SLINGSHOT PHANTASM 633 & DWARFCRAFT 120
SLINGSHOT PHANTASM 633 & DWARFCRAFT 120
TESTED BY: Jim Gaunt and Rob Claisse (Progression)
WORDS BY: Jim Gaunt
TESTER BIOS AND TEST PARAMETERS: Here
TEST TEAM NOTES: The only way to start this review is by saying that the Phantasm 633 set-up that we have here is the best foil we’ve had on test in at least the last two years when it comes to taking you from beginner, beyond the intermediate stages to even then being greatly enjoyed by more advanced riders. Advanced riders who like to carve in wavey conditions or make lots of tight turns, particularly while riding small kites as soon as the wind allows. The ride quality is just so polished and smooth.
BUT WAIT... Okay, let’s get the chewy bits of fat out of the way. This set-up is heavier than we imagined it would be, given that it’s heavily billed as coming with an all carbon mast and wings. The key here is to not think of carbon purely as a material used to allow for light weight products; it’s also carefully employed for stiffness and the dual core carbon construction delivers a beautifully connected ride feel. You’re completely at one with the foil and this really is one of the stand out elements of the Phantasm 633 paired up with the Dwarfcraft 120 and 92cm mast. The increased weight compared to some of its competitors that also offer packages complete with carbon masts really is the only negative aspect, and at £1,799 / US$2,197, the Phantasm 633 undercuts plenty of competition, too. It’s not ‘heavy’, but it is of noticeably more weight when carrying the foil in and out of the water. Some of that is to do with the size of the front wing, which is also carbon, but constructed to be hard wearing, while the fuselage is also an aluminium alloy. Believe us when we tell you that in this case though, you don’t need to be so obsessed about weight when considering this product – unless your main aim is to throw strapless jumps, then perhaps you can be. Since this magazine launched in 2002, Slingshot have constantly been in our top three manufacturers when it comes to producing equipment that lasts and wears well season after season. Utilising carbon for its responsive performance attributes, while at the same time ensuring longevity of performance, once again seem key qualities for the American outfit, based in Hood River, a spot that’s notoriously demanding on equipment.
WHAT’S SO GOOD? DWARFTCRAFT 120 BOARD Let’s cover the Dwarfcraft 120 board first. Even though it’s just 120cm in length, this is a very approachable board because its thickness allows Slingshot to pack quite a lot of volume into its compact outline. If you’re a total rookie to foiling and not a super confident kiteboarder, you may want to look towards the bigger Alien Air as the 120 is the biggest of three Dwarfcraft models, but we’d say that most people would be able to manage with this 120 from the start because the Phantasm 633 is also so stable. The chined rails and graduation of thickness of the board increases from the nose to the mast mount tracks. The 120 provides ample stability when you’re not planing on the foil, for touchdown foot changes etc. while the rails deflect water beautifully at speed. Finally, the all over deck grip gets a big thumbs up from us. It’s very grippy but not abrasive in bare feet and means you can put your feet anywhere on the board and you won’t slip off. The slight concave in the deck only further adds to the connected feel you have with the board underfoot. You have such a secure feel. There are more than enough insert options for footstraps and the lovely feel of security and balance that the Phantasm 633 offers will add forgiveness when it comes to setting up your footstrap position. The Dwarfcraft 120 is also a stunning strapless board. Again, it’s not the lightest board, but it’s very acceptable.
PHANTASM 633 The over riding reason that we love this foil so much is that it offers the stability and low speed control that comes from its big front wing shape (span = 633mm / surface area = 1200) but because it has such a polished ride feel, you can push it as hard as you want and there are no little defects in its personality to catch you out. It never over foils; lifting overly hard because it has too much speed. The pace that you can ride the Phantasm 633 is more than acceptable even for experienced riders, because when combined with its very impressive manoeuvrability for this size of wing, you can’t help but have fun, whatever your level. The initial lift when powering up the kite is beautifully progressive and smooth. You have all the help from the deep cord in the surface area but then crucially the 633 never rings the alarm bell if you start powering up too much. It’s an absolute dream if you want to use it with a small kite because you can get it up onto the foil in an instant with some experience and then you just need to feather the kite power while riding along. It’s the tight carves and assurance that you feel throughout a turn that are the real crowning jewel though, clearly helped by those winglets on the Phantasm 633’s wing tips. You don’t need to set your mind to the task of carving as you might on something else, particularly something that also offers this much general stability. You really can whip the kite across the window as if you’re riding waves and follow it fantastically well around a turn, this way and then that way. Inexperienced riders will equally have no problems dialling into a much more mellow, wider arc. The 92cm mast is long for beginners by usual standards, but it makes riding in the choppy sea so good. No downsides for us – you just need to walk to a little more depth to get going than you might with a 75cm mast. Slingshot do offer a range of mast lengths, but this particular 633 package comes with the 92cm mast. It’s excellent and we never ever had issues with venting the foil at the surface of the water as a result.
