The SST has been a feature of the Slingshot range for several years now and the 2020 sees the fifth incarnation of this benchmark wave kite. Aimed fairly squarely at wave riding, with a decent application for foiling, the SST has always had wide application of use, stretching into freeride.
The main change this year is the implementation of some 4×4 ripstop material from Teijin, stiffening and making an already solid kite even sturdier, and increasing the kite’s lifespan. This extra stiffness in the canopy seems to have perked up the steering, and the mini-bridle translates bar inputs well. The SST retains the pleasant ability to initiate a turn in the kite really easily without having to put in huge bar inputs. A delicate flick of the wrist is enough to initiate the kite for your bottom turn and the response from the kite is instant. The SST dumps power effectively with no flapping across the window, and although the overall weight of the kite is probably slightly increased with the new cloth, the excellent drift characteristics remain unchanged, which is a testament to a good fundamental shape.
The low-end grunt of the kite, a long established Slingshot trademark, is pretty surprising. You will find yourself creeping upwind adequately in far less wind than expected, which lends itself well to wave-led side-shore conditions. Where the compromise lies with the SST when compared to a few other top tier wave kites is in the high end of the wind range, where things can start to wobble and top out, particularly with a heavier rider. As long as you’re aware of this, and tailor your quiver accordingly this shouldn’t be too big a problem, but it’s not as extended as some. The bar feeling this year feels far more linear than previous models, with a less on/off power delivery and slightly smoother approach letting you feather your power nicely resulting in less fatigue.
The Compstick bar remains a familiar interface, if a little complex compared to some, with three lines running through the bar and a bungee on the safety to keep things neat. The 7m supplied went well on the shorter 20m lines, keeping the kite nicely planted deep in the wind window, accentuating the drift ability and not compromising the upwind performance drastically.
For foiling, the SST is a little peach. That deep window position and very comfortable handling in low end combined with the decent power dump, means you can concentrate on your board skills and largely ignore the kite. It is extremely stable and obedient, and produces a nice bit of power in the turn and loop to pull you reliably out of maneuvers with a bit of zest.
The SST is a classic, dependable shape now made even more robust than previously with the new cloth, and the depower is far more progressive. For the diehard fan, of which there are many, it is worth the upgrade for these reasons alone.
Access all 105 pages of the Ultimate Test #3 including this year's results.