Spent a good week on the 9 and 12. I like what they have done with the new VX, especially in the 12m size. Extremely stable unhooked. Extremely stable at its upper end, had it out when some were on 5 and 7m...so it was blowing hard! Very stable in those big winds, those pulleys really smooth out the big gusts and transfer them across the bridalling to even out canopy distortion.
In the surf....well to a point. You can see there is some wave influence with some drift qualities. But it reaches a point where if you push it too far, you start to wish you were on a specialised wave kite. It's functional to okay in the waves. If you are just free riding though, but a wave, boost etc it's sweet. Can't get around aspect in the waves, it's just the way it is with all kites.
Looping....well if you like a steady fairly unpowered loop (relatively) it is sweet. The 12m is super fast so the 9m is outrageous!!! As with all kites with aspect though you do need to aware of your sheeting position when engaging the loop. It loops in a real linear easy to know where it is fashion. It doesn't accelerate though in the last third like a kite with more C and less aspect, so make sure you sheet out to let it breathe in the last third.
The unhooking is super sweet and easy to use. Don't bother touching the trim doesn't need it. A great kite for those learning to unhook or those that want to really push the envelope before say hitting a razor, or those that won't more control and want to slow down a bit, very nice.
I've been around for 14/15 seasons now and I'v watched this recent fad into no pulleys being the best set up. I call it a fad, because I'm not convinced, not one bit. I have ridden (and ride now) too many fantastic pulleys/ slidered kites now that are just as good and in some cases better than this movement towards no pulleys. I like the distribution of power load it gives you myself. A lot of these no pulley kites I've flown recently really fly way to much off the front lines.
That being said two things I was aware happening with this kite. When loading for a big jump, trying to convert that kinetic energy into potential, I found the combination of 6pulleys, a shearing canopy (which has its own advantages) and the longish bridals to 'take up' too much of this conversion. Tried to adjust over the week, in moderate to sweet spot powered to lit and it never took me as high as I expected. This can be moderated through good technique and rider experience on this kite, but it is there nevertheless. Direct feel, real direct but the steering over the above kite design does have a sense of mushiness....not obvious but there nevertheless. Just never could get a good bang for my buck so to speak.
I also felt the kite dropped you more quickly than I liked. Of course a powered loop, down, under loop sorts this. I did find though with the 12 though I had to pull early for it to catch me and it regularly didn't. Again technique and experience on the kite could sort this, but I have ridden many kites recently I can get on straight away and dial this in, so again this condition is a reality with the kite.
We have collectively demoed 15 to 20 kites over the past three months, 4 of us with multiple kites in the air riding back to back on flat water and the waves, on SBs and Tts, in light to intense winds and this is the kite that came closest to the one we ride now, in that we really liked it and gave kudos to the designers. A number of kites we couldn't wait to get off!!
It's a super sweet lower wind unhooked kite moving a decent big boosting freeride in higher winds. The 12m is a sweet size. Remember this kite does need wind to come alive and you need to actively fly it still. Not as much as the earlier models but this need is still present. You wanna park and go, forget this kite, go for the many no brainer wings out there.
This is a platform worth developing. Can't wait to see next years kite.