Blank Kite Test (Big Air) Season 2 | Ep. 1-3
Kiteboarding enthusiasts, get ready for an exciting new series of the Blank Kite Test! Season 2 BIG AIR
What's the Blank Kite Test?
Series 2 of the Blank Kite Test features Ruben Lenten, Giel Vlugt, and Marc Jacobs. They'll have two hours to narrow 8 unbranded big air kites down to the top 3. However, they won't have any guidance on how to do that; that's part of the fun, and hopefully it'll be a little bit chaotic and make for some good content.
Each blank kite is a 9m. The pros are going to be riding their own boards and their own bar and lines, with each kite being tailored to that bar and lines by one of the caddies. They can then ride it as long as they like, but they've only got a total of 2 hours to narrow their picks down. They're not picking the kite that they like best; they're picking the kite that they think is best for the average big air rider.
In the SERIES, you'll see the participants trying to guess which kite is which. They have a tough time and even convince themselves that they've guessed correctly when they haven't. You'll also see them trying out the kites on the water and giving their honest feedback on each one. Some kites were easy to handle, while others required more effort. One thing they all agreed on was that finding the right kite for the average big big air rider is not an easy task.
Behind the Scenes
In addition to the fun and chaotic premise of the Blank Kite Test, the video also gives you a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into creating the test. With 17 people working on the project, there's a lot that goes into ensuring that each rider has the right kite on the right bar at all times. There were even instances where Ruben had to fly the Ozone Edge, and Marc had to fly the Orbit to ensure that the test was legitimate.
Overall, the Blank Kite Test series two is a must-watch for kiteboarding enthusiasts. It's funny, and entertaining, and gives you a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into creating a legitimate kite test. You'll also get to see some of the best kiteboarders in the world trying out new kites and giving their honest feedback. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride!
BLANK KITE TEST: ep1 (Big Air) Season 2
Giel's Pre-Session Musings
- Everybody is telling me that once it's in the air I'll know straight away, so there's just this immense pressure. The first kite I launch I'm gonna be like, "I don't know!"
- It's very intimidating. I was just sitting here and Marc's massaging his pecs.
- It's not a competition; it's just chill.
- I don't know what the competition is yet, but I'm gonna beat you.
- We must look so stupid with all three of us in the same wetsuit.
- Honestly, I'm terrible at this. That could be my kite... that could be my kite... that could be my kite...
Kite 1: North Orbit 2023
Ruben: Kite number one felt user-friendly from the start. I felt some power, and the turning was very good. I didn't feel the lift, but maybe it's also the conditions today. It's hard to really get that vertical lift going.
Giel: It's very gentle. It's a very smooth kite. The loop is quite rapid. I think the highest jump was around 11 meters and it's not very windy, so that was pretty exciting. I had a good sense of where the kite was sitting in the wind window; if I was looping and doing a Boogie or a Laid-back, I felt like I knew where the kite was sitting, so that was very good. Sometimes on the downloop, I felt like the trailing edge was fluttering a little bit, but overall I really enjoyed riding the kite.
Ruben: I don't care how many struts it's got as long as the thing has got its profile and it gives me the power and the lift and the hangtime that I want, and the loop. Just as long as it doesn't have one strut.
Giel: In general, most of the jumps were around 8 to 9 meters, so it's not very windy yet. I would say it's about 22 knots, so not too strong, but fun to try it out.
Ruben: So that was kite number one. I will fly it again in the next round, I think. Well, we've got some more to do...
Kite 6: F-One Trigger 2022
Ruben: Kite six has nice-feeling bar pressure and looks very steerable, which I like. I can feel some more lift already, and it's climbing higher in the window. Let's see how it performs on the water!
Giel: It's sitting really high above me, so I have the feeling that this kite will climb nicely when I take off and not sit in front of me. I feel like this kite will be pretty good to boost.
Marc: That one felt a little jerky, like it's a bit unstable. It doesn't like too much back line bar pressure, but it likes a little bit more on the front lines.
Ruben: That was a very fun kite. I enjoyed riding on it. My mom could ride on it. I mean, my mom doesn't even kite, but I'm sure she can ride away on it.
Giel: I had one good crash where I had to get rid of the board as well because the kite just stalls. I think it could be a really quick kite and it could be a really good kite, but I think it's just a bit too sophisticated.
Ruben: It felt very easy and very light, but still had enough feedback. It loops very easy and it's very forgiving, so you could get away with some more tricks. There's still some power to be found in it, and I really liked it. Trying to find a good kite for the general public is pretty tricky.
Kite 3: Ozone Edge v11
Marc: To me, the jumping's amazing and the hang time's good, but the looping is not very good. It's quite heavy in the loop and it requires a lot of pull. If you're aware of that, that's okay; you just sheet the bar in a bit to help.
Giel: If you're looking for a kite that boosts and gives you a lot of hangtime, this is definitely the one. I feel like there's a lot of power. You sheet in and you just boost. Even when the wind dropped to around 17 knots, I was getting about 12 meters on this one, which is just as high as the other kites, but with less wind. But for looping, you really have to crank the bar. I'm using a big bar and I feel like I'm going all the way to the side to loop it, so it's definitely made for jumping and getting that Woo record, but I feel like when you're looping the kite, you're not really doing the kite a favor.
