Foreword and conditions
Some weeks ago Stefano Moris from lecca-lecca.com
asked me to test his first “MINIMAbeta” pre-series kite in 11 m². As he wanted to get some independent impressions of the kites, he originally just designed for himself and for his own demands. Accordant I hope to give some different views on the kite, I could try 4 times. As in contrast to Stef’s Mike’s Lab Racefoil, he rides with his MINIMA kites up to more than 60 km/h, surely very well powered, I (62 kg) use just Monofoils for freeride and freestyle and rarely exceed 30 km/h while flying my kite sizes mostly very underpowered.
http://kiteforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=19 ... 5&start=70
But as the kite is named to be a freerace kite I hope to help with some experience as since 1999 I have owned and used nearly just race kites as Quadrifoil Competition; Windtools Mosquito; Flysurfer Psycho1, Speeds, Sonics; Ozone Chrono1, etc.
First impression about lecca-lecca
From the beginning Stef has communicated all about his MINIMA project since 2015, which can be read here:
And till now on his new website Stef gives all information about kite design and materials he uses which is unfortunately pretty unlikely for many kite brands.
MINIMAbetas slogan is: “90% of the performance of a racekite, with 50% of the costs”
While performance is hard to quantify, the costs are much easier to compare:
Construction quality and used settings
The construction quality is in most points above ConceptAir’s Wave and close to the level of Ozone’s Chrono1 which I have both actually in use, in few points it is even higher than ChronoV2. But it does not reach the complex and costly construction Flysurfer uses for their kites. To give some details:
has in most areas just one sewing similar to my Chrono1 but also just one tri-stitch sewing at trailing edge while Chrono1 has two straight, which is better. Just in this point ConceptAir is better than both, as it has 2 sewings at most parts, so no need to worry about a cut sewing thread as the second one is ready to take the load, but also FS extremely expensive Sonic Race has just one sewing all around. The MINIMA has closed to the same reinforcements for the attachment points and cross bands as the Chrono1. As in the MINIMA one of the few rips has to support more area, my recommendation was to keep the crossports a bit smaller to prevent overpressure damages during drops. But by all theory just usage will show the strength of construction here.
The impression of the top and bottom skin Domenico (41gsm 30DMF) is good also here just long-term experience will show how much use within the specific kite construction it can take. But at a similar kite weight I would always prefer a 41 g/m² material over a 32 g/m² as Flysurfer uses for his Soul and Sonic Race even if I would be sure the FS cloth has a higher development level and cost as the one Stef uses, but would not expect 32 g to be more solid than 41 g anyway.
The bridle and mixer
if compared again with Chrono1 is different, but better in my eyes. Stef uses at least two different covered line types for upper and mean bridle lines. Chrono1 and also 2 had at some positions just the same material without respecting the drag to load ratio. Also the mixer of lecca-lecca seems to be much better as all which are used by ozone till today. Stef’s mixer is pretty close to the design of flysurfer so you may setup all levels as you want and to absorb shrinking without buying a new mixer which is ozone’s version. Compared to FS just the setting of the knots is a bit harder.
I received and used the kite with all levels equals setting the first day and elongated B by 1 and C by 2 cm to gain more power and to see if the kite will get instable, but just the tips started to be looser which was not a big problem, why I kept this setting for my low wind style. Stef recommended to effectively shorten B and C which would have been the right setting for his race style. But even with my, for upwind race, worse setting I was able to go significant closer to the wind than 45° and therefore I believe Stef, when he said that he was able to go close to 40° with this kite, which is both pretty impressive performance for just 25 cells, compared to other well performing kites with much more cells.
First water start, relaunch, landing, low wind-coming home
I often start my foil kites the first time in open deep water as we don’t have wide kite spots on every lake, where you don’t disturb anybody, so starting outside is the best method to keep the peace with the rest. So on my third session I had to try this manoeuvre with the MINIMA too, as it is also a great test to see the general relaunch behaviour in extreme situation. As the packing in the water on the end of the session, it did its first start successfully with some small difficulties, but also with some great behaviour. The difficulties are, that there are no air intake in the middle which are very useful for this manoeuvre to prefill and that the water and air outlets are a bit small, maybe not as big problem as on my original Chrono1 and easier to enlarge but still a bit small.
The great behaviour of the kite was that it was able to recover after I accidentally released one bar side during installation of my chicken loop. I was able to fly the flipped over and half filled wing tip back to half of the way on its side and then use the valve on the other side to completely fill and pop out the rest of the wing tip. This situation is something most other foil kites wouldn’t be able to solve so easily.
The same great experience is the rest of the landing and relaunching behaviour. Even if you may call the kite more a freeride than a race kite. There are not many freeride or even beginner kites with such an easy handling according to recover small and difficult wind window drops. The only position I found the kite doesn’t like to much is if you release line tension when it is sitting on the trailing edge in low wind, but also here not even close to difficulties sonic1 had in this situation.
And also in the absolute low end it is always possible to relaunch the kite easily and in nearly no wind to pump the kite up nearly as effective as with a windsurf sail.
This kite will always bring you home as no other I know. And also backstall behaviour and control is very simple. Already in the first session I felt to landed on a small peninsula to check my phone with many trees and ultra light wind around, which I have never done in the last 10 years with my race kites.
How does it ride?
First of all, Stef named the kite a freerace kite, which is correct in respect that Stef seems to use it also for races. For me, since more than a year no more using race foils, but always using race kites as sonics and also sonic race, I would more classify it towards freeride, so lets say a freeride to freerace kite. So somewhere around what Flysurfer Soul till Speed 4 to 5 is. Comparing these kites it has to be clarified that no one can expect a 25 cell kite reaches all the abilities of 40 cell kites, the same as even a experienced aerodynamic, one man only, designer has a hard goal to bridge the 20 years and many engineering hours and experiences of an actually about 70 persons brand as skywalk/flysurfer.
