"Prejudice, not being founded on reason, cannot be removed by argument"
As far as foil kites are concerned, prejudice can be removed by field experience of open minded riders, as the following review of various sized Flysurfer kites demonstrates. Lance of Kite Republic recently moved to Thailand known for light winds prevalence, compared to his native Australia. Since he didn't want the wind conditions cut his number of days on the water, and having heard of the reputation Flysurfer kites as the dominators of light winds, he naturally wanted to check for himself if their fame was deserved. Two or three days of tests in conditions varying from 5 to 30 knots convinced him not only they were unquestionably the best low wind kites on the planet, but to his utter surprise also fantastic and safe kites in nuking conditions. Many urban legends about ram air were busted in the process.
PS: in the meanwhile Lance has "flown" the Speed3 Deluxe 21; there will soon be an addition to this review.
Having been kiting for about 9 years now and working in the industry for about 7, I thought I had flown all there was to fly. After trying everything out there, I was happily riding Torch’s 7,10 & 14 meters. I had flown a different brand of ‘foils” several years earlier and didn't think I was missing anything.
Upon moving to Thailand from Melbourne, I was getting frustrated with all the perfect days where I could ‘almost’ kite. Or stay up wind but that was it. My local spot doubles as a paragliding spot and I’d watch them enviously in sub-10knot conditions, generating tons of safe and steady lift/power. Even in gusts and lulls.
I had the opportunity recently to try a few different Flysurfer kites and I was surprised. Apart from the logical conclusion that they are in a league of their own in sub-10 knot conditions. I was surprised at how sophisticated they where. For example, I thought that my Torch could ‘soak-up’ gust’s with its 5th line far better than any 4-line kite, tube or foil. Wrong. I’m not exactly sure how, but it just works. Better than any kite I can remember flying, even ‘easy’ kites made by major brands. I was also surprised when I started flying up wind, getting speed, power and able to generate lots of lift.
But for me the moment of truth was when I started to un-hook on the 15m Speed3 and again I was surprised. With just a little bit of de-powering I was happily un-hooking. It took a little getting used to, but in not long I was the only one riding(except for a dude on a race board) and was having a blast. Even as the wind briefly picked up to15-20knots I de-powered a little more and kept going for KGB’s and other passes till dark. Every time I crashed it and there where quite a few, I had it out of the water faster than my Torch.
The next day I got to take out the 10m Speed2 in some 15 to gusting over 25knots (briefly over 30K) stormy, choppy/wavy shifty conditions, straight after riding my 10m Torch and the best words to describe it are probably stable, powerful, easy and really forgiving in the gust’s. Again it took a few moments to get used to the differences. But once you do, it will make your inflatable seem more like a toy than a sophisticated flying ‘wing’. Again crashing, re launching, crashing, re launching, crashing with no problems. Even when I dumped it right in the face of a respectable sized wave, it would have re-launched if it hadn’t taken me ages to get to the bar in the waves and got some lines tangled around the bar(a problem with any kite while un-hooked not riding suicide in waves). Even so it washed ashore, I emptied the water out and had it back in the air in 10 minutes and dry in another 5.
The following day we got the really stormy conditions, gusting to over 30 knots and big messy waves. First my 7m Torch then time for the 6m and 8m Phycho4’s. Wow, de-power, big boosting, fast, safe and easy . It wasn’t the day for unhooking but it just made it a fun day. I put it down a few times when fronts would come through and it would get wet and windy. But after every front I launched myself, easily.
On both the Speed3’s and the Phycho4’s I was really impressed how the kites would never collapse or do anything funny whatsoever, even when they are looped. I mean paragliders do loops on their foils and trust their lives to it. You also so don’t need to work the kite as much once you get going.
Nothing is perfect and I was intimidated when I saw the pulley system, but I haven't had any issues. It just seams to stay out of the way. It could be said the chicken loop could be a bit bigger for un-hooking, but this is not really a problem. There’s also the fact that they are a bit slower than some inflatable kites. But again I have had no problem wave riding, looping or boosting bigger than usual and with much more stability when you give the kites the proper input.
You combine all of this with things like a much smaller pack size, faster set up, no pump, no leaking valves, no soft bladders in cold water, a longer life, great performance and things start to look really good. You can even unpack and launch one from the water, how cool is that?
As soon as you mention that you might want to try one, your friends might look at you a bit strange and tell you it will sink and all sorts of things, but none have flown one. I can almost promise you that riding Flysurfers, could almost double your days on the water and if you try one, you will like it. I did.
The Serial Apostate