Shinn Jackson Hydro Foil Boards

On the 24th April we had the great pleasure in getting to not only demo the very latest foil from Shinn Kiteboarding but also have the man himself (2 x World Champ) here to both show it off on the water but also to explain the principles of the thing. We also had the UK distributer for both Shinn and Airush here and believe me he was as keen as me to try the Jackson out…it really is a big thing!

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So after a few exchanges of small talk we got down to the task ahead and got kitted up. I took the all new 9m Airush Ultra’s (man it is so small and light when packed up – and was also a revelation in the sky, particularly with the foil board)

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I grabbed the P Foil as this is the wing we believe will shake up the whole foil world as we know it.

For too long the high end brands have been pushing the whole sexy sleek carbon wonders, sweet to look at but a bitch to learn with. yes they look sexy, yes they are super light weight but this comes at a cost both in $ but also in general user ability and also durability.

shinnjacksonhydrofoilboard2017_1-1The Model F & Model P

The Jackson sits firmly in the “friendly” perimeter of this discipline however don’t pigeon hole it as simply a beginner board that you will grow out of in just a few short months…you won’t.

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The Jackson is obviously not as light as a full carbon set up but it is way lighter than most alu mast foils including the current El Stubbo.

As soon I dived the kite I was up, instant! So instant it took me by surprise and as quick as I was up I was back down…but relatively gently. Once I’d found the balance spot which is super easy on this I was off. I instantly felt comfortable and really inspired to push to advance my beginner/intermediate level.

I really cannot wait to get one for our demo fleet so I can push my strapless/tacking etc.

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After the session we sat in Mikes van and chatted over a beer about just how crazy this new foil is, how it will hopefully change foiling for the better.

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Later in the week Mike has reported that our initial response to the Jackson had been repeated where ever they had demoed it…here’s a few responses.

– “Oh great” said one foil expert, rather sarcastically, “now any rider is going to be able to foil”
and
– “I feel like I have just wasted a year trying to learn on a traditional foil”

 

My initial feedback was that It’s floaty, but not so floaty like the Moses (harder to initiate strapless), when it touches down it bounces right back up. It gets up extremely early and in next to no speed at all, very inspiring.

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With this type of purchase it really is so so important to get the correct board as many if not most out there will be simply waisting there money and it will inevitably end up being sat in the back of most peoples cars after a while.

With this setup the humiliation of learning to foil is all but removed.

I can honestly recommend this foil, I was truly gobsmacked when i took it out so much so I don’t really want to use our current ones now lol
I know the Bridge family (multiple world foil champs) and the Kiteworld tester Neal Gent were out on the P foil later in the week also and gave pretty much the same response as me.

Shinn had a newbie guy in Kenya with them recently who could barely kite up wind, he took the P foil out and within an hour he was riding both ways comfortably upwind….it really is that much easier than what we were learning on.

However this foil does not top out early like many of the beginner focussed foils out there and Shinn confirms comfortable speeds nearing 30knots

Think depowerable bridled kites compared to C’s, this is looking to be a similar story!

The only negative is the wing doesn’t look that sexy compared to the full on race wings, but the up side is you’ll learn so fast without all the pain that is the norm but then you can work on your transitions or strapless etc

I should also mention that when on the board it feels kinda like your “in it” rather than precariously stood on top, it feels way more balanced/stable even at speed. The rails are chimed both on the top and bottom which gives it this feature, it also helps with the inevitable touch downs.

So….my recommendation….. the one to go for is 100% the 145cm and the 90cm mast (we all agreed the short mast is still too on off for many but the market is dictating the need to offer them at least)

Even Shinn preferred the 145cm rather than the the shorter 125cm version

I am well aware that I am gushing over this foil but I genuinely believe Shinn has stumbled on a real winner here.

Stock is due in the next couple of weeks so if your deffo interested I’d get an order in pronto, I’m doing the same!

A quick edit of our demo

M

More information and prices etc here : https://www.blastkiteboarding.co.uk/shinn-jackson-foil-board-complete-package/

It’s good to explore

The season is almost over for the Blast School but on the plus side it allows us to venture a bit further afield than our regular local beaches we spend so much time at during the teaching season.

