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hardwaterkiter.com high wind foil comparison.

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Hardwater Kiter
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hardwaterkiter.com high wind foil comparison.

Postby Hardwater Kiter » Wed Jan 28, 2015 2:57 pm

This is a short write up on a little test session we did a while back. To be clear this is just intended as a kite comparison and not in anyway endorses one kite over the other. You can't go wrong with wither of these kites and it really comes down to personal tastes. This is not a technical review, just a test session. For the full write up with images for the day check it out here,

http://www.hardwaterkiter.com/kite-and-gear-reviews



It's amazing what kites can do these days. Over the last decade kite technology has changed dramatically and anyone who began kiting 10-15 years ago can appreciate how much more user friendly and safe kites have become. Especially in just the last few years.

Of all the kites out there we have a certain fondness for a couple of really underappreciated kites. Both are consummate touring/teaching kites. Some would label them "beginner" kites but I don't think that is an accurate description as a lot of the local expert riders really like these kites. Both kites do similar things and have similar benefits but come to these similarities from completely different directions and manufacturers. One is the 2015 Ozone Access and the other is the 2015 Flysurfer Peak 2.

Hardwater Kiting uses both models as teaching kites with our students depending on student preference and wind conditions. Really outstanding kites in regards to ease of use and safety.

Back on January 16th local Hardwater Kiter and dedicated Flysurfer disciple Paul Morse and I decided to take advantage of a front moving in that would bring some substantial winds and take the Flysurfer Peak 2 4m, a new smaller size of the Peak and a the 2015 Access 6m out for some high wind hi-jinx and see just how well these kites faired in winds a few knots beyond their manufacturer's wind ranges. In typical northern New England inland style the winds had a 100% gust factor and the baseline winds were as forecasted, in the 20kt range gusting to over 40kt. Keep in mind this is 40kts in below freezing temps and the wind is much denser than warm winds and offers a bit more punch.

When we arrived to the our launch area the winds were surprisingly calm. Not at all what was forecasted and we were actually feeling a little let down and starting contemplating throwing much bigger kites in the air than the forecast would have dictated. But after being in the parking lot about 10 minutes the front which was running late came through and cam through with a vengeance. Where just 10 minutes earlier we had a clear view 3 miles or more across the lake we now couldn't see the lake just 30 feet away. Gotta love New England weather.

The haze of blowing snow being peeled off the ice that day was consistently 20-40 feet high. At times I could only find Paul by his kite over the haze.

We half nervously laughed at the sudden turn in weather and how the air around us seemed to boil with the mix of gusting winds and swirling snow. Paul and I have flown in conditions similar to this in the past. There are very few snow kiters that I can ride with in this stuff and feel confident that they will be okay. Paul is one of those kiters. He and I have gotten caught in winds like this in the past and fought our ways back to our launches but it's rare we start out in these conditions.

These are the kind of conditions we had in mind when there was talk last season of a smaller Flysurfer Peak. After last season's test session on the 6m Peak 1 in 40kt+ we thought a 4m would be awesome . (Though at 4m the Peak is more like a 6m traditional foil in our opinion, it seemed like it would make for a great "high wind" (34kts+) kite for heavier riders like myself of expert riders in general.) Although it's listed max wind speed is 28kts, our history with the Peak 1 has shown that in the right hands these Peak single skin kites can operate well beyond their posted wind ranges.

The other kite we wanted to take out was the 6m 2015 Access. We want to note that the 2014 Access was a great kite. We were really impressed with it's depower range and unwavering stability and gust handling. The 2015 has retained this performance and now has the added safety and convenience of Ozone's new internal "Re-Ride" safety system. A system that not only does an amazing job of killing a kite when needed but also doubles nicely as a "set up/Pack down" system. One that puts set up and pack time very close to that of the Peak, which is one of the best things about the Peak series.

The first kite we set up was the 4m Peak 2. As soon as you set your anchor the shifting snow buried it. You set anything down in these winds and it was immediately buried. As the heavier rider I am the default test dummy sent out to get a taste of what the winds are doing out on the ice. We set up the Peak, I hook in, launch and off I go into the haze.

As expected the Peak takes the punches of wind like a prize fighter and though I'm totally lit and can feel the gusts I need only to sheet out and dump the power that the gusts are forcing on me. Of course in these conditions there is no use for the stopper ball. You are sheeting in and out some rapidly and so far the stopper becomes a hindrance. Save the stopper for the cruiser days.

The Peak felt fast. In this wind everything feels fast but this 4m seems to like sitting a bit forward in the window and urges you to run with it. It is crazy nimble and fun to fly in this wind. I trimmed out and as expected the kite depowered nicely. The steering in full trim is heavily lagged but really I can't see a need to fully trim the Peak. Honestly even in 40kts, in my weight there was no need at all. And as always, reverse launch is easiest on the Peak.

In a matter of seconds I was out about 1.5 miles. I looked back through the maelstrom around me and couldn't see any sign of Paul, our launch or even shore. I flew back to my anchor and gave the Peak to Paul. He launched and disappeared only occasionally could I see him in the gaps of haze across the lake.

