Fusing the talent of top engineers and athletes and producing products with cutting edge technology and premium materials, Naish has helped make memories on the water since 1979. For 2016, Naish unveils the new Skater Sport and Mutant directional boards, while making substantial tweaks to the Park and Draft kites, as well as the Motion and Monarch twin tips. Robby Naish (RN), kite designer Damien Girardin (DG) and product and board designer Lars Moltrup (LM), teamed up to give us the lowdown on all the changes with the brand’s products for their 2016 lineup.
The Park received a complete makeover for 2016 and is now called the Park HD. What are the most significant changes that Park fans will notice and where does this model fall in your kite line up?
(DG): After designing the Pivot last year, I learned a lot about the effect of aspect ratio (AR) on a kite’s flying characteristics and found that you could make a pretty high AR kite with excellent turning ability. I was really excited to apply this to our iconic Park, so our main technical change was taking the 2015 Park design and increasing its AR from 4.1 to 4.6. Of course, there were a few other adjustments made including some work on the leading edge, the bridles and the wing tip size.
In terms of handling, what you will instantly notice when riding the Park HD is how precise and crisp the kite feels. This first impression stuck with us while testing the kite and that’s why we started calling it the Park HD—it felt like we had “High Definition steering”. You will also notice an effective increase in performance for the kite. The Park HD now glides amazingly when you jump and makes for longer jumps. It also has more pop, making it a kite that our top pro riders want to use for wakestyle/freestyle riding. Lastly, thanks to the work done to the bridle system, the Park HD offers increased depower over the previous Park, making it a lot more forgiving for freeriders and strapless riders.
Naish’s Ride kite is unique in that it is a two-strut kite with no middle strut. How does this design affect performance and stability and what kind of rider will get the most out it?
(DG): To me, the two-strut design has a lot of pros. The two main ones are a gain of low end power, due to the fact that the kite is lighter and the center of the kite can act like a spinnaker, harnessing more wind than a more rigid canopy with more struts, and because the kite is less rigid in the center, it turns smoother.
As for stability, a kite is not stable because it has struts or not, it is stable if you design it to be well balanced. Sure, if a kite moves too much in the air, you can add struts and that may fix it, but ultimately the perfect alignment of tow point position and center of effort is what makes a kite stable. The Ride has that perfect balance and doesn’t need the extra struts to be stable. Thanks to its great lowend power, the Ride delivers amazing sheet-in-and-go performance, making it probably the easiest kite on the market. But what is really notable about the Ride is the fact that it is a great kite for beginners and advanced riders alike. The Ride will take you far in a lot of aspects of kiting. We have customers that even freestyle with it. I have personally used it a lot for strapless riding or big kiteloops. I love the fact that, when in Maui, I see people learning on the Ride and others shredding the waves with it at the same time!
Are there any other major changes to the rest of the models in your 2016 kite line: the Pivot, Torch, Fly, Draft and Trip?
(DG): For the Torch, we improve some of the sizes every year based on the team’s input. They are very specific about their riding and want the kite to deliver in a variety of conditions, so we make small refinements in order to make them feel confident that they can rely on the Torch to deliver the goods! This year, depending on the size, we adjusted the leading edge diameter to gain turning speed on the bigger sizes and rigidity in the smaller ones.
The Draft went through quite a lot of work this year. We really wanted to focus on the big air aspect of the kite, so we reworked the bridles in order to give it more grunt and send you higher and longer overall. Watching Shawn Richman flying on it, we’re pretty stoked on the outcome!
The Pivot was such a highly acclaimed kite in 2015 that we wanted to make sure we were not changing simply for the sake of changing, and by doing so, hurting the “magic” of the kite. The worldwide feedback on the Pivot has been pretty tremendous, so we very carefully worked on just a few details that we wanted to improve by adjusting the bridles to correct the minor imperfections that we felt on a few of the 2015 model sizes.
