Average wind speeds: from 10 up to 35knots
Spots: Wave, chop, flat water
Used kites: F-one Banditdos 10,7 - Zeeko Notus 2009 13,9 - Best Waroo 2008 11 - SS Fuel 2009 among other
Total number of test sessions: 8
My weight is 72kg (160 lbs), body length 178cm (5’10”) and shoe size 41 (7 US)
I do kiteboard for over 7 years and have used a lot of different gear. I have no connections with any kite brand or sponsorship.
I am looking for a much more comfortable board which handles chop and waves much better than my current freestyle kiteboard. But I do not want to sacrifice any of the properties of a freestyle board. A mission impossible. Or not?
I friend of mine introduced Skywalker kiteboards. A brand well known and sold in among other Germany. These boards get very good reviews in the annual 50 boards test of kiteboarding.de/eu for the last two years. After finding out the price is also very good I started testing.
The brand is owned by Jurek Makowiecki, a shaper who Works in Warshau, Poland. Like many other kiteboard brands the production facility is also in Poland.
Skywalkers offers a complete set of different kiteboards:
Rider : freeride
Cruise: kiteboarders and beginners on a budget
LW series: Twintips designed to perform well in low wind conditions
Wave Series: mutants, made to rip the waves
After I did some inquiries with Jurek, I decided the Competition was the board which suited my wishes the most. The Rider and Competition are a close match concerning their properties. The Competition is a bit more designed for freestyle. The Rider has a bit more flex, a little bit different outline and larger 50mm fins. Also the rail itself is not straight like the one on the Competition.
Both boards are available in the next dimensions (weight is including all the hardware, pads & grab-handle)
127 x 37,5cm –(3,1kg) For the more lightweight riders and women
131 x 40cm – (3,3kg) For the rider with a more average weight
135 x 43cm – (3,5kg) For the heavier riders
Also a 127 x 40cm version is available, especially suited for the freestyle oriented rider who is looking for a short twin tip.
My first impression was that the construction is a little conventional compared with other boards available on the market today. The exceptionally light weight of the board is something extraordinary for a board with these dimensions. Skywalker gives a whole year breaking warranty so I think there will be no issue if it will be strong enough.
The board features an asymmetrical outline. The toe-side shape differs from the heel-side. This should improve riding toe-side.
The rail is straight and square. On the most thin part (tips) about 5mm in thickness. Not ultrathin like some other kiteboards currently available. The thickness increases the more you get to the centre of the board.
The board features a concave bottom of 4mm in depth. A nice feature is that the shape of the concave can be found in the shape of the top deck. This is convex shaped.
The rocker line is exceptional: flat at the tips and underneath the pads, pretty bend in the centre. As far as I can recall only the Nobile 666/NHP is the only other production kiteboard which features a similar rocker line. The advantage of this different rocker line should be an increase low-end performance and higher end speed.
The boards feature two wide stance options. I tested the smallest option, which was more wide than my previous board. The Brunotti Youri Zoon Pro has a similar wide stance. Just a matter of getting used to. Also not much seen is the use of double inserts per foot strap, eight in total. Another two extra inserts are in place for the use of wakeboard bindings.
The top sheet has a high gloss UV stable finish. The bottom sheet has a regular dim finish, so that scratches and other damage are not that visible. The board can be ordered in two different prints, whereof I got the “Walkout Nova” theme.
Pads and straps
The supplied pads are pretty soft. The straps give good support and comfort. You have to assemble them by putting four stainless steel bolts through the strap and pad in the inserts. This type of construction is always a bit delicate.
My first impression was that I do not see a moulded in foot bed, in contrary to the pads supplied on many other boards. Also a ridge for underneath your toes is not there. Just a simple and straightforward pad/strap combination.
My experience after testing is that these pads and straps give a lot of support, are very comfortable and do work a bit as shock absorbers. Despite the softness of the pads the feedback from the board is still there. Thanks to the absence of a foot bed you are not forced to ride duck stance all the time.
