Flixfoil Blade 4.9m 7.2m
The blade is a 2 or 4 line kite ,I originally started using on handles on a four line set up, (buggy set up) on handles you do have ultimate control, and Jason Furness when I was first saw the the kite with Andy Preston both used it for kite surfing in this mode, being able to pull one break line on at a time certainly made the kite turn very fast. When using it for kite surfing though, you have to be a good kite flyer to use it on handles and it seems most even the very best now use it in 2 line mode on the bar Andy and Jason as well. The 3.3m and 4.9m are quick enough in the turns for most, but the 7.2m is a little slow but when used with the crossover kit (supplied by flexifoil) it increases it's turning speed substantially , you can put the cross over kit on the 4.9m if you want really fast turns, (personal preference). But it could be £17 well spent on the 7.2m.
The Blades are stable and give you plenty of lift, and as the 4.9m and 3.3m are so fast to turn it is easy to see why they are a choice of the pros, huge jumps are easy with this kite. Upwind is good, and still remains stable. The only huge problem with the blade is you don't want to drop it, as it wasn't designed as a water launchable kite and hence you drop it, 9/10 you swim home with it. So if you are good enough and don't drop your kite go for it. A relatively cheap kite with amazing performance except for it's water launch ability.
PETER LYNN 5.7m Waterfoil.
Conditions 12 to 20 knots gusty
Peter Lynn has been making kites for a very long time and this kite is ie example of what can be achieved for around £350 with bar and s. The kite is a twenty-celled ram airfoil, constructed in Chikara top nylon. It is sealed internally with tape and as such does not allow water to seep through, in fact the seal is airtight and the kite remains itnflated almost indefinitely. Inflation is via six one-way valves on the kiteís leading edge. On the trailing edge there is a single Velcro opening to aid inflation and deflation. This is a welcome addition as the early models no vent and deflation was a nightmare. The kite can be flown on handles or a bar on two, three, or four line up. I flew our kite on two lines to a bar, but for ease of use and safety a three-line system would be best. Power lines attach directly to bar ends with the brake lines joined together and attached to a lie line, which is attached to the centre of the bar. In this figuration it is easy to reverse the kite out of the water and de-power effectively, the safety leash being attached to the centre line. The kite is as well finished as the other foils in this review and as such is reflected in its price. Despite this it is still strongly constructed and should last well.
The kite will fly in very light winds of 6 to 8 knots with only a small amount of power. At these winds it is easy to acquaint yourself with the flight characteristics of the kite. Inflation is a little problematical in low wind but with several pumps of the bar it eventually inflates. Once inflated it flies very well across the window and tracks cleanly. Very easy to sail, developing good traction from about 13 knots allowing a competent sailor to go upwind and make small jumps. At 20 knots you are approaching the limit, although with experience 25 knots would be feasible. Water re-launchability is excellent and the kite remains inflated on the water for a long time thanks to its sealed seams. The kite is very user friendly but does have a tendency to luff in gusty conditions, it was however easy to recover thanks to its predictable nature. Luffing is a common trait in most ram air kites and usually only happens in gusty winds. The waterfoil is a good starter kite especially if you are on a budget and should last if treated with care.
A word of warning,if you use the waterfoil just with two lines it will over fly you, falling in front of you and then reinflating directly in front of you and usually low, this is A NASTY situation to be in as if you are on the beach in a good breeze you will be launched towards the kite. If you set it up in a three line set up, and with the brakes with the slightest tension on it wont do this and turns in to a friendly fun kite.
WINDTEC Trainer. 4.4 and 8.8 sq. m
Test conditions 20 to 30 knots gusty offshore.
The Windtec Trainer, as the name implies, is aimed at beginner and intermediate kitesurfer. The kite comes in six sizes from 3.5 to 8.8 sq metres. The kite is supplied with a three line bar, lines, carry bag instruction video and manual. Available in three colours and finished in marine ripstop nylon.
The first thing that strikes you about this kite is the quality, extremely well constructed and built to last. It has twenty cells with one single air intake at the leading edge making itself water tight courtesy of a one way valve. Each wing tip has a Velcro opening to aid deflation and empty water. The trailing edge is finished with polyester reinforcing to prevent wear and the bridle is attached on internal dacron tabs stitched to each rib very strong! The kite bag is a small canvas rucksack with Velcro straps to attach the barto the outside of the bag. The video is a nice touch and the manual is fiery detailed and useful.The supplied control bar is a three-line system with the brake line attached to a single line, which runs through a plastic cleat screwed to the bar, this line is then tied to the safety leash. The brakes can be altered to trim the kite by pulling the brake line and setting it in the cleat. In the event of a crash releasing the bar causes the cleat to release the line pulling on the kites trailing edge, depowering the kite. The plastic cleat is quite square and the edges could cause an injury if n losing control the pilot let the bar slip through his hands.The 4.4 and the 8.8 are identical in construction and flight characteristics and as such are very similar, the difference being the speed they turn and their respective wind range. The 4.4 is aimed at he 17 to 25 knot wind range and the 8.8, 6 to 13 knot. Unless you ire small say less than 70kg, a 6.5 Windtec would be a more appropriate size for force 4 winds. The 8.8 is a light wind kite and will be covered in a future light wind article.
