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Review: Slingshot Apollo 60 vs. Timecode 57

Even though hydrofoiling has been around for a few years now and all the major brands have developed their own line up, the impact on popular kitesurfing media has been seemingly small so far. While any magazin edition would have beautiful foiling photography in it, rarely do you find any reviews on the latest equipment. As a foilkiter today, curios about how new wings and boards perform, you are left to only a few sources of information. The manufacturer’s websites and advertising will obviously be good for nice pictures and technical specs, but not for any next-hand experience or comparison with other products. My go-tos would always be the iksurfmag, MacKiteboarding or the youtoube channel Houston Kiteboarding. Also the German website gleiten.tv delivers invaluable reviews an all kinds of kitesurfing equipment. Still, that profound back to back comparison that you are looking for can sometimes not be found.

To make this long story short, I heard about that new Apollo wing, got curios but was unsure if it would really suit me. Lucky me, I had some money left over to just get and try it. I thought I might just share my experience with anyone, who is also wondering, wether to get this wing or not.

Two years ago, I had started foiling with the popular Slingshot Hoverglide Setup, which includes the wing that is still beeing sold today by the name of “Timecode 57”. I can’t say I ever got bored or even outgrew it. The furthest I progressed were foiling jibes (without a footchange) and inital attempts of the upwind 360. So much also for you to put my foiling skills into perspective. Maybe also worth mentioning that weighing around 85 kilos ready to go I’m probably on the heavy side of kitesurfers median.

But as maybe most of us, who share this neverending kitesurfing passion, every once in a while I get upset reading about some new material, thinking it might help me progress even better (and actually I have made that experience a few times in the past). That’s how I got the Apollo. Was it worth it? Has it made progressing easier? I will try to tell you in this review.

As you would expect, the Apollo wing fits perfectly on the yet existing Hoverglide setup. So if you already own that one, you can keep your mast, fuselage and stabilizer. Not a single new screw is needed. Even though that is exactly what you would expect, I find it worth mentioning how versatile this setup is. Just attach a new front wing (of which there are plenty different options) and you get a completely different watercraft. How cool is that? Definitely cool enough for other brands to have followed up on that same idea.

The Apollo features a larger surface and a thicker leading edge than the Timecode, while the difference in wingspan is neglectable. As lift is equivalent to surface area we can expect the Apollo to deliver a lot more of it. The larger and more rounded leading edge should provide for a very forgiving handling, especially in low speed range while having a lower top end speed. Just think of the bulky wings of a Cessna 172 and the razorblades of a supersonic Concorde and you’ll get the idea.

So can we finally get to the point and see if that’s true and how it rides? A few days with friendly wind blowing across the beautiful lagoon of Langebaan, South Africa, helped finding out.

Waterstart with the Apollo is normal as ever. I have not put them on a scale, but the Apollo feels lighter to me than my original fiberglass wing. According to Slingshot anyhow, today’s Timecode wing is made of carbon layers and is actually 0,5 kg lighter than the Apollo. However. Also with the Apollo wing, the heavy aluminium mast and fuselage mounted, the setup is just light enough to carry on the beach and easy enough to edge up before your first waterstart. The short and low volume Dwarfcraft board oviously helps as well.

Lift sets in very smooth and predictably, you could say linear. It takes off at very low speed requiring only soft rider input. That same soft input is then again needed to make it stop rising. The Timecode in comparison requires a higher speed and more aggressive rider input to go flying (always assuming same mast positioning underneath the board). Also the lift increases faster, requiring a more emphasized counteraction.
You experience that same characteristic when foiling and going real slow. While decelerating, the Timecode will eventually not generate enough lift, thus letting you touch down on the water surface.
Like it’s spaceship name twin, the Apollo does not seem inclined to ever touch down again once up in the air. Even when nearly stopping, there is still enough lift to maintain flight. Only when actually stopping, it descends smooth like a feather. This quality makes this wing great for learning all kinds of foiling manoeuvers like jibes, 360’s and probably tacks (which I cannot do yet). A huge, and in my opinion the most important advantage of the Apollo 60 over the Timecode 57.

While riding along a few very obvious differences can be perceived. As expected by looking at the Apollo’s shape before, the wing is very forgiving, meaning it is very stable on the pitch axis (or lateral axis). An error in weight distribution between your front and back foot will have less impact than on the Timecode. The reaction to any input on this axis comes slower, i.e. more dampened, which I think is a good quality because when foiling you want a stable level flight withouth giving it too much thought. No need for much sensitivity here.

It’s a different story with the roll axis (longitudinal axis). While the Timecode is very stable and any change to weight distribution between heels and toes or upper body will be generously overheard until then a reaction takes places, the Apollo feels very nimble and sensitive at first. Manageable but definetely less stable than the Timecode. It takes a little while until you start to like this playful feel but then you get to appreciate the real advantage that characteristic comes with: In turns you can carve it like a snowboard in deep powder. It just takes less effort to make it turn at all. This agility combined with the beforementioned enduring lift made me nail my first upwind 360’s after only a few attempts. Also tacks should be well within reach now.

I could not note a big difference in feel for movements around the vertical or yaw axis. Let the Apollo be a touch more sensitive, but it’s only worth mentioning to complete the description.

Top end speed of the Apollo felt slower than the Timecode’s. I have not made any measurement but even Slingshot rates the Apollo at 19kts and the Timecode at 22kts top speed. Even though I’m not sure if I actually got so fast, that is completely in line with how big the difference it feels.

To conclude:

Is worth considering an upgrade from the Timecode 57 / Lift NF2 to the Apollo 60? Definetely maybe. To me, the Apollo is more fun to ride. It’s a very well balanced wing, it feels more playful and given it’s qualities described above, it will make progressing and learning the essential foiling maneuvers a lot more easy and thus accessible to any average kiteboarder like me. But if you’ve already nailed all those manoeuvers you might as well save your money and stick to the Timecode or consider other high performance wings. This one is more suitable for playing around in low speed.

Is the Apollo 60 a good choice to learn foiling? Yes and definetely yes. Of course you can learn how to foil on the Timecode 57. Hundreds of kitersurfers did. It’s just that the Apollo with it’s forgiving characteristics and great lift abilities will make learning even more easy. I have not tried the SpaceSkate but I cannot imagine how that wing could be even more suitable for beginners than the Apollo. Bear in mind though, that you will probably outgrow the Apollo sooner than the Timecode 57. Until then, it will me more fun and easier to ride literally any situation. And when you’ve come so far, I think you will want something even more high performance anyway 🙂

How was your experience riding the Apollo? Any questions left? Just leave a comment below.

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One thought on “Review: Slingshot Apollo 60 vs. Timecode 57

  1. Great write up. I have the Apollo 60 as well and i agree with your analysis. I didn’t use the Timecode for very long as a beginner and bought an H4 for stability. That worked fine. However the turning of the H4 was no where as good as the Apollo. The Apollo has brought me into the world of jibes and playful turns on small swell. The Apollo is my favorite of the three at my level. I noticed you have your mast track all the way back. I usually have it at 1.5 but it still feels to far forward and a handful to keep foil down when at higher speeds. I think I will do as you have done and take it back even further.

    Like

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