The Kite Mag: North Surf Tech

The Kite Mag: North Surf Tech

16 September 2020

Feature: The Kite Mag #39

North's 2021 Surf Collection features in The Kite Mag #39 The Big Picture. Find out what's new for 2021 Surf Technology. 

HOW HAS THE CARVE SURF / STRAPLESS FREESTYLE KITE AND ITS PERFORMANCE EVOLVED THIS YEAR? I BELIEVE YOU’RE USING SOME NEW LIGHTWEIGHT CANOPY MATERIAL.

"For 2021, the Carve has a fresh evolved design with a more playful feel, primarily due to construction and bridle changes. It has a much wider wind range, better depower in strong winds, more power control when riding waves, and a noticeably better high end. We wanted to maintain the surf tough construction but keep the weight down, so we’ve replaced the Dacron panels with a new 75g heavy-duty canopy reinforcement material. This reinforcement helps to protect the lighter inner main canopy body, while allowing the kite to be more responsive in the steering and depower, with a much smoother and cleaner entry. The new lighter material in the profile transition panels along the front of the kite is softer and a little more forgiving than the heavy-duty Dacron, so when you pump up the leading edge, the tension from the elongation doesn’t migrate into the canopy."

AND HOW DOES THE SHAPE AFFECT ITS FLYING CHARACTERISTICS?

"The Carve’s responsive two-stage arc enables tighter turns without excessive amounts of power. As the arc shape becomes narrower, the kite uses less of its projected area, giving it a smaller turning radius for tight- er turns, and less pull or power in turns. The lower aspect design with swept leading edge is very efficient for its size, and more importantly, the relaunch is super-quick. There are only small sections of the kite on the water at a time – it doesn’t lay flat on the water – so in most cases you don’t have to pull the rear line – simply rotate the bar. This really helps if you’re riding waves and drop your kite as a set’s coming."

IT SOUNDS LIKE THE CHARGE SURFBOARD HAS HAD QUITE A REWORKING. WHAT’S CHANGED?

"By popular demand we’ve introduced a smaller 5’5/23L Charge, ideal for lighter weight (65kg) or more advanced riders. Then the Charge has a subtly refined performance surfboard outline for 2021, the hip-width is reduced for a faster rail-to-rail transition, and we’ve made it more responsive by narrowing the tail slightly. Designer Jaimie Scott likes to think of it as a refined version of the previous model, just super fine-tuned: “I’ve tried to smooth it out and add some more drive, so it feels a little faster and snappier. I’ve done this by tuning the low-entry surf rocker for faster acceleration, and tuning the rocker under the back foot to add drive and speed.” Jaimie has also slightly tweaked the deep single to slight-double concave bottom, allowing for a fast driving bottom turn and responsive pivotal top turn with easy release."

"The Charge is our pick of the boards for down-the-line wave riding in medium to large waves. It is a high-performance surfboard that when coming off the bottom, pulls you vertically up the face of a wave effortlessly, allowing for radical surfing tight in the pocket, through and above the lip. Being a high-performance surfboard gives the Charge the ability to mix it up on the strapless freestyle platform, great for a rider that prefers more length, or the look of a pointy nose, or has just one board for surf and strapless. Performance-wise the Charge is designed to grip and release, turn sharply and aggressively, and pop on demand for air – all you need to boost strapless freestyle and shred in the waves."

AND WHAT ABOUT THE CROSS AND COMP SURFBAORDS?

"The Cross surfboard has undergone a full redesign for 2021 to handle a lot more top-end speed, with a new quad concave bottom that feels livelier and quicker to get going. The Cross is more of an all-round crossover board, blending the line effortlessly between surf, strapless freestyle and freeride. We’ve kept the user-friendly size and volume of the 2020 version, but we’ve changed the design considerably to incorporate a lot of the great crossover features of our Comp strapless freestyle board into the Cross. All the changes are subtle, but new for 2021 is the increased tail rocker with a smoother, progressive nose-to-tail curve. Reduced nose and tail width add control at the top end – from between your feet to the very tip, the tail has been made narrower by about 4mm each side. The outline curve is one of the big factors in the design of the board – the new outline fits into waves a little better and turns more sharply and easily."

"Refined in 2021 for increased top-end, grip and control, the Comp strapless freestyle board has a new narrower compact outline with narrow, sharper rails for added speed and response. The new tail channels give responsive grip and assist with hard and fast landings, while the new smooth progressive rocker line is designed to stick with you through manoeuvres and helps the board to pop on-demand."