The Trainer was easy to inflate and required very little encouragement to lift from the beach. Once in the air it quickly takes on ;s shape and powers to the top of the wind window. The kite was very responsive and turned quickly. Flying smoothly from side to side it generated a strong and solid pull especially at the edge of the window. -he wind on test was gusty and the kite remained very stable. On the water the 4.4 was an enjoyable experience, at 20 knots upwind ability vas excellent and the kite felt safe and predictable. Jumping was easy find the Windtec always behaved and remained stable on landing.Several induced crashes revealed that the Windtec is a very easy ite to water relaunch and even after five minutes on the water it did not fill and relaunched with ease. If it lands nose down just pull the middle line to reverse it out of the water, then turn the kite and fly off. A lot of thought has gone into this kite from the comprehensive instructions, to the nice touches, like the bridle loops on the trailing edge for keeping bridles tangle free. A very progressive kite which is easy to use with excellent performance as you improve.
CONCEPT AIR 6M NEW WAVE.
test conditions 10 to 20 knots gusty offshore
Concept Air are a Canadian company who have been making kites since 1991. They made their first move in kite surfing in 1997 and since then have been producing and improving their designs. Their latest model is the New Wave and comes in sizes 2, 3, 4.1, 9, 6.3, 7.3, 9.3 and 11.3 sq.m. The New Wave 6m is a 6.3 sq.m ram air water relaunchable foil. Itís shaped for better air penetration this 18 celled kite has four one way inlet valves for improved inflation. Each valve is covered with ultra e gauze to prevent sand entering the kite. The usual rear Velcro vents on the trailing edge to allow easy deflation and water removal. The bridle colour coded to aid untangling and all primary bridles is attached to kite via tabs. The seven leading edge primary bridles take the brunt the power and are attached to reinforced mylar tabs for extra strength. At the trailing edge the panel material has been reinforced with mylar tape. The kite comes complete with bar, lines, bag and instructions. The bar works in 3 three-line configuration with an adjuster strap on centre to trim the kite. Its bag is a gauzed rucksack that converts to um bag. This kite was built to last and is finished to a very high standard.
Flight TestThe New Wave inflated easily and even when partially inflated was responsive enough to fly to the edge of the window to allow safe inflation. .Once fully pumped its stability and power was impressive, flying cleanly through the air it turned on a sixpence and did exactly what was asked ;. Most noticeable was its ability to handle the gusty conditions riding each pulse of wind without losing its composure. At 15 knots it developed excellent traction and with the wind gusting 20 knots I entered the water. The kite was a pleasure, sending it to the edge of the window I was ripping upwind and jumping with ease thanks to it's stable and maneuverable nature. Nothing seemed to upset it, even fluffed landings having stalled the kite at the side of the window. The New Wave just falls to the back of the window without loss of inflation and on recovering the slack line it climbs skyward. Water relaunchabilty was excellent with the kite lifting from the surface whatever position it fell in, even after five minutes it still came up with minimal water retention. This kite breeds confidence and is well suited to a beginner and intermediate kitesurfer. The wave is without doubt one of the most stable water re-launchable ram air foils on the market and despite being in the upper price bracket is excellent value for money.
PETER LYNN 8.3 and 8.4 m Arc
Test Conditions 10 to 25 Knots gusty offshore.
The Arc is Peter Lynn's latest product aimed at the kite surfing market. This design is unusual in the fact that it is a ram air bridleless foil that looks and flies like a four line inflatable. Finished in Chikara rip stop nylon with a special water repellent coating, this twenty-one celled kite is built to a very high standard. The usual one way valves are placed at the leading edge with all five covered in a fine gauze. The tips have a strong Cordura pocket that contains a single carbon rod. At either end of the rod on the corners of each wing tip are loops for attaching each of the four flying lines. These loops are connected to an internal Dyneema reinforcing line that criss crosses each tip to the kites leading edge. This spreads the load evenly and makes for a solid and strong construction. The kite's trailing edge is reinforced with Cordura and has a single central deflation vent. The Arc comes in four sizes 4.6, 6.3, 8.4 and 11.2 sq.m. The models on test came supplied with four line bar, de-powering strap, instructions and bag. The kite will also fly on four line handles. Devoid of any safety leash it gave cause for concern but the kite will be supplied with one when it goes on sale. The method is a single leash line to the wrist attached to one of the kites flying lines.I particularly liked the kite bag, which is similar to a small windsurfing sail bag with a label holder for the traveling rider.
Flight testFirst impressions on the Arc was it is aimed at the more advanced sailor, this view being based on the fact that it was so similar to a four line inflatable, definitely an advanced kite. However, once I had flown it my view soon changed and it slowly convinced me otherwise. Launching this kite can be a nightmare unless you have help. It does not have any rigidity until it inflates nor does it have a supporting bridle, as a result the thing can flap around or turn inside out before it inflates. The technique on your own is to partially inflate the kite, place sand on one wing tip, start it at the edge of the window and gently encourage it off the beach. Once the thing is airborne its true user friendliness shines through. The wingtips remain taut thanks to its carbon spars and it tracks fast and smooth across the wind window.This kite, despite its launching problems is among the easiest to fly, no matter how I tried I could not get it to tuff and fall from the sky. Even on one particularly gusty day it bounced around the top of the wind window in a reassuring manner. It develops good traction and turns quickly. It has a unique feel somewhere between a foil and an inflatable. The de-powering loop works effectively but not to the same degree as an inflatable Nethertheless this is an excellent feature and adds to the confidence of the rider. Out on the water the performance was impressive using the 8.4 in 18 to 25 knots I was nicely powered. Setting the kite at the edge of the window it had a good upwind ability and its quick turning made jumping relatively easy. Not having the same canopy effect of the inflatable meant that precise kite placement was re for a soft landing. The 8.4 relaunched off the water with ease in light winds.The 6.3 behaved in much the same way except it flew and turned quicker. On the water it was a tad twitchier and water launch ability easier than its larger cousin.The more I flew the Arc the more I liked it, this hybrid kite works well and is ideally suited for those starting in the sport and has the potential for personal development.