Airush Union 2016 Review
The Union is a whole new kite from Airush, completely fresh for the 2016 season. They have created it with each size individually designed to give it perfect balance throughout the sizes.
I tested the 9m in a variety of wind strength and conditions on our Brazil Trip this November. On setting up you quickly notice that the kite has a very different canopy construction to almost all other kites, the main material is double squared Tejiin Technoforce D2. Then to protect the canopy from stretching, misshaping or tearing from cuts it also has a Dyneema load frame, this is a thin strip of Dyneema that crosses all over the kite to form an almost diamond pattern, being flat this keeps the weight down for an overall lightweight kite.
The Union is so called as it is meant to be the perfect mix of characteristics of the Freestyle, Wave and Freeride that would form the ultimate all round kite, with this in mind we went to test in in all circumstances. Firstly was the wind range, on the first day the wind was coming through on the lighter side with most riders using 12 and 13m kites, with just the 9m with me it was time to try it’s bottom end. The wind was around 14 knotts, on launching the union it rose to 12 very easily however it didn’t feel like that there was going to be much pull from it. I took my standard twin tip out and went for a ride, the kite was quick, darting down easily had me riding, then the small leading edge and medium to high aspect ration really help create good apparent wind, in the lulls this was all that kept me riding, fortunately the design allowed for some high speeds even in the light conditions.
Day 2 and 18-20 knotts, still in what airush would call the lower end of the wind range for this kite it felt great, very quick in the turns and across the window while still feeling very stable, the fast movement allowed for superb jumping ability and downloop transitions. The waves out back also gave an opportunity to test it’s pure wave riding ability, going directly downwind letting the kite drift I found that it needed to be fairly powered however using it’s fast turning speed I could work the kite with either up or down turns making it an extremely fun session. For this I had the slow settings on the Union, there are a few positions to use on the kite to change the control and response and the faster turning would probably be better in this situation.
Day 3 – Flat water Freestyle in 20knotts +
Starting with around 20 knotts I was riding my 135 with boots and felt good, I managed to gain good tension in the lines and high pop for easy raileys and S-bends, the Union kept it’s shape throughout the maneuvers even as the wind increased. The higher winds gave the opportunity to fully test the powered jumping ability, still only on the slow setting as I had just been unhooking I tried boosting high, the quick whip across the sky gave an amazing amount of lift and on the fast setting this would be even more fun. When looping the kite pulled throughout the loop, not as aggressively as a C kite but enough for me to gain good pull and height.
On the last day we gave the kite to a beginner who is just up and riding, they found the kite very easy to use and even with the high aspect design still very easy to relaunch. The bridle design creates a lot of depower while still giving loads of response so walking around the beach or when the wind really pics up stays very manageable.
Verdict: One of the best kites I have ridden over the last few years, quick, responsive, very depowerable and good at creating apparent wind, not quite as good at drifting on waves as those specific for them but still fun on both a twintip and a strapless surfboard.
We will definitely be taking it out for some more sessions this season, I can see this being a favourite of those just getting into freestyle and aren’t wanting a C – kite and those who love to go out jumping or even calmly cruising around and carving up some waves, the Airush Union 2016 has everything.
Review: Rupert Cawte – Weight 70kg