Sky Solbach and Patri McLaughlin are North Kiteboarding’s die-hard wave riders from Maui, the land of barrels and grinding peaks. Playing a huge roll in the creation the new 2018 Neo, they give us their ten cents on what makes this year’s kite so mind-blowingly good!
Can you sum up the new 2018 Neo?
Sky: The Neo is our dedicated wave kite. Optimised to have great low-end performance, quick depower, lightning fast steering, maximum durability and the best drifting capabilities of any kite.
What was the aim for this year’s development?
Sky: Our main focus for 2018 was to improve the steering speed as much as possible. This was achieved by reducing the leading edge diameter slightly near the wingtips of the kite, allowing the kite to flex more and initiate a turn quicker.
Patri : This year we tried to increase the turning speed and the depower of the Neo. It was our aim to improve these aspects of the kite without sacrificing the low-end power and drift that the Neo offers.
Where does the Neo fit in the North Kiteboarding range?
Sky: The Neo is first and foremost a dedicated wave kite. However, some of the things that make it The best wave kite on the market also happen to make it a very enjoyable freeride kite, which explains why the Neo is so successful and popular.
Patri: Our passion is riding waves so we wanted the Neo to perform outstandingly in the surf. That said, I use the kite for every aspect of kiting. It relaunches well and is super stable in the sky. A lot of kite schools are choosing to teach on the Neo because it is so forgiving. I also use it for high powered mega loops and freeriding.
Why do you choose to ride the Neo?
Sky: The Neo is everything that I want in a kite for my style of riding (waves). I can ride a small kite because it has lots of power, it reacts quickly to steering input, drifts amazingly well, depress when I need it to, as well as being extremely comfortable and easy to ride.
What are the Neo’s standout performance features?
Sky: I would say that steering, drifting and low-end power are the Neo’s greatest strengths.
Patri: The Neo has the perfect amount of bar pressure, so you can always tell where the kite is in the wind window. It also drifts really well which is important in the surf. This year we once again improved the depower so you can shut the kite off and hit the lip the same way a surfer would.
Tell us a little about how versatile it is and how the design supports this?
Sky: The Neo is an incredibly versatile kite that can be used to ride waves, cruise on flat water, fly on a hydrofoil or jump with a twin tip. The best way to describe a Neo to someone who has not flown one is that it just feels incredibly comfortable and predictable. It’s easy to generate power by steering the kite or simply sheeting in the bar. The drifting ability of the Neo is of course great for surfing waves, but it also gives less experienced riders more margin for error to make mistakes in overflying their kite.
Patri: The kite is super stable and forgiving making it great for people learning how to kite. It also has a consistent and direct bar feel making the control intuitive. Every year I wonder how we will improve the kite, but this year we took it to another level. It’s so smooth and reliable, it really is perfect for any rider.
What are your thoughts on the Trinity TX material?
Sky: The Neo’s already bombproof construction just got even better! We don’t have any problems with the material being too stiff or rigid like some other fabrics on the market because of the way in which we orient the fabric in the canopy. It’s basically got the same great feel of the D2 fabric with added strength and tear resistance.
Patri: The Trinity TX material is the best canopy material on the market. It gives the kite a ton of strength without sacrificing any performance. The material barely stretches so the kite doesn’t lose its original shape, and it’s still super lightweight so the kite reacts fast in the sky.
Which bar and line lengths would you recommend and why?
Sky: I fly 22m lines on all my kites up to 12M. I’m just really tuned into the feel of this line length so that’s my preference. However, you can increase the power of your kite by stepping up to 24M lines on 9m kites and above.
Patri: Bar and lines are totally a preference thing and I recommend you try out different lengths to find what you like most. I use 24 m lines and a long Click Bar. I like the longer bar when I’m in the waves as it makes the kite turn as fast as possible. I’m used to flying 24m lines and when I do use shorter ones my timing is off. The Click Bar is super clean so no lines get tangled while in the waves. I also really like the rubber coating and the rotating centre line which allows me to practice rotations in the same direction over and over without it getting twisted.
Who will enjoy the Neo?
Sky: I’ve yet to find someone who did not enjoy it! It’s basically for anyone who enjoys riding waves, foiling, cruising and all things freeride!
Patri: Everybody I know who’s tried the Neo likes it. From the hardcore wave rider to weekend warrior just learning how to do jumps, the only rider that may want to shop for something else is the unhooked wakeboard kiter.
Learn more about the Neo here: https://www.duotonesports.com/kiteboarding/kites/neo/
This article was updated July 16, 2019.