Slingshot releases products in two cycles per year. For 2016, the brand is rolling out its first surf-specific kite which now has an above-the-bar depower option with the company’s new Sentinel COMPSTICK control bar. Pro riders, Sam Light and Karolina Winowski, also got their first pro model boards and designer, Tony Legosz, took another step forward with his pet project, the Widowmaker, produced in Slingshot’s own board factory. Team and Promotions Manager, Alex Fox, fills us in on what Slingshot has in store for 2016.
The Wave SST is Slingshot’s new dedicated wave kite for 2016 and is very different from the Rally you offered last year which was also targeting surf. How is the Wave SST ideally suited for kitesurfing?
Simply put, we crafted every aspect of the Wave SST around performance in the surf.
The Rally appeals to a larger demographic and is well suited for riders who want a kite with great range, depower, easy relaunch, solid upwind ability and lofty jumps, as well as solid performance in the surf. The Rally is amazingly versatile but at the end of the day, you can only get so much performance in a specific category from an all-around kite.
With the Wave SST, the goal was to create a kite with every design detail focused purely on wave riding. Using feedback from the team and years of experience in kite design, we were able to achieve exactly what we wanted and bring the customers exactly what they wanted as well; a kite that will track and turn like no other and get you right where you want to be on any wave.
We learned a lot about bar feel and turning characteristics after the success of the IRS bridle on the RPM. Our design team knew that implementing a version of the IRS on the Wave SST would be a large proponent to getting this kite to perform exactly to our desires. The result was spot on. Not only does the Wave SST drift effortlessly downwind, but it also has the ability to turn on a dime at the edge of the window with minimal bar input. That’s the magic moment in kitesurfing; when the kite performs seamlessly with you and you’re able to focus purely on your connection with the wind and waves.
Since the Wave SST is taking over the surf department, what type of riding and skill level of kiter will be interested in the Rally?
Even though we added the Wave SST to our lineup, we don’t want to underrate the surf aspects of the Rally that our riders have grown to love. For 2016, we updated the Rally’s profiling to increase handling and steering speed as well as reduce the bar pressure — a return to the popular feel of the 2012 Rally.
The Rally is a kite for everyone. It excels in upwind performance, lofty jumps and easy relaunch while maintaining the snap and quickness that seasoned riders desire.
Although the RPM is a mid-year release, can you drop any hints on what we can expect with this tried and true staple of the Slingshot lineup?
The RPM has received a tune-up. We can’t say much at this point, but it will have some small advancements that go a long way when it comes to performance.
You’ve added a number of significant features to the Compstick control bar for 2016 including a new above-the-bar depower option as well as your traditional below-the-bar depower system built into the Guardian quick release. Is either style of depower suited for a particular type of riding? What are some of the additional changes to the fit and finish of the bars?
We believe the ideal depower location comes down to personal preference, not riding style. There may be specific situations when one could be better than the other for certain people, but in general, we feel that it really comes down to what riders prefer and are most comfortable with. We are pleased to give riders the choice rather than try to convince them that one is better than the other. For 2016 we’ve updated our bar ends and floats and reworked our grip with a motocross inspired design. The new grip is more ergonomic and softer to the touch than previous years for added comfort and longer sessions. For the Sentinel (above-the-bar) system, we’ve incorporated a reworked safety release that features a below-the-bar swivel that allows riders to untwist their center lines from an easy reach.
Your popular twin tips like the Misfit and Vision use the NACA channels in the tips. How does this technology translate to performance?
Our exclusive NACA tech channels are inspired by aeronautics technology. In order to increase board speed and grip on the water, the Misfit and the Vision utilize this hydrodynamic technology to accelerate water from the middle of the board through the tail.
Is there a difference between NACA channels and NACA Vortex Tunnels? These two features are different but utilize the same concepts and technology. The difference lies in the depth of the contours our precision laser cutting process allows. NACA channels, in comparison to the Vortex tunnels, are shallower. This variation creates different degrees of grip and board speed amongst different models.
This year Sam Light has a new pro model called the Refraction. What’s the design concept behind this board and what type of riding is this board meant for?
The design concept for the Refraction was simple; Develop a board that can keep up with Sam and all aspects of his riding. Sam wanted one board that he could put in his bag and travel anywhere in the world and be covered. That’s the Refraction! Whether he is traveling to Cape Town for massive jumps and megaloops, heading to the Triple-S Invitational or sessioning at the cable park, the Refraction is the only board he needs. So to answer your question, it’s meant for everything. We really don’t like to pigeonhole our boards as being strictly for a specific discipline. The Refraction is truly great for a lot of different aspects of kiteboarding. Sam is obviously a legend in the realm of wakestyle and his board excels in that arena, but by no means is that all it can do.
For 2016 you’ve introduced the new Dually strap and pad system. Aside from the obvious dual zonal adjustment, what other differences will riders notice between this and the entry level Bolt-Ons from last year?
They will notice a difference in the adjustability of the Dually. The BoltOn has one adjustment strap and the Dually has essentially limitless adjustability. Not only can you adjust the sizing of the strap on the fore and aft independently, but also, you can adjust the position of the strap over your foot. Some riders like the strap more over their toes while others like the strap closer to their ankles. The Dually gives rider the option to choose.
The Widowmaker debuted last year. However, at Surf Expo, we heard you made some pretty significant changes to this Ferrari of kiteboards. How has the performance changed for this year and what kind of rider do you recommend this board?
The Widowmaker highlights the peak high-end design, material and construction capabilities we have at our cutting edge USA board factory. After a successful launch last year, our designers and engineers went back to the drawing board to see how we could improve upon this pinnacle product.
After extensive development and changes to the material layup and core construction, we were able to drop a pound off of this already featherlight board. We also introduced a more advanced layup of carbon, which is lighter, stronger and has more rebound ability. We recommend this board to any rider looking for the ultimate performance in a freestyle twin tip. The Widowmaker is the upper echelon, no compromises, spare no expense product, and when it’s under their feet, those who invest in it will know just that.
So far, Slingshot has released four 2016 directional boards, the Angry Swallow, Tyrant, Screamer and Celeritas. What are the most notable changes that riders will notice and does the brand plan on releasing any other models?
The shapes in our surf line have, for good reason, remained largely the same for 2016. As the saying goes, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. We are extremely confident with our surfboard line and the wide range of performance characteristics it provides. Small changes for 2016 include adding carbon reinforcements to the tail of every board and an additional insert behind the traction pad, which allows riders to move their rear footstraps back over the center fin for added leverage. We also changed the Angry Swallow to a diamond tail for better traction and snappier turns. What do we have in store for 2017? You’ll just have to wait and see.
In mid-2015, you launched a complete foilboard package, combining the Alien Twister directional board with a Lift mast and wings. Why does this particular board work well with the foil and will Slingshot be developing more options for 2016?
There was a combination of features needed to make the board work so well. The Alien Air has a lot of volume, and when learning to foil, that really helps with getting up and keeping you out of the water, especially in lighter winds. The adjustment track below the board also aids the performance of this deck. The track gives you the ability to adjust the foil’s position on the board, which allows you to learn faster and then make the performance adjustments you need as you start progressing.
We will be launching a full foil line in the near future. We can’t divulge the plan at this time, but we are confident that everyone will be pleased with the foil offerings they see from Slingshot very soon