At A Glance
Last year the Sigma series of kites from Naish burst onto the scene under a hail storm of marketing and hype. Some of it was met with scepticism, but anyone who actually tried the kites was smitten. The new shape and panel layout combined to offer unprecedented stability in the canopy and the kites truly excelled themselves in gusty conditions.
Of course there were the doubters who claimed the geometric leading edge would fail under constant use. This was proved wrong and the kites stood the test of time very well. We actually have a 9m here that we used every time it was 9m weather, which was a lot this year, and we have had no problems whatsoever and found the build quality to be excellent!
This year the range has been slimmed down somewhat and there will be two versions of the Cult and a new Helix that will make up the Sigma Series. With the Cult you now have the option of choosing a full Octopus one pump inflation system, or you can save a bit of cash and opt for a non Octopus version. The latter is called the Cult Sport and apart from the way it inflates there is no difference whatsoever. So take this test as a given for both kites.
With the Naish Cult being such a huge hit last year they haven’t changed much on this years kite. A new wingtip shape, which is aimed at creating lower drag, distinguishes it from the previous model. As does an even more beefed up construction of the struts. The zip bladder access also now incorporates a Velcro closure. It is now even more unlikely for this part of the construction to fail. The Cult and the entire Naish range is probably one of the most beefed up kites on the market, particularly where the struts are concerned.
The bridle is the same as last year but the bar has changed slightly with bigger floats and the ability to change the pull point of the lines on the bar, effectively making the bar longer or shorter without actually changing bars. The tried and tested smart loop remains, as does the excellent stopper.
In The Air
We loved the Cult last year and it was one of our favourite kites from the season, so this year we were expecting to be as stoked as we were back in 2007! It is often the case when a company makes a great kite that they don’t change it too much, and this is certainly the situation with the Cult. Apart from the wingtips it looks like a carbon copy of last years kite. The bridle is exactly the same and you only notice the changes in construction on closer inspection.
In the air you feel that familiar solid pull from above and once again the Geo Tech canopy layout and the Sigma Leading edge combine to create a kite that really does define the term ‘solid’. Try as you might the kite just doesn’t flap, even when fully sheeted out on a gusty day the canopy remains taught and delivers a very smooth, stable pull.
If you’re a beginner or intermediate the Cult really was made for you. The smooth, steady pull makes it the perfect platform for learning. The jumping, hangtime and float is excellent and the bar pressure is just right, you never feel like you aren’t connected to the kite above your head.
The only thing the Cult doesn’t do is scare the hell out of you when you loop it. It delivers a tighter much more gentle loop than some of the kites out there and this is great for learning. Last year the 9m was actually pretty good for looping, so maybe it is the larger size that holds the 10.5 from delivering a serious pull through the loop.
The new wing tips this year have tightened up the steering though and the kite feels a bit more direct and certainly engages the turn a little quicker. Relaunching the Cult is an absolute dream; it is one of the easiest kites to get back up off the water helped by the low surface area that actually touches the water when it is face down. The depower is also amazing and the kite is about as safe as you can get. With nearly a meter of throw with the stopper removed the kite depowers and falls from the sky very quickly and even in strong winds you can ditch the bar and lose the power in the kite.
Perfect for beginners or intermediates looking for a super stable kite. Excels in gusty conditions and really comes into its own in the inconsistent European winds that we get so often.
Although packed with great freeride performance the kite isn’t the best freestyle kite out there. You can unhook and do tricks but it lacks a little in the looping department. Naish have the popular Torch and the new Helix that fill those roles this year.
If you haven’t tried a Sigma series kite yet be sure you do. Last year the Helix was the first kite out and a lot of people rode it and made a judgement on the rest of the range. Sadly the Helix probably wasn’t the best kite in the range last year. The Cult certainly was awesome though and this year it is even better!
This review was in Issue 11 of IKSURFMAG.For more information visit Naish Kiteboarding
By Rou ChaterRou has been kiting since the sports inception and has been working as an editor and tester for magazines since 2004. He started IKSURFMAG with his brother in 2006 and has tested hundreds of different kites and travelled all over the world to kitesurf. He's a walking encyclopedia of all things kite and is just as passionate about the sport today as he was when he first started!