Slingshot has led the way with the Foil Acadamy and introduced many riders to the concept of adjusting their mast height as they progress. What other things have you learned about mast height in Slingshot’s R&D work?
Our multi-mast Flight School system basically changed the method for learning to foil overnight. We don’t claim to have come up with the concept of using a shorter mast, but we were definitely the first to embrace it, take the risk to develop and manufacture it and bring it to the world.
We’re always learning. We are students as much as we are professors, and it’s our curiosity and our willingness to experiment that has kept Slingshot at the cutting edge of the kiteboarding world since 1999. Something unexpected, and incredibly valuable, that we continue to learn, stems from introducing the multi-mast Flight School system. It has nothing to do with the parts and pieces of foiling and everything to do with the people.
By creating a system that makes foiling infinitely more approachable, we quickly learned just how hungry people are for tangible information, instruction and guidance in this relatively new and often intimidating activity. We realized that brands were selling expensive, fragile and, to be honest, potentially dangerous foils to people while providing very little information about how to use them.
We saw this as a huge void for the consumer, so we created Foil Academy as a solution. It’s free, it’s available to anyone and it’s filled with useful information, tips, tricks and tutorials that anyone learning to foil needs to know.
The 2018 Slingshot Rally kite fits squarely into a category where many other designers would opt for three, two, or even one strut. Why five? Did doing R&D work in the Gorge influence this?
The Rally has been our top selling kite for years. That speaks for itself in a lot of ways, it’s a bit of a flawed question since the Rally genuinely doesn’t fit into any category. We realize marketing language by many brands is diluted and people are tired of hearing every kite described as all-around and versatile. But in the case of the Rally, it’s not just marketing blah, blah, blah. It really is the most versatile, cross-category kite in our lineup.
One reason for that is its five-strut configuration. The wingtips have micro-struts, which are small in diameter to keep weight down while maintaining stability and the easy relaunch people love about the Rally.
There’s a saying about the Gorge; if you can kite here you can kite pretty much anywhere. That holds true for our approach to kite development as well, and having the crazy conditions of the Gorge as our daily testing grounds is certainly one reason Slingshot kites have the reputation they do. It’s fair to say that even if you don’t fly Slingshot, you’ve heard that our kites can handle just about any condition you can get yourself into.
Is it true Slingshot has un-cancelled windsurfing?
Hah! From the view out our window, windsurfing was never canceled, but it’s about to get a lot more interesting!
What many people may not know is we got our start in the wind industry before kiteboarding was even a sport. Slingshot was founded by brothers Jeff and Tony Logosz, who came to the Gorge about 30 years ago to windsurf. We’ve followed a lot of different paths since then, but we always kept a corner in our garage for our dusty old boards and sails. With our history and our experience in foil development, helping lead the revolution in windsurf foiling was a natural progression. It’s going to be an exciting year in this category.
What changes are in store for the 2018 RPM?
The RPM is pretty well dialed so we’re not changing the performance for 2018. Just minor tweaks to materials to increase durability and help streamline the leading edge. We’ve added a Kevlar patch to prevent line rub on the wingtip and have modified our scuff patches to be more aerodynamic. Our bungee IRS bridle has been a major success since we introduced it a couple years ago, so that will carry over as well.
Slingshot uses a high density deck pad that work amazingly well with booties, and holds up really well. But they are not as soft and grippy as the softest surf pads. Is this an intentional design choice for kiting?
Interesting question. We have never heard that our pads aren’t soft enough. If you know Slingshot, you know we’re focused on performance and durability. Of course comfort is important, but what good is something comfortable if it falls apart? Serious surfers who want extra grip rub a little board wax on their pad and are good to go.
How did the new chicken loop replacement for use with rope spreader bars come about? It’s super slick.
The Talon was designed off the concept of having a part that would run smoother off the rope and brings the bar closer to the rider, allowing your body to be more in align instead of having your arms fully stretched out when depowering is needed. It was based on the concept for Wave riding and Foiling. Providing effortless movement of the bar for the rider. It brings the kite bar closer to your waist giving you the ultimate freedom of movement, range of motion and kite control.
The crispness of the bottom shaping on the 2018 Slingshot boards is really defined. What changes in the production process made this possible? Different style of press?
We are now pressing boards with improved quality molds. Better quality molds result board features to be more pronounced, defined another word for this would be, sharp contours. Having a board side by side you can see the more defined 3 dimensional features.
What are your goals in performance improvement for 2018? In what areas: boards and kites? Any plans and strategies that worked to achieve those goals you can share? Any future secret developments that might interest consumers?
Foil. Foil. Foil.
If you thought Slingshot was ahead of the foil game this year, wait until you see what we have coming for 2018. And not just for kite. We are leading the charge across all categories: kite, wake, windsurf, surf and SUP. Slingshot has been ahead of the curve on a lot of innovation over the last 20 years, and what we have coming for foil is going to have other brands playing catch up for years to come.