With the Stealth being a favourite in the Mystic harness range, kiteboarders have highly anticipated the release of the latest Stealth! Designer Joost Hezemans and the Mystic Pro Team give us the lowdown.
Joost, what are the key differences between the previous model of the Stealth and this new release?
We've looked at pressure points and analysed our warranty cases. We discovered that the body needed more movement in all directions while doing all sorts of crazy tricks. During crashes, we noticed that the bottom of the harness could grab the water like a bucket, which feels really uncomfortable. This led to a new cutout of the plate, which has less material at the bottom and less plate height on the sides. Next to that, we updated the inner foam with a 3D shape that has improved 3D shaping and fewer nooks and crannies inside so it can stay clean.
The original Stealth harness was designed as a combination of the Legend and the Majestic X. Which characteristics of these two harnesses did you select to create the Stealth?
The Legend was non-water-absorbing but made with injection moulded foam; this was not soft enough and not very comfortable. We then looked into new production techniques and found that expansion moulding EVA gave much better results in comfort and increased grip. We took the carbon hardshell from our Majestic X and perfected it with the new 3D cutout shape. The EVA foam may need some riding in, but once you become one with the harness you do not feel like you are wearing one at all. This means all effort and training can go into doing what we love.
The Stealth weighs less when compared to competing harnesses, and this lightweight feature stands out when the harness is wet. What materials or build methods helped achieve this lightweight performance?
It is important to notice that the harness is still very stiff without compromising weight. Our patented thermoplastic carbon plates have proven to be a reliable support on the water over the years.
Tell us a bit about the safety features of this harness!
We took special care in designing a designated pocket for a safety knife, which is located at the right back of the harness. The knife also underwent a rigorous update to keep the cutting properties stable during years of use.
Which spreader bar does Mystic recommend, and what features on this spreader bar make it a perfect pairing?
The new Stealth harness is a bit lower on the sides for extra movement. We translated this into lower Stealthwings (the flaps that tuck into your harness) on the Stealthbar Gen 3. The recently updated Gen 3 has a much longer leverlock, which allows you to set your harness once with your webbings and then store them away. This led us to update the side covers that cover up the rolled-up webbing. We even added a custom locking system to keep those annoying webbings where they belong.
We've seen several members of your international pro team riding the Stealth, and we've asked for their feedback! What characteristics make this the harness of choice for riders competing and performing at the highest levels?
Cohan van Dijk: You can feel the light weight of the harness while riding, and with the perfect stiffness, it's an amazing big air harness. It is perfect for my short in-between light travels. Because of the padding from the Stealth, your harness will be dry and light in no time. Plus, the print and graphic design is next-level.
Giel Vlugt: The combination of having incredible support but barely any weight is unbelievable. Even though it is very rigid, the lightness of the harness allows you to move freely and effortlessly. For me personally, the best thing about this harness is that I can ride overpowered for 4 hours straight and feel no pain in my back. The support is unreal, and it'll offer you more hours on the water than you're used to! So, no excuses for you to take a break!
Stiff harnesses and hard shells are loved by some kiters, but not all! Is there any type of kiter or style of riding that may not fit the Stealth design? What would be a softer harness in the range that these riders might consider?
Giel Vlugt: If you're a wave rider and you need the harness to slide all over the place and get the most amount of freedom, I think you'll find this harness is a little too "extreme." This harness really excels when riding overpowered and wanting your sessions to last longer. When riding waves, you're generally riding a little underpowered, so there's no need for the stiffness.
Joost Hezemans: The cool thing about our patented production technique is that we can add stiffness in one direction by placing the carbon fibres horizontally on the outside of the carbon sandwich. The layers on the inside are 45 degrees angled, which gives just the right amount of flex. This means it can actually be used for many riding styles. If you do not need the plate stiffness to carry you 20 metres in the air but focus more on freestyle or wave riding, you should definitely check out our Majestic harness.
What is the team at Mystic most excited about in the release of the new Stealth harness?
Giel Vlugt: I believe the most exciting part of developing this harness is that combination of stiffness, support, and a sleek design while being incredibly light. To be able to combine all of that says a lot about everyone working at the office, in the factory and behind the scenes. This team is special and dedicated to always being at the top of engineering and designing the best of the best.
Joost Hezemans: We've collected a lot of feedback from all sorts of users riding the first Stealth harness & bar. We have worked closely with team riders but also spent hours searching for user feedback online. We believe we have filtered out the most important feedback to create the second generation Stealth Harness. Keep up the good work, and post your feedback online - it will eventually trickle down to the R&D team, who will definitely use it for future development!
By Crystal VenessEditor at IKSURFMAG, Crystal Veness hails from Canada but is based in South Africa. When she isn't busy kitesurfing or reporting on the latest industry news for the mag, she is kicking back somewhere at a windy kite beach or working on creative media projects.