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2014 Buyer’s Guide: Naish

Photo Stephen Whitesell

Photo Stephen Whitesell

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Get full 2014 gear info from 28 brands in the TKB 2014 Buyer’s Guide.

Naish has a lot of exciting new products for 2014. Their Memory Core control bar is new for the industry and they have introduced two new kites, a new directional, and three new twin tips. We spoke with kite designer Damien Girardin and product designer Lars Moltrup (boards) about these new products as well as what else we can expect from Naish from their 2014 product line up.

For 2014 Naish has released the Memory Core control bars. What is different about it?
The memory refers to memory foam, which conforms to your fingers and gives you a very stable and comfortable grip. We introduced it on our control bars because we were looking to improve the comfort of our bars especially for people riding in cold water. The memory foam is offset from the center axis, so you will instantly feel if you grab the bar on the wrong side.

When doing unhooked maneuvers your fingers will indent the Memory Core and make sure your fingers do not slip, giving you maximum traction and grip for the highest performance. In regards to other changes to the 2014 system, the V2 Barcenter has been redesigned for an improved trim line entry in order to reduce wear and increase durability.

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Naish is offering eight kites in its 2014 line up including the new Draft. Where does this kite fit in your line up and who is it best suited for?
The Draft is a kite dedicated to high jumps and long glides while also providing excellent freeride aptitude and racing performance. It really provides a unique ride and its gliding performance is unmatched. I would say that the perfect rider for this kite is a person that is not looking to ever unhook but wants to have a lot of airtime in their jumps. Also, its great upwind ability makes it the kite of choice if you are looking to race.

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How do the handling and performance characteristics of the Draft compare to the Park and Ride which are also targeted at freeriders?
The Draft generates more power than both the Park and Ride. It also has quite a different way of launching you when you jump. The Park and Ride can launch with a lot of instant pull to start your jump while the Draft is smoother because it keeps on pulling for a longer time, taking you to new heights and also keeping you in the air for a lot longer. Riding the Draft simply makes jumping too easy!

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What recommendations would you give to rider if they are trying to decide between the Draft, Park, and Ride kites?
If you never really unhook and are looking forward to big jumps or like to cruise upwind and downwind the Draft is clearly for you. The Park and Ride are more similar kites. I would recommend the Park for a rider that is looking for a more engaged ride, like for riding waves, unhooking for tricks, or riding in strong/gusty winds. The Park also delivers sharper and quicker turns. The Park also offers better drifting qualities as it allows for quicker repositioning further forward in the wind window. On the other hand the Ride is a more forgiving kite and will offer better low end and relaunch with smoother turns.

Photo Quincy Dein

Photo Quincy Dein

Naish released the strutless Trip mid-season 2013. Why would you recommend a rider get this kite over others in your line?
The Trip has turned out to be favorite kite for a lot of experienced riders around the world for the unique lightness, power, and feel that it provides. The main advantage of the Trip is its ability to provide the wind range of a bigger kite while having the turning speed of a smaller kite. You can have a lot of fun in lighter wind. I cannot really speak for other strutless kites, but in our case, the pro of our design is the increased low end power. The cons are that relaunching can be more technical in some situations and the kite can be hard to control in very strong winds when you have to sheet out a lot. I’m talking about winds much higher than the top of the wind range here when you should really be on a smaller kite.

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New for 2014 is the Alana kite and control bar made specifically for women. What makes it more female-friendly than other kites in your product line?
By applying the extensive studies done on human measurement we have been able to make a kite bar that fits virtually all women. This means that the bar throw, the chicken loop, trim line throw, and quick release trim loop have been reduced to accommodate the needs of all sizes of female riders. In addition to the technical advances, we also made it so the graphics match the entire Alana line.

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The Fish and Custom LE directional boards are completely new designs for 2014. What changed?
The Fish focuses on a stable ride with maximum floatation for light winds while maintaining versatile performance for both cruising and ripping in the waves. The tail kick is relatively high and has been designed for making tight, snappy turns while working in harmony with the thruster fin layout to give you excellent stability and maneuverability. The Fish is an excellent choice for people who want their wave board to do everything from cruising in flat water to riding in light winds to having fun in medium to small surf. The construction of the Fish is the same as on the Skater and the Global.

This construction is our most durable and impact-resistant to date and accommodates both strapped and strapless riding and jumping. The emergence of strapless riding has set the bar much higher for kite surfboard construction than it has ever been. Many hours were spent developing the current construction including lab break tests and performance tests in a variety of conditions. We are confident we have met the design objectives to the fullest extent.

Photo Stephen Whitesell

Photo Stephen Whitesell

The Custom LE came from the fact that more and more people are riding strapless and looking for a true surfboard in terms of look, shape, and feel on the water. We started by getting in touch with some of Robby Naish’s ASP pro surfer friends and got on some of their boards to test. From there we developed our own new shapes that are very surf oriented. We also developed a new construction. A PU core and polyester resin construction gives you surfboard flex characteristics and feel on the water, but a pure surfboard construction is not strong enough for kiting. Our Armor Frame Technology was the key to the success of the project. The impact resistance was drastically improved using the Armor Frame Technology without changing the overall feel of the board.

It has a very direct response to input, creating a lot of drive on bottom turns, which then translates into amazing off-the-top turns. The high tail kick rocker provides great drive for sideshore conditions with high speed turns and also allows for easy, quick, and snappy turns in small onshore conditions. The Custom LE is the perfect choice for the uncompromising surfer, no matter what conditions, from small onshore waves to perfect, glassy, sideshore surf.