Sometimes one of my feet abruptly slips out the strap when riding other boards. I have not experienced that on the Competition. I would say even the other way round: your feet are pressed even more firm when you pop hard for a trick or jump! During a ride it is easy to wrench your feet out again without risking a wipe-out.
Slipping out of a strap suddenly is not complete caused by the used pad/strap combination, it is often a result of the shape of your board. Mostly it is a bit of a wave which runs over your board, which causes it to “stick” on the water when you pop. No pad/strap combination will help in such a situation. Skywalker obviously found the solution here in the geometry of the board.
I gave a lot of fellow riders a go on the board, varying in shoe size between 40 and 45. Larger feet will not give any problem, however smaller will be more difficult to get a snug fit. That is something I hear about most other pads and straps as well from competitors.
Low-end, high-end & speed
A lot of flex and the ability to absorb shocks has often a negative effect on the low-end performance of a kiteboard. Amazingly the low-end is very good, even astonishing! The tips are pretty flexible, but still you plane easily through long lulls.
I would have chosen a 39cm wide board instinctively, however the 40cm Competition fits my weight perfectly (and even 15kg (35 lbs) more heavy riders had the same opinion).
The boards works well with all tested kites. Personally I use kites with a lot of grunt, which result in a pretty high pressure on the rail. Even in 35 knots average wind speed I had full control over my kite, and never the sense that the force on my ankles was becoming too much to be still comfortable. Even with a C-kite in the high-end like the SlingShot Fuel 2009 the Competition was a good match.
Both in choppy conditions as on flat water the end speed is high. The acceleration is also good, especially necessary in surf to struggle yourself through it.
Everything has some sort of limit, and the Competition is no exception on this rule. However I had to give a lot of effort to lose the grip completely. And if this happens, the boards starts to slide fully controlled. And from this point it s pretty easy to dig your rail in the water again to get grip again without wiping out.
The boards runs exceptionally well through choppy water. There are no negative side effects like slapping on small waves, spray in your face and so on. I can even say that more sessions become fun where I would have called it a day when using my other freestyle boards.
Also going upwind goes remarkably well with this board. That was one of the features other test riders instantly noticed!
Even cruising on your toe-side is fun with this board. The first time I switched I had a wipe-out. That happened because I expected it to be difficult. Thanks to the asymmetrical outline this was easy. Even in low-end conditions you can plane pretty good, as well as going upwind in this position.
Jumping and landing
I am a big fan of old school big airs. One of the key features is to keep your edge as long in the water as possible in order to boost some serious height. With the Skywalker you can do this even in choppy water. And when you pop the board instantly releases itself from the water. And all with full control and with a lot of pop.
A little bit different kind of jumping is when you perform loaded-moves. I am not a star new school kiteboarder, but I do enjoy a few raileys and backrolls unhooked. As long as you keep tension on your flying lines the pop is good, but not explosive. Just powerful enough to keep full control.
When you try to switch skateboard style with an ollie, you notice that the tips have a lot of flex. A part of the energy applied for the ollie is absorbed by the board, but still more than enough energy is converted into the jump.
When performing hooked in kiteloops hard and fast landings are a common thing. Fellow kiteboarder on the beach told me that it looked like the board bends a lot after a (failed) kiteloop. Almost all the energy of the landing is absorbed by the flex and the pads. You really feel that happen underneath your feet. It saves your knees and other limps. A big plus for Skywalker!
To land big-airs with the Skywalker is a bit different from what I was used to. This boards asks to go a bit further downwind before you can steer upwind again to resume your tack.
This is a feature which is highly personal. I would say test the board if you like it or not. The Competition feels like a skateboard on the water. Despite its length of 131cm it feels smaller. Even without a small jump switching is very easy thanks to the short and thin 40mm fins and unusual rocker line.
The board feels loose on the water, and when you want you can ride it tightly on its edge. In despite of its very good upwind performance you do need to ride it actively to make it go upwind. Some boards do this automatically.