Marc: Overall, hangtime's nice, jumping ability's nice, but the looping is the one thing that's letting that kite down.
Giel: Some kites just have that; they don't like to be looped on the way up. You really need to loop on the top, and with this one I felt like that. But it's a really good kite; I just think it's tough to loop it. You really have to put some effort into it.
Kite 4: War Pigs The Squealer 2024
Giel: I have the feeling that when you loop it, it starts to carry a lot of speed halfway through. It's gonna be fast.
Giel: We can hear the trailing edge fluttering a lot in the loop. When I'm looping and going upside down, I feel that the kite starts to pull, but I also hear it.
Marc: The hangtime and the jumping capability wasn't very good for what you want in a big air kite.
Ruben: It had quite some bar pressure, so it's a bit hard to turn. It didn't have any lift. It was looping okay, but I didn't really like it.
Giel: This would not be the kite I would recommend to any big air rider who's going big and is doing some loops and might want to add a rotation. This wouldn't be the kite that I would recommend. I'm sorry; I don't have any up-sides. I just don't like it. But I like the color.
BLANK KITE TEST: ep2 (Big Air) Season 2
Kite 7: Core Nexus v3
Ruben: Nice, kite seven. Here we go!
Giel: That's a Core. There's no other way. It's even yellow! Are you kidding me? You could have at least taken a Sharpie and painted the yellow part black! But it's a quick kite and has quite some bar pressure. Let's see if it rides like the good old times.
Marc: Flying it on the beach, it definitely feels heavy.
Giel: So kite number seven... I think it's a very good all-around kite; it does everything well. You have a good pop, you boost pretty good, the loop is pretty fast, and you have a very good sense of where the kite is. But I don't think it's got amazing boost or is really quick, so it doesn't have the extremes, which might actually be perfect for what we're trying to figure out here: which is the best overall kite for the average big air rider. So this is definitely one of the better ones for me because it's very easy to handle. You can always have the bar in the middle; you don't have to move to turn the kite. You loop it and it starts climbing straight away. Overall, very positive.
Ruben: Yeah, kite number seven. The design kind of gives it away already, but let's not take that into account. It feels very different because it has the split high up, so the whole handling changes. It will rotate very fast and it feels lighter, but it has some delay in the feedback.
Marc: The hangtime's nice. It does require a bit more speed and input to get the same height as some others, but you can still get it. It is a little bit more freeride-feeling than some others, but you can push it in the high end still, which is kind of cool. The jumping and the hangtime is a little bit lower than some others, but the looping's nice with good catch and it's very easy, friendly, and forgiving.
Kite 5: Airush Lift v3
Giel: So either the wind just picked up, or I have a lot more bar pressure.
Marc: Yeah, this one's flying more up in the window, which is nice, more like a big air kite should. The previous one was quite deep in the window, more like an old C kite sort of feel, so I feel like this one's going to have more lift.
Giel: It's actually a very interesting shape. I'm very curious how it's going to perform on the water.
Ruben: I can feel some power. It steers quite heavy; there's quite some bar pressure. You can feel where it is. The shape looks a bit fat to me.
Marc: It feels more like a big air kite, so I'll give it a go and see how it loops.
Ruben: I actually really enjoyed it. It was easy to jump. I felt some more lift in there now, and the loops are very good. It was a good boost and I really enjoyed it. So I definitely think this is my choice to make it to the next round.
Giel: All right, so kite number five. It was hard to tell if the kite just had that much more pressure or if the wind picked up. I do think the wind picked up a little. The kite was pretty good for boosting. I was a bit surprised because of the shape, but like I said at the start, it's a little different shape than what I've been riding so far, and I think it provides that lift, but it also provides a pretty quick loop. I do feel like, on the end of the loops, I was losing the sense of direction a little bit of where I was. I feel like it initiates the loop really quick, but then it doesn't carry the motion on; you do have to keep steering it, which you just have to get used to. In the beginning I thought it's not for me, but now the more I ride it, the more I like it. I'm pretty excited about this one; it was pretty good.
Marc: I'd say that one's definitely as well-balanced as it comes for big air, hangtime, and loop. I would say this one's on the top for me at the moment. The low end is definitely good too. I felt like it had the capability to go a lot higher.
Kite 2: Slingshot Code v1
Giel: Kite two... it is as clear as day. I won't say it, but I'm excited... Oh, wait. It's not. Interesting... three struts. There are three struts, right?
Marc: It's a very easy kite. it's a bit more freeride-feeling than big air. Its jumps and hangtime are there, but not as good as the others. The looping is good as well, but again, it feels more playful and more forgiving. It feels more freeriding than the others, not that it's a bad thing.
