Slingshot SST 2019 Review

SST Slingshot Photo

 

Slingshot SST 2019 Review

This test first appeared in KW #96 in November 2018

 

SST Slingshot Photo

 

TEST NOTES:

By Matt Pearce

The first time I rode an SST was back in 2016 and I was immediately struck by how solid it felt in the sky. There were more sprightly wave kites on the market, but there weren’t any that stood as firm in the gnarliest of Cape Town conditions.

 

My fellow KW tester Bully had remarked that if he was about to go and kite around Robin Island, he’d take a Slingshot for sheer reliability and since then the SST has retained that confidence-inspiring ride feel. Nice and direct, it’s carved a name for itself as a set-and-forget, plug-and-play wave kite.

 

When I was deciding what gear to take on a wave mission to the west of Ireland, the SST sprung to mind. I’d heard the conditions could be finicky and changeable and I was hoping to ride a few offshore wave spots, so dependability would be key. Slingy kindly lent me a three-kite quiver with parting words from Slingshot Sales Manager Andy Steel, “Please don’t break them!” Frankly, I think I’d struggle doing so intentionally; they’re so ruggedly built! The Surf-Tough pedigree feels good with plenty of reinforcement across the canopy which is integrated with the struts via Slingshot’s Split-Strut technology. If you put a kite down in heavy surf then the struts can be ripped from the canopy if rumbled by a big wave, but I think it’d take some pretty beastly waves to do that to the SST.

 

The One-Pump system works well for quick, leak-free inflation and that solid feeling carries across once you get the SST in the air. The airframe is steadfast in gusty winds, surely giving confidence if you were teetering around in punchy winds at an offshore point break like Ponta Preta. Stability in shifty conditions is key for a wave kite and the SST has that in spades, but it is still markedly different to many kites in this bracket. It reacts to user input quickly enough and has a pleasing, direct power delivery, but it doesn’t eagerly punch as far forward in the window like other wave kites. It always feels engaged in the window. Naturally sitting back means that as the SST comes out a loop or turn, the drive as it surges back into the power is instantaneous and smooth. That constant feel and steady drive at its top end may be what inspired Sam Light to use one at the King of the Air last year. I didn’t ride this on a twin-tip, but I punted some strapless airs on it and I know I’d get a kick out of it on a twinny on a blown-out, super windy day. Probably more so than another wave kite.

 

There’s an uncomplicated feel to the SST across the sizes. The power is readily accessible and it doesn’t take a huge amount of manoeuvring for it to start generating power. Likewise, it’s easy to tune into the steering speed and it’s not a kite you’ll find yourself overshooting through the turns. It sticks with you and there’s a very linear feeling of power delivery throughout the turn, yet with enough depower to shut things down quickly if you pause for a moment to plan your next hit.

 

This directness appealed to me because I like a kite with drive. Nothing dampens my interest during a session more than when I’m working it for power, particularly in onshore conditions. That said, no kite can please everyone and my girlfriend Kate found the SST a bit heavy at the bar for her to really feel comfortable throwing it around aggressively. She’s an experienced kiter, but is still finding her feet on a surfboard and that combined with the comparative weightiness of the SST, would take her a little longer to dial into. At its top end the SST packs a punch and if you’re riding the bigger sizes you can quite quickly size down, which is no bad thing in the waves, or on when foiling.

3D Render SST Kite

I’ve heard a number of experienced wave riders get a bit sneery about wave riding on bigger kites, especially now that they can just go foiling when the wind’s lighter, but we get some great onshore days at home when the wind’s blowing lightly from the southeast and I had some great sessions on the 12, but it didn’t take long to reach its top end. At 93 kilos I felt pretty comfortable on the 12 even when I needed to depower it quite a lot, but I think most people may find that the ten metre would suffice on lighter days.

 

The nine metre is balanced and well-rounded and had the widest wind range of the three, but for me the seven metre was the pick of the quiver. It’s not quite as quick or flighty as some sevens but that works to its advantage because it has the stability of an eight or nine, but with the steering speed of a smaller kite. Even in that smaller size, the SST still has a pleasing kick as it surges out of a turn, but feels as though it sits a little further forward in the window so the power delivery is a bit less insistent. Power is also developed very efficiently through the turn and the SST performed well in winds below the seven metre threshold (for me anyway), so it’ll be a very adept foiling weapon as we found out last year. The slightly dropped back position in the window, great drift and beautiful balance on all four lines meant you can really set and forget it on a foil.

 

While some brands are focusing on narrow grips and skinny floats, when you take hold of the muscular Comp Stick it has a utilitarian but pimp, and somehow plush feel to it. The components are bomb-proof, functional and the whole set-up looks slick – with options for above (Sentinel) and below-the-bar (Guardian) trimming – though there’s no line unspinner on the chicken-loop on the Guardian model. There are the industry’s biggest oh shit safety loops on each outside line and the safety system is super robust, clean, easy to fire off and not fiddly to reassemble.

SUMMARY:

Dependable flying characteristics and the fact that you can set the SST at the edge of the window and it won’t fly too far forward and out of the power, makes this a very user-friendly kite that’s easy to tune into. Powerful and muscular at its top end, the SST however loves to be thrown around in its low to mid range with a super stable flight position. It’s also well tuned for set-and-forget drift kiting with plenty of crossover potential, too.

 

KW LIKED:

Direct but manageable power delivery and responsive, predictable handling.

 

KW WOULD CHANGE:

Some riders may prefer a more forward flying position and lighter riders may start to feel their arms working harder when the SST hits its upper wind limit.

 

SST BALANCE POINTS:

Build quality: 9

Full package: 9

Low end: 7.5

Top end: 6.5

Steering speed: 7.5

Turning circle: 5

Bar pressure: 6

Water relaunch: 9

Drift: 8.5

Boost: DT

Hang-time: DT

Unhooked: DT

Cross-over: 8 (Freeride / foiling / waves)

Ease-of-use: 8.5

 

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

 

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