At A Glance
Slingshot have long been a company at the forefront of kitesurfing, helping to push the sport with their incredible line up of kites: The notoriously aggressive Slingshot FUEL, pure C, wake-style/freestyle mega loop machine. The RPM, a more user-friendly freestyle/free ride, open C all-rounder. And of course, the RALLY, a Delta C-shape kite, perfect for beginners and advanced riders alike. It is easy to re-launch, has oodles of depower and good drift, which often makes it the go-to kite for wave riding among Slingshot enthusiasts.
Slingshot addressed the need for a full wave kite in their lineup last year and launched the Wave SST. It hit the scene in 2016 aimed at advanced riders looking to push their skills on the wave with its super strong build quality and attention to detail both on the kite and bar. Can it live up to the reputation of its siblings?
Straight out of the bag, setting up the WAVE SST is a familiar sight if you’ve flown Slingshot in the past. You have three pigtail anchor points on the wing tips for adjusting your turning speed and bar pressure, they use the original three-knot pigtail line attachment for fine tuning and the same colour coding system for the lines as they have done for a long time.
There is one difference, however: a relatively new air inlet valve, the ONE PUMP SPEED SYSTEM which they introduced in their 2016 range, Simply whip off the hose attachments and twist directly on to your kite. This allows for less restricted airflow and easier and quicker pumping. However, if you’re borrowing someone else’s pump, don’t forget to put their hose attachments back on!
Once the kites pumped up, you can see just how much work has gone into the canopy. It’s riddled with stitching and extra panels, which Slingshot refer to as the Surf Grid. It’s impressive, and it makes for a really strong kite that’s less prone to canopy stretch and is more resilient. Especially if you're unlucky enough to drop it in the surf. Teijin T2 Polyester material is used on the trailing edges to prevent flutter and wind damage.
The kites bridle on which the centre lines attach is very compact and tidy, so you won’t have any problems getting it caught on you wing tip or wrapped around your kite after a crash or if a wave gets it.
All in all, the Wave SST looks robust and well thought out.
Compstick Sentinel Bar
This is a great bar. It’s a bit of simplistic kitesurfing innovation. Not much has changed for 2017 just a few slight tweaks on the looks and tightening up an already near perfect bar and lines.
With the Sentinel Bar, Slingshot have swapped the traditional set-up around. Placing the line swivel below the bar so it can be operated manually and the depower system above the bar with a magnet to keep the depower rope in its place out of the way, Genius. So good in fact I’m thinking of changing all the buttons on my shirts and trousers to magnets!
I digress. What’s also cool is the position of the depower cleat. It can be adjusted to move the bar closer or further away from you, gaining more or less depower, or just by placing the bar at a distance where you can reach.
On the 2017 model, they’ve added a grub screw on the above bar trim cleat, which now stops it inadvertently being adjusted. For me, being able to adjust the throw on the go, not needing tools was part of the charm of this bar, so if you prefer it like that, then loosen the grub screw or place the trim cleat where you want it then tighten it up.
It’s a practical bar with a good safety system, easy to operate and to put back together, and dare I say it, they’ve put some elastic bungees on the bar ends! For years riders have complained about Slingshot bars not having line bungees. As petty as it is without them I must admit I set this bar and lines out 2 or 3 times before I even noticed! Also, it is good to see they’ve gone back to the original colour scheme, as the darker colours on the bar looked cool but made it hard to differentiate between left and right at a moments notice. All in all, it is a great bar and very well thought out.
In The Air
The first time I launched the Wave SST 9M was in 14-15kts, about 17mph, and as soon as did, it felt solid and tight with a reassuring low-end pull. Straight away I was hammering upwind no problem, with that low-end grunt I could feel coming into effect. Instantly feeling very comfortable and easy to fly. I found the turning to be a little slow for my liking and that was something I had to work around initially as I got used to the kite.
The struts on the outside especially are super skinny, and if you don’t pump the kite hard enough, they offer little if no support when you crash the kite in the water. It’s hard to gauge, as the leading edge is quite chunky in comparison and feels adequately inflated to the touch or flick. I had to pump this kite harder than I usually would to ensure there was enough air in the struts.
I must admit after instantly feeling comfortable and confident with the overall solid feel of this kite, it then took me a little longer to get my turns right and step it up a gear. However, once I’d worked out the characteristics of the SST and adapted my riding style everything became a lot of fun. The kite is so solid and super stable, just park and ride allowing you to focus on your board control on the wave
As the wind started to pick up to the high 20’s it soon became apparent where the talents of this 9m lay, capable of holding down a lot of power, I was flying downwind chasing and hunting down waves with the kite tracking and drifting beautifully. The bar offered lots of feedback, at moments when becoming overpowered, I was able to access the depower rope quickly and trim the kites power effortlessly.
A very robust and predictable kite, great overall build quality and eye for detail both on the kite's canopy and on the Sentinel bar. A very robust kite, although aimed at advanced riders, it would be a great kite for all levels of wave riders on account of its stability and overall solid feel.
It's hard to find anything wrong with this kite; it's so solid and stable in the air. The turning speed is a bit slower in comparison to some wave kites on the market, but once you get dialled into this, you soon don’t notice it.
The 2017 Wave SST retains the great DNA from last years kite, it drifts down the line fantastically and once you have the turning speed dialled it can whip around the wave with ease in onshore conditions. The low-end power is exceptional, and the addition of the larger sizes will be a welcome addition to the riders who are into kite foiling.
This review was in Issue 62 of IKSURFMAG.For more information visit Slingshot
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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!