Equally suited to first time kiteboarders or high-performance freeriders the Luigi is a freeriding board that incorporates supreme comfort, incredible ease-of-use, effortless upwind and planing performance, all in a package that won’t become obsolete in six months. Whether you're cruising, jumping or wave riding, every session is made possible, fun and easy thanks to the board's shape, flex and deck design. For riders looking for versatility and no-limits riding, put your trust in Luigi and you won’t be disappointed.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
It could be the stripey graphics but the Luigi looks much flatter than it actually feels. We thought the Luigi must be Mark's out-and-out freestyle machine when we unpacked it, but after consulting Shinn's dub-dub-dub site it appeared the Luigi is his freeride model. And actually once in the chop it isn't very flat or technical to ride, or at least it becomes less flat when you're riding it and putting plenty of forces through it. More on that shortly. The pads and straps are good. No fuss, they aren't the softest we've ever seen but provide very good grip and a nice mix of softness yet lots of support while maintaining a comfortable amount of foot movement without absolutely locking your foot in one position.
On the water it has a very clever stiffness and flex which caused for some different responses among the test team at different times. First session was windy seven metre weather and we found out lightweights need not apply as they struggled to pour as much weight through the board as is needed to increase the rocker. Bully wasn't around for that testing session but a couple of days later we got him out on a 12 metre in 25 knots and his 86 kilos of pure man muscle had no issues with anything. “It went really fast.” he said, “and it's really easy to control.”. Meanwhile those sub-75 kilo riders found it very twitchy and incredibly tiring on the back foot trying to keep the nose out; characteristics of a board that was just too stiff for those riders in those particular conditions. However, as the wind dropped over the next sessions the board really came to the lighter riders – strange you might think. It feels like it has a double concave and, like Shinn's boards of the past, has a very smooth riding feel to it in controlled conditions; like you're hovering on a little air cushion and that its promoting a very upright, over-the-board stance. We could liken it to how a bridle makes a kite feel; when you have no bridle like on a C kite it's much more raw and full-on in its delivery. The Luigi has this floaty riding sensation, as if there's something between you and the water. The over-riding sensation is one of smoothness. It's moderate in speed; not the fastest superboard race weapon, but not slow at all. It's lively and reactive, giving impressive response when you pushed it to do something, which is opposite to how you think it will react when you're cruising. Having both character traits is a great quality in a freeride board, allowing those who want to cruise to do so, while not holding back the more adventurous.
This is the sports tourer of the kiteboarding world. It's got performance, but has that softness and comfort for long journeys in the saddle. The response and reaction is softer than full-on freestyle boards but is very progressive, giving time for riders who perhaps aren't as quick or aggressive at generating pop to still be able to do so. It carves very capably and has built-in levels of comfort, handling chop as efficiently as it
does the flat stuff. It really changes character for different riders in different wind strengths; lighter riders will find it lots of fun and very responsive in light and medium winds up to 20 knots before they need to change down a kite size, whereas heavier riders will really be able to pile loads of pressure into it and get so much back from it as the wind picks up. So choose your sizes according to your usual wind strengths accordingly. 128s are back for lots of us, as are smaller kites!
KW LIKED: The fact that a regular sized board made lighter winds way more fun.
KW WOULD CHANGE: Adding more freestyle performance would take away from its freeride qualities, which is where it's aimed, so we're a bit stuck here...
SIZES: 134 x 44, 132 x 42, 130 x 40 and 128 x 39cm
This test is in issue #46