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Airush 2014 - new thread - 15 years of kiteboarding

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Airush 2014 - new thread - 15 years of kiteboarding

Postby Mike B » Fri Aug 16, 2013 8:58 am

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introducing - Airush 2014 - 15 years of kiteboarding

This year marks Airush's 15th anniversary in the sport, and I'm proud to have been part of the vast majority of it. Few who know the sport will have failed to notice the huge strides that airush have taken in the last 4 years. Testament to the drive, talent and teamwork that the current team continue to build, 2014 is by far the most impressive year to date. In a time of recession they are charging,.. Innovation, design, research, competition, media and aesthetics, the brand has never looked so strong..

http://www.airush.com







Here's a well written intro below from Clinton Fillen, the chief of Airush giving a good insight as to why the brand is how it is. I'd hate to go to work in the morning knowing the only goal is the bank balance at the end of the day. In that the entire team shares a similar goal, that of pushing the sport: it's capabilities and enjoyment factor.

As we celebrate 15 years of Airush, I find myself spending a lot of time contemplating what it is that we love to do, and defining the essence of the brand.

In the relentless process of creating innovation and art, design forms the nucleus of Airush. We simply get out of bed every morning to create incredible products, no compromises.

There is sometimes a misconception that products from international brands are mass-produced by people with no passion, or by machines that spit out product after product. At Airush nothing could be further from the truth. Our focus is to make sure that every single product has been crafted with the same passion and care as you would find in our custom workshop, with the opportunity to refine every minute detail in the assembly process.

Ultimately the fun part is riding what you have crafted, the revelation of understanding how all the changes have worked together, to move the product to another level. At Airush the team riders are an integral part of the team, working closely with the designers and testers. This commitment reflects on their results and ensures that every product has been put through its paces on its way to you, the rider.

15 years ago our first technically advanced control bars and accessories were being assembled in Maui, with the same passion, care and commitment we put into all our products today. To all of those who have contributed to creating a great brand, a world of thanks to: Svein Rasmussen, Keith Baxter, Karen Baxter, Jim Drake, Collin McCulloch, Caroline McCulloch, Ben Severne, Mike Birt, Jeff Howard, Joe Dumrongvivat , Trent Pedersen, Benoit Menetrier, Ian Grose, Dave Stubbs, Pracha Naing Win, Ananya Angkasing, Ian Fox, Peter Engelbrecht, Dave Tyburski, and every single friend, family member and kiteboarder who has been there to support us and share this journey.


Two of the most controdictive questions at international brand meetings are "how do we make the company more profitable", and "how do we make push the kit's development curve further". I'm proud to say that the true reason behind the drive and success of Airush is the latter. 2014 is the proof in my eyes...

In the coming posts I'll take you through the new seasons kit, all the most relevant updates, redesigns, major performance leaps and, as the thread grows over the coming year, add and comment and answer questions on all your feedback to the new product. Welcome to a new year!
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Re: Airush 2014 - new thread - 15 years of kiteboarding

Postby Mike B » Fri Aug 16, 2013 9:43 am

The most impressive new kite in my eyes this year is the VX. It's been a focus of development for a whole year, and it's no re-design. it's a completely new kite. We have had final samples in the UK for a few weeks now, and the response has been excellent. To say that it makes the old kite feel asthmatic is an understatement in the larger sizes, and while the smaller kites don't have such a big gap in performance and response, it's still very noticeable.

http://www.airush.com/2014/kites/varial-x/

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The new VX came about when we realised just how good the 2013 wave 9m was. There were new elements in this kite that were a real paradigm shift. As such the tech was deconstructed, studied and from a blank canvas came the new VX. In comparison you'll see it's dropped 2 struts, and while the profiling is far more VX than the Wave, it really does share the same physical abilities that makes the wave such a standout;

- abnormally responsive; the weight of the kite makes it feel a size or two sizes smaller than it's contemporary. The 14 and 12 VX feel TINY. Fast and agile, quick to accelerate and aggressive in climb. Redirect is sensational, and looping has a fast and immediate punch that we have not seen before.