Last year, the design team went back to the drawing board on Naish’s control bars, with some big upgrades to form, function and adjustability. What did riders like most about the new bars and are there any changes for the new
(LM): 2015 was a very busy year for us at Naish. Probably, the first impression you will get from the Fusion control system is its light weight. The weight was a big factor for us and one of the main design objectives for the Smart Loop, which we reduced in weight by 20% in order to reduce the
inertia of the bar when doing unhooked maneuvers. Other than the weight, it’s quite hard to pinpoint just one single feature that stands out. For us, we believe the ease of use, sleek design of the bar ends, reduction of wear on the trim line and exclusive triple layered, memory foam grip are some of the Naish team’s favorite features.
The Base is Naish’s price point control bar. How does it differ from the Fusion bar?
(LM): There are a few factors that separate the Base and the Fusion control systems, the most important one being the price. First of all, this is a great bar and, in reality, is only a rougher version of the Fusion. It is overall slightly less light, a little more bulky and has fewer features.
At Surf Expo, Naish unveiled a new directional board, the Mutant. Tell us about it and what conditions it shines in.
(LM/RN): The Mutant is our light wind machine when it comes to directional boards. It’s a board that can be ridden strapless or strapped with a fun and playful feel. It allows the rider to play around in small surf with minimum pull from the kite as well as get out on those light wind days on flat water. If directional boards are the kind of board you like to ride, this one will deliver a few extra days to go out and get your hair wet.
New for 2016 is the Skater Sport. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this cut off nose shaped board in comparison to a traditional directional and how does this board differ from the Skater.
(LM): It’s not entirely correct to define them as cut-off nose boards, as there are many differences to a traditional shape outside the nose area. The most impactful difference is its parallel outline and its relation to the center of gravity and rocker. This gives the board a very stable and predictable ride unlike some traditional shapes that will chatter when going upwind and riding down the line. Besides these characteristics, the lack of a pointy nose will keep you positioned closer to the board’s center of gravity, making it much easier to control with less weight to throw around, both in the air (when doing tricks) and on the wave (when whipping it around on a top turn).
How about the rest of the directional line; are there any major changes or additions?
(LM/RN): We always strive to improve our products and no improvements are too small. So, basically the entire directional board line has had an overhaul. They are slightly thinned out in the tail section for better grip and now have slightly fuller noses and reshaped rails. While these changes might seem small, the impact on the feel of the boards is huge. In fact, the entire Naish team now unanimously agrees that we now have the best directional boards we’ve ever had. If you get the chance, compare the 2015 and 2016 directionals; you will feel it on your first bottom turn.
Besides the new shapes, we worked quite a bit on getting an EVA pad that had unmatched grip. We developed our own tooling for cutting the grooving of the pads with vertical surfaces, which now gives us the most grippy EVA pad Naish has ever brought to the market. The fins have also been reevaluated through our design process where we tested many different constructions. Through this process we have found that a softer fin will give you a much more forgiving and comfortable ride while providing greater drive in your bottom turn. All in all, a softer fin will be something everybody will enjoy.
A lot of time was put into new construction tech for your twin tips last year. For 2016, can we expect other major changes or refinements?
(LM): As we have a very solid line of twin tips at the moment, it’s been a year of tweaking and incremental improvements.
That being said, I reshaped the Motion twin tip, which is our best seller and a great all-around board for pretty much 80% of the people out there. I focused on keeping the good characteristics and improving the grip and stability of the board. For better grip, channels were added on the rails in between the feet with more accentuated channels in the tips. Also, added framework on the deck, in the center and around the fin area, made the board slightly stiffer and facilitates better power transfer from your legs into the rail, making it easier to hold the edge locked-in, even when overpowered. One of the more exciting projects for the 2016 product year was my collaboration with Ariel, Paul and Kevin on the Monarch. We worked closely on updating the construction to match their need for big air and PKRA-style riding. This required an extremely durable and powerful board, which we have obtained with double-basalt construction and Uni Directional Carbon Fiber.