Wipika classic/freeair 5.0m 6.5m 8.5m
Te wipika is a just the most friendly fun beginner/intermediate kite to play with, and surely the one that has taught most people. The classic with an a lower aspect ratio, than it's newer brother the freeair (AR3.3) are very similar beasts. Large inflatable front tube with inflatable ribs leading from it,very much in the same design as a AR3,maybe just not finished as well (but cheaper). It is a two line kite that can have a depowering line attached to it. The depowering kit does not work as well as the Airblast or the AR5,but does give a little more confidence with the kite in stronger winds. It comes with a great video, all the lines, leash and bar,and with the video and instructions a easy and safe kite to go and learn and get started with.
Flying the classic is a fun experience, it is stable well mannered and a easy kite to re-lauch from the water, It only luffed on me in very light wind when just playing in non kite surfing conditions when it can be fun being dive bombed by your own kite. This never happened in stronger winds when on the water though. The kite though is a pain to land by your self as it will usually re-take off before you can to it, so surf with mates. The kite has plenty of lift and learning jumping is made easy, once out to your side will allow you to creep back up wind, I have a soft spot for this kite as it is just so easy, and I am looking forward to getting on a Freeair Varc to see how much better that is.
NAISH AR5 7.5m and 9.5m
test conditions10-30 knots
The Naish is a real quality kite. It is an inflatable 4 line kite, the front lines being attached a meter or so in front of the bar and then sliding down through the bar to make a de-powering device (that works amazingly) as soon as you get it out of the bag you are impressed it all kits together, there is never so larks heads (knots) everything is done and all the lines are the correct length. It was just a pleasure to put it together, the instructions were clear and consise and the kite is strong and rigid when inflated. It has bar, pump safty leashe, harness lines just about everything you could ask for,and large stugg sack for all the kit.
The Ar 5 was easy to launch either with some one holding it, or with sand/stones on one corner, and it takes off on the side of the wind in a gentle relaxed manor even when the wind is up (so instilling confidence in you from that first minute). Once the kite is above you, it is very stable, if you are over powered you can hook into the middle line so pulling the nose of the kite down and killing 60% of the power (but the steering becomes very relaxed aswell) so making walking back along the beach in a good breeze a joy (for those of us that occasionally get taken down wind) On the water the same line can be played with to keep the kite low and to the side to help you get up wind without being forced to take the kite high when being over powered and being dragged down wind. The kite produced plenty of lift for jumps and up wind was reasonably good. The kite was a joy on all points of the wind and was good mannered at all times. It re-launched with ease in normal kitesurfing conditions. My only bad experience was when the wind dropped and the kite then shows it weight difference over some of the air am injection kites. Also while on negative points the kite is very difficult to land with out the assistance of some one to catch and hold the kite on landing, as the kite is is brought down on the side of the wind it just wants to re-launch again, so make sure you have a mate about. Overall the kite was a joy to use, expensive but aren't all good things.
NAISH 9.Om R3
test conditions 10 to 23 knots gusty offshore.
The Naish is a quality kite, which is reflected in its price and as the adage goes you gets what you pay for. This inflatable kite is made extremely well and is an improvement over its predecessor the AR 3.5. the wing tips have been strengthened at the bridle points and the shape hanged slightly. It is still an Ar 3.5 but the wing tips are slightly
The control bar has two long leader lines with an elastic wrist leash attached to one of them. Let go of the bar and the leash pulls on one line killing the kite. It comes complete with lines ,bar, pump, safety leash, repair kit, complete instructions and carry bag which folds down to a bum bag.
Preparing the kite for use was trouble free. The supplied pump although small does the job and the valves easy to hold whilst inflating the bladders. All bladders have one-way valves except for the leading edge bladder, which is large enough to crimp whilst closing. All valves have Velcro guards which prevent them popping if you stack it big time. Launching this wing is easy with practice and once airborne it sits solidly above your head. Its stability in the gusty conditions was impressive and it did not luff once - even when I invited it to do so. It tracked cleanly developing excellent pull and traction at the edge of the window and was very responsive in turning. The kite was more stable and locked into the power, a definite improvement to its predecessor, according to Naish this is due to the revised shape. Sailing this kite was easy and once set at the edge of the window it flew up wind. As the wind approached 20 knots the lift was excellent and jumping ability was very impressive.The kite happily flew at 10 knots for learning and was very easy to water re-launch. Overall the R3 9.00m is an excellent kite for learning and will perform to a very advanced level.
