2021 Slingshot UFO Foiling Kite
2021 Slingshot UFO Foiling Kite
Unlimited Foiling Object
Unbelievably Fun Object
NO STRUTS, NO LIMITATIONS
Are you prepared for out-of-this-world foil performance? The all-new UFO will take you there--and beyond--as the lightest LEI kite Slingshot has ever produced. Built off a strutless design, the UFO is lighter, faster and more efficient than anything else on the market- that's why it's the Unlimited Foiling Object.
Slingshot sacrificed nothing and maximized everything when they designed the all-new strutless UFO to be their pure, unlimited performance foiling kite. The UFO has a Compact Swept-C canopy shape for direct and instant handling, as well as insane range and power control, and an IRS bridle for immediate response. Off of that strutless design and bridle configuration, Slingshot made the canopy out of Teijin D1 fabric--the lightest weight ripstop available--and then stripped the UFO down to just the bare essentials in order to make it the ultimate foiling machine with unbelievable handling and space-age drift.
Why You'll Love the UFO
- The lightest LEI kite Slingshot has ever made
- Optimized for foiling
- The most drift and power control in their range
2021 Slingshot UFO Features
With zero struts, the UFO is incredibly lightweight and able to fly in the lightest of wind conditions.
Teijen D1 Canopy
The lightest weight ripstop on the market—the ideal fabric for a foil-specific kite like the UFO.
From a .3mm bladder to reduced scuff guards to minimal stitching and paneling, the UFO’s Flyweight Construction is all about performance simplicity.
The IRS Bridle replaces pulleys traditionally used on any bridle. The IRS Bridle features a bungee that eliminates the time necessary for the pulley to travel fore and aft. What used to be delayed and unresponsive, now happens instantly, seamlessly and automatically thanks to the IRS Bridle.
COMPACT SWEPT-C SHAPE
Compact = Excellent steering, pivoting and drift. Swept-C = Huge range with responsive power management to prevent over foiling.
SIMPLIFIED UFO KITE DAY PACK
A minimalist, nylon kite bag, stripped down to the bare essentials.
An Interview with Designer Tony Logosz
Alex Fox: Hey, I wanted to get you on the horn so we could run through the UFO and talk about what makes it such a special kite for us. I know it's probably a bit of a passion project for you since you're so focused on and enjoying foiling so much and that aspect that the sport brings. So let's talk about the UFO and designing it and what you were trying to do.
Tony Logosz: All right, let's dig into it. You kind of know the history of this kite- it started with the Rally GT, which was kind of the first one on this platform: three struts, working on it. Then we went to the Ghost, going to one strut, and then after Ghost it was like, hey, I think I can take the thing to no struts and it'd be amazing. So it was kind of a three-step progression. It holds a lot of the Ghost and GT DNA, but I learned so much about canopy tension, so once I got to trying to make it strutless I thought it'd be a pretty cool kite. I figured out some new profiles so it'd have pretty decent power, so it'd hang there, and kept the some parts of the profile lean enough where it'd actually have fairly decent turning speed. And then I just worked on tension until it wouldn't flutter. Making them not flap- it's definitely a challenge because if you choke 'em down too much... you can control it a lot of different ways but you end up screwing up the performance, so I played with the tensions until it was flying super clean. That was pretty much in a nutshell how it started happening.
Alex: That is one of the first things I noticed about the kite, about the UFO specifically, is when you're flying it--I've flown other strutless kites in the past and they flap and flutter like crazy--and this kite really has none of that flutter, it'll obviously flutter sometimes, but not nearly as much as you'd expect, and its stability- there's not much blowdown on the kite, which I think you could maybe speak about. Yeah, it's incredibly stable for this platform.
Tony: Yeah, it's kind of like we learned that that and the early Rally with speed sailing and stuff with deflating the center strut for blowdown and having more control and more range, and it's kind of cool that we kept the profile to the extent that they would stay kind of filled most of the time, but it does have some blowdown which allows it to be completely depowered, and then of course being strutless and having light materials it'll just hang there with a reduced flattened profile.
Alex: Yeah, I was talking to the sales guys about that, about how it has such a wide wind range. Also, because it's being used for foiling predominantly, but the construction and also the lack of a strut has opened up the bottom end and the top end of the kite.
Tony: It's kind of like with foiling, you're cheating the system with kites because you're kind of like riding on pavement with a skateboard or on ice. You don't have the drag, you don't need that pull to pull you through the water anymore, so you can have it feed on itself. That's the amazing part about foiling, so once you have a foiling platform that you've designed a kite around, you get the two to come together and then you get some magic happening because you get all that range out of these small kites. That's the coolest part is you don't really need a big kite, you can manhandle it a little bit, you can really oversteer it, and get it generating power and it kind of starts feeding on itself and then the apparent wind is up, your boardspeed's up and then all of a sudden you don't really know why you're flying in such light conditions and just on the nice feel on the bar and overall it's a nice feel for foiling for sure. It kind of enhances the whole foiling experience.
