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For 2014 Airush has released the next edition of the very popular Lithium kite and a completely redesigned Varial X. Accompanying the kite line is an extensive board range including twin tips, surfboards, and light wind specific directionals. Airush’s Marc Schmid answered our questions about what kiteboarders can expect from the 2014 Airush products.
The Lithium has been a very popular kite for the past few years. Any big changes to it for 2014?
For 2014 we focused a lot on structural integrity and overall durability. The Poly Load Frame was incorporated into the Lithium as well as the Varial X this year. This reduces the load on the overall canopy of the kite for enhanced durability and longevity. It also produces a more solid feeling kite from tip to tip. The Poly Load Frame was taken from our proven Aramid Load Frame which is featured on our Razor Team and Wave kites.
How are the DNA and Lithium different?
The DNA and Lithium are very similar but there are quite a few obvious differences between the two. First of all, the DNA is geared towards entry level riders and schools. Taking into account many schools’ requests, we have made the DNA’s leading edge a bit bigger.
This allows for a more rigid canopy when/if underinflated which we find many entry level riders do. Secondly, the DNA features no single inflation system so that it is easier to change struts within a school environment. Lastly, we have added quite a bit of trailing edge Dacron to the DNA as these kites take a lot of abuse. Many school kites are left flapping in the wind for hours at a time and this additional Dacron gives a lot more strength and reduces fraying.
The Lithium is more performance oriented featuring a thinner diameter leading edge, allowing for more swift reactions from the kite. This is the most noticeable difference in overall flying characteristics. In addition, the Lithium has the V3 bridle system versus the DNA’s V2 bridle system giving a larger wind range.
As stated in the previous question, the Lithium also features the Poly Load Frame throughout the canopy which enhances the longevity and riding characteristics.
The Varial X got a big update for 2014. What changed and how does it compare with the 2013 version?
The name and target market stayed the same, but the design is completely different. Still geared to a versatile rider that wants an aggressive flying kite, the Varial X still has amazing lift, fairly light bar pressure, and crazy agility. What has changed is the improved low end, unhooked performance, direct feel, and the Poly Load Frame in the canopy. It does feel like a different kite than the 2013, but in the best way possible. The Varial X makes looping, wakestyle, and waves all in one session extremely fun!
Are you continuing with the 18m strutless kite? Any plans to expand into other sizes?
The 18m Lithium Zero is still in the range. We have made prototypes of other sizes, but we feel that the strutless design is the most effective in light wind conditions.
How would a rider decide between the Lithium and Varial X?
I feel the Varial X is the next step to take after the Lithium. Many of our customers started with the Lithium two or three seasons ago and now they are looking for the next challenge in their riding. This is when I introduce them to the Varial X. The kite is extremely predictable but adds a new feeling with faster turning, lighter bar pressure, a higher top end range, and bigger jumps.
What makes the Wave a kitesurf-specific kite?
We focused on the mandatory aspects of riding waves: Quick turning, drift stability, depower range, and unhooking. Since we weren’t focused on any other aspects we were able to tune the kite exactly to how our customers and ourselves ride waves. The kite was tested in Bali for six months and Cape Town for six months making it well rounded from the mellowest to most extreme surf conditions from direct onshore to side-off.
What is the load frame? What benefits does it offer?
The canopy naturally takes a good amount of load when riding. The Load Frame takes a lot of this force onto itself rather than solely onto the canopy, greatly reducing the stretching. It increases the longevity of the kite and keeps the kite feeling like it just came out of the bag. In addition, we found through extensive testing that the kite feels a lot more solid and direct when turning. Airush is the only brand utilizing this technology.
Who are the target riders for the different boards in the 2014 twin tip line?
The twin tip line is very progressive from the absolute beginner all the way up to the competition freestyle rider. We feel strongly in having a product that fits many customers’ styles and different wind and water conditions.
As you progress through the range the boards become stiffer, required for those looking for more pop in jumps. Also the more advanced boards add a bit or rocker for advanced riders looking for overall comfort in higher winds.
What’s the difference between the AFT Core and AFT Team pads/straps?
The AFT Cores are our basic strap which feature a diamond groove traction. The AFT Team adds a bit more comfort through the foot pad itself but also internally. The AFT Team features D3O, a revolutionary material used widely for impact resistant. This is extremely useful for riders landing hard during high jumps or freestyle tricks.
What type of kitesurfing is each of the surfboards designed for?
Two major models that fall under strictly specific conditions are the Converse and Cypher. The Converse has higher rocker and a narrower shape ideal for down the line riding in side-off conditions (think One Eye in Mauritius). The Cypher is the flattest rocker board and the widest. This board is simply amazing in onshore, light wind, mushy conditions.
This would be best for your backyard beach that might not have the best waves, but you want to have a board that has great amount of speed to make the smallest waves rippable. The third board is the Compact, taking attributes from both the Cypher and Converse to give you a best-of-both-worlds type board. The Compact is ideal for customers that are looking to ride one board in all types of conditions.
New for this year is the Slayer. How should a kiter decide between the Slayer and Sector for a light wind directional?
In our opinion light wind riding shouldn’t just be racing with massive fins. We introduced the Slayer to show people that you can have fun in sub 12 knots and you don’t need massive fins or a race board to do it. The Slayer is for riders that are not fortunate enough to have wind or waves but still want to ride strapless and play around. It’s extremely playful and will get you stoked. Even more when you watch your friends struggling to stay upwind.
The three sizes of the Sector look different from each other. Is there much of a difference in the way they ride?
The Sector is a progression from the carve and cruise Sector 54 to the free race Sector 65. The Sector 60 falls exactly into the middle for the rider that wants to be able to go upwind just fine yet still loves to dig a rail in and carve hard during a jibe. All three are extremely fun and easy boards to use. It’s simply a matter of deciding what do you feel like doing all day.