Just got back from Puerto Rico where we tested the latest inflatable from Wipika, the "Hydro", their medium aspect four line kite. We had 2 sizes 8.9 and 11.5 (equivalent to a 12 and a 15 Naish) and we mainly used the 11.5 except for a couple gustier days when we went out with the 8.9's.
Pretty standard, state of the art construction materials, once inflated the kite looks and feels quite solid. The first flight impression was one of a VERY stable kite, even when landing hard and over flying the kite we had no problem regainig immediate control, a very forgiving kite all together.
Water relaunch: no problem, thanks to the lower aspect the kite has a natural tendency to flip on its back. The first time I water relaunched the kite I hardly had to swim towards it even with small breaking waves pushing the kite around. It makes also life easier when using a wakeboard since you don't even need to get out of the bindings to water start this kite, it helps you gain confidence when learning with a wake or doing new manouvers, you just don't worry about crashing this kite that much so you can focus on your riding.
Speed: it is not a super fast kite (not like the Aero's or the Mach 1) but it's a very acceptable compromise between performance and ease of use.
The Hydro has no wing tip battens (which makes it for easier packing) and consequently offers only the traditional 2 line seettings at each wing tip (no turning speed adjusters). However in all conditions we experience (powered and depowered) the kite maintained it's shape nicely and when completely depowered it still responded well and remained quite stable.
In conclusion I really enjoy the kite, I think a lot of people will benefit from the ease of use this type of kite offers while the high performance seekers may want a faster kite like an airblast, boost, Mach 1 etc... it's also a perfect kite to take in waves and not worry too much about smaller surf(althought it is clear that no kite will survive or recover if caught in a big breaking set).
Range: I'm 160 lb (70 Kg) and can stay upwind with the 11.5 and a twin tip in about 10-12 knots. With a wakeboard I rode it up to 20-25 knots and felt really good but that was also the upper end of my range. The 8.9 needs about 15 knots to get going with my weight.
In conclusion: thumbs up for the Hydro. Easy, friendly and altoghether fun. The kite comes with a big volume pump and ok bag, have not tried the new Wipika bars as they are being distributed just now, in the US at least.
thank you for this detailed report.
Sounds like a good intermediate kite.
One thing I have to ask:
you compared the Hydro with the Aero and Mach1. Please let me know, what the differences between the Mach1 and Aero is. Did you test the 15.1 Mach1 and 16.0 Aero?
Are they about the same turning speed?
I guess you can place the Hydro in the intermediate category, I think it makes your learning curve smoother and your riding more "worry free", something I think a lot of people will enjoy.
I tried both the Aero and the Mach1 but not the bigger sizes (it was an Aero 10 and Mach1 12).
I find those 2 kites are extremely similar in construction, AR, tuning and in the way they fly as well. The turning speed feels also very similar. For what I have gathered so far about the Aero and the Mach1 it is mainly a matter of personal preference, both those kites rock and the guys that are on them are extremely happy and I can understand why !
I wonder if the mach1 18.1 will be faster in turning than the Aero 18.
IMO this size is at the limit of being good to handle and good for jumping.
Therefore I'm personally ver interested in this question. And many other with a higher weight and a small board, when using it for lower 3 Beaufort to middle 4.