Our first test of the 09 Griffins

Well they finally arrived with us, and anyone who had pe-ordered theirs should have them about now.

We had read all the Manufacturers info and a few dealer reviews and they all said one thing. These are by a long way the best kite  Griffin Kiteboarding (formerly Monkey Kites) have ever produced. On paper , the specs are impressive for such a well priced kite. Structured sail panel layouts, one pump, teijin fabric, ronstan hardware, Clam cleat Aluminium depower system, moulded load spreaders, triple stitched and glued everywhere, mark cloths at the main stress points, etc. …Absolutely nothing skimped upon and nothing left out. All in all on paper , its a lot of kite for a lot less than any other 2009 kite on the market. Especially the way the sterling is going , kites are getting more and more expensive. Yet a 12m kite is only £469 and most of this is simply due to the fact that we purchase the kites in bulk direct from the factory floor, save on distributor mark ups and transportation . But the question is, regardless of specs on paper or how the kite arrived in the UK, and the most important question…. how does it fly?

Its difficult to wade thought brand hype. You wont find any brand launching a new product that is not hyping it to be the very best kite they ever made, so when griffin Kiteboarding told me this I can’t say that it got me excited. Sure a few tweaks here and there, and some nice new graphics and hey presto. Another new kite churned out with a 2009 badge beside it.

The first clue was in the pics. Yes the graphics where in my opinion, fantastic. But the shape was very different from previous griffin models. And i only really got to see this once i had the kite in the flesh , and thus, a previous statement that I made about this kite being just a  modified version on previous models was incorrect. This is completely new kite. Previous kites where designed by MIT Graduate , and Head of the notorious Zero Prestige kite project, Saul griffith. One very smart guy who really thinks outside the box.  He came up with Griffins innovative no middle strut, a performancing enhancing development which has since been adopted by other bigger brands such as north, airussh takoon and now i belive the 2009 Flexifoil hadlow pro. Simply put it reduces the kites’ weight at the centre and makes the most effective area of the sail , “the centre” , even more effective.  Producing more grunt , more low end and more power when the kite is flying through the window. 

Some clues to how different the 09 kite would be, first emerged when a new designer was announced. Christian Van der Plaat, an IKO qualified Kite Instructor and President of the New South Wales Kite Boarding Association (NSWKBA.com.au) and one of the first kite surfers in Sydney.

The next reports on the kite came from Namibia at the Luderitz Speed sailing challenge. Griffin rider Sylvain Hoceini took the new 2009 kites to this prestigious event , which attempted to break the 50knots Barrier in sailing for the first time ever. Sylvain set a new personal best here (smashing his previous PB) , and also managed to finish 4th overall against the worlds top speed sailors. He maxed out at 53.8knots and is now the fourth fastest man on the water and one of very few to pass 50knots. Not bad at all for the griffins first outing.

So now I am getting excited. New shape , new designer and proven top level performance. So the maiden voyage was set at Tyrella beach Northern Ireland. First day out and the winds where really up and down. One minute it was reading 12knots and the next jumped to 20knots for a few minutes then down to 13knots. the forecast was for 25+knots , and there was a lot of low black cloud around. I had a choice between the 7m or 12m. I went for the 7m , simply because the weather was so unpredictable that day , i would rather be under powered than hospitalised. First Impressions where very good, and that was just the bag. A well thought out courier style bag , with funky cover print in a heavy sack with ruck sack shoulder straps. Inside reveals 6 secure velcro pockets for all your spares and little pieces. Also a neat bar compartment inside the bag, which is another nice touch.

I took some photo’s before heading out , but apologies as i used a camera phone so the quality is poor. I will get them replaced though.




A handy well thought out design that is much more impressive in the flesh than in my poor camera-phone pics.  Next was the kite. The new one pump system is a good as you would see on any LEI kite. Supple connectors , protected by neoprene covers , and a handy clip sytem to isolate the struts. I could have sworn i had seen the very same system and identical parts on more than few other much more expensive kites.

As for the kites build, i have already banged on about this , but you will struggle greatly to find anything of lesser quality on this kite compared to its more expensive rivals. The only thing of note is the the lack of moulded neoprene scuff guards. Griffin use a lighter weight rubber type material, which they explain is just as tough and does not retain water , making the kite lighter thus improving on performance. I must say that it does not look as attractive as a moulded scuff guard , but certainly looks up to the job and if it improves performance, then it gets my vote.