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What refinements were made to the Global and Skater?
The Global and the Skater feature our exclusive full 3D Double Density Deckpad, which has been designed for a minimum weight and maximum comfort and tracking to ensure that you do not slip when you push it to the limit.

Naish completely overhauled the twin tip line for 2014. Tell us about the new Antic, Orbit, and Alana.
At Naish we always aim at being at the forefront of innovation. We noticed that more and more riders are into wakestyle kiting while spending their windless days at the cable park, so we developed a cable/kite hybrid board. The Antic has the same basic bottom and deck shaping as the Dub, but it behaves very differently due to differences in flex, rocker, and outline. The construction of the Antic is very unique compared to the rest of the range due to the amount of carbon fiber used.

The Antic is a very responsive board that provides a stable ride, unprecedented pop, and direct feedback from rider inputs. The heavy duty wood core has been beefed up in order to withstand the great force applied when landing powered wakestyle tricks. The grind base bottom sheet is also extremely durable and built to last even when riding up on the beach or hitting sliders. This board has been through an incredible amount of testing by our team riders through kiting and riding at cable parks. The Antic is built very tough so when you ride with boots you get a very direct power transfer and a huge pop due to the stiffness from the heavy duty wood core and carbon construction.

Photo Stephen Whitesell

Photo Stephen Whitesell

Our importers and retailers raised our awareness of a demand for a light wind twin tip, so we set out to design the Orbit. As people might have seen in our 2013 did-season line, a lot of attention was given to the deck design in order to reduce material usage and weight and increase stiffness. The Orbit was the board where we could take this design approach and refine it, as we needed a super light board for light wind conditions. The bottom shaping on the Orbit features an off-centered double concave. The concaves have different sizes with the larger one centered under the feet in order to give early water release and planing stability. The second concave is offset on the toe side, where the concave has a steeper curve for better grip when riding toeside. One of the most interesting features of the bottom shaping is the angled center fin. This improves upwind performance by optimizing the angle of attack of the fin and increasing the projected area of the fin in the water. This board is built for early planing and upwind performance in light wind conditions.

The Alana is our women’s freeride/freestyle board. When we started designing the Alana we used feedback from the 2012 Raskal as well as utilizing engineered deck and bottom shaping. The beveled edges loosen the board up slightly while giving you the confidence to land tricks and pull off surface passes without catching an edge. The off-centered double concave design gives the board improved tracking, which helps keep the board stable on landings and makes going upwind a breeze. The tip shape has trapezoidal quad channels to give you extra grip when popping, better tracking, and directional stability. The rocker has been balanced for good upwind performance and pop, yet still maintaining a playful and comfortable ride in chop, flat water, and even waves. The Alana utilizes a very high-end construction with our supreme pop wood core, an A-grade Paulownia wood core that gives you the flex response and lighter weight you only find on the high-end Naish twin tips. The laminate is a fiberglass construction with a carbon cross on the deck that gives you excellent torsional stability and a pop that requires minimum effort.

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What are the differences between the Dub, Motion, and Hero boards which are all suited for freeriding?
The Dub is great for freeriding, but leans more towards a wakestyle board designed for riding straps. The board has a high rocker that gives you a smooth ride, even in large chop. This is the board of choice for many of our team riders and is the board used by Ewan Jaspan in the PKRA. In the development process we worked closely with Jesse Richman to find a board that suits his aggressive and powerful riding. The high rocker accommodates the hard landings that Jesse has with the huge kiteloop handle passes that are his signature moves. The construction is one of our most high-end and features both carbon and our 3D deck shape that add stiffness to the tip section to give you a very aggressive pop. The Dub is a very versatile board and is just as good for freeriding, cruising, and boosting as it is a freestyle and wakestyle machine, but the high rocker requires a little more power to get planing.

The Motion is our high-end freeride board for riders who want a top-quality board that works for all conditions. The Motion has very balanced flex characteristics in order to give you the most comfort when riding as well as a good platform for boosting air. The outline has been optimized for riding in chop and the narrow design gives you a very easy board to edge hard when you need to. Comfort is the key word when talking about the Motion and it will work for everyone who wants a board that will fit any level of riding. The Hero is a simple design with a single concave and fiberglass construction. This board is very versatile and can be used in all conditions. It’s great for beginners and intermediate riders who want to have a board at a low cost without compromising quality.

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What’s the difference between the Apex and Digit binding systems?
The main difference is found in the level of adjustability of the two bindings. Also, the weight of the Apex has been reduced by 25% when compared to the Digit and most other bindings on the market without compromising quality or durability. The Apex is our new innovative binding that takes customization and adjustability to a whole new level. It has a four point adjustment system which gives you the option to change the angle of the 3D molded X-Factor Ergo strap by tightening the strap just above your toes as well as at the top of your foot. The design also allows you to move the four connection points individually forward or backwards to change the shape and size of the strap. All this was made possible by adding flex zones on the side of the strap to morph the shape and size to fit your foot.

The Apex also features an interchangeable heel pad, which gives you two options of heel softness. The soft insert gives you the most comfortable ride and the harder insert delivers the performance you need when landing hard and edging the board for better load and pop. The Digit is based on a simplistic design, which has been found in the kiteboarding market for years and has been tried and tested. The firmer lateral support found in the Digit is the go-to price point binding for people who want a simple and durable binding that works for feet of all sizes. The Digit offers excellent lateral support due to the angled side wings and the sidewall footbed cushioning, which protects your foot from hard surfaces. The triple-density foot bed provides excellent shock absorption and the outside EVA inlays, which have a higher density, ensure your foot stays centered with minimum effort.

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