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/
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.
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.