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The biggest changes to North’s lineup for 2013 relate to their control bar, Vegas kite, and Jamie Pro board. New products include the Pro Series, a surfboard shape with the most rocker and outline of all directional boards in North’s lineup, and the Spike Textreme, a new carbon light wind board. North’s Dan Schwarz says that their 2013 line up represents more evolution than revolution. Read on for details on what else North has up its sleeve for the new model year.
|2013 NORTH KITES|
|Kite Name||Sizes||Stock Line Length||Target||Date Available|
|Rebel||5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14m||24m||Freeride, waves, jumping. It does everything||Now|
|Vegas||5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14m||24m||Wakestyle, freestyle||Now|
|Evo||4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14m||24m||Freeride, waves, freestyle, wakestyle||Nov. 2012|
|Neo||5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12m||24m||Waves, freeride, freestyle||Jan. 2013|
|Fuse||5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14, 16m||24m||Freeride, waves, jumping, lightwind||Feb. 2013|
|Dyno||10, 13, 15, 17m||24m||Race||March 2013|
North’s 2013 product line up seems to be mostly refinements on existing products. What can we expect from the kite line?
The biggest changes to the kite lineup in general will be in the details. We’ve been very happy with the performance and feel of our entire kite line, so with that in mind we have focused a lot on construction details. In refining and systematizing our construction, we’ve been able to make our kites more robust while at the same time making them lighter.
Automating the process makes the building process less costly, which means price savings to the customer. As far as design changes, we’re always tweaking our kite designs to improve them, but as we’ve been so happy with what we’ve got, we’re also careful not to destroy the great feedback and feeling that we’ve managed to design into all of our kites.
In TKB’s Surf Expo video with North, it was said that the Vegas probably got the most refinement with tech taken from the Neo. What tech was integrated and how did it affect the kite?
Looking at the Neo and the Vegas side by side, the most obvious thing that the Vegas took from the Neo was the wingtips which are now shorter and more squared than the previous Vegas. Working with a three-strut kite (the Neo) also gave our designer the experience and knowledge to allow him to create a kite with such a large amount of surface area between the center and quarter struts. As you fly the kite, the large central area of the canopy is one of the first things that will strike you.
We’ve removed the tip battens from the Vegas and have squared off the wingtips. We also added more tuning options with all sizes now offering three different turning speeds along with the freestyle/wakestyle setting on the front pigtail that we have had for several years now. All this adds up to a kite that delivers a little more pop and a little more hesitation on turning for wakestyle guys on the wake setting and a little better jumping/range on the freestyle setting for the freestyle guys. This has happened while maintaining the non-bridled, direct connection, pure C-kite feeling that people love in the Vegas.
North made some major changes to its bar in 2010 and 2013 marks more refinements and new lines. What changed?
First of all, everything. No, that’s not true. If you were to switch someone from the 2012 bar to the 2013, they would immediately feel right at home. The user interface, safety, and depower method are the same as ever, but the lines are new and a lot of the details have been improved. We’ve added a plastic bar insert to make our depower line last longer. Then we changed the depower line, adding a stiff core to it so that it will not wrap around your other lines when the depower has been pulled.
The cleat has been shortened, and since there is a narrower hole through the bar, we were able to get by with a smaller sliding stopper. Between these two items we now have 12% more usable space in our depower throw. The bar ends are now molded so that they can fold horizontally for wrapping your lines, but they won’t fold forward or back, so you are less likely to wrap an outside line around the bar when doing advanced freestyle moves or when relaunching. We have also cleaned up the bar ends, so it is now easier to get to the leader lines to tune your bar or switch from inside to outside settings (you can even do that on the fly now).
Our bar is narrow, light, and covered with a nice EVA that lasts and feels good on your hands. As for the lines, they are stronger (rated at 310 daN), offer 15% less stretch than our previous stretch resistant lines, and with the new coating now have three times the abrasion resistance than before. Whew. Is that it? Well, I guess I should mention that line lengths are available in 19, 22, 24, 27, and 32m, but we still have one single bar length for all kite sizes (no need to buy a separate bar with every kite) and every single North kite from the past eight years will fly on our 2013 5th element bar.