- fast turning; the reduced weight and new poly load frame give the kite immediate response to steering, making it right up there, possibly even sharper in the hand, than the wave 9. I have seen fast kites before but this is different - it's response is so linear and direct. When you move it's so direct and when you take you hand off it stops and tracks straight instantaneously. Even more so than the wave, it's the closest I have felt to an extension of your arm.

- neutral handling; the kite has much less weight, so it stays where you put it. No mass dragging it seaward when it's cruising - it's balanced and locked where you leave it. Like the Wave, you seriously don't need to look at it. All you need to know comes through the bar. When you come off the gas, it's where you left it when you want it back on again.

- efficiency; it's hugely efficient. The 14 and 12 climb like no other kite this size I have used before, and their speed and redirect means that the are genuinely a lot of fun for big kites. It's a real leap forward. Jumping is phenomenal and control / redirect so intuitive that it oozes confidence in your riding.

- stability; A big concern was canopy stability at full absolute depower (and these days the v4 bridle will leave the first 1/3 of the canopy loose on full depower). Losing 2 struts in a higher aspect kite is a concern. The truth...? I have had the 14 to the wall and beyond, as I have the 9. There is no instability AT ALL, and I'm very impressed. Not sure how Mark has managed to build so much stability into such a light and efficient kite, but take a bow sir, the result is sensational.

- unhooked; it's light - really light, and surges forward like the razor. Feedback at public demos is very impressive with those that are unhooking.

- range; the v4 bridle gives the same response at high levels of de-power as it does at full power. It's pin sharp right the way through. We used to use 5 line bridles as a no option cure of soggy handling, but the v4 bridle is as better - same handling but right the full way through the sheeting range, not just at full power. Believe us, if 5 line were better we would use it!

- poly load frame; new to 2013 on the VX and Lithium is the poly load frame. An alternative to the aramid load frame on the Razor and Wave, it is a criss cross of polyester fibres in the canopy which not only protect the kite from front to back rips, but allow the kite to shear (forward turn) far better. response is noticeably better, canopy stretch far reduced. It's a very impressive tech addition to 2014.

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It's not the kite for all though. There are aspects of the VX that will not tick every box. Firstly it's a flat and efficient kite. As such I have seen intermediates struggle. You have to have airspeed to develop any power. If you stand still and sheet the bar in then (unless you are really light) it will not do anything - you have to push the speed up and keep it up. Kites like this have to be moved and worked. As such, they are more technical (yet far more rewarding in my eyes) to use. Many will consider the kite small for it's size. It's fast, and light, so feels small, and there is not much power at low speeds, again, making you think it's small, but it's not... To access the power and the m2, you need board speed. There is no other way around - and if you don't kite like this, you'll struggle, but if you do... it's incredible.

Relaunch is not instant - again, takes technique in comparison to lower aspect kites, but you simply cant get the efficiency any other way. lastly, the kite is very good at forward turning, but it's not as good as the wave which can forward turn inside it's own axis! As such the two kites are quite different, and if you are using the kite to waveride by "follow the kite" technique then as agile as it is, the vx still cant keep up with the wave...

Lastly - if you are light - (sub 74kg) - please try one of these. I talk a lot about power ranges and weights, but the new VX is by far the most impressive kite for lightweights I have ever seen. To a heavyweight the VX needs to be moved and can be classed as a high end and technical kite. To the lightweight, the power band is absolutely perfect, and the response, bar weight and throw have not been seen before.
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Re: Airush 2014 - new thread - 15 years of kiteboarding

Postby Mike B » Sun Aug 18, 2013 8:22 am

The Wave for 2014 has seen change too,
http://www.airush.com/2014/kites/wave/
The Wave has been extremely successful in its first year, with a massive following of dedicated surf riders. The Wave has the most unique shape on the market, with a thin LE for immense forward speed as well as a lightweight 3 strut design for drifting capabilities. The kite responds to what you need when you need it the most. Adjustments in the wingtips and canopy layout make for a smooth power delivery. Fluid steering makes for a consistent feel across the range. The new sizes offer increased options for higher wind riding without.


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Last year the wave 9 was a landmark kite. It's been a long while since a single kite caused so much stir inside and outside the company. Rumour has it that the magazine's chief tester bought a quiver! It was a hugely impressive - range, handling, low down power, top end efficiency - boosts were impressive when powered, and the turning ability - just incredible. Far much more than a wave kite, it's one of the best mainstream freeride kites we have seen so far.

