2021 NAISH HOVER 127 AND KITE 960 FOIL REVIEW

Naish Hover

THIS NAISH HOVER 127 & KITE 960 FOIL REVIEW CAN BE READ IN KITEWORLD #108 ON OUR NEW FREE DIGITAL PLATFORM, FIRST PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 2020.

Read Kiteworld Magazine issue #108


Naish Hover 127 & Kite 960 Foil Review

“A lightweight sports utility vehicle for a wide range of riders entering the foil game, wanting to make serious freeride progress”

TESTED BY: JIM GAUNT


TEST TEAM NOTES:

This Naish Hover 127 and Kite 960 front wing package have been in our possession for a few months now and it’s safe to say we’ve ridden it ragged! This is a set-up that could be suitable for light to mid weight beginners (let’s say up to 85 kilos), but is also ideally suited to intermediates and keen improvers of a broader size range.

 

Naish Hover Board riding

 

FIXTURES & FITTINGS:

think has the aesthetic advantage of looking quite sleek and advanced, especially the board… so that’s a big plus; you’ll feel good owning it.

Also, for a strong aluminium 85cm mast set-up, it’s not heavy at all. The board is thin and light and Naish’s entire below-the-board set-up is surely amongst the lightest ding resistant designs we’ve tested. Another massive plus for intermediates.

The whole Naish set-up experience is excellent. Very easy assembly, excellent carry case and supplied Torx tool. The bolts loosen smoothly after each session and they all work with the same tool, which is handy. The Torx head always grips cleanly with no rounding of any screws, which is important as taking care of your foil requires regular loosening of parts to ensure they’re not seizing up in the salt water.

If you place the bolts and T nuts into the mast track first you can then slip the mast head easily under the screw heads as there’s plenty of depth to the bolt. Super easy and quick, convenient set-up every session.

We also have a Naish wingsurfing set-up in-house at the moment with the shorter 75cm mast and two different front wings. The entire collection is compatible with everything. So if we want to go for a shorter mast or step up / down to different wing size wing, it’s very easy and this is the benefit of investing in a complete set-up across your disciplines from one manufacturer. The Naish production quality is excellent and certainly inspires more investment in modular parts as you progress.

 

Naish Kite Foil

 

RIDING:

First thing you may have noticed is that the 960 Kite front wing is flat in shape; there’s very little anhedral shape to it. It’s also quite low aspect (deep and round, rather than long and thin). What you feel is progressive lift that comes up with reasonable steadiness alongside a smooth pick up in board speed. There’s no erratic bucking up here.

The thing to realise with foiling is that it can take a little while to dial into a foil; to debug your mind from whatever you’ve been riding before if you’ve become very used to a certain feel.

The Kite 960 will feel loose if you’re coming off a very stiff, grippy foil. The flat front wing and narrow width means that you are going to feel some roll and yore, but once used to that we really enjoyed the extra freedom of movement and tighter radius carving that doesn’t demand a lot of leg energy in relation to other foils.

The flipside of this very fluid feel is that there isn’t the same amount of stability when you start pushing it to go faster in a straight line. The Kite 960 naturally travels at a decent pace, but to ride really quickly you need to widen your stance and push it with technique. Once you start breaking into the foil’s top end speed it takes some experience to hold the ship steady.

This isn’t designed for riders who want to speed hard and fast into carves. Instead, this is a very smooth, cruisy feeling foil. Imagine developing a style of riding where you’re making tight turns, feeling a little more skatey… essentially very playful.

At more moderate (normal) speeds this is a really sound foil and board set-up, particularly for beginner foilers and early intermediates, but also for someone who is generally a less experienced kitesurfer and moving into foil riding quite early in their kiting career. The steady rise up of the foil and un-fatiguing feel in the legs is a big asset as you don’t get that unnerving rise up as soon as you power the foil up. It’s very progressive.

Most riders will be able to do all they want. A 960 is a decent size foil to offer enough stability at the front of the board for relatively stable foot changes (you still need to be quite quick), plus there’s enough feedback and steady response underfoot for you to quickly piece together your push tacks, roll tacks and toe-to-heel and heel-to-turn turns. This set-up is actually a delight for turning and relies more on a tighter pivoting style turn rather than a wider, driving carve. Once you’ve got that dialled in, the door also then opens to mimicking a surf foil style of riding on small waves; leading with your shoulders and pivoting at the hips to turn the foil this way and that. That is actually a lot of fun and an example of the nice, loose (but not unstable) feel in most situations.

The general key with this set-up is to keep your weight over the centre of the board. As the front wing is flat, there’s not a lot of lateral stability. So if you start trying to be a bit more aggressive with your weight outside of the board (for instance when powering the board up really quickly in strong winds on a board start), you’ll feel more unstable. As long as you’re over the centre line, the performance will continue to feel manageable and smooth.

