2017 Blade Trigger in South Africa

Contrary to what our bank manager or partner may think, most of us kiteboarders can never have too many kites or kite-related bits of kit. A 14m for those really marginal days? Or maybe that slightly smaller board which you know loves big winds and heavy seas? Unfortunately, the restrictions placed by most airlines on hold luggage means that travelling with all that kite kit is going to cost. And so it was that despite our cheeriest smiles and friendly chat, the credit card had to make an additional appearance as we checked in for our flight to South Africa. But it was all in a good cause – putting our 2017 gear, as well as ourselves, to the test in the beautiful surroundings of Langebaan.

The 2017 Blade Trigger, is the 9th generation of this all-rounder. Previous editions of this kite have been hugely well received in terms of their ability to perform for all levels of kiter so it was time to put the latest edition through its paces. Langebaan produced the goods on a daily basis with winds ranging from marginal 12-14 knots right through to 30+ so we had the chance to test the 12, 9 and 7m Triggers, as well as spending some time on the Skinny Boy 6m and our wave boards.

But firstly the Trigger. Wow, was our first reaction. The kite instantly felt comfortable and controlled but with plenty of performance to get the adrenalin flowing. Getting great air was simple – hold that edge, send the kite and before you know it you’re in the lift heading to the top floor. We were really glad to see that Blade have maintained the previous generation’s ability to float – just keep the bar on the sweet spot and gently descend before timing the smoothest of landings with that final dive of the kite. All that extra time in the air was enough to practice all kinds of old-school trickery. The Trigger’s ability to make you want to have just one more run or one more jump before calling it a day meant we were busted by day 5 from all the amazing time on the water. Fortunately, the Langebaan winds didn’t tend to kick-in fully until around midday so there was time to have plenty of R&R and a leisurely breakfast before carrying all the gear to the beach to set up. And even the walk up the beach was eventful – I’ve never been stalked before but if it was going to happen then what better than a large sea lion just a few metres offshore following you up the beach. We saw these beautiful animals most days and the only downside was the thought that if there are sea lions around, then there are probably things that eat sea lions too…..but best not to dwell on that. And besides, with the Trigger there seemed to be a lot more time spent airborne over the water than on it. So there you have it – as well as all the other fantastic things it does, the 9th Generation Blade Trigger even reduces your risk of encountering a shark!

Of course we made time to try out Blade’s wave kite, the Skinny Boy which is now in it’s second generation. And again it didn’t disappoint, pivoting with a flick of the wrist, this kite is fantastic for allowing you to concentrate on the what you’re doing with your board and where you want it to be. I really love the Skinny Boy’s ability to drift, so if you get a move wrong and the lines go slack, it just drifts backwards and gives you time to sort yourself out rather than instantly falling out of the sky. We’ve used it in waves spots all over Ireland, the UK, and more exotic locations and it remains our go-to kite for anywhere there’s a bit of a swell running. The Skinny Boy’s massive de-power ability and friendly drift is why lots of beginners use it too but we also found that it can give you a pretty decent boost. We got some very impressive height from our Skinny Boy 6m. Incidentally, the Skinny Boy is also getting a great reputation as a foiling kite too, owing to the massive depower available. Check out the Shinn kiteboards videos to see the Skinny Boy and Trigger in action with none other than Mr Shinn himself!

After another few days on the water, we headed back to Cape Town. The forecast wasn’t too good for wind and so we climbed Table Mountain – and boy was it worth it. Spectacular is all I will say. Oh, and a surprisingly good restaurant at the top. A word of warning though – time your climb for the cooler parts of the day and, as it says on the signs, wear proper walking shoes; deck shoes and flip flops and starting at midday definitely made a tough but fantastic hike more unpleasant than it needed to be!

We also headed to the Cape of Good Hope to witness this wonderful part of the South African coastline. With a forecast for no wind, we drove there without our gear and spent a couple of hours doing the touristy trails, including the hike to the lighthouse. And then came the surprise – there are kites on the water! We headed straight to the beach at the Cape of Good Hope and stood there watching some beautiful waves roll in and a few happy 9m kiters at play. The frustration we felt made the lesson clear – whatever the forecast, never ever travel anywhere around the beautiful coastline of South Africa without every single piece of kitesurfing gear you’ve packed onto the aircraft. Excess baggage charge? Who cares when the conditions are that good. Lesson learnt.

 

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