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The Duotone Neo is one of the most decorated kites in the history of our sport, having been around since the birth of wave riding it has survived the test of time and spent more time atop podiums than any other wave kite. This year’s Neo has been in development for the previous two seasons and brings some performance upgrades. The Neo has been so finely tuned for wave riding that it truly heightens the overall experience of being on a wave. As purist wave riders we believe in surfing the wave as much as possible; the kite should be the perfect partner in crime as you bottom turn into the wave of your dreams. It is this bottom turn that truly defines the performance on a wave kite for us; in traditional cross-shore conditions a bottom turn not only sets you up for how you approach the wave but it is this exact moment where the kite is pushed to the very limit. You engage your fins to initiate the turn whilst simultaneously losing tension in your lines… this loss of tension is the crux. In most wave kites there is a one or two-second delay at this very moment, a sense of being disconnected that forces the rider to question the position of the kite whilst scrambling to regain control over the kite. The Neo on the other hand delivered a direct and responsive feel throughout every turn, allowing us to truly enjoy the thrill of surfing a wave, no matter how far we sheeted out the kite.
The first session of our test was an onshore wave riding session in around 16-18 knots on the 9m Neo with chest-high waves, a set of conditions that demand a lot from not only the kite but the rider too. The Neo has a great ability to deliver smooth swift power from the word go, with the initial dive of the kite allowing you to get up to speed in a short time. If you have ever tried to punch your way through a set of waves you know how important this on-demand power is; not only does the Neo know how to deliver power it sure as hell knows how to dump it. Kite designer Ken Winner has found the perfect balance between grunt at the very bottom of the bar and a kite that drifts down the line with zero bar pressure when sheeted out. The Neo allows you to fine-tune your bar to your optimized settings thanks to its adaptive tip bridle that comes with three options: yellow, blue and black. We rode on the black knot which has been designed to give maximum bar feedback whilst allowing the outside lines to have a superior impact on the airframe. The adaptive tip bridle not only gives you the ability to dial in your bar but lets you tune the kite for different conditions. If you are riding down the line at One Eye we suggest setting your Neo to the yellow knot which has the utmost drift capabilities as well as lively turning characteristics, but if you fancy powerful megaloops and explosive pop during your next strapless freestyle session, then you are definitely wanting to use Airton Cozzolino’s choice of the black knot.
The new Neo has seen some major advances in performance, firstly the Neo is now sporting a narrower arc which allows for smoother consistent turns which directly translates into a swifter turning kite. The swiftness generated by the narrower arc has been paired with an overall outline modification of an increased trail edge sweep design that sees a shortened central width of the canopy improve the drifting abilities, whilst the resulting longer tip width allows for a perked-up maneuverability with overall less bar pressure. We found thanks to all the new performance upgrades that we could size down one or two sizes from our usual quiver, opening up an even more surf-inspired water experience. It’s good to mention that The Neo has an incredible low-end performance – we experienced a consistent experience throughout the wind range which is a great achievement. The Neo delivered to near perfection in every situation we threw it at, from under looping the kite on the wave face as we aggressively snapped the lip line, to unhooking on the inside sections for the super stylish dropped-my-wallet hacks.
The Neo managed to fuel a flame of pure passion for a discipline we have been in love with since the early days, and reminded us why we fell in love with waves in the first place. The Neo truly is a surf-style-inspired wave kite that encapsulates the philosophy of spending less time focused on flying a kite, and as much time surfing the waves as possible.