CRAZYFLY SCULP 12 & 9M (2021)
SCULP 12 & 9M
WORDS BY: Jim Gaunt
TESTED BY: Bully and Jim
TESTER BIOS AND TEST PARAMETERS: Here
PUBLISHED: Issue #109 – March 2021
Main image: Posito Martinez / Photo: Sebastiano Massimino
TEST TEAM NOTES: The Sculp always delivers something different to our testing sessions. As CrazyFly’s general freeride solution we have always enjoyed the benefits of lots of low end power mixed with a light bar feel. A very stable kite for jumping, there’s always very generous and easy amounts of hangtime available. Not much has changed in the Sculp year to year, but this model features a new hybrid delta-bow shape to increase versatility.
STUNNING LOW AND MID RANGE This is where we’ve always enjoyed the Sculp and continue to do so. Most years we’ve tested the eight and nine models in Cape Town and the Sculp has always been the kite of choice when the lighter wind first fills in during the morning. The Sculp delivers a super early pick-up of speed with loads of sheeting power and a light bar feel. Combine that with responsive handling, loads of lift and floaty hangtime; it’s a lot of fun to blast around with on a twin-tip. This year Bully took the 12 metre out to Kenya for two weeks while I had the nine metre here in the UK. Two very different sets of conditions; January in Kenya sees lovely, smooth 15 – 18 knot winds, whereas here in the UK we have very frontal and gusty conditions, often with ten knot variations between the average wind and the gusts. Both the nine and 12 metre kites behave in remarkably similar ways. The very swept back tips mean that the Sculp doesn’t drive super aggressively round a turn, however the response is quick and the steering impulse very easy to dial into. There’s no delay and you’re up to optimal board speed very quickly, usually with just one dive of the kite. The Sculp is an excellent low to mid range jumping kite. It really is outstanding... but best of all delivers good height and rewarding hangtime with very easy technique. Steer the kite back, edge, sheet in and push off and you’ll always enjoy a good boost. It’s one of the easiest kites for learning to jump on because you can move the kite aggressively or just sheet in overhead and the Sculp performs either way. The technique is so forgiving and Bully was able to put on quite the show in Kenya, nailing his take-off time and again, whether jumping over reefs, boats or kids playing in the shallows.
Up in the sky the sheeting is very intuitive and when coming down from big jumps on the nine the light bar response and pivotal turns give you loads of confidence to pull sharply on the bar when you’re ready to start introducing heli-loops into your landings. The Sculp is also a lot of fun for throwing kite loops and downloops because the steering is responsive and the turning circle is so reliable. The arc that the Sculp now has for kite loops is improved. It has more drive and the canopy retains excellent shape in strong winds, yet the handling input is still very easy and intuitive for those just getting in to loops. Once again the key aspect is that you can be looping the Sculp is more average conditions than a lot of kites because its low to mid range performance is so good.
UNHOOKED BASICS As well as being a very capable twin-tip freeride jumping kite, we’ve seen how Dominican CrazyFly team rider, Posito Martinez, manages to throw high level unhooked tricks on the Sculp. A pro like him could of course ride anything, but this is a really well balanced kite. As long as the wind isn’t too strong, just pull on a little trim and for all intermediate unhooked moves, like raleys, basic edge tricks and your first handle-passes, the Sculp is very capable in its mid range. What’s more, the chicken-loop is an excellent size for unhooking / hooking back in. The relaunch is also excellent, ready for those inevitable crashes when you’re progressing your tricks. HOLD TIGHT FOR A FAST RIDE Once you move into the top 20% of the kite’s range – we’re talking above 27 knots for the nine metre and somewhere around 22 knots on the 12 metre – the Sculp demands a pretty decent level of edging technique for you to be able to continue performing comfortably. Bully and I both enjoy the engagement of the Sculp like this and the jumps are incredibly consistent, but the user-friendliness of the sheeting range reduces in strong conditions because of the Sculp’s naturally short throw. A positive of the short throw is that you can rest the bar against the stopper without leaning too far forward, which naturally helps maintain an aggressive edging stance. The new delta bow hybrid shape also ensures there’s zero flutter in the canopy. If your legs can take the power, so too can the kite. However, where some freeride kites are more naturally tuned for strong winds and awill take up a more forward position in the window when you edge hard, the Sculp stays rooted. This is what makes the kite so easy to perform on in lighter winds, but starts to ask more of your leg technique in the stronger winds. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION The Sculp really is an awesome kite for a broad range of levels, but you need to be aware of the conditions at your spot and choose your kite sizes with consideration. If you live at a spot where the predominant kite size is 12 metres, you’ll be able to out perform most other riders when it comes to hangtime, while also learning a host of other tricks, being nicely powered in 14 – 20 knot winds. The nine metre is fantastic for giving you an exciting but accessible ride from 16 – 22 knots. Outside of that, if the wind gets up to 30 knots a lot, you’re going to need the seven metre in your quiver.
BAR AND BUILD The Sick bar remains unchanged and is finely crafted in Europe at CrazyFly’s own factory in Slovakia. Comfortable, yet sleek and simple it features a super light carbon core, the rubber centre line is smooth, the swivel above the chicken-loop operates easily and the chicken-loop is a good size for both unhooking and remaining hooked-in with an unobtrusive chicken finger. The trimming tab does dangle a bit when you have a lot of trim pulled on, but there’s a neat Velcro patch to be able to secure the end against the cleat. The kite itself is rugged in its build quality. There’s more than the average amount of hard wearing Dacron in the tips and CrazyFly haven’t tried to follow the trend of making the Sculp as light weight as possible. As you can tell from our test notes, this hasn’t affected the light wind performance at all, but does give you confidence that this is a strong product at a reasonable price. CrazyFly have also switched to the SUP Airlock style push valve, which can’t really be beaten for quick pumping and easy open / closing.
“The Sculp is a fantastic tool for riders looking for an uncomplicated ride. There’s plenty of power to get up to speed as fast as anyone else at the spot without the fatigue of heavy bar pressure and the need for lots of steering the kite up and down.”
SUMMARY: The Sculp is a fantastic tool for riders looking for an uncomplicated ride. There’s plenty of power to get up to speed as fast as anyone else at the spot without the fatigue of heavy bar pressure and the need for lots of steering the kite up and down. Unlike the trend of many freeride kites that have their performance tuned for stronger winds, the Sculp stands out for its excellent light to mid range, when it’s very rewarding. Once again the Sculp is a leading contender for bigger riders with the power to easily get going and boost really well before many other performance freeride kites are even starting to feel alive. The Sculp is also an excellent kite for anywhere with constant winds or steady sea breezes. A nine and 12 metre combo for summer would be ideal. Where the Sculp starts to stretch your board skills is in stronger conditions when the gusts can be erratic, so be realistic about the conditions you ride in most. KW LIKED:
Always great performance in marginal to mid conditions. Advanced riders with good edging skills will be able to shoot to the moon when the wind picks up. KW WOULD CHANGE: The depower throw is relatively short, however that does mean that the trimming cleat is very nicely within reach of most riders.
SCULP BALANCE POINTS: Build quality: 8 Full package: 9 Low end: 8.5 Top end: 7 Steering speed: 6.5 Turning circle: 6.5 Bar pressure: 6 Water relaunch: 9 Drift: DT Boost: 8.5 Hang-time: 8 Unhooked: 6 Crossover: 5.5 Ease of use: 8 SIZES: 14, 12, 10, 9 and 7m
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