Feb 5, 2009
Author: Shane Thompson
Size: 9 m2, 10 m2 / Style: Depowering hybrid C five-line / Wind range: 16-30, 14-28 knots, expert (180 lbs) / What’s new: Shape, new concept, lower aspect ratio, wider wingtips
Totally reworked and redesigned, the 2009 Vegas attempts to maintain its legendary C-kite performance while covering a wider range of conditions and rider styles. A three-in-one concept with different line-attachment setups, the Vegas can be customized for more depowered freeriding or for the constant pull and stability preferred by the new-school freestyle crowd.
Bar setup and safety systems
North’s narrow-gripped, colour-coded bar has a comfortable textured feel. Named the 5th Element, this bar set has evolved over the years and is considered an industry leader in safety and functionality. The fifth-line safety ensures no pull from the kite while engaged and the iron-heart chicken loop releases with no friction even under extreme pressure. For 2009 the throw-line length has been reduced, while the vario cleat continues as an above-the-bar trim system with a handy customizable throw-line length. The fifth-line leash connects just above the chicken loop and allows for hassle-free untwisting of lines and can assist in water relaunch. Kook-proof and colour-coded end connections ensure proper line attachment and setup.
Key kite features
The Vegas’s high depower design is made possible by North’s leading-edge cam battens and swept wingtips. This year’s canopy is visibly chunkier, with a lower aspect design over previous years. Other quality features include deflator pins for strut valves, dump valves to deflate and role up quickly, kook-proof and colour-coded connection points, self-rescue handles and a short batten in each wingtip for improved steering.
The Vegas successfully retains a true C-kite feel, with power and pull that’s smooth and predictable. Vegas followers will enjoy the power ban and smooth powered kite looping. Look for a slight increase in power and pull, which also translates to bigger jumps and more hangtime. Unhooked, the Vegas pulls nicely off the front lines but does not overreact to subtle input. The new-school freestyle guest testers were impressed with the positive bar feedback, making it ideal for keeping the kite’s position in the sky.
For freestyle moves, this kite delivers excellent pop and quick-turn reactivity. One dedicated Vegas test rider was ready to trade in his 2008 after a long session on the 9 m. Testers also noted the increased sweet spot offered up by the new Vegas while unhooked, which makes learning and dialing in those new tricks easier than ever. Relaunch capability was improved again this year. The canopy shape and line set enable either SLE-style relaunching or the traditional fifth-line-style relaunch.
Freeriders looking for a kite that can enlist confidence in a range of conditions can look to the Vegas. With enough depower that comes on within arm’s length, this year’s Vegas bridges the performance gap between the waveriding and freeride Rebel.
The Vegas continues to miss out without a single-point inflation system. Some riders probably won’t care, but many riders expect this convenience. You do save time packing up the Vegas because the system for deflating and rolling up is quicker than most single-point inflation systems.
The Vegas offers excellent freestyle and new-school performance with enough depower that lets freeriders dabble in an increased range of conditions. Its real character shines when aggressive freestylers want to push the limits of powered tricks and unhooked riding.