After a few minutes of watching Paul rage along on the 4m Peak 2 I set out to get the 6m Access up. We have been playing with the Access and the new Re-ride system. The last time I had the 6m in the air we used the Re-ride system to make land it and the simply secured the bridles to velcro keeper on the trailing edge and simply (and neatly) balled up the kite and stuffed it in the pack. The theory being that it should come out just as it went in and with the bridles secured there shouldn't be any issues.

I'm happy to report that it unpacked just fine. I simply pulled the bar out of the bag, unwrapped the lines, secured the Re-ride line, pulled the kite out of the pack walked back reset the Re-ride and launched. Super fast and easy.

The 6m pulled me at 210lbs in those winds beautifully. Unlike the Peak the Access was managing the gusts without much if any input from me. Much like the Peak, the power management in the bar throw was perfectly capable of dealing with the 40kt blasts. Unlike the Peak the Access turn rate was quite a bit slower. Not bad but not nearly as "sporty" as the Peak.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the Access is the stability that the kite possesses. It really is unreal and I won't even try to explain or compare it to anything else because to be honest neither myself, or Paul after he got on the Access, could believe the stability. While Paul was playing on the Peak 2 4m he was constantly piloting the kite. Meanwhile I'm so relaxed and confident that I'm able to set the kite at the edge of the window, take both hands of and mess with taking shots with my phone.

After about an hour and a half of riding various sections of the lake Paul and I landed in a wind shadow and swapped kites.

I took off on the Peak 2 and after riding the Access it was a stark difference in how it felt and handled. The bar pressure was considerably higher than the Ozone. The 4m Peak had a bit more power than the 6m Access and the delivery of that power could be smooth or abrupt depending on how you sheeted in. The Peak 2 is not nearly the friendly cruiser the Access is but it is a lot of fun to fly. The nice thing, about the Peak is that even with the higher power you can still ride with little to no worry of getting lofted or yarded. But it is definitely more work to fly than the Access.

After about another half hour or so Paul and I met up to compare notes. Like myself, he was amazed at the stability of the Access. While he was playing on the Peak, at times fighting with it, he noticed how easily I was cruising around and how stabile the Access was. After taking it for a ride he understood why.

A little while later I decided to pack up the Peak 2 and switch to the 8m Access. Not because I didn't want to continue to ride the Peak but because I figured I never felt the 6m had too much power and in the 20kt lulls, I actually felt borderline underpowered. So my thinking was take the 8m out and see how it handles trimmed in 40kt gusts.

It was great! Really, surprisingly good. It felt very close to the 6m. In the heavy gusts I trimmed it out about 2" but only because I was tired and not really interested in fighting the kite if I didn't have to. As a high wind kite for a heavy experienced rider the 8m is passable but not ideal. It's not as suited for high winds as the 6m but even when I screwed up, got too close to the tree line and had to redirect to a spot that that any other kite would have lofted me. The Access let me know but it didn't smack me down. And I was thankful.

So I guess the bottom line is this. As expected, both kites were awesome. Both have their pluses and very minor "minuses" and those are really dependent on your personal tastes as much as anything. In high winds Access is going to be a joy to ride for anyone regardless of their high wind experience. The Peak 2 is more pilot dependent and for experienced riders and especially for snow kiters familiar with flying the Peak 1. It depends on what you want for a kite and for flight quality and obviously the Access has a refined quality while the Peak is more "get the job done" utilitarian. The Access is like a nice road car while the Peak is more Jeep-like. Again, we are talking Apples vs. Oranges in terms of kites and design. But very juicy and tasty apples and oranges.

Much of what makes one kite "better" than the other mostly comes down to personal preference, budget and usage. But really you cannot lose with one or both of these kites in your quiver

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crabnebula
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Re: hardwaterkiter.com high wind foil comparison.

Postby crabnebula » Wed Jan 28, 2015 5:18 pm

Nice basic comparison
Hardwater

I still wonder about the kites behavior on the ground, in launch and landings...and especially the behavior that the kites demonstrate in the air as in actual air time and behavior the kites display in the air while spinning and kite looping for down wind vs up wind landings

Does the kite "lull and fluff" in the window during poorly timed landings?
How is the kites performance in -total shut down from QR, -to relaunch performance compare.....Ive flown the new Access and was pleased, but a lot of new moving parts.

Seems like the Peak 2 is still using the older center line release/ brake line tension safety which can be pretty hard on kites once they hit the ground.

Also, why no other brands in the review?

HQ kites Montana 8
http://www.powerkites.de/Produkte/Kites ... ana-8.html

Ikon Kiteboarding's Empire
http://www.ikon-kiteboarding.com/produc ... mpire.html

Rapace's Condor
http://www.rapace-kite.fr/produits/

Gin kites Eskimo
http://www.ginkites.com/products/kites/eskimo

Concept Air's Evo 2
http://www.conceptair.com/fr/boutique/l ... te-ii.html

Even a cross comparison with LEI kites which most kiters are using out this winter,....even in NH

I'm with you on the winter use of foils over LEI's, especially for ridge traverses on the Presidentials and such, but most are using their water kites on lakes and fields all throughout New England. As foils are pricy, and extra to most waterman,........

