I have been kiteboarding for about a year now. I have two kites: a 12 meter cabrinha access and 16.5 meter cabrinha contra. I have been looking for a kite that can pull me(180lbs.) in 8 to 12 mph. winds. I almost bought the 23.5 meter contra, but then out came the hellfish and the crossbow. With all the hype I don't know who to believe. I really enjoy flying the 16.5 meter contra, but cabrinha doesn't list any info on the 23.5 meter in their wind range charts. Does anyone know which of these kites would be better suited for light wind conditions, or any other kites for that matter(LEI)?
The 16.5 is my biggest kite, I am also near the same weight. I recommend a larger board like a 140/150 by 40, this and technique is all that is to it. Dont waste your time or money with anything else its all hype. Have a skim board or 5 to 6 ft surf board onhand as well. Just keep the fins small the board wide and the rocker somewhat flat. A nice wide stance and board speed as well. check out the new Cabrinha Icon 144!
I recently replaced my Contra 23.5m with a SPEED 17m, but the 23.5m pairs fairly well with the 16.5m Contra (which has been my mid-range kite, but may get replaced by another SPEED). But I'm 205lbs, so as a lighter rider you might want something that stays airborne in less wind - the Contra tends to want to drop out of the sky when the lulls get down around 6mph...
Haven't ridden Hellfish or Crossbow, the biggest Crossbow is only 16m and apparently doesn't quite have the same low-end as the 19.5m Contra, so you can probably rule that out. As far as the Hellfish goes, there's plenty of stuff out there to read, especially now that they're finally in production.
Big boards definitely help, and are a fun change of pace, but you can only go so far before you need more square meters in the air - if you don't have a big board yet, get one, then decide about getting a bigger kite.