Most freestyle boards only like to go in a straight line. Long broad turns can be done easily. However as soon as you try to turn more tight turns most boards will slide controlled (or even uncontrolled) instead of gliding through the turn. The Competition is truly an exception: long broad turns as tight short turns can be performed with full control. Both on heel as toe-side! It is important to maintain as much speed as possible when turning. You can go fast with the Skywalker through long broad turns, but it is also possible when you go fast to turn so tight that you almost come to a stop.
I like to do broad jibed turns in strong wind, where you go as fast as possible and create a huge curtain of spray. This can be done well with the Competition, but you have to keep the turn broad actively.
I own a special directional kite surfboard when the conditions are good. Unfortunately the conditions at the North Sea in Holland are often too difficult to ride strapless and shred some waves to pieces (practice makes perfect!).
Although the Competition is a dedicated freestyle/freeride board it is amazing how good you can ride the waves with it. For a moment I was afraid that the short fins would spoil this party, but that is really not the case! Even on high waves which are about to break you can still maintain your grip for some nice wave riding. Off the lips and bottom turns, all very nice on the competition thanks to the very smooth transition between riding on your boards edge and riding on the fins only. Of course not as good as it would be on a dedicated surf twin tip, or wave directional. But for an all-round board (that is what I would like to call the Competition) absolute good performance figures here!
Required riding level
Could I recommend this board to a beginner? Absolutely!
In despite you have to ride this board more actively than a dedicated beginners board. The comfort is of such an exceptional class that this should not be a problem at all. And an advantage of this is that you do not have to invest in another board when you get better and want to do tricks and stuff.
For the hardcore flat water freestyle orientated rider there are boards which give more pop for loaded moves. However for the large group of freeriders out there with freestyle/new-school ambitions, or riders who like to go out every time and everywhere, I can fully recommend this board!
- Very good upwind ability
- Excellent low-end performance
- Very good high-end performance a lot of control
- Ability to turn broad as well as tight turns
- A lot of grip, easy to ride on the sharp rail
- Skateboard like feel, really loose on the water
- Good grip for riding in waves
- no irritating spray
- Good pop for loaded moves and especially big-airs
- Exceptionally comfortable in chop as well as waves
- Soft landings, good for the knees
- Pads and straps have to be assembled on a conventional way (a new system will likely be available for the 2010 range)
- You need to go a little bit downwind to carve upwind when doing fast landings
- Difficult to order for people who have a fear of buying online
I used to have a Skywalker board - I bought it in Summer 2009, and where I´m from we don´t have a lot of wind, so I haven´t used it a whole lot.
January 2010 one of the edges opened and it delaminated while riding. There are no marks on the sides, and I did not hit anything (at least not that I have noticed myself).
I´ve been e-mailing Skywalker about it, they say they are totally sure I must have hit something (I´ve e-mailed them many photos), and that they offer to sell me a new one 10 % off... not exactly what I want since the warranty is still for almost half a year, but obviously the warranty is not a warranty... least not to me.
Here in Holland quite a few Competitions and Riders are sold and used. I only know one of those who actually broke the board. He got a replacement after sending some photos to the factory.
My 2009 Competition is still looking brand new. I am a big fan of high kiteloops, so the board is beaten up many times during hard landings. People at the waterfront saw the board bend almost imaginably far, and still no scratch or damage visible:
Agreed... this time I went for a more recognized brand, Nobile with a 3 year warranty.
I took the Skywalker to the beach to throw it away, and the people at the center said "whoah, that delaminated for real" - I told them after the warranty problems, they checked for marks and completely agreed with me...
I e-mailed Skywalker again, they no longer reply...
my story is exactly the same with jannics , my competition series delaminated 5 months after purchase,i mail them they spot a minor dent to excuse the damage ,skywalker has an issue with delamination but above all their warranty policy sucks!!
Exact Same Issue, Never hit anything, my Skywalker Dimitri Pro 130 and light wind 135 both delaminated Bottom sheet, I crazy glued it and clamped, I enjoyed the board but the construction is a bit sketchy.