Testing is where the magic happens
At North Kiteboarding, we have an array of specialists that make up a Team responsible for the creation and evolution of our innovative and high quality products. So when it came to testing this year, we took everyone to Cape Town. Flying in from all over the globe -Maui, Germany, Sri Lanka, Brazil, New Caledonia, UK – the key players met to make a plan of action for the next 10 days of testing.
Cape Town is a great destination for testing thanks to its reliable and variable conditions. Days often start with light winds, ideal for testing the lower end performance of kites, those bigger sizes and efficiency of our boards. In the afternoon the 'tablecloth' can be seen covering the iconic Table Mountain, from where the Cape Doctor delivers the much loved, and strong South Easterly winds. These conditions are exciting yet tough, but ultimately they are optimal. We really need to push our kites and boards to their boundaries, and it is here that we develop them to retain high performance characteristics, even on their limits.
At North Kiteboarding we rely on customer and rider feedback in order to reach our goal of giving every rider what they want. It is because of this value, that we put a lot of emphasis on the design team working intensively with a handful of Team Riders. Sky Solbach (Rider) and Ken Winner (Kite-Designer), and Tom Court (Rider) and Ralf Groesl (Kite-Designer) are perfect examples of how these longstanding relationships and open lines of communication between the duos, have had a huge impact on the products of today.
Sky and Ken focused the wave riding and foil test days, choosing a variety of spots along the coastline to test all aspects of the wave riding products. Meanwhile, Tom and Ralf headed up the freestyle, wakestyle, freeride and big air disciplines, where they were joined by Aaron Hadlow, Tom Hebert, Reno Romeu, Craig Cunningham, and Colleen Carroll, collectively more feedback helps to further refine products.
Other than developing existing products - often one of the biggest challenges as it is hard to improve on already high performing gear – it is motivating to see innovation brought to life. For 2015, the Vegas concept changed, a specific wakestyle bar was brought to market, we introduced Hadlow's 6 line setup with extra trim options, new materials were sourced and implemented into our products and the POP Boot evolved and continued to be successful. Now if I was to tell you that these products were tested, tuned, tweaked and finalised in Cape Town last year, can you imagine how excited we are for next years gear!?
It's hard to not go into too much detail as I don't want to spoil the surprise for you, but for those 10 days of testing it was inspiring to see visionaries, great minds and talented riders come together, to pour knowledge and passion into the same thing; now that really is True Kiteboarding.
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Dice - The designer’s perspective
Ralf Grösel is the designer of, and mastermind behind the highly successful Dice. Since its launch last year it has proved to be a bestseller, and is still the reigning champ as the most sold Kite from the North Kiteboarding range, EVER!
Ralf, what's the secret!?
The Dice is amazingly versatile with a lot of playful character.
As you were designing the Kite, did you have a specific type of rider in mind?
We built the foundations of the Dice by taking influence from the Neo concept. From this, we were able to target a wide range of riders. The Dice is an all-round performer, similar to the Evo but lighter due to its 3 strut design which is orientated towards enhanced handling.
Throughout the development process, we realised that everyone within the R&D Team enjoyed the Dice. From Wave to Wake and Freestyle riders, no one was left disappointed.
Can you tell us a little more about the three strut concept teamed with a four line bar ? The three strut concept delivers a lighter and crisper feeling to the rider via the bar. Being light in the hands is an important aspect of Wave riding as the Kite has to travel with the rider in a smooth, consistent way. The disadvantages come within the stiffness the structure has in the canopy however, we were able to compensate against this with a new bridle geometry and attachment points on the front tube.
Why is it so important to use the right line length?
Line length is essential for handling and positioning of the Kite within the Wind Window. Short lines make the Kite more reactive and responsive. Longer lines can improve low end performance.
What is the best line length suited to each size of Kite?
It's quite simple really. I suggest using 24m lines for 12m and above, otherwise I would use 22m.
What are the benefits of using the Dice regarding the following:
The Kite has a very round canopy radius, similar to a C-Kite. This means the Kite can turn very tight and fast.
The Dice has very close looping abilities to that of the Vegas although the horizontal pull is not as extreme, which can help you to push your limits. The Dice is Tom Court's favorite Kite for extreme Kite Loops and is also my first choice when it comes to strong and gusty conditions.
The Dice has great jumping abilities. The Kite pulls you extremely high giving you the opportunity to perform new and old school tricks. I would recommend that riders use the hard steering setting on the back pigtails for high and aggressive jumps.
Alongside the NEO, the Dice has very good drift. This performance helps the rider to fully concentrate on the Wave and not on the Kite.
For unhooked maneuvers, the Vegas is The machine however, the Dice has no backstall tendencies at all and great unhooked pop. This characteristic makes it a very versatile Kite for Wakestyle moves.
Ralf, who should buy this kite?
Kitesurfers who want to combine best of both worlds (Freestyle unhooked and Wave riding) For those looking for specialist, specific styles of riding there might be some small disadvantages. Ultimately, the Dice will make any rider happy on any board in any conditions, every single day.
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Get involved! Tell us your wishes and help to make North Kiteboarding kites even better! As reward you´ll have the chance to win a brand new DICE 10m!
We want your feedback! To get started please visit http://www.northkites.com/products/kites/dice/ and let us know what you think about the DICE 2014.
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Roll the Dice - The Episode