The new Religion is out there and I can teel that you are tempted to convert.
Down under in PERTH we tend to get a jump on the new seasons kites as our season runs through the Northern Hemisphere winter.
First let me say that I am theb Australian Team Rider for RRD but this review is not driven by commerce as much as a kind of fanatical zealotry that has taken me over since finding Religion and a wish to convert new souls.
I have had the new 2013 Religions 7m and 9m for the past 4 weeks. As I have been riding religions since the Mk I, I didnt really expect any surprises nor really want any as i really loved my Mk IIs.
I did feel the Mk 1 had impressive turning but failed to impress on bottom end performance and upwind. If you read previous reviews I have been honest about that. Last year these issues had been ironed out and the kites were magnificent. The 7 was smoother but the 9m felt truly exciting. Almost as quick at the 7m but with bags of power. The 9m days were no longer a dissappointing anticlimax, as I dreamed of enough wind to use my 7m, but had become days to really love . Last years 11.5m was a whole lot better than the year before with a great bottom end better upwind and faster turning. i took that kite to Balian [Bali] in July and it really proved its worth in the 15kt trades .
3.5 years after finding Religion I dont know any more if my style was made for these kites or by this kites but we seem to gel.
So what of this year's?
Well if you have read the blurb from RRD the new kites are smoother and more stable with better drift. The tips are a little bigger and marginally more swept back. The maximum chord depth has moved slightly and the panel layout and colour schemes have changed. There have been subtle improvements to the lines too.
I cannot comment on the biggest size as i havent got thé 11.5 yet but the 7m and 9m have been everything promised.
My first feeling was that it was hard to tell the difference from last year's kite, but that could never be a criticism.
RRD been real I-talians and all, are renowned for the importance they place on ''style'' and have pulled out all the stops on these kites with panel layout, colours and finish. I have had a least 5 different random kiters, in just 4 weeks, come up to me on the beach and and say unprompted ''wow! pretty kite!''.
I have the red white and black. When I pulled it out of the bag it looked like someone had designed it while stoned and looking at a lava lamp, and so I wasn't so sure. At a distance of 20m in the air, you can really see what all those 1970 psychedelic sworls are all about, and viewed out on the water it gets even better. In a pack of 30 bobbing kites at your local this one is really going to stand out.
When you analyse what RRD designers have done you can see why it is so different. RRD are on a whole new level of cleverness [or perhaps CAD development]. Look around the beach and you will sees that most, if not all, kite companý's still have large monochrome panels laid in long rectangles along the shaping seams. Colour is often provided by screen printing on logos and colour on top of the base material colour. In time the printing can wear ald look daggy. RRD has however completely deconstructed the entire canopy shape into swirling shapes of different coloured cloth. There is not a straight seam in sigh. It looks... well .....organic. All this is stitched to together to construct the whole image..... a giant RRD insignia. All of this also incorporates curving Dacron reinforcement panels too and not just on the trailing edge which everyone else does.
These kites are the whole package made not joust to perform but also made to survive in the waves. As far as I can see, and looking around at the competition in the wave kite market, they are the only manufacturer to incorporate significant extra panel reinforcement.
Does it work?
Well ask Neil Taylor of ''Hold the Line Kites'' Kitesurf repairs in Perth. He repairs more kites than anyone in Perth or possibly Australia, and I think he has yet to have to fix a religion despite serious West Australian wave use. He also has a happy tale to tell of how some other brands keep him very busy. Thank god for his business that they are not all reinforced like Religions!
There is a slight weight penalty to pay for strength of course, but I cannot say it translates into significantly less drift although in theory it would. There is absolutely no back flying even with the back lines way too tight. Certainly the balance is superb when drifting with the kite falling back down the line but keeping just enough line tension on. Personally I think drift is a bit overrated anyway and it is in fact speed of response that will keep the kite out of the drink.
This years religions have lost none of that controllable feel either, tight turning and smooth but with the same 'Zap' or 'Pop' in the turns. None of that slack-arsed pivotal delta kite turning thank you very much, but more of a proper, tight, powered arc C kite feel, without the sudden Jerk and subsequent punishment of a C. This one is going to accelerate you 'smoothly through a bottom turn and then snap you off the lip if you've got the timing. Those who may have seen me out at the recent WA state wave titles or at Scarborough will surely have noticed the extreme turning speed and how the kite can do a virtual dance in the sky throwing arabesques in time with whatever is needed on the wave
Do they jump and perform as an allrounder? Well on 23m lines aimed at control for wave ridng they are never going to boost as high as the obsession but they do have a really exciting feel with the tight powered arcs. In many ways the feel has gone a little closer to the perennially popular Obsession, just with more bar feedback and tighter turning.
My advice is if you are into waves and before you buy any other kite get down to John at SOS Fremantle or to DS Surfing Qld and at least Demo one and find Religion for your self. I am a convert.