Naish Slash 2019 review

Naish Slash 2019 kite test

KW puts Naish’s thoroughbred wave kite to work

THIS TEST FIRST APPEARED IN KW #99 IN MAY 2019

 

Naish Slash 2019 kite test

 

Words: Matt Pearce / Photos: Robert Stephenson

Last year I tested the Slash in a six metre size and it had that classic wave kite feel; sitting forward in the window, was very athletic through the turn and even for a small size was insanely quick. Naish reckon this year’s Slash is even faster due to an altered leading edge shape which allows it to pivot more tightly on the wingtips.

I’ve been riding the nine metre this time around, so of course it’s not as nippy as a six, which means I can’t fully compare it to last year’s kite in that area, but no doubt the responsive feel is still one of the first things that jumps out at you. When I hung it out at the edge of the window it then spurred back into action with a quick kite loop after which it screamed through the window and back into prime position. Experienced wave riders will really appreciate this and what I have noticed in the 2019 nine metre model is that the Slash accelerates smoothly up through the gears and the power band. I was riding it across a wind range of around 18 – 30mph, and was comfortable throughout.

The 2018 Slash was more potent lower in its range, though the power sometimes spiked when it was fully maxed out and you lit it up through a bottom turn. This year’s kite is still quick, but the bar pressure feels a little lighter and the depower is slightly more immediate. When the Slash drops down the gears and storms forward in the window it’s now really easy to handle and throw around at critical moments. 

 

Naish Slash 2019 review

 

The Slash’s top end control has improved and I felt comfortable enough on a nine when everyone else was out on six or seven metre kites. Of course the goal is always to ride a smaller kite in the waves, but sometimes I like knowing that I can take out a slightly bigger kite and not risk being underpowered in heavier waves. The Slash allowed me to do that without overworking my arms – it made my kite size decision making at the start of a session less critical as I could get away with having more range. Also, even with plenty of depower pulled on, the kite retains a pretty consistent feel, so for me the overall usable range has increased this year and this will also please foilers. 

While it’s really athletic, the Slash also has the ability to be ridden as a ‘set and forget’ kite, particularly good when you just want to focus on surfing the wave, or when sheeting in and out as you alter course on your hydrofoil. When I parked the kite at two o’clock and sheeted out the Slash automatically sat back as I eyed up the next section with no fuss of flapping (from me or the kite). 

While anchored at the edge of the window the Slash is stable and I was still able to feel enough responsiveness while feathering the bar with one hand, confident that the Slash would spark back into action when I needed it to.

The flying position is very forward (I’ve not ridden any kite this year that sits further forward) and the upwind performance is great as a result. The Slash still develops power effectively when steered with intent, so you can opt for a smaller size, which is something I personally look for in a wave kite, but it seems Naish have managed to retain the 2018 Slash’s reliable low end while still adding a little more depower and ‘forgiveness’ to this year’s top end.

The consistent power delivery gives it a feeling of ‘presence’ at the bar when you’re powered up and when you hit a kicker and pop an air the kite offers some decent lift when you sheet in. For strapless aerials it’s more than capable and floats beautifully, but if you’re looking for a kite that can really combine punchy performance in the air and in the waves then look towards the Pivot.

The Slash is made from Naish’s own Quad-Tex ripstop fabric with the shark teeth trailing edge. The canopy feels taught and responsive while the Bladder Lock secures the bladder ends in place so that they can’t shift around and potentially alter the leading edge shape. There’s a popular Boston pump valve while Naish’s unique Octopus inflation system pumps up through one central valve, but you first have to close the strut valves. This design means you can either leave your struts inflated when you pack up, or opt for a super fast total deflation, expelling air from the struts and bladder very quickly.

 

 

Naish give you the option of above- or below-the-bar trimming options in their highly functional bar that you could comfortably hold on to for hours. The new below-the-bar trim design includes a swivel on the actual trimming system so that you can now untwist your lines just as you would on an above-the-bar set-up. Although most people prefer above-the-bar systems these days, the trimming is also super smooth below-the-bar, which is a step-forward in this sort of design.

 

WATCH THE SLASH ON THE ATTACK BELOW

 

 

SUMMARY:

The Slash is still rapid and ideally tuned towards experienced wave riders but isn’t a complicated ride. Although Naish have ensured that the Slash retained its speedy flight characteristics, it has become more forgiving at its top end with an increased usable range. Super pivotal turning and an engaging ride feel are Slash standards, but Naish have further improved stability and really smoothed any gaps in power delivery, making this year’s kite easier to relax into or push your limits on.

 

KW LIKED: 

Forward flying position, lightning-quick handling and classic Naish feel.

 

KW WOULD CHANGE: 

The Slash is less abrupt, but it’s still fast and novice wave riders should be aware of that. There are cruisier kites on the market. 

 

SLASH BALANCE POINTS: 

Build quality: 8.5

Full package: 8.5

Low end: 7

Top end: 8

Steering speed: 8.5

Turning circle: 3

Bar pressure: 5

Water relaunch: 8

Drift: 8.5

Boost: DT

Hang-time: DT

Unhooked: DT

Crossover: 6 (Waves and foiling)

Ease of use: 7 (9 if you’re used to quick kites)

 

SIZES: 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 and 4m

 

www.naishkites.com

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