Foil and LEI tech has stagnated, my best foil is from 1999, Modified of course, still I think it works better than the new ones, New foils are slow and dumb safe. FS has done a good job bridling, and making them fast, but theres only so much you can do to a twin skin, same with LEI's we went from 2 to 4 to 5 lines to 4 lines with bridles, change the shape little, each design has its flaws. Talk to 2 people one mite love a delta the other will still sleep with his Bow rather than a Delta.
I'm not convinced that kite design, be it foil, LEI or whatever has become completely stagnant. The Peter Lynn Charger I ride today is miles away from the Venom 1's I flew just a few years ago and the proto I tested last season was a considerable step further. The Flysurfers today are considerably better than the Flysurfers a few years back. Ozone has made considerable design improvements since I got to fly my first Frenzy '04.
LEIs seem to be changing as well. Although from a non-LEI rider's point of view a lot of it seems to be variations on a theme. Of course you could say that as a LEI rider about foils.
I agree that a lot of what we are fed about advances in kite design from one year to the next is essentially nothing more than marketing hype. But the designers are progressing and "improving" on current designs. I just think that its not always a gradual evolution but sometimes comes in leaps and bounds.
I didn't see chastaman's comment but I think I get the gist of it. The bottom line is all this discussion is almost pointless because the performance of the kite relies heavily on the flying ability of the kiter as much as the kite. A Pro level kiter is going to squeeze a lot more performance out of a kiter than your average recreational kiter will. He/She will have the strength, skill and experience to work the kite in ways that most people never consider. That's what makes them different. Your average kiter will often only notice performance advancements that make kiting easier for them. This is not a dig, it's the way it is. Take a look at how shaped skis changed the ski industry.
A kiter's assessment of a kite is a very subjective thing. I think a lot of kites get a bad reputation because we like to blame our equipment for our short comings. There have been very few kites out there that I couldn't make do what I wanted them to. Some required a lot more effort on my part but most do what I ask of them and there are very few that I would say I don't like.
Kiting is like any other sport. Companies are marketing and trying to drive sales with designs that promise performance that riders like Chasta demand. Building kites that tout extreme this and awesome that.
But I bet only a very small percentage of the kiters out there ever really use a kite to its limits. So the bottom line would be that before we can fairly decree that kite design has completely stalled out we would all need to possess the ability to use each of our kites to their fullest potential. I don't think we're there yet.
But I'm not saying that people shouldn't expirement either.