Many years ago before I discovered the joys of kitesurfing I used to surf and one of the things I loved most about surfing was the travelling and discovering new locations. I have fond memories of trekking across field after field up in the very far North of Scotland trying to find that elusive perfect wave.

So when I took up kitesurfing back around 1999-2000 it was the same feeling I rediscovered, hours spent checking over maps, driving down dead-end lanes, no one back then knew much about which wind directions were do-able. Until then the few of us that did kite just went to the known windsurf spots, which to be honest were actually some of the most undesirable locations to kite, i.e. usually very rocky and also gusty conditions.

Eventually I discovered that places like Rest Bay in Porthcawl were in fact better than the alternatives like the Knap in Barry. This was part by accident as I was still mostly surfing and on a few occasions I’d get to the big ope beaches only to find windy cross on conditions. Now you have to understand that at the time it was generally accepted (at least here in S.Wales) that cross shore was the “only” way.

Obviously it’s nice to fly off to some hot windy place like Brazil, Canaries or SA etc But we also have an abundance of amazing beaches right under our noses here in the UK.

We really are truly blessed living in Wales. Having so so many amazing beaches to choose from and covering all wind / swell directions. The past few months we have had a huge wind drought here in S.Wales, it seems to happen every year around the same time….Autumn!!
Global Warming??
Weird hey, you’d naturally think that Autumn would be the start of the windy season, right? Well not for the past few years at least!

For the past few seasons it seems to be nothing all September and October and then by mid November BAM, we get a huge dose of gale force winds, all or nothing!

Anyway, I digress. The past few weeks have been poor but there have been a few days of either Easterlies or Northerlies, not exactly idea especially as we live on the South West coast. So with the last few lessons cancelled due to undesirable wind directions or next to no wind locally, after a little time checking google maps etc you can normally fine a decent beach somewhere further afield on our wonderful coast line that will hopefully be “all time”

So with a few good mates it’s time to head off, a mini adventure. To be honest it’s a very “mini” adventure as we only have to travel approx 90mins and we can cover all of Pembroke and half way up the coast of Wales…this gives us the choice of hundreds of beaches. At this time of the year these beaches are also quite, very quiet!

7 The Car Park

This weekend just gone “Bonfire Night” was due to be NNE winds, rubbish locally but checking the maps we could see numerous beaches down West Wales. So we decided to load up the vans with good friends Alun & Wendy and check out some new spots. Actually to tell you the truth Alun had already kited where we were headed many years ago but that’s another story.

 

14962519_10154481971336294_4728563640318595056_n New Quay Harbour

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New Quay was the first choice and so we booked a AirB&B for the night (dog friendly too, so Monty and Toro could come).

Parking in a beautiful woodland carpark was just the start of the experience!2 This is the stream next to the carpark.

The walk to the beach was down a beautiful wooded valley path, I love the sound of crunching leaves under your feet.

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Once at the beach we were greeted with a strong cross on winds and 2-4ft surf…..and an amazing view! We spent the next few hours kiting all by ourselves! The winds were very cold being from the North but with new winter wetsuits from Mystic to keep us warm we were fine.

Small kites were the order of the day, we all rigged up our “go to kite” the 6.5m Renegade by Epic Kites. Actually Sarah would have been better on her 6m Ozone Enduro as the 6.5m was a little too much for her at times.

During the session I managed to get back on dry land and grab a few shots with the SLR of both Sarah and Alun out kiting.

1 Sarah

5 Alun with his 5m Surf (on 18m lines it was just a little too small)

6 Me enjoying my new Mystic Majestic winter suit, my first session this year in a winter suit. Brrr winter is def coming!

A few hours later and we were all very happy with the decision to take the risk and drive a little further west and explore.

Hopefully we will get plenty more days like this over the coming months, fingers crossed!

 

Hydro Foil Kiteboarding

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First off…I’m deff no expert but thought it may be worth sharing some of my experiences with starting out on a hydro foil board for a complete beginners perspective and honestly it’s not as easy as it looks.

We’ve all seen the video’s of the pro’s effortlessly gliding a metre above the water making it look oh so easy, well believe me it ain’t….not in the beginning at least!

