Matchu Lopes: “I don’t want to use anything else!”
What’s the best way to go wavekiting? With a harness hook or a rope slider? With the rope system, the chicken loop is fixed to a pass-through rope or webbing which allows the chicken loop to slide freely from left to right instead of being connected to the hook in the centre of your harness plate.
It’s a question of personal preference and riding style. One of the riders in the GKA Kitesurf World Cup who uses the rope system is Matchu Lopes. As one of the top strapless wave professionals, riding with a conventional harness hook is not an option for him. “I don’t want to use anything else. No way! For maximum performance in the waves you have to use the rope slider!”
What are the pros and cons of the rope slider system?
+ When kiting “switch” and riding waves, the chicken loop slides to the preferred side without pulling, allowing for optimal freedom of movement.
+ Improved load distribution on the harness in strong winds. Forces are spread more evenly as opposed to riding with a conventional hook, when you really start feeling loads directly on the hip bones and in the lower back area.
+ With the rope system, the chicken loop moves to where it needs to go for maximum support and freedom of movement. “It’s so brilliant, I often totally forget that I’m wearing a harness at all. You can’t even feel the chicken loop sliding, but it’s always at exactly the right spot, no matter if I’m riding a wave or tacking upwind,” Matchu says.
+ Because the chicken loop slides from left to right, the harness effectively doesn’t. It stays perfectly in place and doesn’t ride up or move around your waist.
+ Also foil kiters love the rope system: as the chicken loop can move freely along the rope without any resistance, the pull of the kite is beautifully balanced and consistent.
– Riding a twintip, the rope interferes with creating maximum tension in the lines just before initiating a jump as the chicken loop moves on the rope when you steer the kite back to boost. Thus it’s really tricky to jump as high with the slider system as you would with a fixed harness hook.
– “I can’t do any unhooked tricks with it!” Matchu grins. Obviously, as you can’t unhook being connected to the rope.
– “A little maintenance is required too, like changing the rope once in a while as it does wear out. You want to make sure you don’t have to swim back to land in pumping surf,” admits Matchu.
‘Spreader bar with rope,’ ‘rope bar,’ ‘slider bar,’ are just a few names that brands use for the rope system. For Matchu it´s the ‘ION C Bar 3.0’, a harness plate that offers both a hook and a rope.
“If I want to use the rope, I just remove the hook. It’s so easy! With a normal fin key I unscrew three screws and remove the hook,” says Matchu. “ION replaced the rope with a super strong Dyneema Webbing on the new C Bar 3.0. This kind of webbing is usually found in climbing equipment and hardly wears out. It’s freakin’ awesome!”
How long have you been using the rope system Matchu?
“Ever since ION launched the first harness with a rope slider. I tried it and fell in love with it from the very first session!”
Matchu had one more tip for us:
“Use a chicken loop with a metal plate where it runs along the rope. That will not only save the chicken loop but also the rope! Plus, the chicken loop slides so much smoother with the metal attachment. Check out the Duotone Rope Harness Kit for the perfect solution. Or, you could attach a stainless steel ring to the rope on your harness and hook your chicken loop into that.”