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Slingshot

August 31, 2007
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wakeboarding
Slingshot WBM

Slingshot
Recoil and Response wakeboards and Driver boot
($449, $429 and $399; slingshotwake.com)

Jeff and Tony Logosz always wanted to work in wakeboarding. The brothers grew up in the boating culture, and even after they launched their kiteboard company, Slingshot, in 1999, they kept an attentive eye on wake. “We’ve always been fond of it, and Tony has designed for other wake companies, but it wasn’t realistic for us to start a kite company and then start a wake division straight from the get-go,” Jeff says. Eight years later, having built Slingshot into one of the leaders in the kite market, the brothers decided it was finally time to give wake a shot. The company’s new line of gear, which includes two wakeboards and men’s and women’s boots, will begin shipping this spring. We talked to Jeff about launching Slingshot’s new wake division and what makes the company’s new line so different. – LW

WBM**: When did you decide to go after wake, and what was the process?**
Logosz: We really made a commitment in November 2005. The first step was to build an R&D team. We had Tony, who is the shaper, and John Doyle, who is our composites engineer. We also needed rider input, so we hooked up with Collin Wright, who is in our backyard and was very accessible for the R&D process. We hired a boot developer, John Martin, who was a developer for K2, which was key since so much of our boot technology comes from snowboarding technology. Then we went through what we didn’t like about existing wakeboarding product, and looked at the technologies that we could offer. It was a super-intense R&D project – from July to December last year I was on a wakeboard boat once a week and every weekend testing with the riders.

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What are some of the new technologies that you offer?
Let’s talk about flex first, because that’s what drives it all for us. We’re not the innovators of flex in wakeboards – the Hyperlite Roam has flex. But the difference between our boards and the Roam is that our boards flex and then bounce back – there’s a response. We like to compare what we’ve done to what other sports have done with flex to make their gear more high-performance and the sport easier — the graphite shaft on a golf club, for example, or a graphite tennis racket. If you look at any sports category, at some point it really starts to get flex dialed in. That’s what drove the product: to bring flex and rebound and a board that’s alive into wakeboarding.

What are the performance benefits of the flex and response?
This is the only board that owns the flats, the wake and rails. You have a board that can carve like a Roam in the flats but that pops and ollies better. When you go wake to wake, you’ve got good pop, and it’s light so you have less swing weight. And it’s really cool on rails because it doesn’t have any bells and whistles on the bottom, you can ollie up to anything really easily, and because of the flex you can nosepress and then nollie off the rail with spring.

What’s the difference between the two boards?
They’re different designs, but the lay-ups are the same. The Response line has a continuous rocker and it’s really patterned after Collin Wright’s riding style. The Recoil is a three-stage, but it’s blended really smooth so there’s not a big hit in the rocker. That board’s more wake-to-wake for sure.

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What other features were born out of that focus on flex?
We had a few advantages because we don’t have a legacy in wakeboarding. We don’t have 100,000 customers who have 8-inch standard bindings on their boards. That allowed us to create our four-hole pattern, which is key to the boot-board conneection that makes the flex so alive. If you want to ride the boots on another board, we have a transition plate, available through the retailers, that allows you to take our four-hole pattern and put it on a standard 8-inch setup. But we’ll be real honest: if you want to use your boots on our boards, don’t waste your money. It would mess up the flex and that’s the reason you’re buying it.

What about the boots?
They have a heat-formable liner that’s all about custom fit. Once you heat form them, they’re yours – they’re like gloves. The sole of the boot is really innovative in that we developed these Driver plugs, which are made from a harder, denser material that better transfers energy from the boot to the board. It’s got dual lacing zones, which is really key because you can run your bottoms tight and your tops loose. Again, customizing the fit and feel. We also have a pin that allows you to rotate to the duck you want without having to unscrew the boots from the board, so you can change your angle on the fly.

How did you make the decision to go to a closed toe?
That was a big decision and we did a lot of research on the difference between an open toe and a closed toe. This is where a professional boot developer who has years of experience working on heel hold-down, foot placement and balance is key. John was adamant about the closed toe because it helps us achieve better heel hold-down. This is where the closed toe – I don’t care if it’s ours or somebody else’s – is so huge: It allows us to get that heel up a little bit and get the rider back on the balls of his feet. That’s huge. It puts the rider into a more athletic stance, and I think that’s going to increase progression and probably make the sport safer as well because balance is better.

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The future?
Right now, our main focus is to feed the market for spring, but we’re definitely looking to broaden the line a little bit for 2008. We’ll definitely do another board and broaden the line of boots. We’ll probably keep this boot as the middle-of-the-road boot and then come in with a stiffer boot and a lower-profile, softer boot. We’re also working on a couple things to further enhance the flex in the boards.

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