There is an overwhelming pressure in the kiteboarding market place to classify kites as “freeride kites, freestyle kites or wave kites”.
Here’s the problem – it can be really tricky to classify some kites because they will likely do a lot of things well. This issue really raises its head when discussing wave kites. As kite surfing continues to grow in popularity, the quest for the perfect "kitesurfing/wave kite” continues. In order to find out a little more about this - I asked Gary Siskar, Global Brand Manager at Liquid Force Kiteboarding, “What makes a great wave kite?”
Gary’s two cents
“A lot of brands classify their kite as “this kite is for freestyle”. We certainly talk about it a lot. Let’s talk about waveriding for a minute: Julien Fillion (Liquid Force Kite Designer) kitesurfs with the Envy while Jason Slezak (Team Manager) kitesurfs with the NRG. So how do you explain that to people – which one is the right wave riding kite?
What we always try to talk about is “what kind of conditions are you in” and “what type of feel do you like in a kite”. For me the kite is more about being an engine than being a specific style. So when it comes down to how you feel the response – do you like power steering or do you like not power steering. That’s really what it’s all about.
Personally, I like something that I can just park when I’m riding waves I like it to drift down the line and be able to under run the kite – that’s why I use the Envy. And that’s maybe of the conditions I usually ride in (more side off or side conditions). But then you talk to someone that’s riding in a little more onshore and they need something that’s a little more forward, a little more whippy – something that they can follow and they’re not necessarily parking it and letting it drift because you can’t do it in those conditions. That’s why it’s important to find out what type of conditions people will be riding in.”
So what kind of conditions are you riding in?
Gary is right. It’s time for us to start thinking more about where we ride and what kind of conditions are on offer.
Most of the best kitesurfers on the West Coast are using kites that turn quickly without creating too much pull through the turns. If you're riding in side to side-onshore conditions, kites like the Liquid Force NRG will likely give you the best performance.
If you spend your time riding side-shore or side-off conditions a kite that drifts more will likely perform better for you: the Liquid Force Envy is a good example.
So how do we define a wave kite?
It’s hard to say. Some people will tell you that a kite has to be fast through the sky and not create too much pull through the turns. Others will tell you it needs to drift really well. Well those will more than likely be two different kites!
Don’t forget to ask about the feeling
It’s OK to give a kite the “wave kite” stamp of approval. But make sure you ask yourself (or a REAL Pro) what conditions you usually ride in and what kind of feeling you are looking for when considering your next wave kite. That may just make the difference in helping you select the perfect kite.