Flexifoil Nexus 5.6m
After waiting for what seemed an age eventually my Nexus arrived, and then video turned up, another bar, etc but it was worth it all. The Nexus is like no other kite out there, a new design, a revolution well it is amazing, a solid wing. It has two inflatable tube back and front with battens holding both tubes apart, it has four lines, The bar is well made, all the harness lines and attachments have knots pre-positioned for all the different settings, the kite has valves with covers and I was very impressed with the overall quality of the whole product , the leash pump, repair kit, video there is everything ,even a posh bag. The kite is wonderfully made and put together feeling strong and that overall feeling or thought and design. The video comes with Andy Preston telling you exactly how to set this baby up, and setting up is the name of the game, it has so many possibilities for flying from slow forward speed and fantastic turning to higher flying speeds and slower turning, you can play and play with the lines to achieve what you want from the kite. For different winds you can change the angle of attack and so make the kite more or less powerful, and with a sheeting in device (or chicken line) you can soften the angle of attack while surfing to give you different degrees of power, great when you don't want to place the kite higher in the sky when in over powered conditions. The kite will relauch from the water in what I describe as "a twist,flip head over heels and away". In fact watching the kite do this still gets "wooww" from the beach. Andy sure must of smoked a lot of some thing to get this baby to perform such a trick. The first few times I never put enough pressure in the tubes and that was my downfall, but with silly pressure in the tubes the kite will always relaunch, after a little practice. This kite I would class in the intermediates/experts class or for someone who likes to tweak and play with their equipment. Nice to see Flexifoil giving us another amazing product.
CABRINHA KITES 8.5m. CO 2
Test conditions 12 to 22 knots gusty offshore.
Pete Cabrinha having teamed up with Neil Pryde is now producing a range of boards and kites. The latter based on the Wipika patent models will be available: the advanced four line Black Tip and the forgiving CO 2.The CO 2 is a two line inflatable, our test model being the 8.5m The kite is a five strut affair in the same mould as the Naish AR3 the aspect ratio at this size being 3.8. The kite construction is excellent with mylar outer bladder sleeving and reinforced nylon wingtips with four line conversion loops. The leading edge bladder is well protected by raised foam plastic covered guards and should help preserve the many beginner induced crashes. A simple two line bridle is attached way of pulleys and can be easily removed for conversion to four line. All bladders have one-way valves and Velcro protectors to stop them suddenly opening. The kite comes complete with two-line bar, line: safety leash, harness line, bag, repair kit and instructions.The supplied bar is a 53cm cow horn style bar with the usall leash that ties to ends of the leaders. It is however even easier set it up for the safety system. The safety leash attached to the end of one of the control line that on releasing the kite allows the bar to slide up the line de-powering the kite. On regaining bar the line simply slides back to its original position. The beauty of this system is the line rarely get tangled on releasing the bar. Rumour it that the only reason the kite doesn't come with this system as standard is that there is a court case pending about who has the right to use it. The bag is a trendy single sling backpack with external zipper pocket and pump holder. There is a zip, which opens to extend the bag and reveal gauze drainage area. The CO 2 like all kites based on the Wipika patent was a doddle to set up on the beach. Once aloft its behavior was solid and predictable. The kite set nicely at the edge of the window and developed a strong pull in the 15-knot wind. I noticed it turn very quick and was a tad twitchy in the gusty conditions, although this was not a problem and could easily be remedied by a quick tweak of the bridle. Parking it above my head revealed good and stability, never overflying the window as the wind pulsed between 12 and 22 knots. The kite’s performance on the water was very good allowing upwind progress and easy water releasing. f you closed your eyes you would be hard pushed to tell the difference between the flight characteristics of this kite and equivalent inflatable, like a Naish AR 3.5. I would say that the Co2 turns slightly quicker and is marginally less powerful than 9.00m Naish. One feature of this kite that I did not like becomes apparent when packing it away. Unlike most of the other inflatables, the leading edge bladder has a one-way valve; this makes deflating it a real pain. Only by crimping the valve whip folding the kite can the air be fully removed from the bladder Other than this minor point the CO 2 is well suited to all levels of kite surfer it is a quality product.