Obviously it helps if you are a competent kitesurfer but to be honest it really is like starting kitesurfing all over again but that’s part of the big attraction. Something new and exciting, a totally new challenge.

I bought a used Sroka foil off a friend who was looking to upgrade to a new race wing, the Sroka is a pretty good setup to start with…so I’m told.

My first session was a total disaster, I had my first go back in February on a freezing winters day, I even had gloves on that day (I rearely use gloves but it was extremely cold easterlies) which did not help. Just getting your feet in the front straps at the beginning is hard enough..it’s hard to get the board up on an edge so you can get your feet in. Then there is the whole balance thing, the board just wants to shoot up into the sky..it’s alive!

12742745_10153789925126294_1662643119226238121_n Sharp enough to chop your digits off!

It’s advisable to wear all the protective gear you have at the start i.e. Impact Vest/Helmet/Boots/Gum Shield…everything 🙂 (both the wing and mast are razor sharp) as this thing will try it’s best to kill you. I’ll tell you what, go stand on your kitchen table and then imagine traveling at speed only to be thrown with force into the water several feet below and you will get some idea of what it is like!

After each session it really felt like I’d been in a car crash, aching from head to toe from the multiple wipeouts but smiling like a fat kid in a sweet shop.

I found that 30mins was all I was interested in doing at the start (poss as it was a lot colder then) and many times I just did a quick 15mins and stopped as soon as I felt the progression was slowing. But then I had a few awesome moments up and flying and each session it has generally got better….not always but generally.

So far I have chosen mostly lighter wind days, using my 11m Renegade which has a huge wind range and plenty of de-power.

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But lately I have been out in much lighter winds (as I’m starting to improve) and the sheer amount of apparent wind it can generate is quite phenomenal. Today there was barely enough to keep the kite in the sky when I launched the kite, however once up on a plane your off and away upwind. Then the next problem is how to go back down wind as it really is “too easy” to go upwind.

When way out the back today I fluffed a turn and whilst trying to restart I suddenly became aware again how little wind there actually was…the kite just slowly fell into the water…there was no way I was ever going to relaunch it so I started a long swim back for the shore, but I was stoked anyway..just to be out in so little wind.

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I checked later and the wind was dropping rapidly as soon as I had gone in, it was probably about 6-7mp when I was out…on an 11m LEI kite!

Next I’m really looking forward to getting the new Shinn/Zeeko Hydro Foil set up asap and mastering the downwind tacks and gybes etc

I’m absolutely hooked, OK I can’t wait till the next big storm with loads of swell to use my trusty surfboard but I’m loving this so much now I’m happy with 12mph for now!

So to summarise, it really really is amazing, it’s extremely hard to put into words what the feeling is like, silky smooth, knife through butter etc etc …..but you will have to try it for yourself and see if you can describe it any better.

 

Predicting a Sea Breeze

We’ve recently had a pretty annoying lack of decent winds especially when we add in the factor of trying to run our school and kitesurfing lessons.

Early May we had a good run of suitable winds and managed to get a good amount of students through their 2 day (and even 5 day) courses…..then this fine weather we are presently enjoying, great for the BBQ’s  killed the winds!

Frustrating for our uber keen students but also extremely frustrating for us as a professional full time kitesurf school trying to arrange cover with instructors etc on a slight “chance” of some wind….it also ultimately means no lessons, no money!

So what is a sea breeze, well the simple answer is that the land heats up quicker than the cold air over the sea, it then rises and the cold air over the sea rushes in to replace the rising warm air.

See the image below to better explain this.

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Fortunately for us as we live so close to the beach that does regularly produce these breezes (Porthcawl & Aberavon S.Wales) we can jump on it as and when the wind may just build enough. This can be even more frustrating for students waiting on there lessons to be run and wondering why we are getting the odd sessions in whilst we are saying it’s not suitable for them, what they don’t see is the hours stood on the beach just waiting for the wind to pick up..just another 2-3 knots please!!

