Naish offer a very comprehensive range of kiteboards; each model with unique performance characteristics. The seven models in the Custom line are grouped into three ranges: Global, Fish and Gun. All 2009 Customs are brand new shapes in brand new constructions. Super snappy and versatile, their responsiveness, speed and drive are unmatched thanks to a premium full-wrap PVC construction, shaping and quad-fin configuration. The pre-ride hype for the Global 6'0 reads: 'Versatile, snappy and fast like the 5'7, but less extreme, offering smoother, easier reliability.' Splendid!
TEST TEAM NOTES:
CHRIS: Another really good looking directional board. The outline isn't too gunny and there's not too much of a hip either; just a well-proportioned shape. Build quality is top notch, definitely a step-up from last year (as I have that board) and the fins are really good. Loads of attention to detail there and they feel strong.
NEAL: Yeah nice surfboard outline without being too rounded or straight. I really liked the thinness of the board which meant that the bottom turns were solid and with little bounce. On the water it instantly feels lively and accelerates well on your way out to sea. The pads and straps are comfortable and it was good to have some padding in front of the back strap to be able to ride upwind easily without slipping about with your back foot out of the strap. The straps are the thick twin-tip style wide designs, are very comfortable and easily adjustable but personally I prefer the thinner 'windsurfing' style and very basic straps that let you get your weight over the rail easily toe-side. No doubt that this rides upwind fast and copes with chop really well.
CHRIS: Quad-fin set-ups give you good speed, grip and drive but not as much pivot as a thruster. It's not quite so 'grrr' in the turn, if you know what I mean. It's so fast on and off the wave, it doesn't bounce around and feels light underfoot. I rode it on small waves both days but it carves really nicely under the pull of the kite, so I imagine a proper bottom turn would be nice for sure. Doesn't skip out at all no matter how hard you go. I didn't get to test in conditions where I could allow the board to work in harmony with the wave ? Neal you did, so you can comment on that - but this will definitely hold its rail.
NEAL: We tested the Naish with the fins set-up in two different ways. The larger fins forward and on the outside gave a nice, directionally stable quality. The narrow rails deal with chop really well for a fast ride. On the wave a drawn-out bottom turn was easy, although I did find on smaller surf on one of the test days it was hard to really tighten up the turn to compensate. When I changed the fins so the smaller fins were up front it was a completely different animal. There is suddenly a little 'instability' (in the best possible way) about the back foot. Although you wouldn't want it set like this for big stuff, regular conditions it made the board more responsive, slashy and great fun to muck about with in chop. You can vary the performance of any thruster set-up in the same way by changing fins around, but it was nice to get 'two different' boards from one set of fins.
CHRIS: Nice and soft and doesn't throw you around. Definitely rides quicker than last year and the turns were snappier because of the more pulled in tail section. A step up in performance without a loss in comfort.
NEAL: It's super-responsive on a wave. Bottom turning was a pleasure with that thin rail and really lets you drive the board to accelerate. The tail comes into its own off-the-top; I really think this is a fantastic shape! Not all the waves were really powerful in the section, but when I found some that were, the tail lets you
gouge round your cutback.
A fantastic board that's not too responsive for someone learning to cope with a
surfboard, but with tons of performance on demand for riders wanting to surf
powerful waves and really go to town on them!
Speed, grip and a really sure performance that works in real world conditions, not only the best wave breaks on the planet.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
A thruster would ride a little slower and give more pivot, but you can play with the set-up and for kiting fast and with power this is beautiful and we're just picking really.
Global: 6'0 x 18'', 5'7 x 17 3/8'', 5'4 x 16 ?'' and 5'0 x 15 ?''.
This test is inissue #36