For 2014 the range has been refined.
- new size in 7m
- revised shape in 5, 6, 7, 12m sizes; the smaller kites became more like the 9 and the 12 became more efficient and more like the 9 with a smaller Le, and far more efficiency and response.
- the canopy material changed to technofibre D2, which is conjunction with the aramid load frame makes this the strongest canopy in the market today - and that is not a fact I care to debate - it really is.
- slight graphical change

I've ridden the 12 quite a bit - it's very good.. Not hugely more powerful than the 9 (the 9 has simply the largest windrange I have seen yet), but enough to give the extra lightwind punch needed. The 7 and below are smoother this year - having a character that mirrors the 9 far more. It's a great range - and for those who may be put off by the name wave, please do not - these things are well at home on twin tips. They are super fast, but never unruly or aggressive. They are easy to live with and precise to fly, but never twitchy. They are athletic and encourage progression and exude confidence without ever biting back. Unless boosting is your poison, then the Wave is one of the most fun and advanced kites we have ever seen.

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Re: Airush 2014 - new thread - 15 years of kiteboarding

Postby Mike B » Sun Aug 18, 2013 8:38 am

Lithium 2014
http://www.airush.com/2014/kites/lithium/
The Lithium looks very similar to last years kite, but there have been some tweaks in a platform that looks very similar. Much feedback we received from the industry throughout last year was one of "please don't change this pattern", which though good to hear doesnt always tell the whole story, as it's important to keep things moving forward. That said the changes to 2014 have been measured, but the essence of what makes the Lithium remains...

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from the website;
Choose your element from freeride, wave, jumping or looping – the Lithium does it all. Designed for just about everything, the Delta Hybrid Design featured on the Lithium, gives a massive range for the user as well as an extreme low-end power for those marginal days. Quick and direct response of the kite, due to the wingtip position, is spectacular for those waveriding sessions the one-day and those twin tip big jumping sessions the next.
The Lithium One 16m and Lithium Zero 18m take light wind riding to a whole new realm. With lightweight constructions these kites are in a new class. Continuing with the Lithium name, as the most forgiving and easy to use freeride kite of the range, the One and Zero still keep these traits in the sub 15 knots range. Racers cannot have all the fun, these kites are ideal for twin-tips, surf directionals and freeride directionals, like the Slayer and Sector. There is no such thing as “No Wind”, these kites will find it.


2014 sees -
- refined bridling in smaller sizes
- addition of the Poly Load Frame throughout the range - this is one of the biggest improvements in my eyes - the frame helps the kite twist as opposed to bending, helping the kite forward turn and keeping the power on through the turn. This is a real disadvantage in delta style kites, and the technology to only protects the kite against canopy stretch, prevents front to back tears, but it improves the handling, response and power delivery considerably.

The Lithium is a great kite for the real world reality of kiteboarding. Quick and punchy - it never lacks power but has a huge amount of de-power too. It's unique in the bigger sizes as nothing in the range can develop so much power per m2, and it does it with great forward turning (kite will develop power during the turn) to allow you to get huge amounts of consistent power in the lightest of winds.. Heavyweights, or those with heavy feet polarise to this kite instantly - it's not slow or uninvolving, but if you need power from time to time, at the pull of a bar, then the Lithium has all you could want without being draggy or slow. It's quick upwind, and boosts well with huge hangtime.
It's stupidly stable, and many praise it for just how compliant it is even in the worst of conditions. It's hugely easy to get out of the water - voted the worlds easiest kite to relaunch by the US kiteboarder mag. At demo days, when people cant really describe their style or technique to me when asked, it's the lithium I'll put them on, and they always love it. It really is the one kite that will do everything... and aside all the more specialist characteristics for other kites in the range, the Lithium remains thebest seller, and for good reason, it really is the most relevant kite to modern kitesurfing.

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Re: Airush 2014 - new thread - 15 years of kiteboarding

Postby Mike B » Sun Aug 18, 2013 9:06 am

The new Twin Tips...
Airush have been busy with the twin tip designs, specifically focussing development on two new shapes one an evolution of Alex Paster's contest boards, and the other a mainstream industry leading freeride board..

