2012 Naish Torch
What revelation this kite is.
Every year we read how every new kite gets ‘more pop, longer hang time, quicker turning’ etc etc and very year we convince ourselves of the truth in all this marketing speak. The Torch range included. So for years the Torch has of course been fettled and fine tuned, but like most recent kites, the changes are often so small and the evolution so imperceptible, that one was left wondering if it was simply no longer possible to tweak the world’s best C kite. In fact I don’t even think the 2011 Torch changed besides a massive appearance upgrade over the garish 2010 color scheme..
2012; All is forgiven!!
This is no longer evolution; this is the re invention of the C kite. At last, a quantum leap you can believe in.
The improved bag, bar, lines and kite all ooze quality. As per previous years the, the excellent fifth line Shift System is retained.
The most obvious visual change, besides the best ever graphics (no more goblins in suits!!WTF??), is the shifting of the two end struts right to the wing tips. Add this to the stiffer but still narrow leading edge, and you have a super firm and efficient wing, especially at the tips making for instant turning response. The now stiffer canopy is on a par with a bridled kite. This firming up of the profile helps maintain the integrity of the aerofoil shape leading to a pronounced increase in efficiency and hang time. Glide is phenomenal and second boosts of lift available in mid jump with a quick pull on the bar, like an SLE. All this with no bridle, just the support of Naish’s excellent shift system. No bridle = direct feel.
The kite still has the typical C kite bar pressure. Not too much but still way more than most bridled kites. C kite riders love the intuitive feel afforded by this direct connection to the kite. The smooth and linear increase in bar pressure is arguably one of the best reasons for riding a C kite.
All round handling is sublime with no surprises. Kite loops are typically non pivotal, and pull suitably hard. Lift is excellent as the kite comes round.
Hooked in wave riding is smooth and predictable with way quicker turning response compared to previous. Depower is not as much as a bridled kite of course, probably around 80%. Although this is perfect for freestyle and freeride, a quick tug on the now easily accessible depower strap is sometimes needed when dropping into a wave to soften the pull of the kite in the bottom turn. Thankfully, turning whilst depowered (the Achilles heel of previous Torches) is now significantly improved.
No matter that this kite is targeted at the more experienced extreme freestyler, unhooked wave rider etc, the average ‘all terrain’ rider will probably wonder if it is still user friendly for cruising around, boosting a few jumps, hooked in wave riding etc. One myth needs to be dismissed. C kites are not the vicious unforgiving monsters (goblin in suit), that they used to be 10 years ago. These kites feel more like hybrids in terms of depower and usability BUT retain the bar feel and boost of a C. The SLE revolution forced the few manufacturers like Naish, Slingshot and Flexifoil, who continued with C kites, to start engineering usability and safety into their C kites. This is now done. A bridled kite is easier and less demanding for sure, but a kiter of any level can now also enjoy the superb response and performance of these C kites. Not to mention the ease of self launching and landing.
Where a bridled kite like the Naish Park (2012 not yet tested), will have massive appeal due to its slightly more benign nature delivering foolproof handling, better wind range, more depower, and more pivotal turning, the Torch will appeal to those who enjoy massive boost, float, kite loop pull, and that ever elusive bar feel. The unbridled direct connection to the kite is what it all about. Everyone is striving for it. ‘C kite feel’ is being claimed all over the place, but there is nothing like the real thing; The 2012 Torch IS the real thing and a whole lot more.
Wait there is more!! The bar is quite simply, a work of art. The finish and feel of the superlight carbon and grip are top of the class. Most importantly, the trim sytem is back where it belongs, above the bar. No fiddly below the bar hit and miss cleat adjustments anymore, this system works instantly and flawlessly. The centre line is at last sheathed in clear plastic, giving an awesome silky smooth feel. No more frayed centre lines (and nerves) after long after sunset swims.
Lastly; Naish’s R&D dept. finally realized that their riders could fight with their inflation valves no more. All 2012 kites get a little white plastic stopper ball in the valve. Wonder how many years of exhaustive testing Reo Stevens put into this? Brilliant!
Steve Bertie Roberts
10.0m tested in 12-18 knots flat water on Nobile twin tip.
8.0m tested in 15-20knots 4’swell on Naish 5’7 Global wave quad.
6.0m tested in 17-25knots 5’swell on Naish 5’7 Global wave quad.