Sizes Available: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11m
Sizes Tested: 7m, 11m
Building on the foundation of its predecessor, the UFO V2 expands on the lightweight strutless design by implementing space-age materials that make the kite lighter and even higher performance. The new extended size range allows riders to build a full UFO quiver and utilize the ideal size based on their weight and wind conditions.
Based on the popularity of the first version of the UFO (Unlimited Foiling Object), this year, Slingshot has taken some extra steps to reduce weight and drag while adding some additional sizes requested by the growing group of cult UFO followers. When it comes to a zero-strut dedicated hydrofoiling kite, there were a number of skeptics on our test team, but once they gave it a try, the overwhelming response was shear amazement at how much fun you can have on a kite that embraces minimalism yet still delivers user-friendly performance.
Inflation Valve: Bayonet valve / no attachment required
Attachments: Center bridle: Lark’s head loop / Wingtip bridle: Knots
Centerline Split: Low-V
Front Bridle Options: Single setting / fixed with no pulleys
Design and Features
At first look, the UFO is out of this world with its fatter diameter leading edge, wingtips and completely uninterrupted canopy that skips struts altogether combined with its overall super low-aspect canopy shape. The UFO uses a single setting fixed front bridle that doesn’t use any pulleys to help the kite change its angle of attack. The front bridle pigtail attachments end in a lark’s head loop and the wingtips ends in knots. The wingtip offers a single attachment point so you don’t have any tuning options, but with that tradeoff, you get an airframe that has shaved off every ounce of unnecessary weight. The trailing edge uses some flexible corded battens and patches to help maintain leech stability.
Our first impression of the UFO was on the new 11m size in 5-knots of breeze with a Phantasm and Alien Air under foot. One of the secrets to the UFO’s formula is its ability to float in the air in 5-knots even with subtle lulls, because that’s what keeps your foilkiting session going. Without the center strut and with the new weight reductions in V2, the UFO hovered in the window as we waded out to deeper water and set up for waterstart. Once you get going, the UFO is pure fun to foil with. Its bar pressure falls on the light side of medium which is really comfortable on your arms but also gives you good feedback on the kite’s location. The UFO offers intuitive power delivery along the throw and seemed fairly resilient to minor errors in oversheeting. The turning response felt crisp even when the kite wasn’t loaded up and the steering arc is very tight with a really nice pivotal turn that makes quick loops and kite placement effortless. With plenty of zenith stability, one of the key features of the extra light weight frame is that it takes very little wind to get the UFO back to the top of the window when you end up in a lull.
The drift on the UFO is really impressive and allows you to slack the lines on carving maneuvers while providing the confidence that the UFO will float back and almost always find traction in the window. Since the kite is always catching itself, you can really start to experiment with your hydrofoil carves, and while we weren’t attempting ‘around the world’ moves like Fred Hope, the UFO did prove to be incredibly user-friendly. The relaunch on the UFO is nothing short of amazing, and with that knowledge, it really frees you up to push your limits in threshold conditions, assuring you that you can relaunch the kite it next to nothing. With the kite nose down in the center of the window, a bit of steering pressure causes the UFO to rotate a wingtip in the air and allows you to apply pressure on the upward wingtip until the kite taxis and releases from the water for an excellent and reliable relaunch. It’s worth noting that in threshold conditions, we did have to watch for over-sheeting and stalling the kite when it was releasing, but as long as you have decent tuning awareness, you will have no problem getting this kite out of the water in almost no wind when conventional kites would be a challenge or nearly impossible.
Testers highlighted the UFO’s swift turning response and its intuitive and instant sheet and go power delivery. With tons of depower built into the canopy, the UFO is very forgiving to kitefoilers of all skill levels. When ridden on its high-end, the UFO does a decent job of controlling its canopy, perhaps better than the first version, but when the UFO is really powered up, it’s not going to give you the same crisp bar feedback as a 3 or 5 strut airframe. In that sense, the UFO excels best when paired with hydrofoils and perhaps surfboards in the low-end range. Power delivery and top of the line drift are unbeatable and make this an incredibly fun yet user-friendly kite to progress your way from beginner to advanced. With the obvious advantage of packing down into its conspicuously small bag, the UFO is ideal for traveling with due to its inane minimal weight and space requirements. Ultimately, the UFO is geared to excel for both progression and professional grade hydrofoilers, and with this year’s weight savings and the added sizes, there’s really no excuse for not giving this kite a try.
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