If keeping this in sight, the results of Stef are pretty impressive and pretty close to flysurfer, but for now still with a significant gap.
Bar setting, feeling, turning and loop power
As named before my usage was not the original design goal and further more I used first a 53 cm bar which felt a bit to short with the 17 m flying lines and later a 61 cm which was ok for me, why I kept it. But my impression was, that Stef’s recommendation on the web is 100% correct. 55 cm is perfect bar size and 17 m is the shortest lines to go. If going shorter the kite can still loop in the wind window, but will lose to much power, required for start loops in the low end of kite foiling. But as I am used to fly my 11; 9; 6; 4,5 m² kites with around this line length I kept it. If using longer lines a start loop would be much easier to fly with highest possible power spike. In the named setup the power spike could be even worse than on my smaller Sonic² 8,6 m².
On the other hand, I felt the bigger canopy comfortably during jibes which I done successfully more than I normally would do. The same feeling when riding straight and during jumps.
The other reason why it was sometimes a bit harder to get into movement with a loop was, that the bar feedback felt a bit softer/worse than my most flown Sonic² 8,6 m², which is also not the very best, not progressive enough as on Soul, Sonic1 or Sonic Race. But all together bar feedback is ok and I would say pretty similar as on the Speed 5. For some manoeuvres as riding slalom, I would even prefer the softer feeling compared to the Soul for example, which on the other hand some times needs to much forces in light wind to turn the kite, but brings you out of balance.
Power, Depower (-way, -range), Flyingspeed
As mentioned before the kite is not the most powerful per m² but still ok here, I would expect it is somewhere on the level of a 10 m² soul when riding straight, but was not able to compare back to back. Also the depower is not on the level of a Sonic² or maybe not even of a Soul, but good enough for our gusty lakes had really no problems here. I used a depower way of 45 cm which felt right, and nearly doesn’t used trimmer after finding the right trim. The flying speed feels lower than on my Sonic² 8,6 m² for sure but maybe not too much lower as on a Soul 10m². But as being used to the aggressive feeling of my race kites I had to get a bit a new feeling for timing, but on the end all tricks worked the same. Just the success rate of tacks stayed a bit lower than normally. Also the acceleration of the kite is slower than on my Sonic² and maybe again the same for the Soul. In combination with flying speed this means you can’t play so much with strong short power spikes as on a race kite if you let go of the bar for half a second, let it accelerating and then powering up, to create for example a second lift for landing. Therefore I also had a bit more difficulty to do flying landings but for sure also something about timing to get used to.
Stability and general behaviour
The stability is just great, especially the middle of the kite is extremely stable, not in stronger not in lighter wind or during fail manoeuvres I ever managed to get a front stall. Also the tips are pretty stable, just on my last setting I had the outside tips more often fling inside of tight turns but this was more due to my in all ways hard on the boarder setting: open C level, short flying lines, to long bar, etc. And even if the tips are coming in, there are just view kites opening them so easily mostly by itself just few times by a bit of a bar shake, nothing to compare to race kites where you have to have a good feeling how to grab into lines to open the tips. Especially the center part of the kite feels extremely solid and also on the water preventes effectively to have parts of the kite or the bridle or the tips turning around or tangling, never had anything like it.
Conclusion and a short story
The second day I was flying the kite deep into a gusty low wind lee corner, 500 m close to buildings of a village the wind was passing, while a friend with a Sonic² failed already 1 km in front of the village, where the wind was much more constant and stronger. The MINIMA motivated me to go so much deeper into the lee as I was ever in those wind conditions, as I was seeing even a good chance to relaunch it here, but no need. After some loops I turned back, doing a short landing stop between trees, where the friend has dropped his Sonic², to also tell him I will pic him up by car I left 6 km downwind. I am not sure if there are any other kites would have been able to allow these following features all together:
- Performing to go upwind significant closer than 45° to the wind
- Allowing all known manoeuvres on a difficult monofoil
- Successfully building it up in the water even if something goes wrong
- Riding in extrem gusty low wind conditions with the chance to recover
- Great price to fun value, while by materials expected very solid against normal use
For whom the kite is built for?
In the beginning I thought to maybe buy a 15 m² myself, but I use this size so rarely that I am going to keep my Chrono1 15 m² maybe for another 5 years. In 11 m² I already have a Sonic Race which is easily to beat in price to value, but hard to beat in performance and also in the small sizes the aggressive power spikes of my small Sonics² are too much part of my riding style to change towards something more comfortable, even if I more often have to swim to my sonics to help for relaunch.
But I will stay very interested to see Stef’s further developments with his very nice, economic MINIMA concept and if he once builds a 4 m² MINIMA, this could be my kite. I was already in doubt if the always more technical, but costly constructions, especially from Flysurfer and Ozone will be the way to go to have most fun for value.
So I think the kite could really be interesting for many, even for kiters with lower experience and tube kiters. The only risks for these groups is that big cell construction could be more sensible to hard drop damages and tube kiters may miss turning radius and solid power-depower bar feeling. From point of stability and relaunch it is easy enough for both groups.
But as Stef also has get some experience with production I think first it makes more sense to sell it “experienced only” to maybe this way also get more solid feedback. I have no doubt that it is an interesting kite for nearly all experienced foil kiters, maybe less as a freerace, but as a freeride kite. And if there ever will be any unexpected difficulties with this “-beta” kite, my experience with the all-around communication with Stef was, that he has already reached a level of professionality, far above many other much bigger brands, existing more than 10 years. So I think, risks are low.
Great work Stef, thanks