would perform.
A running theme of the Religion across the last three models that I’ve tested has been a ‘muscular’ bar feel and, in the past, I’ve often come off the water after powered sessions on them feeling like my biceps have been worked. This feel has been steadily reducing and so this year, again, I was pleasantly surprised when I first launched the Religion in a steady 15-18 knots and didn’t feel that familiar heft through my arms and strong pull sensation through the harness. It’s much lighter, even on this 12.
This year you have two options for front line rigging – wave and wave freestyle. The wave freestyle setting delivers a more direct feel through your arms for tricks and airs and the wave setting directs the strain more through your harness.
The wave setting on the 12 metre Religion now makes an altogether toned down first impression. It no longer feels like a Lambo that wants to throw you through the corners whether you’re ready or not. The MK9 Religion now a more modern classic that you can take out for a cruise around the riviera and a gelato, safe in the knowledge that when you drop the clutch it can still do the business.
Bar pressure is far lighter than previous models and the handling is responsive for a 12, turning very pivotally, which is impressive for such a big size. Even when I allowed it to drift low at the edge of the window, a quick steering impulse at the bar had it back in the game and moving back up into power. You can push your luck on it, let it get low to the water as you come out of a lip smack and then quickly correct and line up for your next hit.
Also, sometimes on bigger wave kites, midway or higher in their range, you need to slightly preempt your turns, especially when riding strapless because the power developed as they drive out of the turn can be a lot to handle. The Religion feels manageable and concise as the power comes on steadily rather than all in one go.
The key measure of this kite’s performance for me was always going to be its light wind performance and it does well. The MK9 doesn’t develop power quite as efficiently as smaller Religions, but that’s because it’s hard to get it moving as quickly. However, once you have some wind in the canopy, the 12 metre is highly effective. If you combined this with a bigger volume light wind / small wave kitesurf board then I think you could quite quickly find yourself riding along in close to kitefoiling conditions.
As the wind ramps up, the Religion remains manageable due to its very useful depower throw and you can pull on quite a lot of trim before the handling becomes too sloppy. During my second session, the wind increased up to nine metre conditions (20+ knots) and, although the 12 had gone beyond its comfortable upper range of use and I was no longer turning it so aggressively into turns, I wasn’t being hauled off the water and could ride it comfortably enough until I decided to change down.
The we metre feels unshakeable when you sheet out and let the kite drift, and there’s also enough latent sheet-and-go power at the bar that, if you need an extra bit of propulsion to get through a slow section, you can easily access it. Realistically, in lighter winds, this sort of riding is a really important trait to have in a bigger kite when you have less forgiveness to move out of position on the wave.
The Religion has consistently been one of the sturdiest wave kites we’ve tested and you’d have to give it some serious abuse to break it.
The Quick Air inflate valve works well (helpful when inflating a big kite) and the Global Bar V8.2 is a sturdy, clean and strong control system with all the key bits you’d expect to see, including line swivel, a plastic covered sheet line and an effective below-the-bar spinner. You can actually ride all sizes of the Religion, even the smaller ones, on the 55cm bar that we used this 12 metre with, which means you can buy less bars for your quiver.
WATCH THE RELIGION PRODUCT
The 12 metre Religion packs the same punch as the smaller sizes with stability, reliable power delivery and serious durability for getting pounded in the waves. The 12 metre impressed and had us re-assessing how strong the wind needs to be for a decent wave riding session. Nimble enough to keep you engaged, this will help you shred more waves when most of your friends have headed in looking for their foils!
Good low-end performance, a stable flying position and bombproof build quality.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
Nothing really. It’s an effective light wind machine and offers a nice blend of quick turning or sheet and go power, according to what the situation needs.
RELIGION BALANCE POINTS:
Build quality: 8
Full package: 8.5
Low end: 8
Top end: 8
Steering speed: 7 (but this was a 12m – the smaller sizes are faster)
Turning circle: 4.5
Bar pressure: 5
Water relaunch: 8
Ease of use: 8
SIZES: 12,10.5, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 and 4m