2020 Wave Kite Review
Three of kiteboarding's most coveted wave kites. One epic back-to-back showdown.
Part I: Construction & Bridal Systems
TJ Gulizia is a co-owner of Big Winds, and has managed the Big Winds' kite department for nine years. Before that, he taught thousands of people to kiteboard in both South Padre Island and Baja.
Video Transcription: Part I
I'm TJ from Big Winds here in Hood River on the beautiful sandbar on a fall day to review three of our favorite 2020 wave kites. Here to my left we have the 2020 North Carve. Yes, the new North Carve 9 meter.
Behind me right here is the 2020 Cabrinha Drifter 9 meter. And right here we have one of our best sellers the Duotone Neo 9 meter.
So all three kites are the same sizes. They will be rigged on to their respective control systems - same bar length and same line length at 22 meters.
But before I pump these kites up let's note the weight of these kites. When I took the Duotone Neo out of the bag and put it on the scale it weighed 6.6 pounds.
The Cabrinha Drifter, believe it or not, was the identical weight at 6.6 pounds.
The North Carve came out a little bit heavier at just under seven pounds. It weighed 6.95 pounds.
I think a lot of these kites' weight has to do with materials. So let's come on over here and check out the materials on these kites.
So for 2020 Duotone is using a new lightweight nylon. It's the same Trinity three by two, which means essentially the ripstop runs three ways this way and on the grid two ways this way. This design allows for a canopy to be stiff but at the same time have a nice torsional flex when looping the kite or turning the kite aggressively.
So the Trinity X material is very stiff but also allows for flex. It's made by Teijin which is the number one supplier of nylon in the world.
Let's move over to Cabrinha because these guys are using a new proprietary material that's made by the Neil Pryde factory. This stuff is called Nano Ripstop and essentially for every square or quadrant of Ripstop that you would see in most other nylon materials these guys have doubled it.
So if you look closely the Ripstop is still two by two, like it had been, but now it's just run with super small little squares.
So they've doubled the Ripstop. This makes for a really stiff canopy at the same time really solid. So they can minimize how much Dacron they're using.
And to talk one one step further on the Dacron they're using a high tenacity Dacron. So you can see that in the grid here on the Dacron less Dacron used essentially means a lighter kite. So lightweight at 6.6 pounds. Lightweight at 6.6 pounds.
Let's look at the North Carve. Now North seems to be using just the standard double ripstop nylon called D2, which is probably one of the more tried-and-true nylons out there. So nothing fancy, nothing flashy. They kept it simple, but you can see a little bit more use of Dacron in the reinforced areas. So at just under seven pounds this 9 meter kite weighs 6.95 pounds.
Okay so now let's check out some of the features here now that I've got all three kites pumped up. We'll start with the North Carve 9 meter. Here at the wingtip you can see the steering line
bridle has three different adjustment points for lighter bar pressure towards the trailing edge, a little heavier bar pressure towards the leading edge. So cool you you've got three different points here out of the bag. It's set up in the mid point for mid bar pressure range. Beauty of both worlds.
OK going over here you can see nice reinforcements all the way along the kite. If I flip the kite over we'll take a look at the one pump system on this kite. This really reminded me of Cabrinha. It's got the sombrero that covers what looks like an air lock valve very similar to what Cabrinha uses. No adapter needed when pumping this up.
You'll see all three struts are connected with an external tube. This reminds me more of Duotone here the way they've got the clamps and I’ll clamp all three of these shut. They claim that this is a Kevlar reinforced strut system here. So super stiff on the struts. This is looking like a really good kite.
One thing I might add is the battens that they used on the far panel here - single batten there and a single batten here - for a total of four battens on this North Carve 9 m.
We'll move over to the Cabrinha Drifter 9 meter. Let's start at the wingtip again. So the
Cabrinha Drifter 9 meter you'll check out on the wingtip. Out of the bag it's set up at the "A" setting which is for a lighter steering impulse, lighter bar pressure.
You can switch it over to "B" if you want a little bit more bar pressure or if you've got short arms and you just need less travel for maximum depower. So "A" "B" setting versus one two three on the North Carve. Same kind of reinforcements up the leading edge they've got some really nice bumpers right here I think. And then one thing that neither the other kites have is an offshore or onshore setting on the leading edge bridle.
