Welcome Patri, you worked a lot on the development of the new 2022 Neo SLS kite alongside designer Ken Winner and Sky Solbach. Give us your impressions on the new kite, how was the feedback from the 2021 Neo SLS and what aspects were you guys trying to improve for this year?
With the 2022 Neo SLS, we have tried to make some adjustments to make the kite better. It's been a challenging prospect as the 2021 Neo SLS was already such a good kite. We wanted to tweak certain things, for example, making it a little bit smoother in the turns and smoothing out the wingtips. There were certain things they were trying to achieve without sacrificing any of the performance. We did a bunch of testing and the result is the 2022 Neo SLS is a better kite without losing any of the bar feel or the super-fast turning. One of the things I love about the Neo SLS is how quick the kite turns when you're sheeted out and de-powered which is really important when you are riding waves. If you're behind the wave and you want to whip your kite really quick without getting yanked or pulled your kite has to be able to pivot and manoeuvre really fast while you are sheeted out and de-powered. That's one thing we focused on a lot with the 2022 model, it's very similar to 2021, just a little bit smoother with more depower and a little bit quicker. Ken has kind of just polished the model up. 2021 was the first year of the SLS Neo and it was already amazing, the feedback was amazing and I think it's the best kite I had ever ridden. I have a hard time riding anything else now.
Do you have a favourite size or one that is the magic kite for you?
On Maui, it is really windy so I find myself mostly riding a 7 meter quite a lot of the time, but we worked together on all of the sizes. I think the 8 m has come a long way. The previous Neo I didn't like the 8 so much as I felt it had a lot of power and a lot of pull, so it was harder to de-power. I find myself now riding the 8 m a lot, it has really come a long way even in the classic model, it's really good. The 9-12 sizes turn so much faster than last years kites and they are so light they perform really well in light wind and the drift has also improved, it’s so good, it's actually hard to get the kite to fall out of the sky. I find myself mostly riding the seven or eight as that's the most common conditions for here but when the waves are glassy and the wind is light I'm quite often on an 11 meter.
The SLS kites are billed to be high-performance kites and experienced riders can extract that extra performance, but with the things like added wind range and more responsiveness would these kites be a great choice for every level of rider?
I think the Neo SLS is a great kite for everybody. Definitely good for intermediate and higher-level riders as they will appreciate the fast turning speeds, the de-power and the stability of the kite. For beginners, it might be a little tougher as the kite is so fast and responsive, especially in the smaller sizes. What I have noticed when teaching before, having kites that turn super quickly and we're almost twitchy could be detrimental to the learning progression as your movements are so responsive to the kite. You hardly need to pull in one direction and the kite will fly the opposite way. Sometimes having a more stable and consistent pull is easier for learning how to kite. I would say for lower than intermediate the Neo is still an awesome kite to help you in your progression. For intermediate, to advanced riders, the Neo SLS is definitely the kite to get. It's the kite I ride all the time, I love it.