In 2012, North introduced a new Track System to its twin tips. Any changes?
Nothing drastic. This system was so popular and successful in 2012 that we’ve done very little to it. We designed them from the get-go to be really strong and we used a dual track system (two tracks for each foot, offset to match the average duck, rather than one straight line) so that we wouldn’t run into the problems with cracking and impediments to flex that single horizontal tracks can have.
We were very successful implementing the tracks last year. They’ve taken a year of abuse without any problems and the feedback has been that there is no interference with the flex pattern of the boards. We are using slightly different track nuts this year, just to make building the board even easier, but the change is very small.
For 2013, North is introducing Textreme Carbon tech into a number of twin tip boards. How does this carbon differ from the carbon used previously?
We are using Textreme because it offers drastic improvements in performance over standard carbon fiber. The most obvious is the fact that Textreme is 20% lighter than standard carbon. The fibers are straighter in Textreme carbon than standard carbon, which allows you to fit more actual fibers into a square inch, instead of the resin in normal carbon. This results in more strength and less weight. Everyone wins. We’ve added Textreme to several of the boards to bring the swing weight down, making the boards livelier, more reactive, and gentler on the knees.
|2013 NORTH BOARDS|
|Board Name||Sizes||Type||Target||Date Available|
|Gambler||125, 136, 139, 142cm||Twin||Freestyle, wakestyle, sliders, kickers||Now|
|Team Series||134, 137, 140cm||Twin||Freestyle, wakestyle||Now|
|Jaime||130, 133, 136, 139cm||Twin||Freestyle, freeride||Now|
|Soleil||128, 131, 134cm||Twin||Women’s freestyle, freeride||Now|
|Select||132, 135, 137cm||Twin||Freestyle, freeride||Now|
|X-Ride||130, 133, 136, 139cm||Twin||Freeride, carving, all-around||Now|
|Gonzales||130, 134, 138, 142, 151cm||Twin||All-around, comfortable, entry-level||Now|
|Spike||141, 153, 163cm||Twin||Light wind||Now|
|Spike Textreme||141, 153cm||Twin||Performance light wind||Now|
|Pro Series||5’8″, 5’11”, 6’2″||Surf||Performance wave board||Now|
|Kontact||5’9″, 5’11”, 6’1″||Surf||Big wave gun||Now|
|WAM||5’8″, 5’10”, 6’0″||Surf||All around wave board||Now|
|Woohoo||5’6″||Surf||Women’s all around wave board||Now|
|Whip||5’4″, 5’6″, 5’8″||Surf||Small, mushy wave board||Now|
|Whip X-Surf||5’10”, 6’0″||Surf||Surf/kitesurf crossover board||Now|
|Nugget||5’0″||Surf||Light wind, small wave, freeride||Now|
|Skimfish||138cm||Skim||Light wind, skim, freeride||Now|
|Race LTD||189x69cm (not final)||Race||Kicking ass, taking names||Spring 2013|
Can you briefly explain the changes to each twin tip that riders will notice the most?
No. There’s way too much to cover the whole lineup and make it brief! However I can tell you some of the largest changes: The Jaime has been completely redesigned. We have squared off the tips and given it more rocker throughout to give the board a more traditional freestyle bend. At the same time, we have softened up the flex in the middle to make it more comfortable and accessible for those looking to freeride. All these changes result in a board that offers all of the freestyle pop and performance that people expect from the Jaime line with a bit more comfort for choppy/freeride conditions. And with the addition of Textreme carbon rails, the board is noticeably livelier and 10% lighter than last year’s model.
We’ve also added a new model, the Spike Textreme. It is the same trusted light wind machine that the Spike has always been, but with Textreme construction. With a board as big as the Spike, the material choice makes a huge difference in weight. People with light wind conditions have historically had to ride surfboards or giant plywood planks. Now there is a performance twin tip option for days that don’t crank. The Gambler has also been updated, mostly through the addition of Textreme carbon rails to make it a little lighter and more reactive. It has also been stiffened up through the center for a little added pop for wakestyle riders.
