2013 Naish Draft 14M Kitesurfing Kite

A new beast with which to attempt to fill the 12 – 18 knot gap

After deciding that the Naish Fly simply wasn’t for me – I needed another beast with which to attempt to fill the 12 – 18 knot gap in my quiver. So – ever keen to piss money up the wall, when the 14M Naish Ride I had ordered took a little longer than expected to turn up, I seized the opportunity to get hold of a Draft instead. I suppose I was motivated primarily by how much hype this new kite has generated online, as well as being the only one on Guernsey to have one of course!!!

Sunday gone was my first opportunity to try the Draft out so I thought it might be good to bosh down a few thoughts in case they’re of use to anyone.

What Is It?

The Naish Draft is a high aspect ratio 3 strut (at least in the larger sizes – 5 strut in the smaller), race and air style oriented kite. It has a fixed bridle (no pulleys at all) and single line attachment points so no possibility to tinker with the bar pressure or grunt in the same way you can with the Naish Park.

A minor challenge to launch

this is not some freakish C kite that is completely dependent on your pulling through 6 foot of 5th line to get the bastard thing onto it’s back

Getting this kite in the air is a little more challenging than you might be used to if (like me) you come from a background of very user friendly hybrid c’s like the Park and The Ride. Don’t get me wrong – this is not some freakish C kite that is completely dependent on your pulling through 6 foot of 5th line to get the bastard thing onto it’s back. You will however find that it needs a little more gentle coaxing during a standard self-slide and launch. As long as you’re careful not to choke the bar, and maybe willing to give the bridle lines a little tug, you won’t have any problems. I should add that (at time of writing this) I have not yet had to try a deep water relaunch. I’ll do my best to update this kite review when I do.

This kite is like nothing I have really flown before

That’s not a negative statement, but when you consider light wind kites like the FLY – you can plot an evolutionary course back to the park, and you can understand the kite in the same terms when you fly it. Once you have the Draft in the air, it just feels super different.

For a start, a normal hybrid c looks like a rectangle in the sky from the rider’s viewpoint, the Draft looks like a new moon, or an upside smile. Knife sharp on the edges and ridiculously wide! I found myself repeatedly thinking of my old 2007 16M Naish Raven. But the kite benefits massively from the inclusion of the fixed bridle, and is therefore a ton more stable in the air, and a bunch more permissive of gusts than any of the old school c kites could ever dream of.

Image Credit: Naish

Image Credit: Naish (via naishkites.com)

It turns respectably fast for a 14M, and myself and Kenny agreed that it turns a whole shitload faster than his Fly which we both rode back to back with the Draft in the same conditions.

One thing you will notice is the bar pressure. It’s almost remorseless – you honestly don’t realise how spoiled you are with pulley-bridled kites, until you experience what “Real” bar pressure is like. Sheet in the Draft and you’ll know about it. You can really feel every movement in the kite which is fantastic, but throughout the 1.5 hour session I kept wondering how terrible my forearms were going to feel the next day. Weirdly – I am very glad to report – they felt fine in the morning, which makes me wonder how much of that feeling is actually down to the direct feedback, rather than the need to be rocking forearms like pop-eye. I am sure that more sessions will reveal exactly how user-friendly this sort of pull is on the arms. For now I am optimistic.

The Draft however surges to the edge of the window and just sits there, meaning you can keep it juiced up the whole time

One of the things that surprised me most about the Naish Draft was its low end. High aspect ratio kites are notorious for being underpowered when compared to hybrids, I was impressed by the power in the Draft from the very first reach, and I had my opinion reinforced when Kenny said he actually felt it pulled as well as his FLY – which makes no sense at all given the aspect ratio, and a square metre less fabric, but is something we both felt. I would guess it might relate more to where these kites sit in the window. Because the FLY sits back to make the most of every available breath of wind, you are forced to depower it if you want the slightest hope of staying upwind. The Draft however surges to the edge of the window and just sits there, meaning you can keep it juiced up the whole time, and use the available wind more effectively. I am sure the FLY will still take the prize for getting you up and planning in the absolute lightest conditions, but with average wind, the Draft was keeping us upwind better without any doubt.

So what were those conditions?

Well when we rocked up at Lankers it was touch and go as to whether we were even going to bother flying… 10 – 12 knots. As we rigged up I would guess the wind picked up to around 15 – 17 knots, and judging by the rate I was depowering as I rode, I think it must have gone up a tiny bit more after that… But to put this in context, even topped out, there was not enough wind to start creating white horses, so it was still very much specialist kite territory. Even fully depowered, I am pleased to report that the Draft remained eager and responsive, absolutely no discernible loss in response.

But isn’t this all boring?

Yes sorry you’re right. This review has skirted around one very important issue (as asserted by the aforementioned hype). The Draft is supposed to enable interstellar travel, and hang times in excess of 3 weeks.

Once I had the feel of my edge dialled in, and depowered the kite into a useful place, I saw one of those sweet, steep little kickers that has a habit of forming way further out than you would expect, so I bit in and found more edge, then sent the kite as hard as I thought was provident, hit the wave, and then sheeted in…

Fuck.

This. Kite. Boosts.

I am not talking about some 75 foot, record breaker that landed me on the roof of the café, but compared to anything you might have been even optimistically expecting – this kite really does perform in the air.

A massive yank that leaves your stomach back on the kicker, the sudden realisation that you are much higher than you expected, followed by the genuine feeling of briefly para-gliding as you redirect the kite and it plops you ever-so-softly back onto the waves

A massive yank that leaves your stomach back on the kicker, the sudden realisation that you are much higher than you expected, followed by the genuine feeling of briefly para-gliding as you redirect the kite and it plops you ever-so-softly back onto the waves. The only thing that was really stopping me from going to town was the genuine concern that I was going to end up far enough downwind to risk landing on the rocks… Absolutely fantastic…

Should you buy one…

If you’re willing to kite on the Draft’s terms, and not expecting to just sheet in and go, then yes – this is an utterly nuts kite. Although it didn’t go down even once in 1.5 hours, I KNOW it is not as stable as a more traditional hybrid kite – you only have to look at it to see that. I have some concerns about how easy a deep water relaunch is going to be when the time comes to have a go – and I would NEVER want to be trying to relaunch this with a set wave bearing down on me. Yes the bar pressure is harsh, but once you have nailed a solid boost dangling under this great orange beauty, you would have to have a heart of stone not to be won over.

I absolutely can’t wait to try it out again.

Photo Credit: Naish Kites

Written by: Adam