ADVANCED RIDERS MAY WANT MORE GLIDE For all the ultra smooth, joined up aspects of performance, this more rounded, deeply profiled shape can only offer so much glide and this is really where riders who are advancing quickly beyond the intermediate stages may ultimately want to look to the more high aspect Phantasm 730; something that can travel a bit faster but also glide under its own steam for longer. More technical to initially get up and riding, there are more rewards on offer from a high aspect wing when you’re dreaming of big, long carving tacks and gybes without relying on a more constant pull from the kite to keep you moving. That’s where some riders will outgrow the 633; when they know they’re ready to go into their moves harder and be a bit more progressive with their riding. If that sounds a bit confusing and you’re thinking, ‘hold on, don’t we all want more glide, and didn’t you say that the 633 is stable at low speeds? Isn’t that a contradiction?.’ The explanation for that is that yes the Phantasm 633 is beautifully stable at low speeds while you’re flying along with pull in your kite. It makes getting up and going on the foil incredibly easy by current design standards, but if you come out of a complex manoeuvre at slow speed, the 633 will reduce its speed quicker and drop off the foil before something more high aspect that will naturally glide further. However, achieving the higher speed on a high aspect foil going into the move that then allows you to enjoy that glide coming out of it, requires more technical skill and confidence.
FIXTURES AND FITTINGS There’s impressive Slingshot build quality and unique assembly detail throughout. The track in the Dwarfcraft has a very useful measurement indicator on the board so you can accurately position your mast time and again. The large mast head plate forms a super stable connection with the board and there are multiple holes in the plate (allowing use with other boards) for where to screw in the four bolts. Those bolts have large phillips heads which are super durable when it comes to regularly screwing and unscrewing them if you take your foil apart each session. While we like to see foils that only need a single tool for assembly, we can’t help but approve of the ease that a big phillips head screwdriver offers. The bolts for the fuselage and wings all have hex key heads, but all screw in easily, securely and the alloy in the head seems very good quality as we’ve had no slipping at all with the hex key. The Phantasm padded case also comes with instructions for using the lanolin tape and grease for the screws and I have to say that after several sessions in the salty sea all the screws continue to loosen with incredible ease. This is really worth taking the time to do before your first session to ensure your bolts won’t seize up at all.
“The connected sensation, control and manoeuvrability mean that we never felt like the foil and kite were fighting with each other.”
SUMMARY: Easy, constant, smooth lift makes this an accessible foil for beginners while the impressive speed for a foil of this size and the incredible manoeuvrability also make it one of the most immediately fun set-ups we’ve tried. Fun, efficient, quick and making things feel smooth and easy also mean that there’s a huge amount of progression to be enjoyed in this foil, in a range of conditions, from flat waters to more difficult ocean environments. KW LIKED:
The connected sensation, control and manoeuvrability mean that we never felt like the foil and kite were fighting with each other. The ease of use and smooth progression bring the enjoyment of riding flow to you sooner and are standout qualities.
KW WOULD CHANGE: As mentioned, if you’re going into your moves harder and faster, you may want more natural glide on exit to allow for more complicated tricks. For most kiters, riding the 633 first will bring them up to that level sooner.
DWARFCRAFT: 120 x 48 x 5.8cm (24L) 110 x 46 x 4cm (14L) 100 x 46 x 3.3 (11L)
PHANTASM 633: 633mm front wing, 400mm stab, 710mm fuselage, 92cm mast