Giel: When you loop the kite, you have a very good sense of where the kite is because the bar is all the way down; I feel like the kite doesn't have that much bar pressure. It took me about 10 minutes to figure the kite out because I feel like the sweet spot of taking off is pretty small. It feels a bit like my Rise, but with fewer struts and a little bit more bar pressure. I think for the average big air kiter this kite's good, but it's going to take some time to figure out. There are three struts, so you're just not that connected to the bar. You're steering, and then the kite comes later, whereas on the other kites that I've ridden, it feels like one thing.
Kite 8: Harlem Strike 2022
Marc: It's a high split. It's got a little bit of a logo in there!
Giel: It feels like it's a bit more of a lifty kite. I think you could have some good airs on that, but right now it's so gusty on the beach that it's hard to tell what it's going to be like, and I think you just have to go out on the water and give it a go.
Giel: I didn't feel like you really have to get used to it. It's got a very good amount of boost, so I like that part. I think it's a bit on the heavy side to loop it; you really have to work the bar to get the kite around and in general when steering the kite. I don't think you can double loop it because you have to crank the bar so hard already, and I feel like the first loop would have too much pull.
Marc: Kite eight was quite hard to get connected to. It felt a bit droppy and felt quite hard to punch it forward to get air, like it didn't have a wide range of a happy spot. It was quite a small place to find a happy spot, so it wasn't my top pick.
Ruben: It could potentially be good for beginners because it almost had no power on the steering so it was very easy to maneuver, but also no feedback, so it also makes it hard. But very easy rotating. Jumping was okay; I could get quite some lift out of it, but no real power or feedback. It was very hard to know where to put the kite.
Giel: They're telling me I can't re-test because there's no more time left.
BLANK KITE TEST: ep3 (Big Air) Season 2
Ruben: They're all very different. That's a surprise how they can all try to make the same performing kite, yet they're all so different with such a different feel. I've never tried so many different kites, especially back-to-back, and that's what you need to do to really feel the difference, so it was very interesting to be able to do it this way.
Giel: I think number one, number five and number seven, the Nexus, for the finals. Which one would you pick?
Marc: The Edge was nice, except for the looping. I think if you got used to it, it could be the Edge. It does jump and hangtime better than the Nexus, but the looping is a bit of a gap until you start tuning it in.
Giel: We don't really love the Nexus because we like to go a bit more radical. One is my first choice, five is my second choice, and then I would say the Nexus.
Marc: One and two are very clear for me, but the third one could jump between three--the Edge--or the Nexus. There's also one that was quite quick and that looped quite nice.
Giel: The second one looped nice, but it was hard to take off. The Nexus is my third pick because I think it's better for the average rider. You don't go huge. I might be biased because when I started riding the Nexus I was crap and I learned a lot on their kite, so it has to be good for the average big air rider. That one is pretty fun. So it's one, five, and seven.
Marc: Do we get a cookie break now?
Ruben: Why didn't you get a bunch of average Joes to test these for you? I'm freezing!
Giel: Well... I thought it was fun.
Colin: So which one was third?
Giel: Marc was third.
Marc: Hey, what?
Giel: You didn't know there was a competition?
Colin: Okay, let's put the three kites in order.
Giel: I think the Nexus is third, but if it's really windy it could be second.
Marc: I preferred the Airush.
Ruben: Yeah, the Airush was fun to fly; it was easy and efficient. The average Joe would be sending it on this thing.
Giel: Kite number one is first because it's the best overall. I think in this test it was the best by a mile; it was just the kite that made the most sense. It was jumping high, but you also had a lot of feeling in the kite. Everything seemed to make sense: the shape made sense and the feeling made sense. It was just the best kite to handle, and the easiest to handle as well.
Ruben: Yes, I agree. That kite felt all-around really good performing. Easy, efficient, great fun all around.
Colin: Was it quite hard to remember the characteristics of eight kites? Next time, should there be less?
Giel: Well, I had a great caddy writing down all the characteristics, otherwise it would be pretty difficult. But then if you see the kite in the air again, I think you would recognize it pretty quickly.
Ruben: With some kites you could instantly feel that it was really not right for even the Average Joe. You wouldn't do it to him or her.
Giel: Yeah, some kites you'd launch and you'd know that's not gonna be great.
Marc: Normally when you put a kite in the air, you kind of know if it feels right or wrong, and then you get the full test in the water when you loop it and send it.
Ruben: This was a very unique experience for sure, to fly eight different kite brands back-to-back. It was very cool to feel all the different characteristics, how they perform, what they're good at, what they're not, and riding with these lads trying to push it a little bit. It was definitely great.
Giel: It was a lot of fun, and also a really cool experience to have people work on your kite and swap your bars around. Then we're writing down what the kite's like, there's an interview, and then we're on to the next one. It's really cool and a lot of fun to try that many different kites and get a feel of what more is out there, apart from what you're used to.
Colin: Who rode the best? That's the last question.
Marc: Ruben. [laughs]
Giel: Ruben went the biggest, so...
- 1st place - Kite #1: North Orbit 2023
- 2nd place - Kite #5: Airush Lift v3
- 3rd place - Kite #7: Core Nexus v3
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