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Lightwind Bliss: The SBC test team looks at lightwind gear

Jul 14, 2008

Author: Shane Thompson

The days of cursing the wind gods and sitting on the beach praying for more wind are over. The lightwind gear scene has exploded, as both kites and board models enlist performance that ups the fun factor in the less-than-ideal wind conditions we all experience.
    Most of the new bridled breed of kites produce more power per square metre and have better handling and steering performance in their high-powered bigger sizes. New dedicated lightwind twin-tip boards are designed to plane quickly and rocket upwind with less effort. They efficiently generate speed and power, which also feeds the pull of your kite. Kiting with a larger directional surfboard is excellent for light winds. With equipment evolution, you can easily increase your days on the water with the right kite-and-board combo. Depending on your current setup, you should consider a new kite for light winds, a dedicated lightwind board, a new surfboard, or a combination of both a board and kite.

Kite Power Deconstructed
Hybrid and Bow
Lightwind-specific kites that generate the most power per square metre have flatter canopy shapes and are supported by today’s advanced bridle systems. These flatter-canopied kites, like those found in the Cabrinha Contra and in the Freakdog Eze , produce more power and pull than the traditional 18 and 20 m2 C kites of old. They combine this pull with quicker steering and excellent depower ability. Also worth checking out is the Flexifoil Ion 3. Other remarkable powerhouses include the flat, delta-shaped designs found in the F-One Bandit and North’s new Rhino .  The largest size in the range is 15 or 16m2. For the right lightwind kite size, consider your weight, skill level and the size of board you want to use. For those heavyweights above 190 pounds, go for the largest kite in the range. Light to medium-weight riders should consider the second-largest size of the range. Depending on your skill level, you may not require a new lightwind board to turn lightwind days into epic sessions.

C Kites
Some C designs, like the Naish Torch and North Vegas, are still being built in the larger size of 16 and 18 m2. These kites will generate good grunt and excellent pop for unhooked freestyle tricks in light winds. It’s essential, however, to have a good, wide lightwind twin-tip to generate the pop and grunt needed to have fun in light winds. The direct steering and quick turn initiation of these kites also let you generate more power as you pump the speed into a surfboard or a lightwind-dedicated twin-tip.

Lightwind Boards
A few of our favourite lightwind twin-tips are the Nobile EXT , Jimmy Lewis Flight Deck, Liquid Force WLF and Litewave Wing . These boards are very wide with flat rocker lines and generate a ton of power. They have great pop and release and can get you jumping and trying new tricks in delicate amounts of wind. If you don’t want to buy a new kite or hate pumping up that old jumbo C that doesn’t turn at all, get your hands on one of these and eliminate those frustrating days of slogging downwind.

Directional Surfboards
If you enjoy the directional surf style of riding, almost every manufacturer has dedicated surfboards that can double as your lightwind weapon. Wider, floatier and slightly larger surfboards are the best for using in light winds. The extra flotation and the larger fins will let you plane up fast even with a smaller kite. Using a surfboard in light winds is a great way to develop more efficient kite-flying skills. Going strapless is the best way to get the most out of light winds. It lets you walk around on the board and find the most efficient edging technique. You can also work on your transitions and carve turns, which are essential skills to develop solid technique for waveriding. Some of our favourite surf lines come from the expansive Naish line, the Jimmy Lewis surf shapes, Liquid Force’s Rawson shapes and Cabrinha’s S-quad series.

No-Wind Alternatives
Don’t let those no-wind days get you down. Stand-up paddle surfing can turn no-wind days into a barrel of fun. You don’t even have to ride them in the waves to have a great day. Just paddling down the lake or coast will increase your core strength and balance. Jimmy Lewis has a ton of different SUPs, specific models dedicated to waveriding, others to long-distance paddling, and all-around models that provide great crossover performance for flat water and waves. Specifically, the Aquaglide SUP (pictured here) and Naish EVA have been our test favourites. The SUP is an ideal no-wind activity the whole family can enjoy. With a quiver like this, light wind is not a problem.

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