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Gaastra were quick out of the blocks with their wing game, and – particularly as a brand with a rich heritage in windsurfing and kitesurfing – saw the potential of this ‘new’ sport from day one. They are onto the second incarnation of their wings now, with the Cross coming in as the all round / flat water companion to the more wave-focused Poison.
Out of the bag and the Cross feels solid and well-built. Canopy is triple ripstop and there are Kevlar bumpers running along the leading edge ensuring that you do not have to be too careful if using it on a shingle beach (or with your skateboard!). There are also reinforcements on the trailing edge to reduce flutter and increase the longevity of the wing. Pump is via a single inflation system where the end of the hose screws directly on – it’s quick and effective and you don’t need to freak out if you haven’t got the right nozzle with you…
There are four handles: one at the front and three further back, as well as two ‘cross struts’ giving you plenty of options for grabbing onto. This is a definite asset whether you are just starting out or are working on your first rotations: more handles = more chances of getting hold of your wing when you most need it!
On the water and the Cross feels stiff and sturdy. We felt that the handles had the perfect balance of comfort and responsiveness, with a nice amount of cushioning but without feeling too distant from the movements of the wing. Handle placement was excellent, with the front handle well placed for depowering but without meaning you were taking too much energy through your back arm. The three handles at the back will suit pretty much all arm lengths as well as giving all you need for super windy or for downwind riding.
We were genuinely impressed by the stiffness of the Cross, there was very little flutter even in stacked conditions and for a wing without any of the additional features that we are seeing appear on the market, its solidity was very impressive. Pumping the Cross provides a great spurt of power and, although we had the larger 5.2m on test, we found that we could get going in very little wind and then sheet in and have plenty of power on tap.
The tips on the Cross are relatively ‘fat’ and we did catch them a couple of times when dropping down on the foil – although this is something that you tune into and raise the wing up accordingly. For transitions the Cross floats nicely for gybes and swings around smoothly, and for tacks you can snap it around quickly and it is not too twitchy.
Overall the Cross is a very competent wing. Power delivery was smooth and predictable across the board and the wing felt comfortable from everything from pump starts through to 20kts+. We felt that the Cross did everything ‘right’ and was the kind of wing that you could put your trust in and would see you from your first sketchy sessions through to some much more refined riding…