So out of the bag it's set up as an onshore setting for better drift. But if you need better upwind ability with this kite you can move this bridle up to this knot and up to that knot right there into the offshore setting. It's so you don't get pulled off the face of the wave in on offshore conditions.
The one pump system on this kite - again it's very similar to the North Carve. It's got that same little sombrero cover right here. But I will say the attention to detail is right here with these silicon covers. A nice silicon cover here on the tube and on the clamps. So we'll clamp all three of these shut.
OK so now here at the 2020 Duotone Neo 9 meter you'll see that Ken Winner has done something that he's used over the years on the Duotone Rebel. He uses the same adaptive tip on the Neos as well. So there's a yellow and a blue setting out of the bag.
It's set up on the yellow knot for a soft setting. So very similar. Out of the bag the other two kites have the lighter bar pressure, but if you want a little bit more bar pressure you would move this below this knot here to the blue setting for higher bar pressure.
Another interesting thing here is this bungee. This bungee is attached to a ring on the inside here. That's to prevent your outside lines from going up and over the kite when it lands down on its nose and then shifts so the leading edge is facing the rider. Typically when a kite does a 180 on the water the outside lines get wrapped up and over the top of the kite. Those bungees tuck those outside lines underneath the leading edge preventing that.
So here the adaptive tip is totally different than those two kites. Nice reinforcements and
then there is a setting on the leading edge bridle as well - a yellow and a blue setting. Yellow indicates better drift. Blue indicates a little bit better upwind ability. So think of this as a wave setting or a free-ride setting. The free-ride setting offers a little bit more depower as well.
The one pump system on the Duotone Neo - this is a proprietary thing called the Airport valve. It's got a big opening here and essentially allows for the pump to lock into place and then you can deflate from here. But as with all other Duotone kites, they also have a dump valve over here. So you've got two different spots for deflation.
We'll get these clipped up, rig up the kites and take a look at the bridles real quickly. OK, so I'm about to rig the lines up to the kites and the first thing I notice with the North Carve is that it's a static bridle. No pulleys. No moving parts on the leading edge bridle.
Let's check out what the Cabrinha Drifter and the Duotone Neol have over here. The Drifter has a single pulley. So one moving pulley and then static the rest of the way through.
Let's check out the Neos leading-edge bridles. For the Neo - the Neo has a pulley but no
moving wheel on it. And for the most part that blue little bullet right there prevents that pulley from moving any further, or traveling any further up the bridle than that. As a matter of fact the movement on this pulley is very minimal. I think the pulley only moves forward when you hit your quick release, allowing the kite to dump all power. Otherwise it's pretty much static up against that
bullet point right there. Let's rig these kites and see how they fly!
Video Transcription: Part II
OK, let's see how these things self launch, considering I'm the only one here at the beach and the guy behind the camera is a windsurfer.
Pretty straightforward with the 2020 North Carve. The 2020 Cabrinha Drifter also self launches really easy. I gotta say that was one of the more effortless self launches I've had.
The 2020 Duotone Neo set itself up really nicely for this self launch here. Put a tug on that outside line and it comes up perfect.
Let's take a close look at this 2020 North Navigator Control System. I think the biggest takeaway on this is the simplicity. So the Navigator Control System has red on the left green on the right. It's got a flat PU tube and I gotta say it's really smooth when sheeting in and out.
We're on 22 meter lines which is stock for this 2020 North Carve. The depower system is above the bar. So I can reach up here to pull to depower, which immediately affects the kite. If I need more power - and I do right now - I just let the rope loose in the cleat.
This is a one-bar solution. However they do make two different sizes. The Navigator Control System is offered in a 45 to 50 and a 50 to 55 cm. You can make that adjustment down here by flipping and engaging the plus or minus under the bar for a wider setting or a narrower setting.
Taking a look at the 2020 Cabrinha Trimlite bar. They've chosen white and black. That's a little bit confusing to me. I'm normally used to having red on the left-hand side. So I guess the indicator here is that they did print "Cabrinha" on the front of the bar here. So I do now know that white is on my left hand side black is on the right hand side.
So the Drifter here on its control system - the one that's available to us now - this is very similar to the North Navigator. It does have the switcheroo here. You can flip it with this medium bar to a wider or narrower setting. Right now I have it on the widest setting.
