Q&A with Ride Kite designer Damien Girardin
When did development first begin with the Ride kite concept? How long did it take before you were happy with the final design?
I first started working on the Ride over two years ago. Originally, I wanted to make the Park with two struts. The very first samples ended up being the Park, but without a center strut. Then, we decided that the Park should keep three struts (for stability and gusty wind control), but I didn’t want to give up on the two struts idea – the prototypes were way too good! So we re-focused the project toward a more “user-friendly” kite concept in order to help the re-launch and give it a more forgiving feel.
What characteristics set the Ride apart from other kites in the line?
Easiness! The Ride has that in its DNA. With the Ride, you don’t need to be a good kite flyer with advanced steering skills; you can just sheet-in and you’re going! The Ride never wants to back stall so it’s very forgiving when over-sheeting.
Why is the Ride’s 2 strut design so ideal for freeride kiting?
The two struts on the Ride provide a lighter kite that generates a better low end and naturally flies better in the air (lighter weight means better efficiency).
Why is the Ride so stable with just 2 struts?
The Ride is stable because the overall kite is perfectly balanced. Technically, this means the tow point of the kite (i.e. the virtual point where all the bridles pull from) is perfectly aligned with the center of effort of the kite (i.e. the virtual point that results from the addition of all the force generated by the entire canopy of the kite.)
Why is the Ride so easy to re-launch?
The re-launch of the ride is easy because of the overall outline of the kite; the wing tips are swept back in a way that allows the kite to easily rotate when on the water.
Why does the Ride work so great in light winds?
The reduced amount of struts results in two things for light wind riding. First, as stated above, the fewer number of struts translates into a lighter kite that is more efficient and flies better. Second, because there is no center strut, the center of the kite acts like a spinnaker, expanding a bit when you need power to harness more wind.
What is new for this year’s Ride?
This year’s Ride was built on last year’s proven platform. We’ve made the arc a bit flatter in order to improve the low-end and changed the bridle platform by making them start higher up on the leading edge. This makes the kite more solid when flying thru the window and in the end, results in a kite that responds quicker to the rider’s input when initiating a turn.
Q&A with Trip Kite designer Damien Girardin
When did you first start development on your strutless kite concept? Was the end result what you expected?
The idea of removing struts is a process that I started years ago when I first began designing kites. I always wanted to design the lightest, most simple and functional kites possible. But maintaining performance while removing struts is not that easy.
When you remove the struts on a kite you have to make sure it remains stable. In previous years, we went down to 3 struts with the Park, and then played with the idea of 1 strut, but wasn’t happy with the result. So then I went to 2 struts with the Ride. The Ride turned out to be such a good kite that it felt natural to move forward and design a strutless kite.
The design objectives for the Trip were very clear: create a compact kite convenient for traveling that has a lightweight, simple overall design and continue the idea of a user-friendly, fun kite. A minimalistic design that’s also lightweight is always favorable for any “flying object”.
After a long period of development, we ended up with a design that exceeded our expectations in terms of light feel, stability and light wind riding.
What advantages do you believe the Trip has over a traditional SLE or Bow design?
The main advantages of the Trip are that it is light in the air and the lift generating center section of the canopy will expand when flying. This translates into a great gain in light wind power. Other advantages include faster inflation time and more compact packing, making the Trip a great “go to” kite for traveling.
Are there any disadvantages to riding a strutless kite like the Trip?
Even though the high end control on the Trip is really good, you will reach a limit where the kite will simply saturate and start fluttering when you sheet out or head downwind. The re-launch will require more skills, as the kite won’t keep its structure when lying on the water.
We don’t recommend the Trip to be the only kite in your quiver, because in some conditions, or for certain styles of riding, it will not perform as well as the Park, Draft, Ride or Torch.
First concerns about a strutless kite are relaunch and stability. Please address both for the skeptics.
There may be times where you need some advanced skills to get a strutless kite back in the air. This is the main reason why we do not recommend the Trip for beginners. Also, instability in the air is not an issue when flown within the Trip’s wind range. However, fluttering can occur when fully depowering the kite.
Where does the Trip kite fit in your product mix?
The Trip is a kite that targets intermediate to advanced riders that want to lessen their load when traveling. It’s perfect for someone who wants to travel with only one “all around” kite that works well in most conditions.
The Trip is in a class by itself and is a nice addition to the rest of our line.
The Antic is a high performance hybrid TT wakestyle board designed for kite and cable park riding.
Designed to be ridden with boots or the Apex binding, the Antic is built tough for intermediate to advanced wakestyle riders looking to hit kickers, sliders and ride hard.
The Park is one kite that does it all for any rider, any style, in any condition. Designed with fun in mind, the Park provides an easy ride, the power to boost and the handling to hit the lip with style.
The powerful profile gives the rider outstanding low-end power and consistent pull over a wide range of wind speeds. Reduced diameter struts were also implemented for increased low-end power, improved aerodynamics and reduced weight. The Swept Compact C outline and three-strut design create a stable and responsive kite. The Park uses just enough sweep to maximize depower and allow for easy relaunch.
The new Static Bridle Platform improves forward flying, acceleration out of turns, stability, instant response and direct bar feel. These characteristics are essential for wave/unhooked riding.