The Helix returns to the Naish line-up in name only for 2009. The kite has been completely redesigned to clearly set it aside as Naish’s top end, all-terrain performance kite. The outline makes the kite incredibly quick and nimble with a very direct bar feel. The number of struts has been reduced, significantly lowering the aspect-ratio. A new bridle platform and reworked leading edge arc come in the new Geo-Tech generated C shape. Along with the addition of the low drag wing-tip and direct response steering, the result is a super-fast turning, superior gliding kite with great upwind ability, easier water re-launching and a more direct bar feel. Naish are pitching this at intermediate to advanced riders searching for the highest level of all-round performance as well as those looking to course race.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
The efficient Octopus single-point inflation system works well alongside the simplicity of the four line hybrid set-up. The bar is on a 1:1 system, can be adjusted from 19 to 21 inches and feels very comfortable with a lovely asymmetric grip. The safety release works around a short 5th line system that comes through the bar reaching up to the splitting of the two front lines. The centre line is doubled up, running to a pulley where the front lines split and come back to the chicken loop. It works very smoothly and the depower is on a cleat system below the bar – popular with most manufacturers now, and although easy to reach and safe, isn't always easy to adjust under load when you're powered.
There is a stopper above the bar that is easily adjusted to set the level that the bar goes out to, which works very well, reducing the amount of depower. We had this out on a couple of days, one day of 20 knot conditions and the other in a lot of wind – gusting 30 – 45 knots. It was silly at times. Whether it’s the sigma shape or not, the smoothness of the power delivery and the softness of the kite, the power really does go down to nothing, instilling huge amounts of confidence.
The relaunch is rapid, encouraging you to try even more. You can really jump high on this – we're talking monster jumps. Chris must have been covering 150 yards downwind with some airs. As it depowers so cleanly so you can really dig your edge in and build up speed before pulling down on the bar and boosting. The take-offs are sweet because there’s so much refined control at the bar. It’s almost silent. The depower does go to absolutely nothing, but to get to that level you really have to stretch your arms out a long way.
There’s quite a long throw between where you have maximum power and no power, and that difference means you can be very precise and the kite still turns well even depowered. Of course you can tune it down by pulling on some depower so that you don't have to stetch so far, but you lose some of that immense boost power at the bar. The kite loops are very quick because the kite is so fast and responsive, putting a huge grin across your face. We didn't try it in waves, but this speed, precise depower and lack of stall at the end of a kite loop or turn unlike some hybrids, mean that we think it would be a very good hooked-in wave kite.
The naish Helix makes it ridiculously easy to have fun. Perfect for anyone from a rider who has just done a course to someone wanting to go out and boost freestyle. If you're confident in strong winds you will have a lot of fun on this kite, but in general if you're looking for a kite that will get you out and about in the most varied of conditions, making them easy and fun to ride in, then you've just found it.
Precise control, speed and handling even when depowered.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
How far away you have to push the bar for absolute 100% depower . However, the fact that 100% depower is possible at all is good and to bring that amount closer, just pull on some more depower through the cleat.
16, 14, 12, 10.5, 9, 8, 7 and 5m
Read our mini-test on the 2008 Naish Helix by clicking here
Read our test of the 2008 Naish Cult by clicking here
This test is in issue #37