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The XR has been one of the most iconic kites in CORE’s lineup for the past decade and has undoubtedly helped the resurgence of Big Air in recent years, thanks to the likes of Janek Grzegorzeski rebirthing this style of riding. The XR range has carved out a section of the market that craved an old-school-inspired Big Air kite with lofty controlled jumps that allowed the ordinary rider to have the confidence to do multiple rotations, whilst still having enough time to spot the landing and gently find their way back to the water. The XR has since seen some of the industry’s top Big Air riders pushing the kite to the absolute limit. This year we have the much anticipated eighth edition of the XR and although the DNA of the kite remains the same, CORE has positioned this edition as a more all-round freeride kite that will allow novice riders to progress on the same equipment they might see their role models riding. You might even be surprised to see CORE has added a splash of color, though don’t let your mind get too carried away.

The XR’s defining five-strut, delta-bow design remains roughly unchanged – it’s this ultra-stiff frame that has allowed the XRs to showcase their iconic jump characteristics that have seen the WOO leaderboards light up over the past years. What has changed in the XR8 is that CORE has brought forward some major upgrades. Firstly the leading edge carries not only a smaller diameter, but is crafted out of one of the most advanced polyester weaves on the market, ExoTex 2. This narrower leading edge has allowed the kite to find the perfect balance between rigidity and twist which translates directly into a more performance-driven kiteloop. ExoTex 2 allows for an ultra-rigid leading edge that is not only stiffer but drastically lighter than the generations that came before whilst increasing tear resistance by 80%,  making it more durable and reliable. The XR8 also features an ultra-lightweight triple ripstop canopy dubbed CoreTex 2. Once again this introduction of new material is not only to get the XR down to its fighting weight, but brings with it some major durability advances, an impressive 300% improved tear resistance to be exact.

We had the opportunity to have multiple sessions on the XR8 and managed to truly give it an all-round freeride experience. From the moment we launched the kite we were welcomed by the familiar handling characteristics of the XR family; those of you who have flown an XR will be well aware that these kites have a truly unique but completely intuitive feel to them. This unique XR characteristic is thanks to a combination of CORE’s Intelligent Arc. Without going too much into the science behind it all, the Intelligent Arc is a bridle configuration that resulted in us being able to modify the overall airfoil of the canopy by simply sheeting in or out on the bar. In practice this allowed us to have on-demand power as soon as we sheeted in; we could feel the kite shift gears and jump into turbo sending us immediately flying down the line – definitely a great ability to have, to get up and planing earlier for novice riders, but allowing the more advanced riders to really accelerate into their takeoffs. Let’s not forget that the XRs were originally designed with Big Air in mind and this Intelligent Arc truly came alive as we threw ourselves off a kicker and into the air; as we sheeted in the bar, the profile of the XR8 flattened out turning it into a Big Air machine. This flattening out of the kite allows an increase in the surface area of the canopy that is designed to generate height on the take-offs, sending you higher than ever before with less effort. This same flattening out of the kite allowed us to glide through the air whilst making sure we landed as gently as possible. At first, we couldn’t understand how a kite could be designed for performance Big Air whilst still being targeted at the novice kiter; but after experiencing how smoothly and intuitively the XR8 transfers power it all starts to make sense.

The XR8 has an impressive wind range, we were out smashing waves on a 9m in 16-18 knots followed by a Big Air session that was upwards of 28 knots. It is no secret that the XRs come alive in the stronger winds, but nothing could have prepared us for the sheer joy of looping the XR8. It delivers an old-school styled yank as you send the kite around the window, and thanks to a heavier bar pressure you get great feedback the whole way through. The XR8 seemed to be a kite perfectly in balance – the perfect balance between old-school-inspired flight and state-of-the-art technology – the perfect balance between an entry-level freeride kite and a Big Air winning machine.

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