A new player boldly enters what’s becoming an increasingly mature kite market. Meet Odo Kiteboarding from Italy, with a boxfresh two kite range. So how will it weigh up against the establishment? The YO has a generous dash of traditional delta built into the design, and is aimed at wave, foiling and general freeride use. The build incorporates three core ripstop and a lightweight Dacron. This overall low weight translates into early flying and a decent low end. The bridling is minimal and low drag, with anodized sliders working well to minimize wear on the front, and the trailing edge has a scalloped anti-wear design. The Quick Vario bar system feels well-built and functional with relatively simple ingredients combined well. Several of the components are titanium, which shows more commitment to light weight. Depower range on the bar stroke is fine, and a sliding stopper means you can trim a little for shorter arms. The ever dependable Clamcleat does a great job of smooth trimming, as it does with many brands. The EVA grip is particularly nice, with the narrow diameter feeling refined in the hand. The safety line runs parallel to one of the front lines for approximately eight meters, which feels a little untidy but works well enough. The chicken loop is a simple push release with a pin and is very functional and safe, with a decent spinning mechanism on top to deal with line twists.

Testing in some fairly varied and unpredictable wind conditions, the YO proved extremely stable throughout its wind range and was genuinely difficult to overfly. The leeward drift capability is, without a doubt, excellent. It has a high amount of grunt and ground pull, but, unlike a traditional delta, flies in a nice straight line with little inside line pressure required. As a wave kite it relies almost completely on excellent drift and stability to stay in the sky, rather than maneuverability. This will do well in side shore conditions, but makes things a little more challenging when onshore. It will turn, but it needs a little persuasion. Powered on a twintip, the grunt and lift and more sedate turning transfer into some lovely controlled flight and transitions with no surprises. The light weight, early flying and more moderate turning speed also make it a great option for foiling.

In a sentence: the YO is a minimal, light, and uncomplicated affair, with bags of power and at an attractive price point – an encouraging first entry to the market.

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TESTED: Naish Gecko S25

Naish have created various blunt nosed boards for strapless freestyle over the years and were early on board with the compact board concept for enhancing aerial characteristics. The Gecko is available in two constructions, a standard bamboo version and a high-end carbon and S-Glass variant with vector net strengthened rails. Being a dedicated strapless board, foot strap inserts are not present on either, and correctly so. Two sizes are available in 5’1 and 5’4 with a respective 22l and 24l of volume.

The Gecko sits alongside the long-established Skater in the current surfboard range, but focuses its efforts on more mediocre flat water and chop conditions than properly formed waves and covers the full spectrum of real-world conditions. A relatively parallel rail outline immediately tracks very well in a straight line, and builds speed with ease, smoothing a mushy surface well. The noticeably grippy quad fin setup is uncomplicated to load up and release against, even with minimal kicker options available. Something sometimes overlooked in a kite surf board is the quality of the standard fins, but Naish haven’t cut corners with the Gecko as it’s obviously a critical part of the mechanics, and have provided a super stiff quad fin set with a little extra cant in the rear pair.

Width in both the nose and tail mean that once the board is in the air it has a predictable anti-gravity characteristic under your feet; wind doesn’t seem to catch the top of the board and flip it off your feet like a more traditional surfboard. The corduroy EVA pad feels positive and grippy without being overly aggressive, and divides itself evenly into three distinct sections over the front of the board, aiding foot placement for both take offs and landings without having to glance down. In the standard double bamboo construction that we tested, weight is definitely minimized but it seems adequately built for the big impacts. A simple light concave runs the entire length of the board, and disperses the landings graciously whilst running downwind. Re-engaging the fins and rails presents no surprises or squirrelly behavior. The relatively high volume retained means it takes fast powered landings in its stride.

Although it’s certainly not the primary design focus, we found the Gecko handled smaller wave conditions admirably and perhaps undersells itself in this department. The grippy quad fin setup made for some face slicing, fast drawn out turns. Don’t underestimate the Gecko: it is super fun on onshore conditions and can make a convincing top turn if required.

So if you’re intent on extending your trick regime and aren’t blessed with ideal kicker conditions close to hand, the Gecko could definitely be for you. Its ability to load energy into the intelligently designed rail and fin combination and release in flatwater is remarkable and the inherently forgiving shape enables the Gecko to gobble up sometimes irritating short chop for breakfast, much like its reptilian namesake devours mosquitoes.

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