5 Things We Learned from Naish Kite Designer Damien Girardin

Tommy Kogut interviews Damien Girardin

REAL’s own Tommy Kogut recently travelled to the island of Maui to test the latest and greatest gear from Naish. While he was there, Tommy caught up with Naish kite designer Damien Girardin to learn about what’s new at Naish. Girardin comes from an engineering background and has been designing gear for Naish for 10 years! Here are 5 things we learned from our talk with Damien:

1) The Pivot is the new “do it all, hassle-free” kite in the Naish line.

The pivot was designed to be stable in the sky, with loads of depower and easy jumping. “The pivot is super forgiving.” says Damien. “We wanted to make sure that it was easy to jump…even if you’re a little wrong in your steering, you can still just sheet in and you’re fine…It has a big sweet spot and is super easy to depower.“
Naish is strongly backing the Pivot by offering it in 9 different sizes, and even basing the 2015 Alana (kite specifically for female riders) on the Pivot platform. “This year the Alana kite is based on the Pivot, which is even more forgiving and has even more depower than the Park.” With Naish putting this much emphasis on the Pivot, we know performance of the design is top-grade.

2) Naish is optimizing different kites for different wave-kiting styles.

Naish presents the Pivot as a driftable, more depowerable alternative to the constant speed and power of the loop-friendly Park. Damien talks fondly about the Pivot; “That’s the kite I’ve been riding a lot lately. It took my level in strapless way higher than it was before because it’s so much more forgiving and easier to land jumps…I don’t get too much pull in the bottom turns when I steer the kite. It’s really friendly in the harness. You don’t have a constant pull in your bottom turns and the top turn you don’t get yanked.”
Now Naish riders have a choice between kites optimized for a fast, constantly powered wave style (Naish Park), and kites optimized for a more ‘set it and forget it’ freesurf style (Naish Pivot). “Robby [Naish]…likes to not really steer the kite, he likes to park the kite and just ride… He loves it…because we really worked on making sure the [Pivot] kite drifts really well.”
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Watch the full Naish Pivot review:

3) Angled fins allow for more hold with a smaller fin.

You might see something curious on the new upcoming line of Naish twintips: angled fins. Damien explains, “In an angled fin, you get a bigger projected area in the water with a smaller fin.” That means more hold without having to run huge, bulky fins on your board. Damien goes on to say “The fin downwind releases the water easier,” providing “more grip on one side and less drag on the other.” By building fin angle into the shape of the board, rather than relying on fin-based hardware, Naish has made the angled fin concept as easy as possible to assemble and use.

4) Naish is building gear for the whole family.

With a young grommet kiter of his own, Girardin speaks from experience about the growth of kiteboarding as a family sport. “We’ve seen a growth in the amount of kids getting into kiting. I think the 1st generation of kiters have kids now that are getting old enough…. We wanted to make sure those parents have something good to give to their kids.” Quivers of kites can easily be shared between kids and parents who have a good weight difference, but it is important to have a board and bar appropriately sized and tuned to the smaller riders. Naish is putting the same build quality into boards for kids and female riders as they do the other premium boards. “Our new grom board has just as much time spent designing it as we do on the high-end boards.” says Girardin.

Shredders come in all shapes and sizes. Triple-S competitor and Naish team rider Hope Levin riding the female-specific Alana kiteboard.
Shredders come in all shapes and sizes. Triple-S competitor and Naish team rider Hope Levin riding the female-specific Alana kiteboard

5) Naish tests their kites in every condition to ensure solid performance.

Naish kites can be found at kite beaches all over the globe. The kites are tested in every possible wind condition and location to ensure consistent performance at any kite spot. “Even though we are on Maui and we get a lot of strong wind days, we have a lot of varied conditions…a lot of time it’s gusty, so we test our kites in some very real-world conditions.” Damien tells us how the different sizes are not simply scaled up or down from the prototype, but tuned individually to find the perfect feel and flight characteristics. “We really work on each size individually to make sure it works really well.”
Naish is so committed to R&D, they even do something most kiters will think is crazy: traveling away from consistent winds. “We got lucky with a few lightwind days,” Girardin says about testing the Naish Fly at home on Maui. “We are even flying to Oahu to get some light-wind too.”

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