I was finally able to test the Infinity v1 vs my Ozone Zephyr. The wind range at our spot (Lake Pflugerville in Pflugerville, TX) was 10-19mph at first, then later a remarkably steady (given our typically gusty inland location) 8-9mph. I didn't really get to test the kites at the absolute bottom of their range, but I was able to go upwind on both kites when the wind was at its lightest during our session. I'll do a quick review of the Infinity construction, bar, and bag, then review the performance of the kite and compare it to the Zephyr. Before continuing, I ask that the reader keeps in mind that the Infinity v1 was flown on the default 22m lines and the Zephyr is on 27m lines. Longer lines = bigger wind window, but slower turning.
The construction of the Infinity is top-notch. The leading edge fabric felt tough and all seams felt very robust. The one-pump tubes are kept very close to the kite, and are neatly tucked away in flight. I was surprised to see that the kite only has 3 struts, which is great because it keeps weight low and makes bladder troubleshooting/repair that much easier. There were two adjustment knots on the trailing edge/steering leaders, and there's plenty of room to add more if the rider needs to. There are no pullies on the bridle, simply a ring on the leading edge bridle where a pulley would normally be. The service zippers at the top of each strut and the bumpers at the bridle attachment points were also a nice touch.
The bar itself feels very comfortable. I'm a fan of above the bar trim systems, and more specifically pull-pull systems as opposed to cleats, so this was great to see on the bar. I liked how the power strap was a big ring making it easy to get at, and that it was connected via an elastic strap to the depower strap to keep it within reach at all times. However, the depower strap wasn't secured, was quite long, and it flew around a bit while riding. It even inadvertently wrapped around the bar and depower line twice while I was riding around. This could prove to be quite a problem if the rider isn't aware it's happened and attempts to sheet in/out. Shortening it or securing it to the depower line would remedy this. One other issue I encountered occurred whenever I looped the kite; the adjustment knots on the center lines would catch on the adjustment knots on the steering leader lines and slightly inhibit my ability to steer smoothly. Unspinning the bar remedied the situation of course, but this must be done immediately to ensure proper and 'stutter-free' steering. I can see the logic in having the adjustment knots near the bar as it saves having to walk to the kite (this scenario actually presented itself when another rider came in to adjust his knots; he landed the kite to another kiter at the edge of the window, adjusted his front knots while still hooked, and immediately relaunched his kite). An easy solution to this problem would be to move the adjustment knots on the steering leaders lower- perhaps under the bar floats. Another issue I found was with the spinning ring just above the chickenloop. When I tried to unspin my center lines using the spinning ring while riding, I found it quite difficult to twist under load - impossible, actually. I tried later when the kite was parked on the ground and it spun much more freely. My buddy who flew the Infinity encountered this issue as well. As far as the quick-release, it was easy to engage and *very* easy to reassemble.
The bag is a long backpack-style and is very well-built and most importantly, it's easy to get the kite into and out of it. The face of the backpack opens up (as opposed to the top or side) pretty wide making it very easy to get the kite into/out of it. There's a side pocket for the bar, side buckles for a pump, a top pocket for misc items, and mesh on the bottom to let out sand/moisture. The shoulder straps are well padded and comfy.
Now for my experience and opinions on the Infinity's performance... When I first rigged the kite up, the winds were blowing between 10mph and 19mph but usually hovering around the 17mph mark. Not knowing what to expect out of the kite and knowing I had a light forecast (10mph), I chose the knot closest to the kite in case I ended up needing that extra power, and had the depower strap pulled all the way in at first. The board I rode was my 2009 Cabrinha Plasma 146x46, and I weigh 155lbs. As I got in the water, gusts to 20 were hitting me and I could already feel that I was at the top of this kite's wind range with the settings I'd chosen, but I chose to ride anyway to test the limits of this configuration.