So kite up ,and a quick play around with the bar (which was the 53cm , and not the correct 45cm for this kite). Once i hit the water, the first thing i noticed is that the larger 53cm bar needs a bit of depower, to fly perfect on the 7m. I was prepared for this though, as griffin told me that the smaller kites are set up to use out of the bag on the 45cm bars , with only minimal trimming required. Where as the larger 53cm bar was for the 10.5m-14m kites. A bit of depower on and the kite was behaing nicely. Most of the kites out where 7-10m , with the larger sizes getting the most of the conditions.  I was definately under powered , but so where 2 other 7m Kites on the water. To be honest i felt that the other 7m kites had a little extra on me in the lulls, so i changed from my 127cm skywalker board, up to a bigger 135cm to give me a little extra. Back out and problem solved. Tons of low end, but the gusty wind was not playing fair. A few tacks later and most riders myself included (even those on bigger 8-9m kites) are having to walk upwind. Pants.  Not a great day for testing new kites. At least i know that the low end is good enough for any 2009 kite. When trying to hold a line the wind was really dropping again and again. The kite kept floating back in the window due to the low winds, but it showed no signs of wanting to drop or do anything unexpected. It just sat there taking little more effort than a push forward on the bar to keep it in the air despite the conditions.  So it’s definately very easy to handle , as any kite aimed at the beginner to intermediate market should be. The bridle i was using was the Standard one , but there is an upgrade being released , which will be aimed at the pro riders and wakestylers. Where-as the stanard bridal is gonna suit the riders who do a bit of everything , and like being able to depower a kite spilling almost all power easily. This is just a matter of letting go. 

When the wind eventually picked up it provided 30 minutes of 20-25knots which is perfect for this kite , having a huge sweet spot of 20-35knots, and even up to 45knots for the more experienced rider. Turning was super smooth on standard settings. But this can be changed to allow more or less bar feedback, with a simple adjustment. Personally i found the standard settings spot on. A bit of bar pressure so you know here the kite is at all times, but light enough to let anyone ride for hours without having to bring spare arms to the beach. Pull in the bar and this kite has a lot of grunt , which can be easily spilled off just by pushing forward on the bar. Good for getting you out of danger when you find yourself going too fast , or sending the kite into the power zone unexpectedly. The new griffin powers upwind and boosts well. I managed a quite few jumps much higher than my normal attempts, which right now i must admit are pretty lame due to serious lack of water time this year. But with minimal commitment i could score some good floaty jumps.

I will need a bit more time on this kite , and some nicer winds winds , but it certainly has performed very well indeed in the gusty irish winds for me. Stable , Predictable , Good floaty jumps , simple bar interface , Top end build quality.

It has left me wondering , how some kites are just so expensive. This kite is undoubtably built as well as any other kite on the market and the performance and characteristics are exactly right for the riders who will be using this kite. If the wake stlye bridle performs as well for demanding pro riders as the regular bridle does for intermediate riders, we will have one of the best kites ever developed right here. The regular bridal set up gives out performance that is as good if not better than some of the most popular intermediate kites on the market. With one exception. It simply does it for much less money. Simple as that. Nothing is missing except a heavey price tag.

Now when the New Pro bridle arrives , if it can satisfy the demanding and no doubt skeptical pro rider , then you simply have something amazing. A kite which has no comprimise performance that is as good for pro riders as it is for the beginner to intermediate. As soon as the pro bridle arrives we will be giving the kite to a few unsponsored and unbiased competition level riders , who will no doubt test the kite capabilities to the max.

Right now its safe to say, there is nothing on the market for Beginner or Intermediate kiters as good as this kite that is even close to the price. Griffin say that the pro riders wont be disapointed, and this time before even trying the Pro Bridle I have to admit i’m a little excited.


 A good time to mention , we have completely sold out of our first batch of 5m & 7m and 9ms and every other size is low. But worry not. We have more on order due in very very soon.

To order or for more details on this excellent little kite visit us at



Pretentious kiters need not apply


2 Responses to “Our first test of the 09 Griffins”

  1. Nice review..agreed! Riders here that have flown the kite or seen it at the beach have been raving about the quality construction and performance in the air…its really amazing how good it performs, its super smooth and fast. Its low end is crazy too.

    Christian is currently testing the PRO (wake) bridle so we’ll see how that goes!

    francisco @ http://www.soloviento.com

  2. The style of writing is very familiar to me. Have you written guest posts for other bloggers?
    p.s. Year One is already on the Internet and you can watch it for free.

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