Livewire
http://www.airush.com/2014/boards/livewire-2/
Seen at the back end of last year the Livewire is an evolution of Alex Paster's personal boards, and as the development continued I have seen Alex start using production boards. The livewires are boot or strap boards, with a moderate to high 3 step rocker, channels, and resultant smaller fins, legth that is freestyle size for the regular widths.. They are nothing like the stiffer wide tipped freestyle boards we have seen in the past - what they do have is a huge amount of grip, and carving pop. To say that these boards have the ability to stop a C kite dead in it's tracks is no exaggeration. If you have used C kites you'll know that without the right stick they can really get ahold of you in overpower situations... well they cant on one of these!


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The grip is not there for control primarily - it's there for pop and to push the kite (razor) forward in the window and unweght the bar for freestyle. In this it's sublime, and if you want to pull off complex freestyle moves then this is how it's done. It's quite something.
More than this, the livewire is quite a locked in but far from uncomfortable place to be. No spray in the face, good carving and I would have to say - almost front foot bias in loading - whilst it can involve a lot of leg strength, it's going through both legs evenly and in that it's a very comfortable place to be! I'd have no problem in recommending this board as a freeride board at all to intermediate and above - it's all manners and practicality when it's not under the toes of one of the worlds finest riders! It also comes in a full carbon team edition - which as I understood is the if not one of the worlds lightest production boards if you want that extra ping!

The Livewire has proven itself as a truly versatile, wake-style machine. Alex Pastor, Bruna Kajiya and Bas Koole have given more feedback to develop the range for the ultimate ride, by refining the flex and response for 2014 as well as the introduction of our unique Carbon Torsion Control to the Livewire. Working closely with Alex Pastor on his signature 140, the new rail and tip channel configuration enhances directional drive along with a tapered ABS rail, increasing thickness in the center of the rail for boot specific durability. 

This wake-style and freestyle board is optimal for maximum pop and upwind performance with a flatter edge while the center rocker is increased for riding and landing comfortable during powered tricks. Shipped standard with AFT Teams and compatible with most modern bindings with a 6 inch spread.

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Apex
http://www.airush.com/2014/boards/apex/
New for 2014 the Apex was designed as a fresh look at the more aggressive freeride market that is steadily evolving. They have been fairly steady over the last few years with protoy and switch leading the charge, but for 2014 they have really taken a new step away from their traditional styles. The result is a very impressive board - It's right up there in terms of feel and capability. It's now spray free, with huge load capability - stability at speed and in carve without being sticky or one dimensional underfoot, shorter and livelier, still efficient, the best board they have made so far in chop (really very good). It's comfortable and even foot loading means you can ride it for hours without tiring. Soft and smooth underfoot without being void of feedback or inefficient when you power up. In the carve it's very tactile and adjustable, playing with fin sizes changes the feel but underneath you can tell it's a very sorted shape. You can move around on the board a lot more - shifting weight and stance according to where you find yourself. as opposed to the more locked wake style stance of the Livewire. I highly recommend it - this and the Live wire are the two best twin shapes they have made in years, and I commend them on it.
They are both different but both right at the cutting edge of TT's in my eyes, and I really think you should give them a good look.


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Airush introduces the Apex in a new configuration, combining higher rocker, increased width and the new Venturi Concave. The unique concave stabilizes the board at faster speeds and enables the fin area to sit deeper in the water, allowing the rider to use smaller fins for the same level of grip.
The construction features a key innovation in the form of the Asymmetrical 3D Shape. This precision CNC shape enhances the performance of the independent flex tips and Carbon Torsion Control, by aligning the response of the board with the riders weight orientation towards the heel edge.
The Apex’s performance suits intermediate to advanced aggressive riders, while remaining easy and comfortable to use at faster speeds.


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Re: Airush 2014 - new thread - 15 years of kiteboarding

Postby Mike B » Sun Aug 18, 2013 9:13 am

Then there are the pads.. Airush have always been renowned for their footpads, and through thick and thin they have never been afraid to innovate..
Last year we had the near faultless AFT Team, and for 2014 we see an evolution - need base plate and new strap bring a very impressive pad.


