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North’s ongoing goal is to make their directional boards feel as much like custom surfboards as possible through new construction technology while still being durable enough to withstand the abuses of kiting. With their new Bamboo Tech construction and progressive shapes and styles, North’s Sky Solbach feels that they vastly improved the feel of their 2011 boards and tells us what we can expect from their new surf line.
For 2011, North has four boards in its surf line. What are the biggest changes to the Kontact?
The most significant changes to the 2011 Kontact are a new rocker line and it is ¼” narrower than last year. Both of these changes make the Kontact even more control oriented for riding fast and powered. The target for the Kontact remains the same: Control at high speeds and lots of hold through powered turns in big surf. Coincidentally, the same characteristics that make it good for riding in big surf also make the Kontact great for riding in really choppy water and strong wind, even if the waves are small. Because the rail line is so straight, it does not have the tendency to bounce or rock in chop as much as some other boards with more curve in the outline. Think of it as the Cadillac of our range.
Some forum users preferred the 2010 Kontact as their all around board. How do you compare this board to the 2011 WAM, which is positioned as North’s high performance all arounder?
Well, the WAM is slightly wider and rounder than the Kontact, which lends itself to tighter turns and a snappy top turn. It’s been a great travel board for me this past summer because it will pretty much cover my needs in just about any type of conditions. It’s fast, handles speed, turns easily, and just does all the things you would want your go-to board to do. This is the board I compete on. It also has a tri/quad fin setup, which makes it even more versatile.
Do the changes to the 2011 WAM represent minor tweaks or significant changes?
The changes are significant. The basic dimensions are the same as last year’s model but otherwise I started developing the new WAM from a blank slate. It’s a totally new design.
In general, what riding style and conditions are better for a thruster versus a quad?
I prefer quads for smaller surf on the WAM because they’re a bit more loose and skatey. The rail-to-rail transition feels faster and loosens everything up for doing really tight carves on a small wave face. I use the thruster setup when the surf picks up for more drive, but that’s just me. It really comes down to your personal preference and the feel you are after. As the true all-arounder we wanted to offer riders the option of riding it either way.
The Whip is brand new to North’s 2011 surf lineup. Where does this board fit in the product mix?
The Whip is a high performance board for small to medium surf. I’m really excited about this board and it gets me motivated to get out there even when the surf is tiny. It’s super snappy and naturally just wants to turn. The coolest thing about the Whip is that you can really feel it accelerate out of a top turn. It’s just fast and loose and carves super tight little arcs. I’ve even ridden it in overhead surf and it handles it. You can draw out a long turn or snap it super tight and it carries speed easily.
Also new for 2011 is North’s Free Race board, bridging the gap between racing and freeriding. As a 5’3” twin fin directional, how does the feel of it differ from the other boards?
The idea was to make a board that went upwind well and was good in light wind, but that you could still carve turns and play around with. The Free Race has a really flat rocker and a much wider tail than a surfboard, so it gets you up and planning in less wind than any of our surfboards. It’s also really fast and you can fly on a downwind reach with it. It has tucked rails and a semi-pointy nose like a surfboard so you can carve a turn with it. It’s a great alternative to riding a surfboard in light wind, flat water, or in conditions that are less than stellar.
What do you think makes your 2011 surf program stand out?
Well, I think board our range offers something for nearly everyone. Each board is designed to perform well in different conditions and is aimed at a specific riding style. Our shapes and graphics are progressive with an eye on the latest surfing trends. We spend a lot of time refining our construction not only to be durable and withstand the abuse of kiting, but also to feel lively and responsive. Our new bamboo sandwich construction has excellent dampening and flex and is really resistant to pressure dents and dings, so your board stays looking new longer as well.