- STARBOARD AIRUSH LIFT 9.4
(Kitesurf, UK - March 2002)
- This is Airush second year with a kite range. Last year they had a few Ram Airs but they are new players in the inflatable kite game and have built an alliance with Starboard, pulling resources to create a team of people with an array of skills. Together they have created a range of kites that go alongside their already well established and liked range of boards from Starboard.
The Airush Lift is probably one of the best performance kites presently on the market. It has a profile that reminds me of a Windsurfing sail more than a kite, and never before has this been seen on an inflatable kite. It has lower angle of attack than every inflatable kite on the market giving a top end performance that has the potential to take kitesurfing to another level. It's ability to boost is awesome and it's penetration into the top of the window means that you don't fly off downwind when you boost high.
The bar is high quality and has a re-ride system, allowing you to release and re-start without cat-cradling the lines. It has a small diameter central section that tapers out from the center, allowing you to feel where your hand is on the bar without having to look. The leaders are thin and dynamic; winding up is easy with figure of eights needed on the bar, the trim system has a 2:1 purchase with webbing and buckle that adjust easily on the fly.
The bar is smaller than other kites of this size and works surprisingly well with this size of kite.
In the air the Airush Lift 9.4 is fast and very quick to accelerate. It doesn't have low end grunt like thicker foils and to get going you need to work the kite a little more. However, the Airush is easy to turn and light to steer. It makes up for it's lack of low end power ten-fold. As soon as you get your board speed up, the Airush Lift comes into it's element.
Unlike the full kites their standard cruising speed is much higher, as is their level of response. It is possible to ride the Lift fast. You can sustain fantastically high speeds in control, without jelly fishing of any sort. It feels extremely solid. This all contributes to to good upwind performance; its efficiency is definitely an area the team has worked hard on as it cuts through the air very well.
The penetration to the edge of the window makes the Airush sit further forward than most, and although being solid in structure (no jellying or twitching) it is more prone to teetering on the edge of over flying. This is no problem to experienced flyers (holding it at the side and redirecting jumps properly), but to intermediates it may prove to be a handful as the kite has tendency to fall out of the sky, with often no chance of recovery.(The legendary Hindenburg maneuver)
Build quality is excellent, and the Airush team has reinforced many areas of the kite without adding weight. The front tube is made with Dacron and has a Tri-ply front tube which in real terms means you can pump the thing up as hard as you can and jump up and down on it without the tube exploding. (not recommended, but it can be done).
The Airush Lift 9.4 is a kite that has raised the standards both in performance and build quality. In the air it is fast and needs a rider that can keep their board speed up to get the best out of the performance. Therefore it may not be suitable for entry level intermediates, but it will keep the more experienced and advanced riders on their toes, pushing the sport to the limits.
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