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You'll notice that aside the new base plate (with moulded in D30 inserts) the strap has a completely separate front and back velcro fixing. This means that depending on your instep you can now tailor the strap to your foot exactly. Some people struggle with high insteps, some with low, and this system completely locks your foot in once adjusted. it's quite remarkable how secure it is. On the Upside - it's hugely secure - if you like a foot that is in there for good (until you decide to wiggle out) then these pads are superb.. If however you like a looser fit (or more movement) the the Core is better..
On the team; The AFT Team combines dual Velcro closure and integrated molded EVA arms with the legendary AFT Foot-bed. This provides the perfect balance of comfort and support needed for those endless sessions.
The new foot-strap component allows riders to quickly adjust the strap, while the double Velcro closure customizes the tension of the front and the back of the strap, working in conjunction with the Dual Foam System to adjust to different foot shapes. The refined pad grooving increases the locked in feel of the pad, allowing the foot to center naturally and improve rider response.
Lycra-covered ergonomic thermoformed EVA arms ensures an all-encompassing foot system that secures the foot without any hard edges (due to the seamless integration from EVA pad to EVA arm). This enables the use of a sleeve strap, which is lighter and moves in conjunction with your foot’s natural movement. A side stiffening plate ensures structural integrity and smooth sliding of the EVA arms during tightening.

The Team is supplied as standard with the Apex, livewire and Protoy.

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Re: Airush 2014 - new thread - 15 years of kiteboarding

Postby Mike B » Sun Aug 18, 2013 9:18 am

The AFT Core uses the same upper strap with a less intricate and non D30 base. It's a less aggressive grip for those who don't want such a locked in feel, but the strap level is still very comfortable. Supplied with the Vox & Switch,


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The AFT Core strap and pad system harmoniously incorporates the renowned comfort of the AFT molded pad with the simplicity of a Velcro fastening system offering wide support around the foot and custom stance options. With levels of performance and comfort that are not found on other straps in this category, the AFT Core is a sure favorite among riders of all levels.
SIZING AND FIT-
The molded pad is designed to fit all users and to be as ergonomic to the human foot as possible. Overall strap dimensions have been reduced whilst still allowing fitment for all foot sizes.
Lycra-covered ergonomic thermoformed EVA arms ensures an all-encompassing foot system that secures the foot without any hard edges (due to the seamless integration from EVA pad to EVA arm). This enables the use of a sleeve strap, which is lighter and moves in conjunction with your foot’s natural movement. A side stiffening plate ensures structural integrity and smooth sliding of the EVA arms during tightening.
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Re: Airush 2014 - new thread - 15 years of kiteboarding

Postby Mike B » Sun Aug 18, 2013 9:26 am

I'll get more postings and review up in time.. We have a full set of surfboards to look at, a few more specialist kites (Razor included), but sector and slayers will not change until next year :-), and we also have the new Smart Bar 5...
there are a few of the 2014 kites out there now - Waves, Razors, VX, so the riders reviews will no doubt start coming in over the coming weeks.

The brand looks very strong this year, testament to the hard work and tenacity of those who are pushing - congratulations to you all!
http://www.airush.com/2014/the-lab/kite-tech/

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Re: Airush 2014 - new thread - 15 years of kiteboarding

Postby John.B » Mon Aug 19, 2013 7:09 am

2014 Airush Wave 7m & 9m Rider Review

It was June of last year when I had a holiday romance that, several times over the last year, left me feeling forlorn… so much so that my wife even commented! I was in El Medano Tenerife when I first got to try the 2013 9m Airush Wave and I was absolutely blown away with just how good it was. However, I also had brilliant sessions on the other Airush kit I was demoing and thought that it was maybe just a few days with the perfect combination of sun, sea and wind that overly romanticised my view of the Wave.

That was until the reviews from other riders and magazines started coming in and everyone agreed that the 9m Wave was something special. It was therefore time to get a demo organised for ‘real world’ conditions back home where it once again stole a little bit of my heart and I knew I just had to have one… even my wife seemed to agree and I now have 9m and 7m 2014 Waves.

