Shinn Monk Forever 2013
The Monk has always been a winner since it's origin. It's no surprise to me that it has been labeled as "Board of the Year" from independent testers. It really is that good! As an avid rider and kiteboard dealer at AOK Watersports, I have the opportunity to try many kiteboards; and I always come back to the Monk, time and time again...
Two years ago, the original Shinn Monk introduced somewhat new concepts in kiteboard design- the constant curve rocker and squoval mould. These elements give the board exceptional performance in all conditions, while allowing the kiteboarder some degree of forgiveness. 2012 saw a new generation of the Monk, with relatively few changes aside from the graphics and upgraded straps and pads. It seemed that there was little more that Shinn could do to improve upon this board. Why change something that is already that good? Well for 2013, Shinn has introduced the Monk Forever, which I am excited to say has some noticeable improvements which I felt on my first tack.
the board is faster and planes earlier. The deck has been tweaked to have a flatter mid-section which is subtle, yet effective. Flatter boards are usually not so good for the joints, as we all know. However, the Monk Forever still obtains it's smoothness and soft landings that everyone appreciates from earlier models.
the board edges and goes upwind easier. The CC rocker on the Monk allows the rider to set the edge of the board while applying equal pressure with both feet. This gives the board an almost automatic feel! However, the upwind ability of this concept could be considered somewhat hampered in comparison to boards with a three stage rocker. Shinn has improved this somewhat, in comparison to earlier models, by enhancing the outline. This board really grabs when you need it to, and holds a constant edge.
the pop is significantly better. Shinn has upgraded the tips of the board by revamping the tail composite and 3D mould. This helps give the board a consistent flex, that really springs you up off the water! This was probably my favorite improvement for this new Monk. Now I don't have to try as hard...
the Sneaker X straps and pads are totally different from the previous footwear on earlier models. Shinn has introduced a buckle system and multiple strap angle adjustment points. But still, I wasn't certain that I would really like them, from first glance. I'd grown accustomed to the memory foam plushness of the Sneaker RS and Sneaker S!, and they have been incredibly popular with riders in the past years. But again, changes can be a good thing! The Sneaker X holds my feet in like I never would've imagined. It's important to me that I don't have to worry about comfort and functionality in kiteboard footwear, I would rather be focused on my riding. These straps and pads are a perfect example.
the new graphics are pretty sweet. I would compare the base of the board to looking through a kaleidoscope that almost hypnotizes you. As Shinn says, "it really plays tricks with your eyes," and that's probably a good thing if you are trying to get spectators to notice you! Additionally, the top of the deck shows the classic stripe and similar refined appeal from earlier models, with a smooth lacquer finish.
the Monk Forever carries on its legacy as a ride that's in a class of its own. The changes made to this board I consider to be a substantial upgrade in comparison to earlier Monks. I am even more excited to get out on the water with this new ride, push the limits, and excel in all varieties of water conditions. And that is exactly what this board was made to do.