The guys over at International Kitesurf Magazine get to test more gear than most people could dream of. Here’s a detailed review on our dedicated surf and foil kite, the WAVE SST.
At A Glance
The new Wave SST from Slingshot is the first surf-orientated kite they have made, SST stands for Slingshot Surf Technology. The kite itself borrows DNA from the Rally and the RPM with a compact direct connect bridal and a Compact C canopy profile. It is, however, a totally new beast in its own right.
Slingshot have always been famous for their Surf Tough Construction and the Wave SST has been built with heavy conditions in mind. The canopy is made from a new heavy duty Rip Stop Surf Grid material and extra panels have been used in a gridded quilt pattern to provide unparalleled strength.
While it is built tough however, it is also light; three integrated SplitStruts help to reduce the overall weight. The IRS bridle that was launched on the new RPM has been tweaked specifically for the Wave SST. It’s been shortened so there is no danger of it wrapping around the tips if the kite gets rolled in the surf.
Back in 2004 Slingshot pioneered the One-Pump system, for 2016 a fast inflation valve has been added so pumping up the 8m takes no time at all. Kevlar reinforcements have been placed on the critical areas to ensure a long life and the kite is available in 4 sizes, 6m, 8m, 10m and 12m.
Kite bars are important to me as a rider, you spend your entire session interacting with them and yet they are all so different. I’m always on the look out for the perfect bar, and the 2016 Compstick from Slingshot comes pretty close… In the past I’ve never really been a massive fan of below-the-bar depower set ups, so seeing a new quick release mechanism and an above-the-bar depower tweaked my interest early on. The floats are integrated into the bar horns and the whole set up feels very polished.
The new Sentinel chicken loop release system is a push-away affair with a line twist module on the top. It works brilliantly and we can’t find fault at all here. The EVA grip on the bar is tougher than some on the market, but still very comfortable and the depower above the bar features a moveable trim block so you can lower it if you have short arms to ensure it is easy to reach.
Oh, and it’s got magnets… Yep MAGNETS! Best idea ever for keeping the depower rope tidy, where others use Velcro that inevitably snags the lines and eventually becomes less efficient Slingshot have used two magnets to ensure the depower rope stays where you want it to. The whole set up is fantastic, one of our favourite bars of 2016 so far…
In The Air
If you’ve ridden the Rally or the RPM then you might be surprised when you first fly the Wave SST, it is a totally different animal. First up the kite feels very solid in the air, even in gusty conditions it is well behaved and the IRS bridle works to smooth out the bumps in the air. The other impressive thing about the kite is the huge wind range it has.
I took the kite on a month long trip to Western Australia and the 8m was the only kite I took. We had it out in maxed conditions with full depower and also on days when riders were on 10’s and 12’s. The top end range of the kite is immense and the low end of the 8m is pretty good too. However, the kite does behave a little differently at either end of the wind range.
At the low end, we feel the kite performs at it’s best, which suits its wave credentials. When there is no depower engaged the kite is dynamic and responsive. When the kite is at the top of its range though you really need to engage a lot of positive bar input to initiate the turns and this can take some getting used to.
After a couple of days riding the Wave SST, we were dialled into it and it is very different from a lot of the wave kites we have flown. The throw on the bar is quite long, so as you hit the top turn sometimes it doesn’t depower as much as you might expect it to. These characteristics threw us off at first, but once we were in tune with the Wave SST, we began to fall in love.
Even maxed out if you put the correct amount of input into the bar you can have the kite flying around the window as you ride the wave. The steering became intuitive and the kite started to feel like an extension of our arm. Perhaps the most impressive thing though was the drifting abilities. This kite floats in the air like a balloon as the lines go slack and we had moments where we felt sure we were going to put it through the rinse cycle. Instead, it hung, as if suspended on strings, long enough for us to get the lines in order and engage the power once again.
We took the kite out on a twin tip, just to see how it behaved and discovered this is a thoroughbred machine as the name suggests. It does jump, and you can unhook with it, but it won’t set your world on fire unless you are ripping it up on a surfboard in some good swell. As the name suggests this kite is meant to be ridden in the waves and that is where it performs best.
It’s a fantastic park-and-ride wave kite, and once you are dialled into the handling it’s a very good turn and carve machine too. We think the Wave SST will suit a variety of riders, but be prepared to discover something a little different if you are switching from the Rally. The handling is quite unique.
Relaunch, as you would expect, is fantastic, we rolled it in the waves once (sorry Slingshot), but it came out smelling of roses and we didn’t get the bridle tangled at all. A bit of playing on the beach revealed there is pretty much zero chance of the bridle catching, so if you want to take this kite out of your comfort zone, you can rest assured it will have your back!
Huge top end wind range, dynamic handling at the lower end and amazing drift capabilities. One of the best bars on the marketplace right now compliments the kite to create a fantastic overall package.
Handling is a little slower at the top end of the range; this can be accounted for with more dynamic bar input though.
I was won over by the Wave SST during our few months with it, it’s a very different kite, but it does what it says on the tin exceptionally well. The drift and float down the line is very impressive for a kite that has been so well made. The bar is one of my favourites on the market at the moment, and this combined with an awesome kite makes for a compelling set-up!