The Bag
The first thing you notice about the 2014 kite is the bag it comes in – it is a holdall type design with plenty of options for carrying it with hand and shoulder straps. There is large opening on top so the kite packs away very easily and you can extend the bag so if you wanted to squeeze a couple of kites into the one bag you could and there are some zip pockets for odds and ends. In fact it is very light which is good for travelling, but it hasn’t seemed to sacrifice this for quality and everything this year oozes quality with a real premium feel.

The Kite
The kite itself has remained graphically similar to last year and sports the very fetching red, black and white team colours. This year as well as the aramid (bulletproof) load frame the canopy is made from Tejin Technoforce D2 which, to me looks just the same but time will tell how much of a difference this can make. Apart from that without having one side-by-side to compare it to the Wave looks strikingly similar to last year and this IMO is a good thing. The deep profile coupled with the very thin LE and struts and square tips means it really does look like the love-child of the Lithium and Razor.

The Bar
The 2014 Airush Smart Bar also looks very similar to last year and seems to have had only a a graphical makeover. The bar is adjustable in length from 45-55 / 52-62 using just the bar ends or with the innovative extensions - the one bar will do 5m to 15m kites and with the PU coated depower this is feasible (the kid who bought my 2012 Razors still uses the same bar with no parts needing replaced). It comes with colour coded and tabbed lines (numpty proof) with some reassuringly meaty 500kg fronts and lengths can be changed using the extensions from 24, 21, 18, 15, or 10m if you want a bit more range or different handling you can tweak to suit.

The QR is very easy to activate and reassemble and you have the option of rigging suicide whilst still being able to trigger the safety to a single front line plus oh-shit backups on the steering lines. Depower is above the bar using an easy to reach pull-pull strap system that even at max range still remains tangle free and uncluttered. In a perfect world I’d prefer an above-bar cleat; however then there would be line wear etc. and the Airush setup is a very good bit of kit and I have never been tempted to use another which I did with previous kites I owned.

Okay – I seem to have written a lot but not really told you that much so now on to the good stuff. No. Actually now on to the phenomenal stuff….

In the Air

In the air the 9m Wave, was at first everything I remembered it to be, but now after a few sessions it feels different. This might just be me getting even more in tune with it (not that it is difficult out the bag) or they have somehow made an exceptional kite better? The first change I thought was that maybe it was faster than the 2013; however this ‘speed’ I think is actually a bit more precision and you can literally think about what you want the kite to do and where you want it to be and it does it. It is a very engaging yet at the same time a very easy kite to fly, which will seem like a contradiction in terms but it feels and behaves like several different kites depending on how you attack it and what the wind is doing.

For me coming off Razors I tend to fly it more aggressively and treat it more like a C kite and it responds in kind with direct handling, great feel, keeps power through the turn and with no lag it climbs well after looping. In higher winds around the 25 to 30 knot mark it responds brilliantly to edging moving forwards plus you can really whip it through the air and get some great vertical climb with it, but then the deeper canopy and the ability to give you a bit more float kicks in and jumps can be huge both in height and distance travelled - watch out in on-shore winds. It is also incredibly well-behaved unhooked with no sudden power surge and it lets you build up tension to pop nicely plus you sort of get the feeling that it won’t really hurt you if you make a mess of things.

The other side of the Wave that I’m just beginning to explore is it’s primary design goal as a kite for waves. To begin with it is incredibly stable. I have been out in some fluky 10 to 15mph winds on the Airush Slayer riding strapless and when I invariably stuff up the lines slacken, it drifts, recovers and just hangs there waiting for input - I know for a fact the Razor would have fell out the sky. You can really ride right at it on full depwoer and it will wait for you with no input, it also won’t pull you but when you need it you can pull the bar in for very progressive power delivery or even crank it very low in the window to down-loop and carve your way out.

In this sense it is a very adaptable all-terrain kite and other people I have spoken to who have used it describe how it does what you need it to do with no drama. You don’t really have to adjust your riding style much as the Wave somehow behaves how you want it and delivers what you need as you need it. Everyone also mentions how it goes waaaay upwind without even trying and that it also has a stupidly big and usable wind range – for me at 77kg on a 132 TT it works brilliantly form 15 to 30 knots.

The 9m Wave simply put is massive, grin inducing fun – it is the most fun I have ever had on a kite and for what I want at this point in time it is hands-down the best kite I have ever flown. It is very easy yet exciting and engaging – a serious bit of performance kit when you want but very docile and forgiving when you need it. Phenomenal.

