So I recently received my 2019 Eleveight RS kites and I wanted to share with you my thoughts and first impressions. To date I have only tried the 14m of the 2019 kites. Having sold my 2018 14 m demo I was anxious to replace this size and model in my quiver, but I had to wait as I offered my kite to others looking to demo the kite before I had a chance to fly it for myself. Then last week I was one of the last people at Lagoon City on Lake Simcoe and by the time I got out on the water the wind dropped to below 10 knots. Further out in the lake it was 11 knots but near shore it was between 7 and 9 knots so I had a big range to test the kite in.
I immediately jumped on my surf board and had a blast. I was literally singing while flying this kite as I was having so much fun! Within minutes of flying it I felt this was the best all round free ride kite I had ever flown, period.
The 2018 model was impressive. For a first year brand and model I thought it was every bit as good as the Cabrinha Switchblade which has been around for over 15 years and has long been one of my favorite kites, but this 2019 kite blew the Switchblade, the 2018 RS and every other freeride kite I have ever flown out of the water.
The new model turns faster than last year and almost as fast as a freestyle kite. The bar pressure was something out of a fairy tale being neither too light nor too strong and feeling just right. You always knew where this kite was in the sky and what it was doing. You could feel the kite as if you had a sixth sense and were psychically tuned to its every movement. This kite is going to let beginners and advanced riders alike take their riding to a new level.
Alot of effort has been made touting this new techno force x4 rip stop fabric and until this day part of me couldn't help but wonder if it was mostly marketing hype ... but when i got the kite in the sky i understood what they were raving about. This fabric isn't just about 4 threads to prevent tears ... its about 4 threads that prevent stretching and fluttering of the canopy ... and WOW does it work. This canopy was so stable both in flight and when parked in the sky. It felt like the kite was more like a rigid airplane wind than a piece of fabric. It allowed the kite to move so smoothly, quickly and predictably through the sky that I simply could not keep from singing - I was having so much fun!
I didn't even fully pump up the kite and it was performing better than I could have imagined. The added benefit of the new fabric and coatings is that the material will not lose shape and performance for many years of wonderfully satisfying usage. I now understand why this fabric is being so heavily touted.
The 2019 RS still retained all of its boosting, lift and hang time splendor but with the added turning speed, improved feel, stability and predictability this kite is sure to become a boosters dream. Last years kite was impressive and became my defacto free ride kite of choice ... but this year its like i found the love of my life and wanted o marry her!
The 2018 RS had one of the biggest wind ranges I have ever seen but I did notice at the very high end of the spectrum the kite would exhibit some minor instability and at the very low end could be tricky to relaunch. This was never a big deal or serious flaw and in fact most people wouldn't even notice but when you kite and teach for a living you do notice some minor qualities and characteristics ... so I was anxious to see how the 2019 RS stacked up.
I loved my 2018s so much that I was hesitant to sell them. What of the new kites were not as good? I feared I would lose my favorite gear. I would ride my 14m on my trusty Wing board in winds with no one else other than foilers. I had heard from some trusted sources that the 2019s were better but does one ever truly know until you experience it for yourself?
Let me tell you, and as the video can attest, this kite flies in even less wind and relaunches even easier than before. In the video I say 8 or 9 knots but I wouldn't be surprised if it was down to 7 and I was able to relaunch the 14m effortlessly. I haven't had a chance to test the high end stability yet because frankly i haven't had this kite out in high enough wind to push it to the limit yet. This past weekend i flew it in up to 20 knot gusts and clearly that was no where near the upper limit of what this kite can handle so yes I believe the wind range somehow is even better than last year.
In fact I have yet to find a single flaw with this kite. The new carry bag unzips along three sides whereas last year did two so its easier to put back in the bag even. And the new bag is a backpack style, and while i didn't mind last years messenger bag style alot of people prefer backpack style.
In terms of looks the kite is a stunner. I wanted grey because i felt it looked best in the pictures but after seeing the other colors in person they all look spectacular. I love the simple and elegant design of these kites... they are not filled with useless over designed patches and swaths of colors graphics and remind me of an elegant Italian sports car.