It is normally required to be a nice warm sunny start to the day with the classic “The Simpsons” clouds in land (the big white fluffy ones! With no clouds out over the sea. If we are lucky we may get a decent 20 knots or so for a few hours, the problem is predicting when this may happen.

It’s worth noting that in general we are extremely lucky that we do indeed get any sea breezes at all, the further west you head into Pembrokeshire etc they rarely get a sea breeze. It’s basically that the beaches and more importantly the hills/forestry etc inland from the beaches help produce these favourable conditions.

For our kitesurfing lessons we ideally need 4-5 hours of at least 15mph winds pref from a westerly direction (onshore/cross onshore) Factor in tides also and it starts to get very difficult to bring all the requirements together. When it happens we take it for granted and then…it’s gone again!

Check the clouds in the distance over the land/hills in this photo….and clear blue skies over the sea. Typical of a sea breeze.

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Typically in the past, a sea breeze would kick in around 12pm as the land inland heats up and would then last until approx. 6pm when the land begins to cool back down again. So a good 6 hours of useable conditions.

The last few weeks however the winds have been all over the place with occasionally a breeze just barely enough for a quick 30-60mins or riding and then as quick as it arrived it’s gone! Even equipped with my Hydro Foil board it’s barely been enough most times.

If anyone ever comes up with a way to predict a Sea Breeze then they will most certainly become extremely wealthy very quickly….or at the very least an extremely happy kitesurfer!

In the past we have had days of sea breeze at say Rest Bay but nothing at Aberavon 7miles away, only for it to then stop and switch the other way around, for no apparent reason.

The bottom line is….we can’t really predict a sea breeze, we can make an educated guess but little more than that.

Anyway as I right this it looks quite likely we may be getting a change in weather here very soon and hopefully we will all get to have a great summer of warm sunny windy conditions.

 

Changing Poncho / Robe

This has been our most popular seller for quite a few seasons now so we thought we’d enlighten those of you that still don’t own one.

Mystic Changing Poncho’s

We at Blast are blessed with a nice big van to get changed in when at the beach or indeed at one of the many MTB centres we also regularly visit, so getting changed, keeping warm and not flashing our privates to unsuspecting passers by has never been an issue.

However we recently went to the beach on a particularly miserable windy day and needed to change like most surfers/kitesurfers sat on the lip of the boot.

Having a poncho was so so much easier and also quicker too!
Obviously they are pretty much a regular towel too so can still be used as such once down on the beach.

 

Here’s a link to the latest changing robes / poncho’s :http://www.blastkiteboarding.co.uk/accessories/poncho-s/

2015 British Wavemasters Championships

Some of you may well remember that Iksurfmag stepped forward at the last minute to save last years “Wavemasters” in Cornwall……and what an awesome event they ran too.

Since it was such a last minute event last year we have all been looking forward to see what they could do with this years event with a little more time to plan things.

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Both the teams at IKSURFmag and Kiteworld Mag have been more hectic than ever, what with running their hugely successful magazines and with all the new 2016 kit coming out and needing reviews etc but also this year they took over the British Freestyle Champs but then this will also helped to hone their organising skills even more.

Unfortunately there is one element they cannot control – the Weather, and she really didn’t want to play ball this year!

Marc@Blast collecting the goodies
Marc@Blast collecting the goodies

2014 IKSURFMAG WAVE CLASSIC….

The past two months the wind on the west coast has been fickle to say the least. We had a great summer of teaching here at the Blast school but once September arrived so did the lack of good winds, especially on the weekends which is when we needed them the most.

It became that bad Sarah and I decided to do a last minute trip to Morocco (there was no wind here to run lessons so why not) to get some much needed wind/surf, 6 out of 8 days it cranked!

Sarah & Marc in Morocco

Since returning we have only one weekend we could run lessons and these were in Easterly winds on the Gower, not our usual westerlies at either Porthcawl or Aberavon.

So, as the week of the Wavemasters approached everyone was getting excited, surely October in Cornwall would produce the goods?

Two weeks prior to the comp I saw the long term farming forecast and…it didn’t look good! A huge high pressure was due to take over much of the Atlantic and in so doing so would pretty much rule out any deep lows swinging our way.

Sure enough this is exactly what happened.