The 7m Wave
I don’t need to write much about the 7m because Airush have pulled an absolute blinder. The have made it feel, and handle exactly the same as the 9m – just make sure you put it on the smaller, inner bar setting otherwise you might find it too fast. Double Phenomenal!
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Re: Airush 2014 - new thread - 15 years of kiteboarding

Postby John.B » Mon Aug 19, 2013 7:35 am

2014 Varial-X 12m Rider Review

First of all, if you have read my reviews on the Airush Waves you might be wondering why the Varial-X and not the Wave? Well I have not ridden the 12m Wave, but from what I can gather Airush have made a cracker of a ‘big’ wave kite… which was what they want it to be; however I don’t. I want a scaled up 9m but the physics of trying to make the design do this with a 12m and still fit the primary role of being a kite for waves and not the all-terrain plaything I want doesn’t apply irrespective of finding a Higgs bosun!

A while back I tried a very early pre-production 2014 Varial-X 9m that has been described as ‘athletic’ by Mike, but man even on a short bar this thing was like Ben Johnson at the 1988 Olympics. This did translate to some massive jumps but it was also incredibly cerebral and you had to be on you’re A-game the whole session. With no comfort button it was obstinately stuck in track mode all the time and it liked a lot of wind – the more it got the better it was. For me in choppy inconsistent and changeable conditions after about 90 minutes it was mentally knackering.

This is how my ‘big’ kite dilemma began. I did think about getting an 11m Razor for those very rare days when we get the perfect conditions for freestyle – and this is the type of riding I like from my ‘big’ kite. But having a 5-line bar… travelling with two bars… a spare setup (they are compatible with minor changes) and not having one setup small for the 7m was really bothering my somewhat idiosyncratic approach to kit… I wanted a 4-line kite. However, Airush HQ got in touch to say they had taken on-board feedback and changes were made to the final 2014 design… if the hype was to be believed then the 2014 12m VX could well be the kite I was looking for?

The kite
The 2014 kite sees a bit of a radical re-design from the VX of old with the three struts and squared-off wing tips. If the design of the Wave was inspired by the Razor and the Lithium then the new VX is a progression of this that aims to combine the Wave and the Razor. You can really see this in the kite as although it seems quite deep at the middle strut, in the sky it has a lot of C shape to it and is fairly high aspect… all giving you hints as to how it is intended to perform. Finally taking cues from the team series tech Airush have created the poly-load-frame to give the kite more structural rigidity without making it like a flying tank.

In the Air
I’ve had the 12m VX out now in a variety of conditions from just powered to very powered. To start I will compare it to the proto 9m I tried and in many ways it is very similar, but with all the wrinkles ironed out. This is because it is fast, not out-of-control fast, but good fast… like a 12m sized 9m. Which is good. Fast as in you can easily do a full down-loop transition out of jumps and you can do popped full kite-loop transitions to change direction... on a 12m!

This speed through the air and forward turning also translates to excellent jumping potential - when properly powered it can go very big. At low to medium power levels (at my weight) it jumps similar if not a little better to other 12’s in that you get okay height but mostly it is glide; however give it some wind and (for a ‘big’ kite) it has excellent climb and the height is superb. Without getting too into the whole bodyweight and kite size thing for me at 77kg the 12m VX lets you take all the power and transfer this vertically. Other fully to over powered 12m kites would not let you have the control to hold and release an edge the way this does and instead of height you get those disappointing low altitude, downwind (embarrassing) jumps.

I have been on the 12m when others of similar and heavier weight were powered on 8 and 9m kites and I never felt like I was out of control and just hanging on. All of which means you can do some serious boosting on it and this is where the down-loops help - not that you have to as you can use the sheeting and re-direct for smooth landings, but I often found myself jumping with no one around and travelling so far that I was going to land in front of another kiter or windsurfer and the ability to loop and go the other direction was welcomed probably as much by them as it was by me!

