The Crossover: Below 14 knots where the TS takes over from the GP
The 2012 TS kites are picking up momentum, surfers, racers and now freestyle riders are homing in on the extra performance that the ‘Ride Optimized Geometry’ of the TS has to offer.
Which such a great reputation already you could be forgiven for thinking that the 15m and 17m TS kites are just for light wind riding, of course you would be wrong. Not only do they give you the ultimate racing advantage but the 15m TS can also fulfill your freestyle needs- especially when only a larger kite will do. There’s a reason that most brands don’t make large C-kites for competition use, they just don’t work well once you get out past 13m. The benefits of direct steering and feedback begin to fade as the canopy size continues upwards- the 15m TS is the perfect antidote to this and will help you rise to the occasion. We catch up with Michael Schitzhofer who has been reaching for the TS 15m in light wind conditions to complete his pre-season PKRA training.
Q. Michael, what do you need from a light wind freestyle kite, which characteristics are most important, and why?
A. In competition freestyle the most important attributes are the low end of the kite and the upwind performance, but these have to be combined with a kite that still gives me responsive steering with good feedback so I know where it is in the air and of course I need slack after I pop. In a heat when the wind is dropping it doesn’t matter if you have the best slack and popping kite in the world, if you can’t get back upwind after a series of tricks you are toast, your run is over.
Q. So if you had a 15m GP shape kite would you use it, or do you need a different design to make it work in light wind?A. I don’t think a bigger C-kite is what you need, that’s why no one really makes them, but the other brands are missing a trick because their light wind kites aren’t designed to be good at freestyle as well as racing. I used a 15m Taboo the whole of last season, in competition and for free-riding. For light wind conditions I wouldn’t go for anything else. I grew up on the side of a lake in Austria we have so many of those 8 to 14 knots days. With the TS I just get so much more time on the water, have great fun and I can still train and perform my freestyle tricks.
Q. How does the TS 15m fit into your quiver, what wind speeds would you use it for and how/why is it better than the GP? A. I have the full GP quiver plus my 15 TS. The 13 GP is a great kite, no question, it’s perfect for freestyle but when it comes to performing in light wind and holding your spot I need every advantage I can get. You have to try everything to stay in the competition zone and perform as many tricks as possible. If I ride a TS I have that advantage over riders on other kites. Anything below 14 knots and I’m reaching for the TS.
Q. How is the TS for freestyle, how does it differ from the feel of the GP and what type of rider would benefit from the TS instead of the GP?
A. It’s a very stable and balanced kite that delivers great grunt and the bar feeling is good for freestyle. In terms of pop, bar pressure and response it’s not going to worry the GP over 15 knots, but the further you go below that the more advantage the TS delivers.
The GP is a very physical kite, there are no relaxed sessions on a GP. You work the kite hard and it works you in response, after a session on the GP your body won’t let you forget the moves you’ve thrown. Of course nothing feels and flies like a C-kite, that’s why they are the perfect freestyle kites. The TS is different, it’s an all-round kite, anyone can ride it, it’s so easy to handle. The TS trades absolute freestyle performance for a slice of aerodynamic efficiency, it’s a good trade off, for the majority of riders it’s the sensible choice. The smaller sizes are more forgiving than the GP and perfectly suited to freeride and surf, when I’m not training or traveling I’ll use the TS.