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As you can find out in issue #6 of TheKiteMag where we talk to Airush’s head of marketing, Marc Schmid, the Union is a brand new addition to the Airush range, and – as the name indicates – is a ‘union’ of the best attributes of a few kites in the existing range. If you had to pigeon hole it then it slots in to the ‘high performance’ freeride class, and you could see it as a ‘do it all’ kite or as an ‘advanced intermediate’ option for moving on to from something more forgiving.
Aside from the ‘new kite excitement’ the other innovation from Airush is the rolling out of the Dyneema Load Frame. Airush have had the ‘load frame’ for three years but this year it’s been on the steroids and is now a more noticeable and meatier feature. Essentially it’s a web which spans the canopy and provides additional support and strength. Anecdotal evidence from guys who have been riding the protos and using them in schools suggest that the results really are bombproof…
On the water and the first impressions for us were, “this is a stunningly well-tuned kite…”. On the stock settings it felt immaculately set up – one of those kites that you just want to enjoy flying around for a bit. It flies very precisely but predictably, you’d hesitate to put a complete beginner on it – it’s the kind of kite that you need to be confident in placing in the sky – but it’s an undeniably well balanced bit of kit. The new Dyneema Load Frame promises improved response and delivers this, and the slim LE gives a very crisp and snappy feel through turns.
Boosting and it is ‘quick’ so you need to time your pop just right. As is the way with this new breed of three strut performance freeride kites, boosting technique needs to be well timed to get the most out of it. Then if you want to loop this can be relatively tight if you yank it, or a bit lazier and gruntier if you don’t. Either way the Union is happy. Unhooked and the kite remains very well balanced.
For waves and for cruising it is easy to place the Union where you want it and it doesn’t miss a beat. Placement in the window suits wave riding and the ability to spin the Union round without getting pulled off an edge and to depower quickly is a really plus, especially in onshore conditions. We have definitely tested pure wave kites which are less refined in the surf…
Bottom end is good, but not super grunty, and the top end is excellent.
So this is an ‘all-round’ kite at heart, but it will also deliver much more in your ‘chosen discipline’ if that is what you require…