You guys make a strong argument for this helmet as apposed to Gath. It seems apparant that the Ace helmet would take a direct impact better. However, I've been using the Gath helmet with visor for over a year now and been pretty happy. Although, I'm happy to say it's never been though an actual impact (knock on wood)!
Rick, I was interested in your comments about the visor being dangerous. Due to existing eye problems, I try to protect my eyes from the sun. What I do is lower the visor only about four inches, covering my forehead. That blocks the glare of the sun much like a ball cap. Then I wear goggles, too. It's an effective combination for anyone with concerns about protecting their eyes from the sun. I'm thinking that with the visor only partially lowered, like that, the "bucketing" danger you referred to may be greatly reduced. What do you think?
One concern I have about the Ace and other similar designs is that they have less coverage around the side of your head and the lower back of your head. Those are pretty sensitive areas to leave exposed. I think we're still waiting for industry to build a truly great kiteboarding helmet.
In the meantime, I may indeed go with the Ace helmet you guys are sold on for my next helmet. I like all the holes in the top. It should make for really cool sunburn patterns on my shaved head!
Sometimes I wonder how I used to windsurf without wearing a helmet. It is just great for protecting you from the sun. Now when I get back home after a day in the sun I don't have a huge headache as I used to. One thing I have also been using is "one day" contact lenses. These not only correct my vision but also protect my eyes partly from UV. Maybe they have some without correction. Plus they cost approx a dollar a lens so if you loose them no problem...
The Gath is in all likelihood a better made helmet in terms of quality of materials, adhesives and corrosion resistance than the Ace Wake. I suspect you could wear a Gath for years with no problems with padding coming loose or corrosion issues. The only area in which the Ace Wake appears to be have an advantage is in terms of padding. There is an ongoing discussion about helmet padding with information still to be exchanged. So I am trying to keep an open perspective.
I do feel that kiteboarders should seek out the lightest, best fitting, most comfortable, lowest drag and best padded helmet they can lay their hands on. The high speed impacts against hard objects possible in kiteboarding are far more serious than that commonly encountered in surfing. Some impacts may not be survivable with any helmet that might be feasibly used for kiteboarding. High end hang gliding or flight helmets would provide the best impact protection of many choices but if they were used for kiteboarding the drag and weight could break your neck,literally! Then again having a little more effective padding could make all the difference in the world in an emergency.
I agree, we should continue to look for the best helmet for kiteboarding that we can. Something with a kevlar shell, well designed padding, stainless fastenings, ear cover, low bulk and weight, rapid water draining and low drag. Until then I guess we try and make do. Just make sure you have the best helmet that you can find for kiteboarding. A lot may ride on your selection on some unlucky day.
On the "bucketing" issue the Gath is supposed to have superior performance qualities in this regard. The visor forms a low drag faring of sorts over your face and in fact probably reduces drag in many types of impact. The helmets I was referring to in my earlier post were those that stick way out past your face or otherwise would create excessive drag and bending moments at your neck on impact with water.
Some interest was kicking around about what I do for a living. So big surprise, I am an environmental engineer and many of us talk funny sometimes as demonstrated above.