Building on the success of last year's Kontact series, the 2010 models are a no-compromise up-size board that is most suited to solid, pumping surf. The rounded pin-tail, gunny outline and low tail rocker make the Kontact incredibly predictable, driving hard off the bottom like no other. Perfect for the most aggressive kiters who like to ride with speed and power, it's the board of choice for team riders, Sky and Dreu, in most conditions. Holding a rail in even the most extreme and choppy conditions, it will never let you down in a highspeed turn. Thin rails give the board a lively and positive feel under your feet and the single concave throughout helps carry you through a turn and accelerate up the face. Whether you're charging big waves or using the kite to whip you through high speed carves, the Kontact excels.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
We tested last year's Kontact in some pretty sloppy cross-onshore conditions in the UK. Okay, they were everyday conditions that we face regularly in a lot of northern Europe, but it felt a bit like taking the missus on a date to McDonald's; she might put up with it, but she's not going to be happy. This year, however, we got the chance to rinse the new shape in all sorts of conditions in the warm Atlantic conditions of Boa Vista. Suddenly even we didn't want to eat at McDonald's any more and I could see that all this time she'd only been trying to better us.
First impressions are spot on. Construction isn't heavy, but the board took all the knocks we gave it, rattling around in the back of the 4x4 for a week. You can't fall out with a lovely, clean looking white board and the fixtures and fittings are top notch. We've questioned the use by North of such thick foot pads on their surfboards before, removing a little feeling through the board, but these ones have been shaved down a bit ? not by much, but it feels like enough - providing loads of traction and with a good balance between comfort and feeling. Another nice touch are the little 'grip strips' that you can stick in between the pads for grip, while either riding upwind with your back foot out of the strap, or while gybing. The straps themselves are very special. Some people like to ride with fairly tight straps, others like a really loose strap on surfboards; like they're almost strapless, but can retain the board when they come off, or for more influence over top turns or security going over white water. There's a little tag on the top of the strap that disappears into some sort of a clip mechanism inside. Pull it to tighten the strap, or push the little button inside and lift the strap up to loosen. With boards being passed around a lot of riders on this trip, there were never any complaints about having to set the straps again by anyone. Just pull and go. The Kontact has a very gunny shape, making it look long, narrow and focussed. Compared to the WAM, this is the size zero, waif-like catwalk minx, the WAM looking a little more rotund in the centre, with 'plenty to hold onto' and is willing to please everyone; from those looking to learn the ropes on a surfboard to seasoned hose baggers.
The Kontact is just more refined and, with experience, will allow the rider to attack cross or cross-offshore waves with much more clinical precision. Where the WAM is adaptable and easy, the Kontact is like a flick-knife. Narrower in the tail, and with sharper rails towards the back, it not only flies upwind, but turns with the slightest input. But it does still need a bit of power in the wave to get it to perform, when it immediately starts to make sense. There were times when I was waiting for the wave to catch me up, but then as soon as the tail feels the wave rearing up behind it it's like it wakes up and flicks on the burners. Tight turns, long turns or pumping your way along the wave, the board is just so light and potent and maintains speed and drive beautifully. Over-powered or underpowered by the kite, the turn is just beautifully precise and easy to influence. Off the wave it's a pleasure getting back up to the wave, cranking upwind as if it can't wait for another shot.
We didn't get to try the Kontact in any sort of cross-onshore slop; Boa Vista wasn't having any of it. But I don't think it would be as good as the WAM in those conditions, when you need a lot more float and a little more forgiveness to get you round lumpy, unpredictable sections. Having said that, if you really do enjoy waves, and you look forward to those rare days in the year - perhaps when you're away and you're treated to cross-shore perfection - then the sessions that are going to stick out in your mind in a year's time are those days. And you should have a stick that was made for it. We're going to make sure we do...
KW LIKED: Beautiful, smooth performance.
KW WOULD CHANGE: Although not as technical to ride as last year's, intermediate waveboard riders will still find it a bit 'tippy'.
SIZES: 6'3 x 17 7/8'', 6'0 x 17 ?'' and 5'9 x 17 1/8''
This test is inissue #44
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