I cant wait to try the 2019 FS and the other sizes of the RS but I believe a round of applause is in order. Somehow the team at Eleveight have done the improbable ... They followed up the best release of a kite company with the best release of a kite ever ... I don't know how these kites are going to stay in stock once word gets out about how good these are ... and this time I'm not selling my demos until I actually fly something better which does not seem likely ... unless they invent anti-gravity for the 2020 models!
This past year we added a new sailboat manufacturer to our line up of great boats; Grabner. Grabner is a company from Austria that has been in business making great boats since 1979. Today they make some very high quality Inflatable Catamaran sailboats and kayaks. While the sailboats are lesser known in North America they are very well known in Germany, but their inflatable kayaks are known all over the world and often written about in paddling magazines.
We carry the full line of Grabner products but are still in the process of listing everything to the web site so if there is a particular product or accessory you are interested in but do not see, please do not hesitate to contact us. You can shop for Grabner products in our online store by clicking HERE.
So now in addition to the ever popular MiniCat inflatable Catamarans we also offer SmartKat and Grabner Happy Cat's. We are your Canadian source for high quality portable sailboats and watersports gear.
Our contract with Grabner also allows us to supply boats to other countries including America where you can shop in Canadian dollars and take advantage of favorable exchange rates and be sales tax exempt.
I finally got a chance to test the Row on Air: Row Vista system and here are my first impressions and review. If I had to sum it down to one word, that word would be WOW.
Row Vista was designed and built in Austria by Row & Sail. It was first released as part of the XCAT multi function sailboat platform. It is a forward facing rowing system that allows you to rotate, articulate and feather the oars just like you do in a traditional rear facing high performance rowing scull. There are other forwards facing rowing systems on the market but they do not feature this blade feathering functionality. With those other designs you have to raise the oar much higher out of the water which results in more energy wasted and a less efficient stroke as well as the likelihood of catching the oar in your forward stroke.
XCAT also has the Row Motion system which is essentially a traditional rear facing rowing platform with sliding seat and foot rests for the purists out there. What makes forward rowing so compelling is that you can see where you are going which is without question a safer way to travel.
Rowing on the XCAT was superb as the platform was incredibly stable, smooth and fast. The wide base of the multi-hulled boat meant anyone could hop aboard and start rowing within seconds. The other advantage of course is that when the wind was blowing the XCAT was a really fun and capable sailboat! Unfortunately not everyone has room to store a sailboat, even one as portable as an XCAT! So Row & Sail had been working on developing a system that would work with rigid and inflatable SUPs and Kayaks.
Last year Row on Air product lines were officially launched and the response has been tremendous. We finally got our hands on one and wanted to share our thoughts on it.
I chose the Row Vista as this was the most innovative and intriguing unit. Row on Air offers 2 iSUPs and 1 inflatable Kayak model but the system ill work with a variety of other brands. We chose the Air Skiff 17' which is what you would call a displacement style SUP. These slice through the water as opposed to skitter on top of it like an all round SUP. They tend to track straighter and are faster in flat water but not as good at catching waves. Since I already have a regular SUP I wanted to compare the difference for myself.
Not including the SUP, the Row Vista system ships in 2 bags, 1 for the oars and gear mechanism and the other contained the base platform which consisted of the skid, seat and foot rests. The first thing i noticed was the package is much bigger than I anticipated, the longest bag being 80 inches. However each bag was much lighter than I expected and the heaviest one couldn't have weighed more than 30 lbs and the other felt like no more than 15 lbs. While easy to carry I do wish the bags had shoulder straps.
When I opened the bags and saw the stunning matte black finish of the carbon oars and anodized aluminum outrigger I was blown away. This was something out of an Apple store. The only thing better than looking at it was touching it. Each piece just exuded quality and engineering thought fullness.
The iSUP, the heaviest of the components, also came in a high quality bag with backpack shoulder straps and wheels which made it really easy to lug about. I first pumped up the iSUP. Normally I hate pumping things up and always recommend to customers that they get an electric pump, but my battery was drained from being used the past few days so I was forced to use the manual pump ... but much to my surprise it was really easy to inflate and the pressure gauge worked flawlessly. The pump had some sort of mechanism that made it much easier than other SUP pumps I've used.