So it is quick through the air and around the window, but you can also temper the speed of turn with bar input for a tighter loop or be more progressive with it for the 'wang' factor. All of which is easy because the feedback and feel through the bar is excellent, it is direct, responsive and at no point have I had to look at the kite to see where it is or what it is doing. This all translates well to unhooked performance as it is very stable, with no darting or surging and you know what it is doing – if anything because it does react so well to input I found at times it had a slight tendency to climb, but this is my technique and the feedback lets you correct it very easily.

You can also see how the poly-load-frame helps with the handling and stability in that on the proto 9m if you did take your eye off the ball the canopy would distort on stuffing up or rapid depower and the feedback would go a bit fluky. However, on the new kite, if you know what to compare/look for you can see how the tech stops this from happening and this translate to a kite that is much tighter handling, yet more easy going and stable. I wouldn’t say it has a comfort mode as such, but you can relax and it is not full-on all the time; however I would also say to get the best from the VX you need to have some good skills and know how to fly a kite – non intermediates will definitely struggle with it’s speed and some might find it lacking in low-end if they expect to be dragged around by it. If you know how to fly it and eke out the performance tied to it’s efficiency then it has a decent low-end.

Also relaunch is not the greatest due to the aspect and 3 strut design; however I do tend to drop my kites straight downwind after really stuffing up as I’m usually upside-down or backwards and it needs some coaxing, but if you have the skills then no problems (also ignore the 6 PSI rubbish in the manual and pump it rock hard). All in all it is a blistering intermediate to advanced kite so these foibles are easily overlooked in favour of the plus points and frankly, like I was with the 9m Wave I’m amazed I like it as much as I do. This is because I simply never thought I’d find a bridled kite that was as good as the Razor in feel and performance. Don’t get me wrong they are different, but for me and my riding style I actually prefer the new VX and this I would not have said last year.

Note: I wrote this review last week after having a couple of cracking sessions on the VX and it was good to see Mike's was very similar - this is good because although I think we share a love of boosting big on kites I think we ultimately ride very differently? This means the VX (in the hands of a good intermediate) does have a lot of flexibility in use and can be different things to different riders. To this end I had another brilliant session on it yesterday from low to extremely powered and this showed that at low to moderate power it is superb unhooked, but when it picks up it turns into an absolute boost monster – two brilliant kites in one package!
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Re: Airush 2014 - new thread - 15 years of kiteboarding

Postby Mike B » Mon Aug 19, 2013 3:00 pm

regards the VX,

here is a short clip intended to do nothing else other than show you how quick, & what the kites are like in big sizes. I've not had the 6 out yet, a decent bit of time on the 9, and the 14 twice. The 14 is actually with a board member on test now, but this is the short clip I had on one of the two 14m sessions.

It was so quick I thought I would not be believed, so I tele-tubbied up with a go pro... please bear in mind this is a 14m, and think back to how your 14 handles (or used to handle if you donlt use it any more.) If the John said the 12 feels like anormal 9m, the 14 feels like an 11.

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Re: Airush 2014 - new thread - 15 years of kiteboarding

Postby 24-7 Boardsports » Tue Aug 20, 2013 10:40 am

If you want to come out to Spain & see all the new Airush kit (and some other stuff from Starboard & Severne), meet the designers & international team riders, you need to get bidding on this great prize put up by Tushingham (Starboard UK distributor) for the charity auction at the National Watersports Festival! :D

Image

Sorry for the thread Hijack! Normal service will now be resumed ;)
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Re: Airush 2014 - new thread - 15 years of kiteboarding

Postby 24-7 Boardsports » Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:27 am

Image

Image

Couple of pics of Dan (g0nz0)on the new 9m Razor & the 138 Livewire by Treacle MIne Photography from Sunday.
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Re: Airush 2014 - new thread - 15 years of kiteboarding

Postby Mike B » Tue Aug 20, 2013 5:16 pm

24-7 Boardsports wrote:Image

that's the way to do it!seriously though - see how the kite twists so one wing tip is ahead of the other? the result is forward tuning speed and no loss of power. Old kite would throw a wing tip out to brake the kite (cause inefficiency) to turn, not adjust how the power is placed..
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Re: Airush 2014 - new thread - 15 years of kiteboarding

Postby BrightonSurf » Wed Aug 21, 2013 10:30 pm

Mike B wrote:


That is a pretty impressive jump since it doesnt look that windy. Just as well you didnt land on that family on the beach :)
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