I bought two Clouds sight unseen based on the same long thread here on kiteforum that others have mentioned. I like experimenting with gear, and it seemed to me that the designer was authentic in his pursuit of his goals, and he had evidence (photos, video) to show that the kites worked. I live in San Francisco so I bought an 8m and a 10m – light wind kiting isn't really an issue here
I've ridden both several times in the bay and ocean (waves) and can echo many of the same observations that others have made: solid kites, turn fast, very light, pack down tiny, very grunty, responsive, relaunch no problem.
Two things I would say in more detail about the Clouds:
1) they are very
powerful for their size. Seriously. My experience was that they ride 1.5m to 2m "bigger" than, so I swapped my 10m for a 6m, giving me a 6m+8m, which to me feels about equivalent to a 7-8 and a 9.5-10.5 in my OR Razors (of course, this is all relative). I ride the 8m in 19-24kts and the 6m above that. Surfboard only, and I weigh 190lbs/86kg.
2) they have very short throw (sheeting) distance on the bar. Most other kites I've flown have 1-1.5 feet of travel in the main sheet, er, bar throw – as I understand it, the Clouds are designed to be sheeted like 3-4 inches in and out, that's it. If you sheet out more than that, the kite won't be flying right and will be be very unresponsive. It has taken some work for me to adjust my riding to the shorter bar throw.
@windrupted: the Clouds work great in surf. They are very 'twisty', and turn quickly. Watch some of the BRM videos, you can see that there. The kite will not, in my experience, do anything like "wad up or twist" in bad air. When overpowered the Clouds will flutter (madly, if madly op'd) and you can't really do much with them in that state but this isn't a problem with the kite, it's simply that I've have to adjust my judgement of what size to rig. Once or twice, I have seen the kite lose its structure and bend backwards when under-inflated and way
overpowered due to user error on my part. If I rig the right size, no problem. I've dealt with some very holey / gusty conditions with the Clouds (pro beach Maui w/ mad wind shadow caused by trees, and at Crissy in SF, for example), and they handled those conditions at least as well if not better than strutted kites I've ridden.
Overall, based on those that I've tried, all
modern kites are pretty damn awesome. Some are slightly better for some things, but – think about it – you could enter a race on a Cloud, or take your new race kite out in the surf, and it certainly would work
more than not work
. I applaud Greg at al for trying something new!