Tuned up for 2018 with massive top end performance – we review the 2018 Naish Dash
THIS TEST FIRST APPEARED IN ISSUE #92 IN MARCH, 2018
TEST TEAM NOTES:
We only tested the previous Dash six months or so ago, but we got an advanced test on this brand new model in January which is released this March. We have previously found the Dash has an incredible ability to retain control in strong winds, so we were excited to say the least!
Aesthetically, the Dash is a real player from top to bottom. At the kite there are some nice touches, including Naish’s own one pump design, the ‘Octopus’, which is an internal system with all the attachments built into the struts, hidden cleanly away (note: you need to release the valves on the struts when putting the kite away, and then remember to close them before you pump the kite up!) The Dash pumps up via a Boston inflate mid-size nozzle that’s found on most pumps and is popular with many brands.
Naish’s Quad tex canopy cloth is clearly strong and the canopy rigidity of the Dash is further enhanced by a new closing thread seam on the leading edge which allows you to pump the kite up for all your worth to get an ultimately solid frame. Naish have also introduced ‘Bladderlock’ that allows you to lock the bladder in place by using the Velcro patch in the end of the bladder sleeve, preventing the bladder moving around when you inflate, deflate and roll up your kite. As we found in last year’s test, everything about this kite is designed for aerodynamic prowess.
At the bar there’s an easy reach trimming cleat while below-the-bar the chicken-loop is a rigid, hard wearing plastic and set at a wide circular shape, so although it’s fairly short in height (which brings the bar closer to you) it’s set nice and wide, so very easy to hook into again if you unhook. The release and re-set of the safety is in the top few models in terms of smoothness and simplicity and the swivel above the chicken-loop is equally matched in terms of high end user-experience.
As we test a lot of gear, we do tend to notice when a centre line isn’t covered in plastic as we get used to butting our hands up in the centre of the bar, so when doing that against exposed rope, you can feel the rub a bit, but when this is your system you’ll quickly get used to it and leave a gap. There’s no doubting the smooth sheeting action of the Naish bar up and down the centre line… the bar also packs very neatly without the stiff plastic coating.
So, in terms of feel and performance, if we start with the sheeting, the Dash has that really nice personality that all kites designed by Damien Girardin have: a very, very sweet feeling all the way along the throw (if you were a Park owner, you’ll know!). The powering up and down of the kite is like turning the volume knob on a high-spec stereo. When you depower it to zero, you hear absolutely nothing. No crackling, no electricity from the amp; just complete shut off. Very few kites have that sheeting range that feels so consistent, smooth and light. When you sheet in the power doesn’t ever spike on the Dash, so riders looking for a more sheet-and-go power source should look towards the Pivot instead.
Very sporty, agile and nimble, the Dash is all about about forward flight and quick turning response. The precision is excellent.
The Dash is hungry for wind, though… and it needs plenty of it. Over the few weeks we had the eight metre in Cape Town, believe it or not, we never got near this kite’s top end. We were never pulled off balance even though the Dash allows for such a high board speed. That rider confidence is important too because the Dash needs to be handled with precision steering to get the most out of it. For sure you can go out on the Dash in rough conditions, cruise and feel comfortable carving around the ocean, but you need to get dialled into it before you can get more and more out of it. Tune in to exactly which part of the window it performs best in for boosting and it will take you up. The sweet spot it there, it’s just smaller, but that all means that the cross-over nature of the Dash is high, both for wave riding and unhooked freestyle because of its eager forward flight and precision handling.
We can imagine that designer Damien Girardin has had an immense time testing this kite at Kite Beach on Maui, blasting out to the waves on the reef, smashing out some super controlled turns and then boosting and looping powerfully. The Dash is very balanced in all three of those areas because it’s always driving forward. In fact, the younger local Naish team riders we’ve seen out on the Dash here in Cape Town are ripping out some super-charged loops on the shorter 20 metre lines. Precise in control, they’re getting such a smooth arc.
Everything about the Dash is silky-silky smooth and it has a complete refusal to back stall. It’s hard to know when you’d feel like you’ve got too much wind on this eight, though and we could have got away with a nine most of the time.
Basically, the Dash is fast and incredibly well tuned, flies forward beautifully and turns instantly. It’s pre-programmed to loop smoothly and can be a great all-round ally in strong winds, but it needs a lot of wind for its size for an intermediate to get good jumps from it. The Dash needs a more precise send and positioning to get the most of it. It takes time to earn your wings. When you do get it right you can get good boost, but in general the Dash is all about the sensation of connection and response from the kite in flight to make wild shapes.
Dial in to the Dash below
The performance freeride category is such an interesting sector to test at the moment. A couple of seasons ago brands were trimming down their offerings and most were trying to produce one all-round freeride model, but now we’re seeing two or three offerings in the same sector from one brand. The Pivot has more sheet-and-go drive at the bar. The Dash sits further forward and needs more movement to generate power. It’s more tuned for freestyle and for boosting requires a more expert touch to get the most out of it. In mega winds you can feel incredibly assured as long as you enjoy a fast kite. Go for the slightly shorter line option and up a size of kite and you’ve got an exhilarating kite loop machine.
One of the most precise, joy-stick-like controlled steering kites out there.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
We’d sacrifice a few points at the top end for more low end grunt. But switch your thinking and ride a bigger Dash and enjoy a naturally dirtier loop and more canopy for extra float.
DASH BALANCE POINTS:
Build quality: 8.5
Full package: 8.5
Low end: 6.5
Top end: 9
Steering speed: 7.5
Turning circle: 6
Bar pressure: 5
Water relaunch: 7.5
Drift: DT – but drives forward so needs steering
Boost: 7 (Higher in advanced hands)
Ease of use: 5 Intermediates / 8 Advanced riders
SIZES: 14, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5m