What are the differences between North’s Vario and Entity (NTT) foot straps and pad system?
Two years ago the Vario strap/pad system was our only option, and it was a very popular system. It works great. Last year, when we added the Track system to our twin tips, we completely redesigned our pad/strap system to take the most advantage of the new system. The Entity system is the result. It offers six-way adjustability. You can move the pad forward or back on the board, move your foot forward/back on the pad, adjust for the width of your foot, adjust the distance between the splitstraps to account for the length of your foot, choose your duck, and choose the width of your stance.
Plus you can tighten the straps just like any other system. Also our footpads are completely redone with anti-slip inlays on the pad that allow you to easily slip your foot in, but then grip against removing them, helping you keep your feet where they belong even while throwing your body around trying your newest move. The Entity also comes with varying density heel pads so you can further customize your ride. In short, the Vario is a good all-around system, but the Entity works in combination with the Track to give you a completely customizable cockpit for your feet.
What can we expect from North’s 2013 Race Program?
We just released the five-strut 2012 Dyno LTD. This is a completely new design for us and is a bit of a stepping stone to the release of our 2013 Dyno. The 2012 Dyno was a race/freeride kite. The 2012 Dyno LTD and the following 2013 Dyno are more specifically tailored to racers looking to compete on the race circuit, whether it be local, national, international, or Olympic. As far as the race board, the best I can do is tell you that there will be one for 2013, but that’s all we’re saying for now.
New to North’s kite surfboard program are the Woohoo and Pro Series. Explain how each fits into the existing product line up and what’s so special about them.
The Woohoo is easy. The WAM was our bestselling board. It’s an all-around board that is fun to ride in small, choppy, mushy conditions, but that can then hold its own in big, barreling waves. The Woohoo was modeled on that board, but specifically redesigned for smaller, lighter riders. Like the WAM, it comes with a 3+2 fin setup and will work for female riders in all conditions. Throw the quad in for small days if you like it a little loose and playful and switch up to the thruster setup when you want to lay into your turns and carve up some monsters.
The Pro Series is an exciting new shape for us. With the most rocker and outline in our lineup, it is not a light wind board, but it more than makes up for that in performance when it matters. It is extremely fun for most wave conditions, fast and snappy like the Whip, but with all the grip, hold, and drive of the Kontact. Designed to be a competition kite/surf board, it loves strapless airs, huge bottom turns, and can rip the top off of any wave.
Are they any major changes that were done to the rest of the kite surfboard line up?
Sky is constantly improving the shapes of the whole surfboard lineup, but we try to keep it fairly straightforward and simple. The only other change in the lineup is the inclusion of the X-Surf into the Whip line. We now call the X-Surf the Whip X-Surf, as the shapes are so similar that we realized that the X-Surf was basically a larger Whip. The Whip X-Surf will come with no pad on the front and no straps (as with the Pro Series) so that you can surf or kite the board. It’s a one-board quiver for a kite/surf trip. Also, we’ve changed the look of the boards. There’s still the same lovely bamboo construction in there, we’ve just changed the look. I don’t know if you got the memo, but the wood look is out.
Anything else you’d like to add?
North Kiteboarding has worked hard to become the largest kiteboarding brand in the world. We did so by evolution, not revolution. While other brands try to change the market every year, whether through new marketing, distribution channels, or touting some groundbreaking new design, we have focused on working with our partners and consistently offering the best designs using the best materials and the best construction methods available.
Our 2013 lineup represents this. It is not the groundbreaking, new, amazing, like-nothing-you’ve-seen-before type of lineup. It is the sum knowledge of everything we’ve done for the past ten years with a little bit of innovation, improvement, and style thrown in there. Get some.
Want 185 pages of 2013 kiteboarding gear info on 28 brands? Check out the TKB 2013 Buyer’s Guide.