This test featured in Kiteworld Magazine Issue #81
TEST TEAM NOTES
The Torch needs no introduction as the longest running C-kite in this test. It was first developed back in 2004 and has now undergone over a decade of fine tuning and adjustments to make it the go-to kite for Kevin Langeree, a former World Champion and King of The Air, for almost his entire professional career.
This year’s profile has been stiffened slightly with an increased leading edge diameter at the tips for a more solid, direct feel at the bar. The Naish build quality is up there with some unique features and the distinctive tribal canopy designs are striking. The internal Octopus inflation system, inflated via a mid-sized Boston valve, is still incorporated into the design and, while it’s slightly more fiddly to get at should you ever need to change a bladder, it’s one that we really rate as the inflation hoses aren’t exposed to sunlight / debris on the beach and the kite looks very clean and contained. The new ‘Tough Tips’ have added reinforcement to the wingtips which helps spread load across the canopy more effectively. Overall the Torch is well reinforced and feels like it can withstand some punishment, but clearly isn’t overly heavy given its heritage in performance.
The airframe is absolutely rock solid with zero movement across the canopy, not even a flap in the punchy Cape Doctor winds. Bully reckons the Torch has the most taught airframe of all the kites we rode this season. Evidently refined when you steer it for the first time, there’s never any ‘messiness’ through the canopy. Dive it deep into the window and it drives really far forward and absolutely screams upwind (which is very helpful if you ride it like Kevin and try to clear the width of Big Bay in one jump).
The handling is extremely nuanced, offering extremely finite control. You can control it with a finger tip and, while it is a very stable kite, your input at the bar has a very direct effect on what the kite does. The power through the turn is smooth but constant and it flies high in the window very easily, reaching the top a little more smoothly than previous Torches sometimes have. While the steering is very nippy and reactive you do need to prepare yourself should you mis-handle it as the Torch produces a lot of power through the turn. A less experienced rider using the Torch in more comfortable winds could quite easily make the mistake of forgetting the consequences that can follow rash handling decisions on this kite.
While The Torch is a powerful kite with very direct feedback at the bar, it’s not unmanageable, though. The bar pressure is surprisingly light through your arms but there’s always a noticeable pull through the harness. That’s quite a rare trait; having a great deal of power if you want it, yet it doesn’t wear your arms out when you’re just generally steering it. Once powered you’ll need to call on your edging ability. The bar feel isn’t overly aggressive and the kite does have depower, but it’s a pretty limited amount and your ability to hold on to it when it’s fully maxed depends on you having decent kite skills and a solid set of quads. Sitting far forward in the window aids manageability while the canopy behaves itself even when absolutely maxed out. The power delivery is very smooth but there’s a lot of power being delivered to you and you can’t just dump it by sheeting out. If you’re crossing over to this from a Naish Park with lots of depower for example, you will need to adjust your form and your riding style to suit the kite. Once you’ve done that, although the Torch is powerful, the control is consistent.
The Torch’s standout quality is its ability to withstand whatever winds you think you can hold – the airframe is just so solid. If you’re up to it, you’re in for a treat when you send this kite in strong winds. The boosting credentials are incredible (it’s been in every King of the Air final and claimed the trophy twice). It doesn’t just yank you off the water – it’s actually very smooth on the way up with constant power the whole way and, when fully powered, just keeps on climbing. The elastic stretch on your boost seems to never end. Predictable throughout the start of your jump, the flight is consistent all the way up and through the descent. Considering its performance, if you can dial into it you can feel very comfortable jumping on it quite quickly because it’s very intuitive. The loop is powerful but it’s consistent with a steady C-kite pull throughout. Predictable, it’s a nice wide arc and you can put trust in it to catch you nicely as it climbs back up to 12 o’clock.
Away from big air efforts, the Torch is awesome unhooked, but it’s response and speed will be too much for some. It drives so far forward in the window and gives great line-slack for handle-passing, though. Of all the C-kites it’s got some of the best jumping performance going, but it’s also got a lot to offer riders focused on wakestyle and freestyle as it feels so stable and you know exactly where it is throughout the trick. Also, when you drop it in the water it holds its shape well and relaunches pretty easily for a C-kite.
The Fusion five line bar that the Torch comes with is a fairly trimmed down, lightweight control system that Naish have been using for a while now, featuring elements like internal backline and bar length adjustments and a safety system that’s efficient and easy to reassemble. It’s a very good looking bar, but doesn’t have quite the same robust finish as the kite itself has. There’s also no below-the-bar swivel for the centre lines.
If you’re experienced enough to know how to deal with a kite like this, the Torch is incredible, whether you’re pushing your way up the Woo leaderboard or trying to advance your unhooked trickery. It’s a C-kite in the truest sense of the word but a refined one that feels hugely rewarding to fly once you’ve got the measure of it in strong winds.
Beautifully refined handling, ultra-stable in the air, incredible boosting ability.
KW WOULD CHANGE
The bar feels great in your hands and is super light weight, but it doesn’t match up to the robust quality of the kite itself.
TORCH BALANCE POINTS
Build Quality – 8.5
Full package – 8.5
Low end – 8
Top end – 9
Steering speed – 8
Turning circle – 7.5
Power through turn – 7.5
Bar pressure – 6
Water relaunch – 7.5
Drift – D/T
Boost – 9
Hang time – 8
Unhooked – 8.5
Cross-over – 7
Ease of use – 8 (For advanced riders looking for access to performance)
SIZES: 14 /12 / 11 / 10 / 9 / 8 / 7 / 6 & 5m
Here’s the official Torch product video from Naish
For more information on the Naish Torch, visit