The limits of this foil come with less experience in more challenging, windy / wavey / big chop conditions. Given time it’s totally ridable in these conditions, but you’ll need time to adapt because, for all the comfort and easy sensation qualities this foil has, in the early days on it we were caught out by some sudden changes in environment. For example a sudden increase in speed because you’ve been picked up by a wave led to some cavitation instability, as did a big gust of wind.

Moving the mast further forward, riding with a wider stance and gaining more experience really helped in managing the speed in these situations. But again, and we can’t stress this enough: you have to put the time in with most foils.

You can also move the mast forward in the track relatively early for your experience level as you still won’t need to exert an extraordinary amount of front foot pressure. You’ll know when the time comes to move the mast forward because you’ll find the front of the board dropping away underneath you if you try to pick up speed too aggressively. The range of conditions that the foil can handle really opened up for us with the mast at the front.

The Naish may take some getting used to in stronger conditions, but you certainly can. Generally across most normal conditions, the Kite 960 is a lot of fun and once dialled in you can move up and down the gears quickly, enjoying good engagement in your riding. Some intermediate foils are so smooth that they’re almost boring after a while. This isn’t.

 

BOARD: HOVER KITE 127

What a board this is! Thin and lightweight it sits perfectly in the water and is nicely balanced with the weight of the foil, which means it’s very easy to pull onto its side for water starting and the mast doesn’t pull the board down too quickly. You have plenty of time to sort your kite out once you’ve got the board on its side, particularly when riding strapless.

When on its side, the board also sits beautifully half in / half out the water, just ideal for your foot placements.

 

Naish Hover Kite 127 - UK test action

 

We’ve been riding some very low volume, snowboard style construction boards recently and even with very light carbon masts and wings, they still sit quite awkwardly underwater and you sometimes find yourself trying to force the board up to the surface, especially in steep chop. The Kite Hover 127 feels pretty effortless to manoeuvre in the water, and for us that’s big factor.

Another aspect worthy of mention is that the board is relatively narrow at 44.5cm. We caught the rails on the water noticeably less, and when we did the board just slipped through the water. So we had the benefit of a bit more length than a short ‘pocket’ board, but the narrow width worked really well in more difficult waters. The foot pad also runs all the way up to the nose of the board, which does get used from time to time, so it’s nice to see that; some manufacturers seem to stop their pads quite some distance before the nose. We’re not sure why.

Finally, the Hover 127’s nose rocker helps on touchdowns, seemingly forcing itself back up positively to the water’s surface.

127cm feels like a brilliant all-round size for foiling once beyond the beginner stage. It’s small enough to not suffer with windage when you’re riding fast, but it’s also not too small, so you won’t fall off on every touch down. Going smaller than 127 is a serious step-down, in our opinion… but Naish have the options.

 

Naish Hover Kite

 

Watch the Naish S25 Naish Kite Foilboards product video here:

 

SUMMARY:

A lightweight sports utility vehicle for a wide range of riders entering the foil game, wanting to make serious freeride progress. The board is absolutely fantastic, we could use that all season and not really need anything else in any conditions, while the Naish modular foil set-up is incredibly practical. Strong, long lasting and very easy to fit / dismantle. The 960 Kite wing is fluid and free feeling with a very unnerving lift sensation, allowing you to progress quickly to a confident riding level and then piece together the technique to be able to push things harder.

The next step down is the Kite 810 foil, a higher-aspect shape with more anhedral shape, so if it’s a faster, harder carving style you’re wanting, that’s going to be worth looking at.

 

KW LIKED:

An easy feeling of smooth fluidity in most riding conditions. Playful, tight turns and a looseness that will inspire you to do more than just plough back and forth in straight lines. The Hover 127 deserves special mention. It’s a peach with a massive application in a size that looks sporty and appealing.

 

KW WOULD CHANGE:

There is a little bit of ‘singing’ at times from the aluminium mast – this seems to come with the territory of these more robust materials. It’s not all the time, but occasionally noticeable. Go with it and get yourself in tune. It’s not a deal breaker and you’ll experience it elsewhere on other aluminium designs at times, too.

 

Watch the Naish S25 Kite Foils product video here:

 

For more information on Naish and their product range, visit:

www.naishkites.com

 

THIS NAISH HOVER 127 & KITE 960 FOIL REVIEW WAS FIRST PUBLISHED HERE IN ISSUE #108

Kite Tests in Kiteworld Magazine issue #108


2020 NAISH BOXER 7M TEST REVIEW

We tested the Naish Boxer 7m back in January 2020 and it delivers the pleasing spike of useful power we need from a small kite when foiling. Check out the full review:

NAISH BOXER 7M

 


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