Yo Pumpy! We missed you buddy. I am in the mood to type some kite crap after a very nice kite tonight so here goes...
1: Lift to drag ration (L/D)
A depowerable ram air kite can be trimmed to any angle you want in flight. Fast and forward, slow and back or anything in between. The angles are still far in excess of those tubes are starting to get with 5th line systems.
Yeah. This is probably true for a big foil. Tubes definitely zing about the window faster than the equivalent size foil.
In one context tubes are definitely more rigid than foils and that does give performance advantages. However, my foils never ever jellyfish and are much smoother and "quiter" in the air.
[quote]4: Wing tips[\quote]
Yep. Tubes turn faster and are more stable when sitting still at the edge of the window.
[quote]5: Foil shape[\quote]
I dunno about this one. My foils never jellyfish or wobble around.
[quote]6: Luff curve[\quote]
Sounds like technobabble to me. My foils can be trimmed to sit far more forward than any tube. The range and upwind performance of my foils will outdo any tube.
It is true that foils relaunch more easily and it is true that I have not yet crashed my tube. Foils tend to crash for two reasons, they turn slower and you fly it into the water, or in light winds you get it so far forward that it runs out of power and drops into the water. My foils relaunch even when 5 line tubes won't. I think all kiters crash their kites if they pushing their limits.
- Inflatables are safer than ram airs because
-- Downwind launches are bloody SCARY for a beginner[\quote]
You don't downwind launch. You cross-side launch and fly it to the edge. Also, because they are not powered when they are partially inflated they are very controllable when launched. This means if you mis-connect the lines the kite simply won't fly. An assisted launch of a tube is the safest, easiest launch of all provided the lines are attached correctly. Launching a tube with mis-connected lines is the most dangerous launch of all.
[quote]-- Rams deform, twist, wineglass.....[\quote]
There is some truth in this and some exageration. My foils don't explosively open in the middle of the window any more than a tube floating down and recovering when the lines retension. You just point the bar and steer it out of the collapse same as a tube. They are harder to keep stable when walking along the beach in gusty conditions.
[quote]-- Wind dropouts and gear failure[\quote]
My foils are easier to keep in the air when on the water during wind dropout. When swooping about to maintain air speed you can do stall turns which rotate the kite within its length so you can send it through the window without dicking around at the edge.
Also, I have relaunched and sailed a kite back in after half the bridles broke and one case when I split the kite almost in half. Gear failures are no worse than an inflatable.
[quote]--- All ram airs become hopelessly waterlogged after 45 minutes - unlaunchable and certainly unable to support your body weight.[\quote]True Wear a life jacket. Don't wait so long to self-rescue. I never have.
[quote]-- Surf conditions[\quote]
The greater air volume means the kite bobs up and over the waves. This is what happens every time I drop my foils into the surf.
[quote]-- Bridle tangles and failures - Scary and expensive (US $500 plus) (eg see thread on this forum: "Flysurfer Warrior Exploding")[\quote]Bridles never tangle in use and mine will tangle once or twice a year if I'm not careful packing up. It only takes a few minutes to sort out. I must admit I am a little suspicious of the unsheathed bridle lines used on Flysurfers. I love sheathed bridle lines.
- Ram users struggle to pre-inflate their kites in a lot of situations eg cross- offshore conditions....[\quote]
True. Don't ride in offshore conditions with any kind of kite. I'm still thinking about boat launches. A tube would certainly have an advantage for wet launching.
- Ram air repairs are generally a LOT more expensive. ....[\quote]
Absolute unmitigated crap. I have repaired tube kites and done LOTS of repairs and modification on foils. Foils are way easier because, it is all soft sail cloth, there are no engineered structures, every cell is virtually identical to its neighbour. 99% of repairs you simply tape up and sew around the edge with a domestic sewing machine.
On the one hand it would be nice to see foils appear in competitions. On the other hand, Lou Wainman and others don't go in competitions. Competitions in general are entertainments. They have very little relevance to the average person. Otherwise we would all drive Ferraris.