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Flysurfer TAO RH

Flysurfer have released the TAO to complement the well-established OG Mojo a while back now, and responding to consumer demand have now introduced a rigid-handled version. The TAO is pitched as the all-encompassing, multi-discipline Swiss army knife. It caters for the complete beginner to pro level wing as we witnessed at this year’s Ponta Preta event with Nathan van Vuuren tearing it a new one. We were intrigued to see how the addition of some carbon handles would change the feel.

Shape-wise, we’re presented with something quite unique. The forward swept leading edge gives the TAO a broad-shouldered appearance and theoretically moves the pull point forward. We’d say this is a success with its upwind ability being a standout. The strut length is noticeably extended and the canopy batwings into it. The wingtips inflect gently at their extremities, reducing the span and helping to control sail tension and absorb gusts. The panel layout is quite intricate, and channels load along its seams towards multiple points on the strut to distribute the force evenly.

Fixtures and fittings are well thought out as usual from Flysurfer, with a brilliant double Velcro closure waist leash supplied as standard, probably one of the most comfortable and clean designs on the market. The inflate valves are the iSUP-style flush design, which are not only easy to maintain and replace if necessary, but sit flush to the tubes and don’t catch your leash. The new rigid-handle system bolts on and off with two Torx bolts, and they have a gentle oval shape profile which sits comfortably in the nook of your fingers and offer a little leverage to push the wing overhead and correct if required.

In usage, the TAO RH still retains the smooth and easy-going character of the soft-handled version, but feels more dynamic and reactive in the hands as you’d expect. Particularly in the low end, you can really muscle it when you pump and lose less energy to flex in the handles. In waves the strut comes into play, allowing you to plant the tip in the water and maypole around it to always make sure it follows you. It trails extremely well and balances with almost no oscillation.

So who should choose which model? We’d say if you’re a beginner or ride in super gusty conditions, take the soft handled version. A bit of suspension goes a long way in these circumstances in terms of fatigue and if you have a habit of knocking the wing into things. For those who are riding at a good level already and want ultimate control, the RH will offer far more accurate handling for more technical transitions, and if you have freestyle and jumping ambitions, the hard handles are a no brainer.

The RH version is a good move from Flysurfer, making a wing renowned for being very easy to use and friendly just that little bit more decisive and dynamic; it’s much like the person in the office that’s been on an assertiveness training course – back reinvigorated, full of pep and fresh ideas.

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