SHINN K2 AND JACKSON SUNBURNER Review
This test first appeared in KW #101 in September 2019
TEST TEAM NOTES:
The K2 is aimed at those riders who are looking beyond just learning to get up and ride along on a foil. Perhaps you’ve owned or ridden Shinn’s P wing, which in our minds is absolutely ideal for an absolute beginner because it’s so slow and controllable. In the K2 Mark was trying to make something that’s easy-to- use and as mainstream as possible. He doesn’t come from a racing background and has always been fully focused on freeride qualities, so you could argue that he’s designing without being prejudiced by supposed design fundamentals. As with his twin- tips, Shinn’s foils have their own feel as well as unique look. He always somehow achieves a very fluid, liquid-smooth sensation.
Several mast size options are available. We tested the recommended 90cm aluminium mast. The new Sunburner board is much lighter than Shinn Jacksons of the past and, while the aluminium mast and fibreglass wings (that we were testing) are also a very acceptable weight, the carbon wings will lighten things up further still. So this all pairs well with the Sunburner, which is among the lightest snowboard style boards in production.
First thing’s first: the K2 is incredibly well balanced, requiring very little effort to manage the balance between your feet. With the mast initially at the back the foil comes up very progressively and it’s easy to adapt to. This is a really good step-up foil for someone who is progressing beyond their learner foil. Why? Well, it just doesn’t shock you very often. It doesn’t rise up or drop away sharply, it’s relatively stable for foot changing and gives you a good idea of yore and roll stability at both low and high speeds. If things feel smooth and easy, you have time to adjust and you quickly become a better rider.
The K2 is directionally very stable. It doesn’t feel twitchy and easily locks into a steady direction of travel. However, for a foil that has really good directional stability, it’s actually very snappy and fun around a corner. You don’t need big, strong legs to influence it into (and all the way through) a turn.
The looks of the K2 remind us of a glider or stunt kite. The nose of the wing is pointier than most other front wings on the market and Shinn’s non-beginner foils do have a stunty, quick- turning feel. They also have easy speed management and can be turned really fast. Mark tends to like that slashy-carvey quick-turning performance with steady speed all mixed into one product, suited to the widest spectrum of riders. A quick turning foil may sound radical, but it’s not; it’s just easy to manipulate and influence around a carve, requiring very little effort and technique adjustment.
Although once up and ‘foiling’ the K2 can maintain glide and operate easily at a low speed. One performance attribute to note however, particularly if you’re coming off a big beginner wing, or have experience of some other similarly sized wing to the K2, is: this doesn’t generate lift in a very quick fashion. When riding strapless, it’s initially important to get your feet in the right place to prevent the nose dipping. This slower lift doesn’t feel menacing or quick though, and the K2 is very forgiving, so if you do feel that’s the case, just move your feet back, or move the mast back a bit more if you’re strapped. Where other boards may well be ridable with your feet slightly out of position, once you do have your feet more or less in the right position, the K2 then has all the benefits of being generally much easier. The wind range feels massive on it as well. The constant, steady lift and ride characteristics mean that if you are starting to ride with more power, or in a more difficult sea state, you’ll hold on to your feeling of confidence. The K2 lets you feel in control of the foil, rather than constantly like you’re trying to trim it down. Similarly, when underpowered, a couple of strokes of the kite and the K2 will rise nicely without being overly forceful. That moderate feel always gives you a sense of confidence to ride with more aggression and positivity, allowing you to better take advantage of the available glide which helps you complete more turns, even if you don’t have the kite quite in the right position all the time.
If we look at the wings, the front anhedral wing has winglets towards the tips and the rear wing is very wide and flat. Up until now, Shinn’s rear wings have always been flat, but on this model he has some small upward tips on the end which are a nice compromise. Obviously adding some directional stability, they’re also not big enough to create much turbulence while carving. The K2 really provides a very unique quality that a wide range of riders will be able to get on and build confidence with very quickly.
Once you get better at carving around, you’re going to frequently ride toe-side, so shift the mast forward to a more central position and you’ll immediately feel more balanced on your front foot and free to play in any little waves that pop up. It’s that turning, playful nature that the K2 is so good for. Happy at low speeds, you can have a lot of fun when learning to hook into the energy under the surface of the water and master small carves along a wave.
The other huge benefit within all this is that the pitch stability through a range of speeds is fantastic. The K2 operates at a very cruisy speed in its natural state (more so than the Duotone 950 – also on test this issue), but if you want to lock in and go fast you can and then of course you can carve and slash as well, at whatever speed you happen to be going. The reason the K2 carves so well must be because the pitch stability is so good. This is more like snowboard powder riding than the experience of trying to manage a very lifty, twitchy foil on which you’re often managing your foot pressure as much as anything else.
Watch the product video:
Firstly, the Sunburner is a positive step forward from the Jacksons of last year in that it’s both stiffer and lighter, which you notice when riding and carrying it. As a low volume board it sits relatively deep in the water when you board-start. There is no right or wrong with volume – it’s simply what you get used to. Some people find a low volume board easier to waterstart because it’s more manoeuvrable in the water, while others think the opposite and get unnerved by the sinking feeling. Some riders manage to ride out touchdowns on the water on a low volume board; others not so much. There is a decent nose scoop on the Sunburner to help ride out touchdowns, but that can also depend on what you have experience of beforehand. Either way, with any board or foil you need to give it three or four sessions to let your muscle memory adapt.
Essentially, the Sunburner 128 that we had looks and feels nice and compact. The deck pad is medium-soft with plenty of grip for strapless riding and the grab rails are superb for manoeuvring the board into position for a board start. You’ll be shredding on it within a couple of sessions.
Watch the product video:
This must be one of the most versatile foils currently on the market because you can ride it slow, make it go fast, it’s easy to manage in a straight line but then is also very carvey when you want it to be. You could even just about get away with this as your first foil if you’re already a competent kiter in other areas because the pitch control is so very good, helping you logically feel your way through progression and find yourself quite quickly carving around – which is where freeride foiling is at right now!
Super steady pitch control, leading to quick gains in confidence, effortless turning and quick all-round improvement.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
It was only when we’d been riding a few other foils that getting back on the K2 felt quite slow, but that’s just its natural riding tick-over pace and you can really wind it up when you know how. So not really a fault, just a steady characteristic.
K2 FRONT WING: 866cm2
WINGLET STABILISER: 290cm2
SUNBURNER SIZES: 140 x 45 and 128 x 45cm
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