Ever since the introduction of the bow kite, we've had bar pressure and turning speed problems. Bow kites with pulley systems had better turning speed performance coupled with instant depower, but suffered from bar pressure problems. Bow kites without pulley bars were typically slower, had very little feedback and were rather uncomfortable to use as the true depower potential of the kite only became available at the end of your arm's reach.
The Slingshot Link doesn't come with a pulley bar, and somehow it does everything the way you would want it to. Well, almost. No bar pressure problems, feedback comparable to that of a C shape kite, instant response, fast turning speed and no need to push the bar all the way to the top to get a decent amount of depower.
In the air the kite flies remarkably similar to a Slingshot Fuel. Unlike the Slingshot Turbo Diesels, which flew completely different to the Fuels, the Slingshot Link feels like a Fuel with bow depower. Anyone who has ever flown a Slingshot Fuel will be familiar with that distinct Slingshot feeling, and the Link has all of that - lot's of power, the best feedback in the business, a sporty feel and very stable in the air - the Alfa Romeo of kites if you like.
We spent most of our time on a 7 Link. I was able to stay upwind and have fun in as little as 17 or 18 knots and managed fine in winds gusting to 30 knots. The ideal conditions for this kite would be somewhere between 25 and 30 knots, as it felt more powerful than your typical 7 square meter kite.
The kite performed at it's absolute best in the waves - being a small kite with good low end means you have a faster and better performing kite in lighter conditions. Bottom turns were the best on this kite as you only have to give the kite one solid sweep through the window and you have enough power on tap to follow through with your bottom turn - the kite stays in the power - all you have to do is carve your line. We never felt the need to work the kite in the waves - it just sat in the right position the whole time. Handling in the waves was second to none, period.
Unhooked performance was better than any other bow kite that we have flown so far - very similar to a C shape kite. I did a few down winders where I rode unhooked all the way - something which is unheard of for bow kites.
While the 7m Link flew great, we did not find the 9m to be as good as the 7m. The 9m Link felt a bit heavy and didn't quite bring across that stable feeling we got from the 7m. Both kites can be flown in either 5 or 4 line configuration. We preferred the 4-line configuration.
Overall quality is great. The leading edge material is a bit on the thick side, adding weight, which makes the 9m a bit heavy. The pigtails started fraying a bit and we felt Slingshot could have done a better job on this as this problem has been around since the Fuel days.
The control bar is rather basic in design. It's got a handy stopper ball system, which works great, and the overall feeling of the bar in your hands is great. It did however lack line winders and the bar ends didn't seem deep enough to accommodate the entire length of lines so we had to deal with lines falling off the bar ends on numerous occasions.
Safety and Relaunch
The quick release system worked great, and depower was very effective - especially for a kite with no pulley system on the bar. The relaunch was not on par with that of other bow kites - the Slingshot Turbo Diesel relaunched instantly - not so with the Link.
Slingshot markets the link as a hybrid kite - and although it shares depower, safety features, and looks with bow kites - it seems to share it’s handling characteristics, unhooked abilities and relaunch abilities with C shape kites. We tried relaunching the 7m on the beach and in the water with the backline relaunch method but with no success. Slingshot does however give you the option of adding a 5 line which solves the relaunch problems, but 5 line relaunch is still not as effective as the back line relaunch ability of bow kites.
The Slingshot Link broke a lot of limitations that we have come accustomed to with bow kites. It's got C shape kite performance with bow safety and depower features - the best of both worlds. Sadly, it doesn't have the instant relaunch abilities of bow kites, but there is a 5 line option which gives adequate relaunch abilities, and you can convert between the 4 and 5 line configuration whenever you choose to do so.
Line winders on the control bar would have rounded the bar off nicely. However, the bar performed well without having to use pulleys - depower was available well within arm's reach and the bar sat well in our hands.
What makes the Slingshot Link stand out from the crowd is it's remarkable handling characteristics - it's got the best performance of any bow kite that we have flown so far, minus the bar pressure, unhooked problems and slow turning speed. The Slingshot Link is a very enjoyable kite to fly. Put it in the air and you will know it's a fuel with bow depower. The Alfa Romeo of kites if you like.