The decision was made by Rou and Jim that the comp was not going to run…a tough call to make but the correct decision for sure. The winds were due to be very light mostly ENE with a very slight chance of wind for the Wednesday and small swell also.

It’s such a long way for many people to travel with some coming from the far reaches of the UK such as George Noble up in North Scotland.

Sometimes this sport sucks balls!

But then again this is also the very reason that makes those special days just that…special!

A special day in Tiree for the 2014 Wavemasters
A special day in Tiree for the 2014 Wavemasters

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I’m not sure if there will be a new date added once a good forecast is seen however I really hope it’s not any time at the beginning of November as I’ll be away in Brazil with Dimitri from Epic Kites doing a photo/video shoot and opening a new dealer/school.

Whatever the outcome, it is the hands of mother nature to have the last word on whether it goes ahead or not.

The power of video analysis!

Recently I have had to do quite a few 1-2-1 lessons with people who are generally at a stumbling block in there progression, it may be getting up on the board for the first time, doing sustained runs or maybe more advanced things such as jumps/rotations or riding strapless etc

Check out the video here: https://vimeo.com/137763067

Whilst doing these more advanced lessons and indeed whilst running our normal every day lessons I generally always have a GoPro on me and try to capture that magic moment every newbie lives for – the moment you get up on the board.

However recently whilst checking the video later in the evening I noticed a number of very small things a particular student was doing wrong – repeatedly!

This was even though I was forever giving advice to the guy on what exactly to do. So…the next lesson we met up before hand to go over the previous lessons video footage.

The student examined all the short clips in great detail and really slowed down the action so we could examine everything in great detail (the beauty of 60fps).

“Anyway we headed back into the water and bang, the student was up…every time and doing longer and longer runs back and forth along the beach – as you’d expect he was pretty ecstatic!

CrazyFly ATV Kitesurf Surfboard Review

For as long as I can remember I’ve been looking forever for a board that is good at it all instead of having to have several boards for different conditions, I think I have at last found it.

 

Check out our Video of the ATV here: https://vimeo.com/136129929

We’ve been using the ATV from CrazyFly quite a bit lately and have to say we love it. We’ve used it in onshore/cross shore  / light winds/ strong winds / strapped and strapless and it really does do it all with ease.

See photo’s taken from video the past few weeks here….
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I spoke to the guys at Iksurf mag before getting the board as I knew they’d tested it and they told me to just get it, they were that impressed with it.
It’s a very very smooth ride compared to most (nice concave on base) and it also has a very nice slightly thicker than normal soft deck pad which also helps the ride (surfboards often have extremely thin deck pads and as such after a while are hard on the soles of your feet and heels)
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The ATV comes standard with all you need, i.e. the Deck pads / Straps / 5 Fins so you don’t have to fork out on more unexpected items, many boards you now have to pay for the extras even fins. (we would recommend a board bag though as with any surfboard)
The 6′ ATV also has enough volume in it to be used by the inexperienced and is a relatively stable board at 19 1/8″ for learning gybes and tacks etc
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The five fins allow you to use it as standard Thruster or Quad, I’ve only used it as a thruster so far as this is what I’m used too.
It’s a custom made board i.e. not a pop out and as such is lighter and has that softer flex to it’s ride not rigid and harsh like some but it also seems to be tougher than any other customs I’ve used.
We weren’t sure which CF board to choose for our own use and deffo believe we made the right choice…and as such I would not hesitate in recommending it to others.
 

 

Why choose your Kitesurfing Lessons in Porthcawl, S.Wales

So why choose Porthcawl / Aberavon for your kitesurfing lessons?

Huge empty sandy beaches
Huge empty sandy beaches

After many years kitesurfing and at most of the popular kitesurf beaches around the UK I will always return home thankful that we live and kite in the area that we do.

The local beaches at both Porthcawl and Aberavon are only 15mins apart but between them they offer so much choice. One of the biggest pluses is the huge sandy beaches (SAFE) they both offer…miles of open sandy beach and normally pretty quiet as well (other than a few high days during the summer like B/H etc)

Safe in our hands
Safe in our hands

Porthcawl and Aberavon are also extremely easy to get to…each literally only a few minutes off the M4

There is a core group of kitesurfers in the area and then also a regular crew from “over the bridge” from places like Bristol and the Midlands etc
The local guys and girls are very well known for being extremely friendly and always keen to offer help to both newbies and kitesurfers visiting the area.