SO QUITE A REWORKING ALL ROUND?!

"Yes. In all our 2021 surfboards, newly added reinforcement has been kept to high-stress areas in order to maintain the board’s overall flex. DualShock EVA inserts under the deckpad provide comfort and impact resistance underfoot, and the Carbon Innegra Futurelite wireframe forms a structural skeleton to support the laminates. This maximizes strength without losing flex and allows the board to load and release power on demand for more drive and responsiveness, which is key for charging big waves as well as absorbing impact when landing strapless freestyle tricks. And all boards now feature new industry premium FCSII Fin Boxes, which allow more rake on the fins and a stronger, cleaner integration of the fin boxes into the board. The new North Hexcel Coremat Fins have been designed with an ex- tended tab to cover the gap where you might normally need an infill plug."

WE HEAR YOUR DESIGNER HAS MADE OVER 20 IMPROVEMENTS TO THE BAR SYSTEM! TALK US THROUGH THE MAIN ONES AND HOW THEY IMPROVE THE RIDER EXPERIENCE.

"We listened to all the feedback from last year and yes, Hugh Pinfold, our Director of Design and Engineering, has been very busy, so busy we can’t list it all! One of the refinements is a new omnidirectional grip pattern offering increased resistance to slippage, designed with a comfortable natural grasp and tactile offset finger bar so you can feel when the control bar is oriented correctly. For 2021, we now offer a new smaller sized adjustable bar (38-43cm), recommended for freestyle and when using a smaller wave or freeride kite. We’ve removed the holes on the side of the cleat base and have added a spherical lower section – this makes kiteloop bar spins easier and reduces the amount of sand entering the mainline cavity of the multi-bore tubing, resulting in less internal wear."

HOW INVOLVED WERE YOUR TEAM RIDERS IN THE DESIGN PROCESS AND WHAT HAS THEIR FEEDBACK BEEN?

"We have a close-knit product development team that is constantly working together to develop the best quality products available on the market. All our riders provide vital feedback for the development process. Whilst this year with Covid, we’ve been unable to bring everyone together to provide feedback in person, we did ship the relevant gear to Jesse Richman in Hawaii and have him test it in the range of different conditions available on his doorstep. We also shipped gear to Camille Delannoy in Brazil, who was lucky to be able to ride whilst most of the world was in lockdown. Camille provided feedback on our Comp strapless freestyle surfboard directly to Jaimie who is based in New Zealand."

HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR EQUIPMENT DEVELOPING FOR THE SURF DISCIPLINE?

"As our riders dare more greatly, seek heavier waves, and push strapless freestyle to new limits, they push the equipment to another level. Our development team are constantly exploring ways to stay ahead of the game, to give riders that confidence in the gear that enables them to keep defying gravity. “The team riders really put a kite to the test, so the kites must be stable and do as they are expected to in extreme maneuvers,” says Chief Kite Designer Pat Goodman."

"Surfboard Shaper Jaimie Scott explains: “Surf kiting equipment will evolve with the performance of the riders. I can already see progression in our riders from our 2020 boards to our 2021 boards, and as they push 2021 to the limits we’ll see where we need to adjust again to enhance or improve in the directions they are heading. It really takes riders pushing next level performance for designers to observe and develop. We have some firm direction mapped out ahead to create the ultimate kite and powered, wave riding boards.”"

WHAT ELSE IS NEW FOR NORTH WITH THE LATEST LAUNCH?

"The 2021 Surf collection dropped on 2nd September 2020 alongside our new Big Air and Freeride collections. Like the Carve, our iconic King of Big Air kites, the Orbit, has also undergone changes to the bridle and replacement of the heavy Dacron with lighter weight reinforcement material. The feedback on this from the market has already been phenomenal. You’ll notice the Orbit is even lighter in the steering impulse and more playful feeling. The stability is improved, making it even easier to fly, yet it maintains high-end performance and kiteloop recovery.

And we’re also excited to launch our new board for lighter riders – the Astra Freeride / Big Air twintip. The Astra is modeled after the Atmos, with a hybrid basalt technology laminate layup to give the board a slightly more forgiving flex, combined with narrower stance and smaller sizes to make this the ideal board for lighter weight riders."

Photos by Frankiebees, Ydwer and Caio Pacheco.

Read the full The Kite Mag North Surf Tech feature here.  

Discover the 2021 Surf Collection here