I've been riding the North Race Ltd since the spring. Overall, I like the board. No problems with build quality or workmanship. Is it competitive? From the limited racing I've done this year I seem to hold my own against custom boards. I may not beat them everytime, but I definitely worry them. If they make too many mistakes they will be chasing me down. If I make a few mistakes, I have to settle for chasing them around the course. Against any directional that is not made for racing, the North Ltd is faster, both up and downwind. Lightwind specific twin tips can hold a very high angle on the upwind but sacrifice board speed, especially on the downwind. That said, gear is only part of the equation. Rider skill makes alot of difference. Blow your tack/jibe, make a bad decision at the start or at a mark rounding and it doesn't really matter what board you're on, you'll fall back a position or two. Tacking the board is difficult but doable. I've been working hard to be consistent with my tacks but I'm not as profficient as I would like to be. The lower volume of the North board may be the issue. My skill is likely also contributing! It's a very challenging skill to master. In short spaced chop and gusty winds with other riders all around you it's risky if you can't afford to miss the tack. I tend to be conservative in these situations and jibe. On the upwind, I've found that the board can point higher than is optimal for speed. It seems faster to the mark if you flatten the board, don't ride the rail as much, move your back foot forward and to leward to keep the board flat and concentrate on using the fins to hold your upwind angle. It's also alot less tiring on the body. Dig the rail in too much and I find I'm fighting the kite instead of letting it breath (nicely sheeted out). Once the apparent wind is there (i.e. good board speed), the board can point as high as it would if I was relying on the rail. However, using the fins instead of the rail gets me travelling over the water much faster without too much compromise on the upwind angle. Being overpowered is slower than if using a more modest kite size. I've tried some TFC fins that are slightly less canted, a bit longer and asymetrical. These seem to improve upwind performance but tend to slow the board a bit on the downwind. They whistle at speed which seems to indicate turbulence and efficiency issues. However, it's very difficult to tell if there is an improvement without an equally skilled rider on a similar kite to match race against. Where the board seems to be fastest is on the downwind. The higher volume, 3 and 4 strap, 4 fin boards appear to be hard to ride controlled and fast at deeper downwind angles. I've been practicing this alot over the last few months as it seems to be the strong aspect of the board so I try to take advantage of it where I can. I bought the North board over a custom because I really didn't know how to spec out a custom, I didn't know enough about what I wanted. Two fin, four fin, canted fins, straight fins, symmetrical or asymmetrical fins, high volume, lower volume, two, three or four strap, sharp rails, rounded rails...! It is all a bit overwhelming. Also, I generally sell my gear each year and North gear tends to be easy to sell at a reasonable price. I'm hoping this will also be the case with my board. Will I buy a custom for next season? Maybe. If North comes out with a new board I would take a long look at it. Let's hope North makes this option happen. In my opinion, North makes good gear. They've met my expecations for a good product. As for the Worlds next week, there will be at least one Race Ltd in the fleet! Who knows, I may even worry a few riders on custom boards!
Last edited by mleng
on Fri Jul 31, 2009 6:14 am, edited 1 time in total.