Feature: The Kite Mag #36
Having successfully engineered a comprehensive kite, board and foil line up in record time this latest release sees North turn their eye firmly to the ‘performance freeride’ sector of the market. We caught up with North Brand Director Mike Raper and Chief Kite Designer Pat Goodman to find out more.
So a new arrival to the North Kiteboarding kite range? What does the Reach bring to the party and why should we want to ride it?
MR: The Reach is the kite we’ve been missing - the kite that does it all. If you were marooned on a desert island this is the kite you’d want to have with you. Not only does it perform in all conditions, but it’s instantly familiar and high-performance, without being difficult to use.
What are the main characteristics that it has borrowed from the other kites in the line up?
PG: The Reach is a calculated fusion of the Orbit, Carve and Pulse.
From the Orbit, it’s inherited good kite loop recovery, boost and amazing hangtime. During a loop, a lot of kites will pause before they climb back up, but the Reach has a smooth, consistent catch and doesn’t hesitate to come back around.
From the Carve, the Reach has inherited the direct and responsive steering that makes it so fun to use in the surf.
From the Pulse, we’ve borrowed good pop for freestyle trickery. It lifts you up, allows you to check your edge, and gives you enough height for freestyle maneuvers. Then what’s unique about the Reach is that in the larger 13m and 15m sizes it’s a powerful lightwind-specific kite. Nowadays a lot of people switch to a foil when the wind gets lighter, so they don’t need anything bigger than a 12m. But there are still riders who need big, powerful kites for twintip riding. They want to go out and have fun in 12-15knots, and to be the last one on the water they need a bigger engine.
Which team riders have helped in developing the Reach, and which riders will be using it as their main kite?
MR: Our professional athletes are all specialists in their specific riding styles, but the Reach was never meant to be a specialized kite. With this in mind, we took an entirely new approach to its development.
PG: I worked with our internal design and engineering team to develop the Reach, then we sought the final stamp of approval from the team riders in the Philippines before we sealed the deal. MR: Jalou, Jesse and Nick were blown away by the kite’s performance. I remember sitting on the beach with Pat and the team riders after our first session, and Nick saying: “This is the best 3-strut kite I’ve ever ridden”. Jalou was so excited by its surf characteristics, while Jesse just couldn’t believe how comfortable and familiar it felt.
We heard a rumor that Pat had called it the best kite he had ever designed - is this right, and why he is so stoked on it?
MR: I think he’s stoked because he feels such a great sense of personal achievement in creating this kite. I think it’s his crowning achievement to date.
PG: It’s the kite that works with anything you want to put under your feet. It has no limitations. It’s not necessarily better for wave-riding or boosting, but it’s the most versatile kite I’ve ever made. The Reach would be my personal go-to kite; I’m not a hardcore wave rider or freestyler, but I like to dabble in a little bit of everything – it’s the perfect kite for me.
What level of riding do you need to be at to ride the Reach - would a beginner get on okay with it?
PG: It’s not a beginner’s kite but it is a very friendly performance freeride kite, with strong upwind capabilities. It feels light, fast and playful, and it’s going to cater to everyone, from beginner, all the way through to freestyle and surf rider, and it is ideal for foiling. The Reach is for the rider who craves simplicity, travels light and doesn’t want a big quiver.
Will future iterations of the Orbit, Carve and Pulse now move a little more into the Big Air, Surf and Freestyle department?
MR: I think our kites have already become iconic in their specialized disciplines. The Orbit dominated the 2020 Red Bull King of the Air – it is the King of Big Air! The Carve and Pulse are continuing to prove themselves on the World Tour with our team riders Camille Delanoy and Bruna Kajiya.
How does this fit into your release schedule - should we consider it a 2020 or 2021 kite?
MR: The Reach is a mid-season kite. The release timing of the Reach is ideal for Northern Hemisphere spring conditions. We can look forward to the 2021 season in August 2020.
Do you now have a 'complete' line up of kite do you think? Any plans for a mono-strut?!
MR: In our quest to provide a clean, simple, retailer-friendly quiver, I believe we’ve found the perfect balance. We don’t want to be that company with 1000 kites. A 3-strut kite, like the Reach, will always be more stable than a mono-strut. At North, we’re all about simplifying, about paring everything back for more pure performance. We’ve always dreamed of making one kite you could take anywhere, and I think we’ve nailed it. The Reach is your ultimate desert island kite...
Words by the Kite Mag.