Alex: Definitely. The name says it all but it's the Unlimited Foiling Object and I think it's kind of in such a unique space now too because it's--I think you could touch on this more--but for me it's a stubby low-aspect design which obviously delivers great grunt and power and normally doesn't have the best upwind performance, but when we remove that center strut we also reduce drag a ton. It's also a lighter airframe so it's also going to push a little more forward in the wind window so we've got this paradox from normal kites because you have a kite that's really low aspect but still has great upwind ability and I think for foiling, that's incredible.
Tony: Yeah, that's what's kind of cool about this kite is it has a pretty blended profile; it has enough shape to generate some low end power, but once it gets going it leads itself out and not having struts in it- the struts are like little weather vanes and they control the kite, but they also create turbulence and flow and that's why it turns so well, that span, the flow going across the span, it can shift and still generate power without getting too messed up. So it's kind of a cool concept and for foiling- it just works.
Alex: Yeah, exactly. And I think that's why all the riders are having so much fun with it. Fred now, he keeps texting me, "Oh man the UFO's so good, it's so good; I can't believe how fast it is through the wind window. Not only does it have speed while you're riding it, it turns really quick." He can't get off his kite if he's foiling, it's all he wants to ride, and it's interesting to see him make that transition off what is traditionally his favorite kite, the SST, and now he's finding himself riding the UFO more and more.
Tony: It's nice that it kind of has a little of that SST where you're sheeted out and it behaves really well on the edge of the window because it's light, so when you bring it to the edge of the window and you down turn it, it'll make it through that loop, and that's what the SST does really well, it does that downloop on the edge of the window and once you get it to turn down it'll come across with some speed. And the UFO, it has that input and it'll downloop; it has a smoother blend across because it doesn't have the weight or the mass so it doesn't have the aggressive power delivery. It's kind of a smoother delivery and, being lighter, the advantage is that it'll fly in lighter wind. It'll behave in a lot of different ways, but being heavier it'll have a little more inertia. With kites, once they start going, that mass actually helps them feed, like around the world and stuff, but the profile on the UFO is kind of a good blend because it still has that smooth delivery where it still can pull itself through. Some of the lighter kites I build would not work that well; in some they wouldn't have any weight to carry them through.
Alex: And that's just a magical blend of the shape and profile as well as the bridle, I would imagine, because the UFO and the SST share that same bridle and concept, the IRS bridle, which helps give input, especially when you're sheeting the bar out. It's so funny to see whenever we talk about kites that are good for foiling, it's almost synonymous where we'll talk about kites that are good for wave riding because you're achieving that same action where you're riding toward the kite when you're making these big, drawn-out jibes, the same thing with the big bottom turn while you're surfing, so you see the similarities between the SST and the UFO, but the UFO takes it to that next level to be completely lighter, to drift better, because it doesn't have as much weight.
Tony: Yeah, drifting, once you're running with the kite, it's basically falling out of the sky at some point, so you want it balanced to the point where when it's falling out of the sky it doesn't just fall back under it, so you want it to try to ride itself a little bit so it wants to try to keep flying. That's just a balance characteristic; the SST does it really well, and the UFO does it great because of its weight, and it's still balanced out so if you overfly it and you let it go, it doesn't want to have that tendency to tuck. It really wants to open up and still fly and drift backwards and that's an important part of the UFO. That's foiling in general- you're always in a situation where you're flying along, you're going downwind and you're mobbing and kind of powered so your stick's not pulling and if you sheet in and do your big turn you're going to choke it and your kite's just going to fall out of the sky because it's going to stall. But if you can turn it down, let it start to fall as you make your turn and let it fall and drift with some air speed, it just works back up when it comes across the window. One of my favorite things to do is synchronize the kite, let it just fall as you're catching up and passing it, but then you have it pull back up on the other side because you're turning so fast, you're almost coming out of the turn as fast as when you went into it. You can really accelerate- Fred's the wizard of that. He plays around and he's going pretty slow, goofing around and then next thing you know he's going so fast, just ripping.
Alex: It's so fun to see him do those turns- it's a combination of really tight turns, but also long, drawn-out turns and what I like about the UFO for the people who aren't as good as Fred, maybe they're just more casual foilers, that downwind jibe, a lot of times it causes problems for people because, as they're transitioning, the kite'll luff and once it regains line tension, that adjustment of power all of a sudden overwhelms them and they either overfoil or they're getting thrown out the front or out the back if they don't turn fast enough and regain line tension. So I think the UFO's going to take a lot of people who are casual foilers and bring them into the Intermediate to Advanced category because now they're going to have a kite that almost makes it easier even though it is a performance product, so that's what excites me most about it as well.
