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Nobile’s R&D department have clearly been active through the pandemic, and with the Game Changer it appears they’ve decided to give their freestyle flagship 50/Fifty model a decent rework and fresh moniker. The design focus is based on a park-and-pop for unhooked freestyle, but also the ability for some powered loops and Big Air.
The Game Changer is quite an extreme hybrid C design, with a narrow leading edge for a 12m and full wing tipped C-shape with minimal sweep to the leading edge. Five-strut C-shaped kites are something of a rarity these days, and always a pleasure to whack some boots on and test. It is a stripped down and simplistic build with D2 cloth, and some scalloping in the back of the canopy to reinforce the segmentation along the trailing edge. The bridling originates from the very center of the kite and mimics the level of control you get from a traditional fifth line.
The Game Changer sits on the slightly more amiable freestyle-focused side of the market sector and the extra angle attack change you can achieve means you can dump more power than a traditional C-shape. There is some useful sheeting range available on the bar, which makes this all-out weapon a shade of comfort and practicality. The bar pressure sits at medium to firm, so there is little chance of any errors with bar inputs for more technical freestyle. The wingtip tuning points function well at dulling this even more, and you can make it a true wake tractor if required.
The five-strut airframe and tight pulley-free bridling keeps the arc extremely stable through the gusts, where the kite will just punch forward. It steams upwind, which is a good trait particularly as it is a wake-style focused kite where all tricks involve lengthy downwind travel. A little trimming is required to set up for unhooked, but all the loading and release traits and slack are present, as you would expect from this shape of kite. For the boost and loop performance we found it far less scary than its very C-shaped appearance. There is definitely some poke around the loop, but it is easy enough to feather out power as the kite whips round with those big wingtips. We were surprised at how much height you could access with the 12m as well.
Overall the Game Changer is a great design exercise and a decent evolution of the 50/Fifty, and brings a good level of practicality to a very capable freestyle kite.