According to Slingshot, they are not worried about encouraging ‘weird ideas,’ instead they are a company dedicated to re-framing their products and exploring every angle of this sport. With big additions to the expansive 2018 foil lineup, new high-tech materials introduced into their twin tips and an entirely new surfboard model, there are big things happening at Hood River’s original kite brand. Alex Fox takes us through the latest developments in this year’s Slingshot lineup.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHANGES IN THE 2018 KITE LINEUP AND HOW HAS THE SS TEAM BALANCED THE COMPETING GOALS OF BUILDING DO-EVERYTHING FREERIDE KITES AGAINST HONING SPECIALIZED WEAPONS FOR THE NICHE CORNERS OF THE SPORT?
We think this is one of the biggest misconceptions in kiteboarding. Sure, we understand that kites can be tailored to different styles of riding but rarely do we speak to pigeonhole our product by saying it’s designed for one specific discipline. There are extreme examples of each direction of this in our industry where a manufacturer can have one kite designed for everything or seven kites all designed for one specific thing. At Slingshot we believe a kite is about feel, it’s a certain flavor or taste and it’s different for everyone. We develop kites to ensure our end consumer has the most fun, and for that we make sure to develop different styles of kites so that the consumer has something that hits the sweet spot of feel and performance they are looking for. We learn this over and over, time and time again. We offered a ‘wave’ kite and had so many of our core consumers tell us that it was one of their favorite kites for jumping or even for teaching. That’s a lesson we’ve learned: Listen to your customers. When we develop a product, oftentimes the consumer will let us know the ins and outs and what the best use they have found within each kite. This is also true of our team riders. Karolina Winkowska has been in our family for nine years now and she has ridden every kite we make yet she rides the Fuel whether she is competing, riding in the surf, and now even foiling. Why? Is it because the Fuel is a kite tailored to those specific aspects of the sport? Absolutely not, but Karolina loves the direct response the Fuel provides and its flying characteristics. We know that we make kites for so many people with so many weird and odd preferences. We don’t discourage these weird ideas or riding styles, we celebrate them. We urge people to try all of our kites and find which one they like the most. WHEN IT COMES TO FREESTYLE TWIN TIPS, SLINGSHOT IS A COMPANY THAT IS KNOWN FOR ENDLESS TWEAKING UNTIL PERFECTION. WHAT CHANGES HAVE BEEN MADE TO THE EXISTING TWIN TIP TECHNOLOGY AND HOW HAS THE LINE OF BOARDS CHANGED TO MEET THE NEEDS OF THE VARIOUS FLAVORS OF FREESTYLE KITEBOARDERS WE HAVE TODAY?
We took some major strides in implementing and using new material sciences this year. We have tested an all new core material in conjunction with our friends over at Koroyd, the company responsible for a new thermal-welded honeycomb core material. The result is a far stronger and lighter core than our previous cores. This technology can be found in our Misfit shape. In addition to the new core materials our manufacturing process has been changed in our twin tips as well. Consumers will find sharper, brighter, and more durable graphics as well as more pronounced contours in the shapes of the boards. As you said this is a job of endless tweaking. The development process never ends nor will it ever.
WHEN IT COMES TO FOILBOARDING, SLINGSHOT’S HEAD DESIGNER TONY LEGOSZ HAS BEEN TINKERING WITH THIS TECHNOLOGY FOR 10 YEARS. THIS YEAR’S FOIL OFFERING IS PROBABLY ONE OF THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE LINES OUT THERE. HOW DO YOU STEER THE VARIOUS SKILL LEVELS AND STYLES OF FOILBOARDING THROUGH YOUR PRODUCT OFFERING?
Well we offer a foiling product for every single type of foiler out there. We have developed this line to make foiling as accessible as possible. It’s a huge thing for us and everyone knows that the systems we’ve developed have changed the way people look at foiling. From the Foiling Flight School Mast system to our online tutorial program, Foil Academy, we have made the learning process as easy as it can get. We also have developed boards to eliminate the fear of learning. From a full EVA foam soft deck board in the Simulator to a full carbon lightweight big air monster in the Hypermiler, our product really spans the spectrum. We have an extensive list of ambassadors who all demand something a little different out of our products, hence the reason we have such a massive offering.
WHEN IT COMES TO FOILBOARDING, THE MAST, FUSELAGE AND WING ARE A BIG PART OF THE EQUATION BUT THE BOARD PLATFORM IS EQUALLY IMPORTANT. SLINGSHOT HAS A VAST ARRAY OF FOILBOARD OPTIONS. WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST SELLING FEATURES OF EACH OF THE MODELS?
I don’t think we would say it’s equally as important. In the learning stages of foiling it is imperative to have a good user-friendly beginner board, but once you are a competent foiler, the board really doesn’t play a huge role. Sure, weight and size are a personal preference but once you are above the water they all feel the same. Having said this, we have something to meet the needs of all the personal preferences out there, from super lightweight performance decks to small nimble turners, all the way to beefy heavy volume learning boards.
THE MIXER IS A NEW ADDITION TO THE SLINGSHOT SURFBOARD LINEUP FOR THIS YEAR. WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THIS NEW BOARD AND THE LONG HERALDED CELERITAS MODEL?
We have an exciting new shaped board called the Mixer to complement our existing line. All around shredder and fun seeker, Reed Brady, has this to say about the Mixer: “I really enjoy the Celeritas for its all-around performance and the Tyrant for its down-the-line drive and locked-in feel in larger waves. The Mixer feels like the perfect mix between the two with its ability to utilize its unique tail in creating a back foot, slashy, shortboard feel, as well as being able to handle turns at speed and tear apart sizeable waves.” The buildup of the Mixer features a durable EPS foam core with extra layers of glass and a carbon stringer for reinforcement. A high-end bamboo laminate tops it off to keep it as lightweight and durable as possible. The tail on the Mixer seems odd at first, but as soon as you hop on it and begin slashing you’ll be very pleased with the outcome. We aimed to shape a tail that would be able to handle a variety of waves without sacrificing the carving and loose back-foot pressure. Move your feet slightly forward on the board and you’ll be able to generate ample speed; move your feet back towards the tail and you’ll be able to blow tail like nobody’s business.”
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