Next I installed the Outrigger. In typical fashion I did not watch the instruction videos first so I made a couple of mistakes ... but within a couple of minutes i figured them out and resolved the issues. The system is incredibly intuitive and used friendly. Many people have commented how beautifully crafted the XCAT's are and how easily they come together and that same thoughtfulness is carried over to the Row on Air Product lines. They did however make a slight change to previous versions and I was testing the new SD-R mechanism. This system just clicked into place ... next time I will make a video of it because it works so elegantly.
With everything setup and my boater's safety kit (my trusty North Face backpack contains all my safety kit) strapped in, I waded into the lake. It was a windier day than I had hoped for my first session but but this would give me a good view of how the skiff would perform in adverse conditions.
I climbed aboard and immediately was disoriented by the forward facing system. I haven't done much rowing but the little I had done was enough to build some instinctual muscle memory that left me a little bewildered. But within a few minutes I was quickly starting to adapt.
The Air Skiff was little wobbly and it was clear that I probably should have chosen calmer waters or a less windy day for my first test session but I managed more than 2 hours on the water without a single capsize so that was quite reassuring. I started off on my knees straddling the center beam while i built my balance and comfort with the system. Within half an hour I had gotten onto the seat and into the foot rests. But I ended up changing positions seating styles many times to adapt to the challenging conditions. At one point i let my feet drag through the refreshing waters as i casually rowed up and down the bay.
By the end of an hour I was doing very well at feathering the oars and steering but I still had trouble with the overlapping handles. If you see rowers close up, one hand is above the other. As a novice I would have preferred non overlapping handles but I am sure there is a benefit to this design and would have to get used to it. An hour later I was much more comfortable with the overlap.
Once I got the hang of it I was really impressed with the power of each stroke and the speed I could generate. There were some SUPers in the water and I felt noticeably faster than them. I also liked that the system was not noisy. There was no loud creaking or gear sounds or any other extraneous noises of significance to detract from the sound of water gliding over the hull. During the calmer moments I also reveled in the sound of the sculls as they skimmed the surface using the patented feathering action. This was a really fun system.
I also felt that amazing workout burn that you get from a rowing machine with the added benefit of engaging your core through the act of balancing the SUP. I couldn't help but smile knowing that I was getting a great workout while having so much fun.
As the sun drifted lower in the sky and the shimmering sparkles across the water increased I started to analyze and wonder who is this product for? After all it's not exactly "cheap" in price. Clearly this was a high end toy for people who like high end gear and started to equate it with people who buy nice carbon fiber road bikes. I wish it was less expensive but the simple reality was anything that's hand made by artisans in Austria will always be more expensive than something made en masse in a sweat shop factory in China. Sometimes I wonder if the price for cheap is worth the cost to our humanity ... but that's another story.
I also wondered if I had to choose between rowing, SUP and Kayaking what would it be? Now that was a conundrum.
I once worked with a senior finance guy who would wake up at 4:00 AM to make sure he was on the water for 5 rowing to the rising sun. Rowers are a breed that seem obsessed with this amazing sport, but then again, aren't SUPers and Kayakers and Canoers? In the end I thought this would be perfect for people like me who had one of each ;) that way I could pick and choose. Also, each sport works out the body differently so by rotating it would be a good way to train the body. Also, this system overlaps with an iSUP or Kyaka so you could easily do more than one sport. If you are a die hard SUPer than stick with SUPing ... but if you want to throw something else into the mix and keep your water time from getting stale then why not mix it up?
In the end I decided each sport had it's primary user group. Clearly this would appeal to rowers but could serve as a secondary activity to paddlers. Or if you have a partner one could sup while the other paddles or rows, etc. But would this system appeal to high performance rowers?
Rowers in the past would have to join a rowing club and be limited to where and when they could row. Being a part of a club can be fun but it adds an expense. Sometimes you don't want the added expanse and other obligations and issues that comes with a club and you want the freedom to row whenever and wherever ... so yes i thought, this would definitely appeal to high end rowers. It certainly had the same features and performance of a high end rowing system. So what about traditional versus forward facing?
I definitely want to get a rear facing system just because I like having lots of choices for water activities and toys for friends to get out on the water with me. The rear facing is without a doubt the best for training if you are competing. But for novice or recreational users I cant help but think that the added safety and visibility of forward facing is the way to go. In the end I couldn't decide between the two and I leave that choice up to you.