I dove the kite and immediately noticed the Infinity's *very* quick steering, light to medium bar pressure, and very smooth power delivery. The quick steering may have been attributed to the shorter lines (22m), but I'm fairly certain adding another 3-5 meters wouldn't have decreased the responsiveness that much. Given how much power I had, going upwind was effortless, and I noticed while riding that the kite didn't get as close to the edge of the window as I was used to (vs the Zephyr and my other kites) even though I had the bar sheeted all the way out and the depower strap all the way in. I knew that moving the steering knots down one position would probably help that and give me better upwind performance, but I decided to ride a bit more and adjust them later. It took a few tries to get used to timing my jumps and learning the amount of float I had, but I was able to get that dialed in rather quickly. Once I felt I was I'd explored that configuration, I came in and adjusted the steering line knot down one position, went back out, and the kite felt better. I wasn't getting overpowered like I was before (depower strap was still all they way in) and I was able to push the kite a little further forward in the window, giving me an even better upwind tack. Eventually I pulled the power strap in a few inches I and felt like I'd found the kite's sweet spot. Boosting in this configuration felt much more familiar and kite loops were pretty fast and felt powered. Throughout the wind range I was flying in, the Infinity felt fast, stable, and responsive. I started to come in to let another kiter fly the kite and start rigging the Zephyr and I didn't notice a hint of backstall when sheeting all the way in and riding almost directly downwind towards the shoreline. Overall I was impressed with the performance of this kite given the windrange I was flying it in at that time and its size. Of course, the Infinity turned MUCH faster than the Zephyr and as fast or maybe a little faster than my 08 Nemesis HP 14, which was my previous lightwind kite. Other kites I own(ed) to compare turning speed with are my 07 Waroo 15, which was too slow to compare, and my old favorite, my 07 Waroo 13m which similar to the Infinity v1.
By the time I'd rigged the Zephyr and my buddy came in with the Infinity, the winds had dropped significantly. Winds were now hovering at 8-9mph (measured) and I knew this was going to be my best chance at testing them both back to back in the lightest winds I could. I hopped on the Zephyr and thanks to the Infinity, immediately noticed the slower steering and heavier bar pressure. I was able to start planing on the Zephyr pretty effortlessly and going upwind was no problem. Given the lighter winds, and diminishing sunlight (the sun was already below the horizon, btw) I wasn't going to bother jumping. I just wanted to get a feel for my upwind ability and how powered I felt while riding. After a few tacks, I came in and immediately hopped on the Infinity.
I had my friend (a recently new Infinity owner) immediately take my Zephyr for a spin to get some video of both kites being ridden in the same wind. He was on a 2010 Spleen Rip 141x43 and weighs 170lbs. I was able to go upwind on the Infinity while he was holding his line, but not going upwind, and then later ended up going downwind and walking back for a landing. When I saw that he landed the Zephyr, I came in, put the Infinity down, and hopped on back on the Zephyr. It took a little effort to get up and riding this time, but I was able to get going, then going upwind. At the end of my first tack away from the shore, I transitioned and immediately noticed I had a higher upwind tack than when on the Infinity but needless to say, I was also on longer lines and had 2m more of surface area on the kite to work with. In short, I was able to go successfully go upwind on both kites in the exact same wind, which was 8-9mph, but the Zephyr giving me a slightly better upwind angle. I'd say the only advantage that the Zephyr had over the Infinity v1 was a higher top end. I've ridden the Zephyr up to 26mph (measured) and I somehow never felt overpowered. The Infinity v1 felt like it topped out at about 20mph.
All in all, I can say that the Infinity was able to perform just as well as the 2010 Zephyr with respect to lighter winds we had. Where it shines is in its turning speed making it more fun when the winds start get into and above the low teens. I wish I could have flown the Infinity on 27mph lines for a better comparison and if I get the chance to do so, I'll post an update to this review.
I do have video footage but I have yet to edit it all together. I'll make an update to this post or include it in another once I get it finished.
I'll see if I can get my buddy to post his opinion here, but after riding it, he said was very impressed with the Infinity's performance overall as well (he rides 2011 Best Kahoona V3s, 9.5m & 13.5m).
Thanks to Dimitri for letting my crew and I demo this kite! He's been very patient while we've waited for the best winds to test it!