Like the North it's an above the bar trim system. Right here is the cleat. This is called Cabrinha's TrimLite System. Their chicken loop is the Quickloop - super simple with a push to release right here. I've got my leash attached to the safety line that runs through the PU tubing.
There's a manual unspin right here so I can unspin my center lines manually. Everything's really nice and clean on this 2020 Cabrinha Trimlite Bar.
The Click Bar that I have here is technically the 2019 model. For the 2020 there's no difference other than the color here and here being red versus orange. Same Click Bar though for 2020.
The Duotone Click Bar - I think everybody knows about the Click Bar these days. Pretty simple and
I wasn't even at full power. Now I am! Crank four power clicks for power. Eight clicks to fully depower. You can feel it pretty quickly here that its fully depowered.
So this 2020 North Carve kite feels really good. I almost have enough power to go out on the water. It loops tight … with very little flutter.
It's pretty simple to tell that this kite really wants to drift backwards versus rip upwind. But what I like in my wave kites is something that allows me to go into four line slack mode.
We'll put it out on the water here in a second after flying the other two kites. So far I really like the handling on this North Carve kite though.
Let's take a look at the 2020 Cabrinha Drifter kite. So again the wind is super light right now. What I like in a wave kite again is its loop-ability and there is no flutter in the Drifter. I mean there was no flutter in that loop right there.
Good power. Nice depower. That canopy is solid. So with the Drifter again if you put it into four line slack mode running towards the kite it just wants to hang out.
At the edge of the window it feels rock solid. It doesn't jet up like a free-ride kite normally would. So if I'm on the wave and I need to loop the kite quick no flutter at all.
The 2020 Duotone Neo - well boy it's got some power in the loop. This Neo has always been kind of known for its overall power and it can generate some serious power.
So I know the wind is a little bit fluky. It's a little off and on. But yeah I get a lot of power out of the loop on the Neo.
Okay let's see how the 2020 North Carve reacts when I hit the quick-release. There was no hesitation for the safety line to run through the PU tubing on the North Navigator bar.
You may have noticed I had to give it a good little tug there.
So here's some of my takeaways on the three wave kites we just tested and took a look at. The new North Carve 9 meter - I gotta say I love it for its simplicity. It's a quality build with a Navigator control system that simply works. It's so simple.
From the seat belt mechanism on the chicken loop, all the way to just four lines - low V or "no V" as you should call it, to how quick it responded when I hit that quick release and downed itself on
the water, leading edge down no snags. Super clean. I think North has set themselves up for success. I mean this is what we get after twelve months. They've got a solid future ahead of them.
The 2020 Duotone Neo - I mean what can I say here ... We're in Duotone country. The Duotone distributor, Boards and More, is that building right over there. We love Duotone over here in Hood River.
There's a reason these guys are building a quality product. The Neo I would say was the more powerful of the three kites I tested today. Granted it was in light wind but I felt powered up on that Neo. I really love how lightweight and nimble it feels. I mean that kite out of the bag at 6.6 pounds - I
think they really hit the mark with a lightweight very very reactive powerfulkite for 2020. Nice work Ken Winner and the Duotone team over at Boards and More.
For the 2020 Cabrinha Drifter - this is hands-down my favorite Drifter that's come out year-to-date. So I've been flying Drifters since 2012. In the 2020 Drifter with the new canopy material, it felt so lightweight and nimble. It may not have had as much juice as the Neo but because it's so quick and turn-y I feel like you can really work for that power.
So maybe not as much grunt as the Neo but if you need the power you can pile it for the power. The Drifter hands down is like one of the best drifting kites on the market year after year. Cabrihna has come out with a great product and with the new canopy material a lighter weight drifter - I love it.
It's really hard to say which one I favored because all three worked really well and, granted we're in the Gorge, it's a flat water day. We're testing wave kites in a unique no wave situation, but you can just tell how these kites react when you hit four lines going slack and the kite doesn't want to fall out of the sky. It just sits there waiting for its input.
These kites are gonna be like cheating on the wave. You're gonna be able to just let go of the bar and focus on the wave and ride.
So there you have it. The 2020 North Carve, Duotone Neo and Cabrinha Drifter.
Thanks for joining us. Hope to see you here in the Gorge!