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The out and out boosting model seems to be an essential addition to most major brands this season and we could certainly be seeing a King of the Air and WOO effect strongly influencing design from established brands. Slingshot join the party with the all new Raptor, an Open C five strut platform with a very swept and open canopy design, mean nearly all of it is ‘projected’ in the wind. A pulley-less bridle keeps the feedback fairly sharp on the bar and meaning that the Raptor is relatively calm to turn and certainly does not fall in to the ‘twitchy’ category. Slingshot have incorporated some new four core (4×4) ripstop from Teijin to stiffen up the canopy with a diamond layout in the leech. This should increase the kite’s lifespan as will the usual generous amount of Kevlar bump stops you expect from a Slingshot product. There are plenty of trim settings available to customize the kite to your riding style.
On the water and the low end is solid as a freeride kite, maybe lagging a little with the extra weight of the two struts. Where the genius kicks in, and where the intended design focus clearly lies, is when you go out maxed and really put the pedal down and send it. It is here that the gradual turning speed lends itself really well to hucking some huge airs with bundles of glide and hang time – where oversteering can be extremely hazardous. It’s genuinely difficult to over send the Raptor, which leads to some pleasant consistency and predictability to your hangtime. We were clocking a consistent 12m+ on the WOO without reaching anywhere near the top end of the 10m, and those five struts equate to some reassuring stability in punchy, gusty conditions as we rode out a couple of summer thunderstorms in the UK. Looping the kite was quite interesting; the initial lift is easy to access and smooth, so it’s easy to time your loop just before the peak of the jump, then you can vary the amount of forward pull quite accurately, making it easy to gauge the kite’s response. You can choose how deep the loops is which is great at that critical moment.
Crossing over to surfboard use, there’s all that easy lift on sheeting accessible for strapless freestyle with a surfboard as it lets you down so gently. It’s got that magic ability to let you control your descent really accurately simply using the bar sheet. On a hydrofoil it was easy to tack and do your foot swaps with the lift on sheeting making you nice and weightless when you need to be. The Raptor is the most accessible ‘lift on demand’ kite in the Slingshot range, ideal for busting out some old school foot outs, nicely controlled loops and clocking up some hefty (and from our testing, very consistent) WOO scores. It’s all about being hooked in, the massive top end and boosting ability, but there’s a casual consistency about the kite which helps you trust it and progress your air skills.
In a sentence: The new Raptor takes the old-school boosting fun side of kiting and injects some 2020 innovation and tech for a high performing but accessible ride.