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The predominant wind direction is SW and cross onshore, there are usually waves..not always big but can make life harder for those not used to them. BUT once you are capable in the surf it will mean no two days are the same and it will turn the beach into one big open playground with the waves as ramps to boost off or rip to shreds!

Click here:
Summer with Blast Kiteboarding in S.Wales Video

We are extremely fortunate to actually live in the heart of Porthcawl, a small seaside town and offering a few beaches working on different wind directions and small enough to be able to walk to all amenities such as the shops/bars/cafes/restaurants etc and you know what? We wouldn’t live anywhere else.
We offer kitesurf lessons 7 days a week from March-November here in Porthcawl and Aberavon and only use current up-to date equipment from many of the best brands on the market. All our instructors are fully qualified to the highest standards and possibly equally important…are extremely passionate and motivated about this incredible sport….and this passion is infectious! There are not many instructors with more enthusiasm then our head instructor Richie!

Click here:

Kitesurf Lessons in Porthcawl S.Wales with Blast Kiteboarding Video

Porthcawl has many excellent B&B’s and all close to the beach (watch this space for more exciting news regards Kitesurf Accommodation for 2016 season).

We can offer a full range of lessons tailored to suit your needs whether you choose the most popular two day course or 1-2-1 lessons specialising in wave riding (Marc is current 3 x British Wavemasters Senior Champion)

 

Introducing the 5th Generation Kites from EPIC

So by now most people will have at least heard of the Epic Kiteboarding brand, or at the very least the legend that is Dimitri. The company is quite unique in that it’s a small rider driven company headed by big boosting/hard charging Dimitri Maramenides and his wife Helen who are based in Hatteras USA.

Dimitri
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After a long career as a pro-rider for several other brands inc. Airush they decided to start their own company with the goal of producing the best kites but also being able to offer the very best customer service available.

The aim is not to be the biggest kite brand in the world and dominate the market, the aim is simple…Make kites with the very best performance that are also extremely easy to use..no gimmicks, simply kites that excel whether you want to boost to the moon or rip in the surf…or just help you to progress quickly when you are just starting out in kitesurfing.

Over the past few years I have had the pleasure of spending a fair bit of time with this “crazy man” whilst on our annual group trips to Hatteras but also on a few trips to work on proto type kites and promo trips to Greece & France. This guy works harder than anyone I have ever known…long long days of emails/video/photo editing/generally everything that goes with running a successful business and then he is always motivated to kite mostly testing the latest proto kites to further improve the already hard to beat range of kites on offer.

Back in May I had the chance to try the new Screamer & Renegade 5G kites firstly in France with Dimitri and Jeroen (graphic designer) and then in Hatteras ..all sizes of both. I was worried beforehand how these new 5G kites would turn out as we loved the 4G kites so much.

Fortunately we did not need to worry, Epic have taken an already amazing kite range and injected even more performance..especially notable in the new Renegades, they now have a bit of the DNA from the Screamers. Just enough extra zest to make it truly awesome for both bigger boosting/better looping but still great in the waves. It still retains their ease of use though for beginner/intermediates…super important to us as we use them in our busy school but we also sell a lot to people just starting out in this amazing sport we all love so much.

The new 5G kites have been given a fresh new “family” look by the extremely talented Jeroen. The Epic kites are now all easier to identify with the new “E” proudly emblazoned on each model.

The new 5G Screamer in Poison design
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The new 5G Renegade
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As I’m writing this we are waiting on the first drop of kites to arrive, hopefully in time for our annual Portugal trip in a weeks time. It’s amazing how a new kite makes you super keen again to get in for a session.

Here’s a video we did whilst in Hatteras of the 5G Renegade

Epic Renegade 5G – Tested from Blast Kiteboarding on Vimeo.

and the 5G Screamer

Epic Screamer 5G – Intro from Blast Kiteboarding on Vimeo.