Hi guys I put this review up on another kite forum but I also wanted to share it here I hope you like it
years kiting: 6
riding style: 90% surfboard, learning to hydrofoil, do enjoy a good twin tip boosting session every now and then.
Disclosure: no affiliation to any kite brand or kiting related business, also not particularly brand loyal current kites are 5m switch element4, 7m BWS noise, naish pivot 10m
I used the 9m Ultra with a 5'6" vanguard surfboard and a spotz foil. I only got one session with the surfboard, a very patchy downwinder and I had 3 sessions with the foil.
I really like this kite!!
So you would all know by now that the ultra is a super light weight kite but what does that actually mean for the rider? To me it was very noticeable from the first flight. The kite stays in the air extremely easily and is really stable in light winds. It also remains responsive and easy to turn in low (apparent) wind situations such as when your trying to water start on a foil and drifting downwind under the kite or when your running downwind towards the kite. In situations where other kites would have stalled and dropped or where the lines would have gone slack the ultra remained responsive. I felt this kite has a real "always there for you when you need it" feel.
The ultra likes to search out to the very edge of the window which at first had me a little worried that it would overshoot the window and drop out of the sky but it doesn't it sits comfortably there waiting for input. When you send it across the wind window it rips across with a lot of speed and power. You can really whip it around to get going in lighter winds and get moving. Once your going it builds a lot of apparent wind and has an impressive forward flying speed. It also points really high and wants to go hammer and tongs upwind. It doesn't have a lot of static grunt like some kites and when your standing on the beach flying it in low winds it almost feels like there's nothing there but when you get it moving it is quite fast and powerful.
It goes upwind really well but it can also drift quite well which is cool because usually those two attributes are at the opposite end of the scale. When I was out on the foil riding downwind towards the kite the kite would sit right back and maintain enough tension in the lines to still be responsive whereas my other kites would feel like they were going to stall or drop. In the surf I did manage to get it to sit back in the window and drift really nicely a couple times, I could definitely feel the light weight assisting in this.
As far as relaunch I cant say I dropped it much or really tried to test the relaunch but when I did drop it (due to being a kook on the foil) it released from the water easily and sprung back up impressively quick. Big tick for relaunch in light wind.
Whenever there is tension in the canopy there is no flutter but if you sheet out the kite will move forward in the window and start to flutter. If you turn aggressively or loop the kite with the bar sheeted out a little you will get a decent amount of flutter and some vibration through the bar. It is however very possible to turn the kite and sine the kite with the bar sheeted in a bit more and not have any flutter at all. When I was on the foil the fluttering didn't seem like it would be any issue but in the waves and how I like to ride in perths small mushy cross on conditions (a lot of aggressive steering) the fluttering might be an issue.
With this said the fluttering of the canopy can actually have a real advantage at times when on a foil or surfboard as it allows you to really kill power when your going too fast or wanting to depower the kite during a turn. As you sheet out the kite flutters and seeks the edge of the window and in doing so spills all the power. This was particularly useful on the foil as a foil newby there is a tendency to get going too fast and not be able to stop or edge hard enough to slow down. With the ultra I could just sheet out and basically take my foot off the accelerator.
On the Foil:
I had 3 sessions, first 2 sessions on the swan river which tends to be quite gusty and patchy with winds blowing different strengths in patches. First session was really up and down with wind ranging from around 12 knots to 20 knots, second session was much more steady at about 12 to 15 and third session was in the ocean in light but steady 12 knots (these are taken from the nearest wind readings which seems pretty accurate for those areas)
For a foil newby this kite was really a revelation!! Firstly the fact it will fly so easily and effortlessly in low wind was very confidence inspiring. At the end of the session in the ocean the wind dropped out to about 10 knots and I didn't have enough power to get up and ride but the kite still stayed easily in the sky and I could just lay on my board and sail back in where I would have been swimming with my other kite.
The ultra sits really forward in the window and I found that this really helped with the extreme upwind angles on the foil and it also helped with not feeling overpowered. With the other kite I have been foiling on (10m pivot) when I get overpowered or hit with gusts the kite wants to pull me off my line and more downwind with the ultra the power felt like it was more converted into forward speed so even when the wind was hitting 20 knots I didn't feel overpowered I actually kind of felt like a rocketship!
As I mentioned before when I sheeted out the kite would flutter and kill the power this was really helpful and made it so much easier to keep everything under control being able to slow down actually gave me the confidence to go fast!!!
The three sessions I had were definitely the best so far in my foiling journey I was able to ride downwind really well and also built up the confidence to really put the foot down and go fast. I don't have a gps watch but I felt like I was going faster than I have ever done behind a kite.
In the surf: I didn't get enough of a chance to really suss it out as a surf kite. I only did one downwinder and it was really up and down starting at around 18 knots then dropping to under 10 knots ( 2 out of 4 of our crew didn't make it) then back up to 20 ish. We weren't riding in sub 10 knots of course had to wait that bit out.
I did get a couple of really sweet moments with it where I got it to sit right back and drift nicely and I also got a couple really nice upwind wave rides were the ultras ability to shoot forward in the window let me get really tight in the pocket for a little upwind head dip.
I felt like the ultra could definitely work well in the waves but would it be better than a dedicated wave kite I'm not totally sure. When you really need to throw it around in the window and do a lot of aggressive steering, sometimes with the bar sheeted out, then I felt like a normal 3 strut wave kite might have the advantage. The turning was not quite as sharp and precise as a 3 strut wave kite and with aggressive surf style steering the flutter might become an issue.
I would love to give it more of a go in the waves and feel like it could work really well but I would need a little more time to pass judgement.
I reckon a 12m would make an epic low wind wave kite or also riding an ultra in cross off waves could be amazing, this is of course just dreaming. Definitely some really good potential as a wave kite but I can't pass any proper judgement just yet.
To summarise what I like about this kite and find to be unique (in my experience) it hammers upwind, drifts really well, builds a lot of apparent wind=speed+power and is also really easy to kill the speed and power!!
Personally I am going to get one for sure I am just not decided on whether I get a 9m which I think is the perfect size for foiling around perth (yellow arrows with a touch of green) and would be good for the lighter downwinders, or I get a 12m as a light wind wave kite and for foiling in super light "I'm swimming in for sure" conditions. Or both but the we will have to work on the budget for that one
Buy the 12m, it'll give you more days on the water. I'm 100kg an I can foil in 6kts with that kite, I've come to enjoy the swim.
If you're buying an Airush bar, buy the cleat bar not the stupid strap bar you can't adjust easily, I'm still angry with myself for saving a few quid buying the strap bar, I have the cleat conversation kit on order.