Tony: I think that any kite like the SST, I've always loved it because it was very intuitive. I've had people come up and tell me, "I don't know what it is, but it's always in the right spot when I'm on the wave; it's always where I want it to be." Well, you are actually telling it what to do and it does what it's told. If it becomes intuitive, you're putting it there and it goes there because you want it to go there. It naturally goes there and you think it's always there because it's some special kite, but it's just intuitive because you're telling it to go there; it just becomes real natural, and the UFO is the same way, where it has that natural ability. Foiling for a lot of people, when they're learning especially, is challenging enough just to sync everything up and have all the control and the speeds involved. A beginner foiler, or even an intermediate, they're going along and they go into something a little hot and then all of a sudden they're like, "whoa!" and if there's chop or some conditions it can be a little intense. But the kite is intuitive where it's just doing what you want it to do while you're dealing with the madness under your foil.
Alex: The other thing I think we should touch on is the precision control and power management the kite has. When foiling, and this goes back into the shape of the kite being low aspect, it's so great because I think we haven't had a product like this before due to the limitations of build and having struts, etc., but now we have this low aspect kite that can generate power really quickly, that kind of grunty straight up and down power when I need it, but you add that compact swept C-shape and also the ability to dump more wind without having a strut. Now you can have that ability to quickly have so much more range just on your bar, there's no need to really ever sheet and actually depower your kite, but you have all that control right there, and for foiling that's imperative because you're dealing with all of a sudden I'm going to over foil, or under foil and need to get out of that situation and it's nice to have something have all that ability right there instantly on the bar.
Tony: That comes back to that intuitive part because it feeds on itself in a lot of different ways and having a kite that blows down at the top when it's really windy, when you bring it straight overhead and it's holding itself and you sheet it out when it's really windy, it'll just start blowing down but there's no lift at that point. If you sit on the beach and it's really windy, and it's way out of it's power range and you wouldn't want to fly, it's too windy to have fun on it, but when you're on the beach, fully stick out, it's quite magical because it doesn't have any lift in the canopy, it's just starting to blow down and it's really controllable. It goes back to taking the Rally and taking the air out of the struts for the speed course, it's the same thing- you couldn't hold onto a 9 in 45 knots for the speed run, but drop the center strut and you can hang onto it. It was too unruly with the strut in it, but as soon as you had it blow down you could have it sit there and have your bar out in 45 knots and not be puckered and when you went down the course it would load up and then it was fine. It's a little bit of that, but now kind of its own thing but it definitely gives it range, for sure. It's going to give a lot of people confidence. I think the swept tip part is pretty nice because it does have a tendency not to have water trap the canopy because the problem with single strut kites is when they're face-down in really light wind and the canopy wants to fall onto the water and then a little wave hits it and you get water on the canopy, it's hard to water-relaunch it. But the up-tip has a tendency to want to fill up and shed that water pretty easily, so I was happy with that too, that in the whole mix of stuff that a water-relaunch for a strutless kite in light wind is still pretty good.
Alex: I've been flying the kite a lot and the water-relaunch is really great and you can reverse/back line relaunch it really easily since it's so light, but traditional relaunch straight off the water is really good, and I think that also has to do with the amazing canopy tension as well; there's not much loose canopy of unneeded/unnecessary canopy in there so it's able to shed that water, keep the canopy nice and rigid and that's awesome. Perfect so that these people who might be on the fence about having a no-strut kite and wondering about what if they do put the kite in the drink, 9 times out of 10 you're definitely getting this thing up.
Tony: I've been surprised that in a couple situations, where if you drop your kite you're done, especially on a hydrofoil when you're ghosting around in really light wind, where there's no wind on the water's surface and there's maybe a little wind aloft, and you're just ripping around, and I blew it and thought I was totally done because there's no wind. I was just sitting on my board, but then a little puff comes and then you're riding again and wondering if you should go in or keep pushing it, so it does come back up pretty quick.
Alex: The other thing with not having struts is the convenience of the pack-down size. I just got the production quiver and this is the 5-meter and it's pretty wild just how small it actually is- it's almost just the size of my head. We're excited about that because the kites have amazing range and you can build a quiver out of probably just a 3 and 7 or a 5 and a 9 depending on where you live and what your conditions are, so you could travel with a full quiver in the overhead compartment.
Tony: Yeah, you can stick one in your backpack and you're good to go.
Alex: If you're going to do something else, you can pack your kite gear in the back seat super easily. It's a pretty exciting product and I'm interested to see where it goes from here and how many people convert from one-strut kites to the zero-strut kite because I think they're going to be pleasantly surprised with how it just makes foiling way more fun. Now I know for me, my quiver is going to be reduced because I have all these kites I use for both, I'll have a freestyle kite but it's good enough for foiling, but now I'm sold on having my quiver of UFOs and then I'll probably have a 12 and a 14 RPM and I'll be good for my whole life, basically. Those two kites are all I'm going to need. I'm really happy with this product, for sure.
Tony: For foiling, it's going to make it pretty simple. You're crossing over into different genres and you probably have some specialty kites in your quiver: your boost kite, your all-around kite, your foiling kite. It's going to reduce your overall quiver quite a bit, I think.
Alex: I bet you have lots of fun new product to get out there and test so I won't hold you up any longer, but it was good to see you and talk to you.
Tony: Great seeing you and great talking to you.
Alex: See you soon!