Btw, if you want to try the Empire 6m or Micro 4 m from IKON let me know, the Empires original c-stall safety, that has been transformatively used by Ozone and other companies, is a great major leep in safety and relaunch ability......and is arguably simpler and easier to work with.

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Hardwater Kiter
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Re: hardwaterkiter.com high wind foil comparison.

Postby Hardwater Kiter » Thu Jan 29, 2015 12:48 am

Yup pretty basic. Obviously the intention is was not to get bogged down in the finer details of each individual model, just a general overview of how each kite behaved in high wind conditions.

We will have more specific content about how both kites function when we do our reviews on the kites individually after further use and feedback from our students and clients.

In answer to your question as to why just these two kites, these were the kites we were on for that day with the intent was to see how they faired in those conditions. We had received a few inquires about the Peak 2 4m in regards to it's viability as a high wind kite as well as other options. These were the 2 best candidates in the four kite brands that Hardwaterkiter.com carries. Your example the HQ M8 is not even the same type of kite nor does it have the top end wind range that the two kites in this comparison offer. Although the HQ M8 8m is rated in roughly the same wind range it is more of a freestyle kite and outside the intended design parameters of the two kites in the comparison.

In regard to ground handling, the Access with it's Re-Ride system engaged is supremely manageable when launching and landing. The Peak 2 uses a FLS with an inline flag out line. It's simple, functional and effective with minimal stress on the kite. There's a lot to like about Ozone's Re-Ride system but the FLS on a single skin Peak 2 is pretty manageable as well.

As far as what most kiters are using here in New England or specifically NH, I agree kiters who are primarily water riders ride their LEIs in the winter. If they are kiting snow as a way to get a fix until they can hit the water again, my guess is they don't get out enough to warrant the cost of a quiver of foils for winter use. And I imagine those kiters don't care about a comparison of small foils in high winds for that matter.

But in the last 13yrs of snowkiting here I've seen only 6 people on LEIs. I haven't seen an LEI here yet this season. I guess perception of who rides what I'd dependent on who you ride with and/or where.

We like your idea of a broad spectrum analysis of the kite brands you listed and a cross comparison with their LEI equivalents sounds intriguing. Especially the idea of comparing brands that have no distribution or following here in the states. Might provide information that may not be available otherwise. :thumb:

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Re: hardwaterkiter.com high wind foil comparison.

Postby crabnebula » Thu Jan 29, 2015 2:11 am

Let's collaborate and make it happen

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Re: hardwaterkiter.com high wind foil comparison.

Postby NHKitesurfer » Thu Jan 29, 2015 5:35 pm

Thanks for the write up guys! :P

I only have LEI's in my quiver but may look to pick up a foil for the snow at some point. It would be nice (and a lot safer) to be able to dump the power immediately with a foil as this can't be accomplished with a LEI.

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Re: hardwaterkiter.com high wind foil comparison.

Postby nate76 » Tue Feb 10, 2015 4:26 am

Great writeup.

Some day in all your spare time it would be great to have a comparison of the 5.5m Apex with these two kites, since it kind of fits the same bill.

I'm envious of your guys' snow up there. It's been 70 degrees for the past 4 days over here in CO. :o

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Hardwater Kiter
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Re: hardwaterkiter.com high wind foil comparison.

Postby Hardwater Kiter » Thu Feb 12, 2015 5:28 pm

Nate, we had a discussion about that actually. We've added a note at the bottom of the write up on the website where we share our view of how the Apex IV would fit into this comparison. :wink:

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Hardwater Kiter
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Local Beach: New England. So much better than moldy Old England.
Style: Adapt and overcome.
Gear: Foils and skis.
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Location: North Conway NH. USA
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Re: hardwaterkiter.com high wind foil comparison.

Postby Hardwater Kiter » Thu Feb 12, 2015 5:32 pm

NHKitesurfer, I would say that it really depends largely on the LEI. Many of the SLE types have amazing depower that until fairly recently most foils couldn't match. The Peak series, both 1 and 2 are very much like an SLE in regards to how they depower both in function and the amount of depow achieved. The first time I flew an SLE I was awestruck by the depower.

Which is why I'm so psyched at how well the Peak and Access dump power very much in the same way.

nate76
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9/12/15/18 Matrixx III
5.5m Apex V
7/12m HQ Ignition II
9m HQ Topaz
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Re: hardwaterkiter.com high wind foil comparison.

Postby nate76 » Thu Feb 12, 2015 8:54 pm

Hardwater, thanks for that note. That was kind of the sense I was getting. In the past I've recommended the Access over the Apex for folks who can afford it. It will be interesting to see what they do with the Apex V. I think Ozone and HQ have fundamentally different market strategies, particularly on this model kite.


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