But what I will say is if you are looking for a fun new activity to add to your water sports toolbox then look no further. This thing is incredible. I want to show it off as much as possible because i think it is such an amazing piece of tech. My hats off to the engineers and designers at Row on Air, they truly built something special that is as beautiful as it is functional.
Reach out to us if you want to start the conversation rolling on trying one out or getting one for yourself. We cant wait to show this off.
Thanks for reading everyone everyone and remember to be safe on the water and:
#seastheday #stepintoliquid #live #thelifeaquatic
with your trusted source for gear and info #MysticPointWaterSports
A couple more add-on points I wanted to make:
The Row Vista tracks incredibly straight. I don't know if it was a result of the Air Skiff or the RowVista itself (I'd imagine a bit of both) but wow this thing tracks straight. Where you look is where you go and even with one hand you can row straight as I was doing in the video above while holding the camera in the other.
The system comes in either a Flat "F" Outrigger which is ideal for SUPs and "Y" outrigger which is designed to go around the sidewalls of a kayak. The Y will work with a SUP but the F is cleaner and more out of the way of knees and legs and is therefore more comfortable and roomy.
The F-Outrigger has a further choice of UniHook or UniStrap, the Y Outrigger only comes in UniStrap. The UniHook is meant to work with the Row on Air branded SUP, Kayak and Skiffs which have been specially made to include cutouts for the feet and hooks for the UniHook fasteners. The UniStrap is meant to be used with a strap that goes around a SUP that does not have the hooks for securing. I used both to be extra sure I didn't lose my investment. I didn't try the UniHook alone but I'm confident the engineers did their job well and that the system will hold.
If you buy a unit I suggest getting the Unihook with 2 straps so you have the choice of both just like I did and therefore have the greatest flexibility for future use.
You can also add a couple of velcro straps to secure your feet into the foot rests but it's not necessary and I probably wouldn't recommend it until you are a more seasoned rower after a few sessions.
The SUP and Skiff can be wobbly but if you keep your weight low and are familiar with balance on a SUP you shouldn't have any problems. While I was out a SUPer fell of his SUP in the choppy conditions and others were paddling on their knees but I had no issues and didn't fall of once during the session.
And finally As always I say wear a life jacket, bring water and sunscreen and take every safety precaution you can while on the water. iSUPs are super safe and can be run over by a truck without damage but whenever I am on the water I take safety very seriously.
I hope I've answered any questions you may have with this blog post but if not feel free to reach out. ANd sory for any spelling mistakes or gramtical errors -- i hate proof reading. Thanks again for reading. Aloha fellow water lovers and water sport enthusiasts.
There's few things more rewarding in my business than hearing about how satisfied a customer is and the joy they feel from getting back onto the water. Thank you Theo for the great message you just sent me and letting me use your words and images in the blog.
There are no words to describe the feeling! Especially since I've waited so long to be back at sea again! The boat is very fast and easily maneuverable, but I guess you already know that. ;)
As I said there are no words, so I'm sending you another e-mail with a link that will give you access to some photos and a small video which you can use as you wish. The sun was so bright that I could hardly see my phone's screen, but the result is not so bad after all, for the first time.
Anyway, I cannot thank you enough for your patience, your passion, your insights and for making all this a reality for me!
Eleveight has officially launched their 2019 kites. We have a bunch of 2019 models in stock but there is high demand for these amazing new kites so be sure to get your order in before they are gone. We also still have a very small number of 2018 new and demo kites on sale but they are going fast also. Here are some videos of our friend Kevin Wade from Eleveight as he reviews and summarizes the features of the new models. Take it away Kevin:
We go out of our way to make sure our customers are happy and get the most out of those precious moments on the water .... so we love hearing, and in this case seeing, happy customer stories. Check out this one sent to us by a family who purchased a Torqeedo Electric Outboard. They hooked it up to a floating dock and created a living room on the water. This might very well be one of the best, if not most creative uses, of a Torqeedo electric outboard ever.
**Updated** - Tiwal vs Laser (Price): A Comparison of Portable/Inflatable sailboats like the Tiwal, MiniCat, XCat and others to rigid fibreglass and plastic hulled Sailboats like the Laser.
Customers have the best questions. Recently I got asked a question that I have been asked many times before:
"I'm comparing prices with Laser-type boats and am surprised at the cost. Is there a reason the Tiwal is so expensive?"
Here's my answer (and more)...