The most unusual kite board on test here. Designed specifically as a beginner kite board the Airflow is unique in that it is an asymmetrical twin tip design. The front of the board is the same as the back, but the heel side of the board is radically different to the toe side. The under hull shape is even more radical with channels under your heels, and differential rocker, increasing as you move away from the heel side rail. The board supplied to us had slipper bindings with rubber heel straps, similar to the simpler wake board bindings. Constructed in a glassfibre construction with a thermoformed plastic skin and internal graphic design the board is quite a head turner on the beach.
On the water the board rides like no other. Its sheer size means that it is easy to get up on with in relatively little wind, and its long water line length helps it track straight. There is an extraordinary amount of rail, and bevel under your heel making the board very slow to turn, it requires a certain knack to get it right but once you are up and going it is a stable platform. This board is definitely not a high speed or high power
design, the rocker on the toe side edge is so radical by the tail that the board literally sucks itself to the water at speed. Taking a big kite on this board is most definitely energy intensive, but as a first time board it is relatively easy to use with the added bonus that you do not have to turn it around when you want to go the other way.
Although the fins were high performance milled G10 designs they were long and located by a single central bolt, with 2 wakeboard style side attachments. Under grounding, especially slipping sideways these fins will surely rip out and so a couple of spares would be advisable.
Likes - attractive unusual design, easy to grasp the basics.
Dislikes - fins look fragile, board is very heavy and tiring to ride at speed.
Specs Length 215cm Width 47.5cm
Fins 4, 2 central tip fins + 2 heel side rail fins.
Weight 141b 2oz Price £499
WIPIKA OLRY TWIN TIP
Designed more to be more of a dedicated twin tip for performance riders we decided to include this board in this category simply because it has excellent all-round performance for the more ambitious rider. Designed by world Champion and twin tip pioneer Franz Olry, the Wipika is constructed in sandwich technology, the board is light and attractively finished in metallic blue. Quite wide and long in comparison to other dedicated twin tips we have sailed its length gives it the ability to plane with ease, while large fins at the tips of the board make it very directionally stable for a twin tip design. It requires little wind to make it power upwind and surprisingly enough it goes up wind better than any other design of board we have tested so far. Rails are relatively thick, but the rocker line makes good use of them giving plenty of grip in reserve when the kite starts to overpower you. The extra length of the board behind your back foot tends to tire your back leg more than a directional design, but it is something you will get used to. A good board for ambitious riders, who see them selves getting into the radical side of the sport as soon as possible. Although relatively tricky to pick up the very basics of kite boarding its the kind of board you will really grow into.
Likes - Up wind ability is phenomenal, stable with plenty of grip and easy to use for a twin tip design, an excellent board to 'grow into'.
Dislikes - the length behind the straps can tire the back leg when overpowered, can feel a little sticky at high speed, perhaps a bit technical to use for the absolute beginner.
Specs Length 188cm Width 42cm
Fins 5 - two on each tip plus a central fin on the rail under the heels.
Weight 8Ib 4oz Price £649
Made with an unusual autoclaved carbon deck the Gorge Animal is primarily aimed at making kite boarding easy for the beginner/intermediate. The overall width of the board is 47.7cm, which is the second widest board on test. It is unusual in the fact that the board is completely symmetrical, bar a central fin box at one end of the board allowing you to set the configuration of straps and fins to ride directional or twin tip. There is a great deal of planning area underfoot, and coupled with a formidable amount of rocker makes this board quick ;o plane and easy to get rail bite at slow speeds. This board is happiest using smaller kites, which is better for the beginner. It cruises upwind sappily with very little power and at slow speeds is very stable, you can lave a dance on the deck without bothering it too much, making it an excellent as a first time board. What it doesn't do is flat out blasting and gig jumps as the rocker line is too curved making the rails misbehave at high speed, but this is not what this board is designed to do. Overall a good beginners board, that will help you get up and going in no time.
Likes - Very easy to sail for the first time beginner, plus option of using is a twin tip or directional.
Dislikes - a little on the heavy side and unstable under extreme power.
SPECS Length 184cm Width 47.5cm Fins up to 9 optional fin placings. For directional or twin tip configuration.
Weight 14Ib 4oz Price £649