Saturday, 10 July 2010

Slingshot Rally kite 2011 Review

Slingshot Rally Review by Angelo S2AS team

Ok so after five days testing the new Slingshot Kites and kiteboards this is the one kite that really blew me away, I was testing the rally kite in the Gorge, USA this is the testing ground for 3 of the Worlds top brands due to the varying conditions found in the Gorge.
As I pull the rally out of the bag the innovations on the kite this year are plan to see the biggest one being the return of Split strut and I’m a huge fan of this, more info about this later in the review, The bar and lines is the Comp stick bar with 700lb line this is about 30% stronger then other kite surf brands lines as standard, Also the Pig tails on the end of the lines have been re vamped this tells me that Slingshot is a company who listen to there customers as previous years pig tails had no problem but after a bit of use they looked very warn.
Other Features on the Slingshot Rally Kite:
One Pump – No need to pump up your struts separately and gives perfect pressure to each part of the kite un-like a single pump system
CSS – Slingshot’s Centreline Safety system the best Re-ride System on the market very clean and works time after time
Split Strut – Adds two connection points from the canopy to each strut one on each side of the strut this makes the strut part of the canopy and does three things really well..
1, Extra lift due to the tighter canopy when jumping what it does is hold the tension in the canopy more then normal to create more hang time,
2, Twice as strong as a single canopy to strut connection hence surf proof so if you do drop the Slingshot Rally in the surf your more likely to get it back out in one piece. It also improves the up wind drive of the Rally due to the canopy being more aero dynamic than other kites helping the kite to fly closer to the edge of the wind window.
Ok so I thought we should get the kite on the water asap to see what its really like the wind was blowing about 20 knots and I had a 10mtr Rally Delta kite.
Renowned for gusty winds the gorge is far from forgiving to kites that are not stable in the sky so I was to say a little nervous… but Slingshot tell me that the stability of the kite is amazing good so just get out on the water and give it a try.
So I’m connecting the lines to the kite and I can see the very small bridle has NO pully’s, Wow we have become so used to pully’s on kites that I did not even bother to check.
So just to make sure I was not about to launch a kite that a factory has released with no pullys in error I asked Slingshot “you sure this kite does not need pullys?” nope its perfect without they said.. as they said that two kites on the inside of the Sandbar fell from the sky and I’m not talking unknown brands these kites are big players in the industry, As if I needed reminding how gusty this place is on the inside.
Great but I've got to get out so one of the guys from Slingshot launches me and immediately I can feel the responseness of the kite with no pullys, its just so precise with the kite above my head (not the best place to have a kite in gusty conditions like these) I put my feet in to the straps still sitting on the sandbar powered up the kite and sent it… The kite lifts me off the sandbar about 10 feet in the air and down into the water.. (water starts like this still turn heads) I rode away to find some clean wind so I could test the re-launch and stability within 40-60 mtrs the gusty wind had gone and the conditions were strong but clean..
So the first thing I do is what 90% of beginners do wrong they over fly the kite when trying to learn to jump so I did this and the kite lost power now this is the point the kite should fall from the sky.. but not this time the Slingshot Rally kept its shape and rocked back in to the wind window to regain power above my head.. Only the very flat kites normally do this and the Rally is far from a flat kite It’s a Delta Open C kite.
So super impressed with that I then un hooked the kite with it above my head and tried to make the kite over fly by pulling the bar from head height down to chest height but the kite just did not want to over fly. Even with the kite fully sheeted out, so at this point I was more than happy with the stability of the kite time to check out the kites performance on the water..
So to start when testing a new kite the key things that need to be tested are as follows:
Kite Speed
Safety System
Build Quality
Up Wind Performance
So the first one Stability we have already covered so with that does I moved on the testing the kites speed in the air and though the turn.
Now the kite does turn very fast for sure faster then the Slingshot RPM but at the same time you have good feel of where the kite is even though the loop and I’m sure this is down the fact that’s there’s no pullys on the kite as for kite loops it kite loops well but not like the RPM or the Slingshot Fuel however with the kite flying fast though the air you can see where the huge lift comes from and also the low end power because you can sign wave the kite with ease to create good apparent wind.
Safety well if you have never flown a Slingshot kite from the last 2 years your missing out for sure because they have by far the best center line safety system on the market, Slingshot call it the CSS (Center line Safety System) This is a true Re-Ride system, Lots of center Safety systems from other brands say they can re-ride if activated on the water out of your depth, but after testing over 90% of them I can tell you this is NOT the case 9/10 times your in for a long swim back to the beach but with the Slingshot CSS no swimming is needed. As you fire the Slingshot Css the bar goes around 10mtrs away from you and the kite fully 100% depowers and will hit the water. Then your in the water with the kite down and to be honest just to look at it you would think.. no way I’m in for a swim back to shore but your not.. just pull the safety line until you get back to the bar then hook yourself back in and you will see the safety line feed it’s self back though the bar until it has got to the end of the line, then the kite will be leading edge down in the same position as if you just crashed the kite. So now just pull on the outside line and up the kite will go. This whole process takes no more than 30 seconds. Now that’s very good for any re-ride system
The Build quality on the Slingshot Kites have always been one of if not the best in the world well the Rally Delta kite is no different and to add the construction Slingshot have re-issued the Split strut feature in the Rally kite so for all of you that do not know what split strut is and what benefits you get from having this feature in the kite first off it helps upwind performance how? Well the strut is actually part of the canopy so this makes the kite more aero dynamic and helps the kite to fly further forward in the wind window and in turn helping with de-power and up wind performance. Then it adds to the strength of the kite all other kites on the market have one connection from the canopy to the strut well the Rally has two one each side of the strut.
Now all that lift I was talking about early on in this review some of the extra lift is down to the Split strut too by having two connection points to the canopy instead of one this will make the canopy tighter and in turn hold more power in the canopy hence giving you more lift.. Remember when you jump this kite make sure you have a lot more space down wind that you would normally be happy with because the float you get when jumping the rally is unreal.. did I already say this? Haha that’s how good the lift is.
So what does the kite perform like unhooked? Is it as good as the Slingshot RPM? or even the fuel? well if you want a quick answer..
NO however I don’t think Slingshot even wanted it to be as good because if you want good wake style and unhooked performance 90% of kitesurfers will look at the RPM Kite but saying that it does unhook well a lot better than the Slingshot Octane. Unhook this kite and it will not pull you off your edge but if your looking for an all-round kite and want to learn to unhook then the Slingshot Rally Delta is the kite for sure its easier to learn on and not as aggressive as say the RPM and Fuel so as a starting block perfect.
There is always a trade off Slingshot tell me you can not get any kitesurf kite that offers top end performance/wind range and unhook performance its just not possible and any one who tells you there kite does that is wrong. I think Slingshot have made this kite to fit perfectly in with the range they have at the moment
Slingshot Key – beginner weekend warrior
Slingshot Rally – Intermediate lives by the water gets more water time
Slingshot RPM – Intermediate- Advance Wake style/unhooked
Slingshot Fuel – Power house – freestyle
I think Slingshot have pulled off one of the best kites I have ever seen from the company in years
So if your keen to try the new Slingshot Rally give us a call at Surface2Air and we can arrange a demo for you.
Poole: 01202 738448