I had the opportunity to ride the Shinn Waterbird yesterday here in Tybee Island, Georgia, USA. Simply put - what fun!
Conditions and Experience:
-Wind started at 10-11 knots (with lulls down to 7-8).
-Inlet conditions – chop with a bit of flat water and 1-2 knots of opposing tidal current.
-I was on a 9-meter Switchblade. 140 pounds.
-First time on a skimboard, though I do have some experience on a strapless surfboard. Have been kiting 2+ years and I mostly freeride.
I got started in pretty low wind on the 9-m kite I was flying. I was upwind of ‘the pack’ in a flash. I rode the Waterbird until the wind picked up to 17-20 knots, at which time I switched back to my everyday twin-tip. It was good on the chop, the small waves in our channel were a blast to ride, and when I was on flat water, it was of course super smooth and super nice!
A few thoughts:
1. I couldn’t stop smiling, even well after my ride ended. It’s just fun!
2. It feels slick and slippery across the water, but I always felt in control. The fins are just big enough to grip a bit when you need it, while still providing that needed stability.
3. The deck pad was good….the side stoppers seemed intuitively just where you’d want them.
4. I’m pretty sensitive to comfort riding and jarring on the knees – and this ride was very comfortable. Even after 1+ hours riding I wanted more!
5. Only thing that took a few tacks to get used to was the tendency for the nose to submerge – though this was almost certainly a symptom of my experience on a regular surfboard and lack of experience on a skimboard. It really didn’t take long at all to get the hang of it. The learning curve was actually much less than I expected.
6. It looks awesome. I love the pelican graphics. Very cool!
In summary, while everyone else around was on big kites and big boards, I was on my 9 meter having a blast. Without sounding too corny, I felt like it was breathing new life into my kiting! It was just something different and so much fun. Plus there’s the added benefit of helping me get an extra 4-5 knots out of my kites on the low-end.
I went into this thinking I’d get one just to have something different in light wind. It exceeded expectations. After riding, I can’t stop thinking of getting back on it. The thought of selling my 12-meter kite even crossed my mind. I’d much rather be on a quicker, smaller kite and the Waterbird than on a big kite mowing the grass on my big kite. Mine is already on order!