BEHIND THE DESIGN - NEO SLS 2024
with Sky Solbach
In this installment of Behind the Design, Sky Solbach provides an in-depth look into the design intricacies of the latest Neo SLS.
Sky, the Neo SLS 2024 is now in its fourth generation. Originally conceptualized by Ken Winner, it's now undergone a significant evolution. Can you elaborate on the innovations that riders can expect in this latest iteration?
This marks the first year where I've taken the reins from Ken Winner. It's crucial to emphasize that this isn't a departure from Ken's work, but rather a seamless continuation of our collaborative efforts over the past years. I had the privilege of working closely with Ken on certain aspects of this kite, ensuring a smooth transition. Additionally, the invaluable input from Patri, especially concerning the Neo SLS, has profoundly influenced its design and performance. So, while 2024 brings key changes, it's firmly rooted in the foundation of the Neo's legacy, ensuring riders can expect the same level of excellence with enhanced features.
Tell us about the specific design improvements that riders can expect from this iteration?
The Neo SLS 2024 represents a refined evolution of its predecessors. One of the standout enhancements lies in the wingtip geometry. We've made subtle yet impactful changes, creating slightly more square wingtips. This alteration, in combination with straighter tip struts, results in quicker turn initiation and a smooth, consistent turning arc. These adjustments enhance the kite's overall responsiveness, ensuring that riders, whether in waves or freestyling, experience precision and agility like never before.
»2024 brings key changes, it's firmly rooted in the foundation of the Neo's legacy, ensuring riders can expect the same level of excellence with enhanced features.«
The hybrid flex struts are intriguing. How do they contribute to the Neo SLS's performance, and what sets them apart from previous configurations?
The hybrid flex struts epitomize our pursuit of the perfect balance between stability and maneuverability. By incorporating stiffer material at the front and softer material at the trailing edge, we've achieved a delicate equilibrium. The stiffer leading edge maintains the kite's profile during intense maneuvers, ensuring stable and controlled steering. Meanwhile, the softer trailing edge allows for natural flex, providing riders with a comfortable and responsive feel. It's a sophisticated engineering feat that underscores the Neo SLS's adaptability across diverse riding styles.
Air pressures and lines are often overlooked but crucial. Can you shed light on how these elements are optimized for the Neo SLS, and why riders should pay attention to these details?
Maintaining precise air pressures is pivotal for optimal kite performance. The Neo SLS operates within a recommended range of 7 to 8 psi. Overinflation can distort the canopy profile, significantly impacting the kite's behavior. As for lines, our provided Flight 99 lines are not arbitrary choices. Through extensive testing, we've determined their ideal stiffness, ensuring a delicate balance between responsiveness and forgiveness. Riders can feel the kite's feedback while enjoying a forgiving touch, providing them with unparalleled control and confidence on the water. It's all about providing riders with the best possible experience, and these details make the difference.
Given its versatility, who do you envision as the ideal rider for the Neo SLS, and in what scenarios does it truly excel?
The Neo SLS is a kite for the discerning rider who demands peak performance across various disciplines. Whether you're carving waves with finesse, exploring the thrill of freeriding, or executing gravity-defying big air tricks, the Neo SLS rises to the occasion. It caters to intermediate to advanced riders seeking a kite that seamlessly transitions between wave riding, freestyle, and foiling. Its adaptability and responsiveness make it a favorite among those who refuse to be limited by a single style of riding. The Neo SLS empowers riders to push their boundaries, making every session an exhilarating experience on the water.
In the Neo lineup, where does the SLS model stand, and how does it cater to the specific needs of riders looking for a high-performance kite?
The Neo SLS stands as the epitome of performance and versatility within the Neo lineup. Positioned between the elite D/LAB and the base Neo, it strikes a harmonious balance. Riders seeking exceptional performance without compromising accessibility find their match in the Neo SLS. Its advanced design, meticulous engineering, and adaptability make it the ideal choice for those who demand the best of both worlds. For riders eager to elevate their skills and embark on thrilling water adventures, the Neo SLS stands as a testament to innovation and excellence in kite design.