Home Gear Airush Varial-X 9 & 6M (2013)

Airush Varial-X 9 & 6M (2013)

Introducing the SL-C concept. The Varial X is known for C-kite performance on a four line high depower platform; the SL-C has been designed with a C shape arc outline for direct response and great unhooking characteristics, while the swept back wing-tips and V3 bridle give great range and relaunch capabilities. The performance of the Varial X has been extended this year, offering predictability, depower and four line ease-of-use, now with an increased focus on unhooking, pop and boosting characteristics. An important part to its improvement, the Varial-X design has added even more structural support to greatly maximise the direct feel and performance. Ideal for riders with aggressive handling in the waves, freestyle and freeride, the Varial-X will give you that C kite feel that you have been looking for in an SLE design.
Airush kites have a certain shiny feel to them, whether it's the paint they use on the canopy or what, we don't know, but these feel very 'Airush'. There's always just enough reinforcement without going over the top, the aerodynamics are clean, the one pump system is nice, tidy and robust and you get an adequate back pack with a good long zip around three sides and a pocket for your bar. The Airush bar is great, we've really enjoyed the Smart bar for the last few seasons. One bar fits all sizes as you can change the length of it, the chicken-loop system is very easy-to-use and functional, the chicken-loop size is good, it's easy to ride suicide while still leashed to safety and the system can easily be switched between five and four line mode. The trimming is above-the-bar via easy-to-reach tabs that attach to webbing straps, which could perhaps be a bit easier to see if you're fully depowered or not.
We tried the nine and six metre sizes in this range, and boy what different machines they are!
Even in what you'd consider normal nine metre conditions we were already trimming the nine metre for less power. It's an absolute beast. The low end is fantastic and as soon as it's above your head you can feel your harness pulling up as the nine metre has bags of lift and torque from the off.
What's immediately impressive on the water is the forward drive and speed through the window, something that continues to impress through kite loops, although we were so powered that these were mainly whipped out on the way down, rather than the way up as we were carrying so much power. But it would cope either way as the forward drive is very clean and you don't get yanked all over the place. The nine metre is a handful at the bar though. You can feel the kite, it's very punchy and ballsy. The jumping performance is superb. If you can handle it, and you like big airs, you will love this. We made some of our biggest boosts in Cape Town on this, maxed out and flying like a rocket ship and with enough hang-time for everyone else. Although the power delivery isn't gentle, what is delicate are the landings. You can land with grace from 30 feet up and after travelling half a mile like a fairy on a daisy. There's so much lift generated that there's no need to keep redirecting while soaring downwind. The sweet spot is considerable for jumping; you don't need have perfect kite handling skills either, you just need good board skills a lot of the time to be able to handle the juice that this kite dishes out.
The unhooked performance is also good, but you need quite light winds as this is a grunty specimen. In general the power delivery at the bar is like a sports car, very direct and punchy and one thing to make a clear note on is that the power delivery comes in quickly, which will either put a bloody great grin across your face or a look of surprise.
The six metre does actually carry some familiar attributes to those of its older brother. The steering is nice and direct; still positive but much less physical and, unlike a lot of tiny kites, it never flies away from you. It's immensely controllable in insane conditions. We put Jim's wife on it and it transformed her session and whacked a massive smile across her face in 40 knots; she was riding around without a care in the world as if it was 20 knots and cruising on a nine. Much more agile than the nine, of course, but the six isn't a whippet and is very predictable, also providing surprising jumping potential for a six; a quality it of course inherits from big bro. The hardest job for a small kite isn't boosting you high up in strong winds, it's bringing you back down with grace, which this manages brilliantly. There's loads of feedback above your head and the inflight entertainment in those conditions is spot on.
If you're up to the job of handling the nine metre you will get some massive, massive airs out of it. There aren't many kites that can jump as well as that. We just felt that we'd like to have seen everything brought down a few inches. As we were often very powered, we found ourselves sheeting out quite a bit and, while we were absolutely loving the jumps and could handle that power, none of us are that tall, and would have appreciated the bar sitting just a bit closer rather than up against the stopper. The six is a very special kite. You may think there's not much need for a six in your arsenal, but the low end's surprisingly good, for on a surfboard or a twin, and when it does blow, this is an absolutely impeccably well behaved machine for all levels, from cruising and boosting to unhooking and shredding and spinning its way along waves. Job well done.

Photo of Airush Varial-X 9 & 6M (2013)  Photo of Airush Varial-X 9 & 6M (2013)  Photo of Airush Varial-X 9 & 6M (2013) 

Among the biggest jumps we've had on any 2013 model on the nine, and storm chasing with the six.
Whimps need not apply for the nine. There's not much to change on the six. Maybe the trimming could be a little easier to see how much you've depowered the kite, but that's nit-picking.
SIZES: 14, 12, 10, 9, 8 and 6m
Build quality ? 8
Full package ? 8
Low end ? 9
Top end ? 7
Steering speed ? 7
Turning circle ? 7
Bar pressure - 7
Water relaunch ? 7
Boost ? 9
Hang-time ? 9
Unhooked ? 4.5
Easy of use ? 6
Build quality ? 8
Full package ? 8
Low end ? 8
Top end ? 9
Steering speed ? 7
Turning circle ? 5
Bar pressure - 6
Water relaunch ? 8.5
Boost ? 8
Hang-time ? 8
Unhooked ? 7
Easy of use ? 8.5

Added: 2013-07-17

Category: Gear

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