finally got the kite out of the bag - it is feast or famine in south florida this time of year. would usually have put up a 12 given it was blowing about 20 to 25, but not today with a new crispy kite in the closet that supposedly has unbeliveable range.
first issue - the self launch is not so easy in high winds. you can't put sand on the tips; the kite flips over. Someone came over to help so I avoided the issue, but I am a little concerned there.
Kite is in the air - depowered, it has no pull. Unbelievable in this wind. I would be digging in my heals if I was on my 14 X2. I make the first dive with the kite and jump off the sand. Smooth landing, kite is very easy to fly and takes about 5 minutes to get used to for general riding. I could zig zag through the surfers, with no fear I would get pulled into them, who are just taking up space - there are no waves bigger than 2 feet despite the wind, what are they doing?? Not really my concern.
The bar pressure is NOT a huge issue - I stayed out for an hour and a half - felt a little strain more than usual, but not intolerable and not a deal killer. I could rest one arm from time to time, riding one handed. The key thing to note here is that the pressure comes from just holding the kite; it doesn't take more strength to turn the kite than any other kite, but more from lack of powerlock. I used to get the tennis elbow thing from kiting which was from having to pull so hard to turn. That is not the case with this kite - no better or worse in terms of pressure than my yarga, just a little bit strenuos to hold it in a powered position. Stress the "little bit" here - you notice, but you are not rushing off the water, and can rest some tacking.
Upwind in 20 knots - a joke - I could go up three blocks (200 yards) by going out about 700 yards on a tack.
Jumping - this is a little different. No whip jumps, rather raleys hooked (couldn't comfortably unhook in this wind) off small chop were huge. Bigger than the X4 16 in lighter wind. And you fly. That is no joke.
Sending the kite I did not master yet, however, there was one back roll that felt like I was 25 feet up and carried for 100 feet in distance. There was a collective "wow" coming from the beach while I was in the air. I did have a number of the 7-10 feet up jumps carrying them about 70 feet in distance. Very interesting - you hold in tight with the bar, and when you want to land - push out a few inches - much easier to time rolls et al. Th long & low jumps are easy, and I think are a slight "issue" until you master jumping with the kite. They are still fun, just you know you are not getting the elevation you could, however, I think you can figure out how to consistently elevate with this kite. Overall with jumping, it is no X4 but it is solid. Over time I think I will be happy.
Waves - was riding in a NNE wind with waves going ENE - usually would only be able to use the waves as ramps. Quite easy to drop toe side coming into the shore and ride. Just wish these people would go find another hobby than surf in 2 foot waves. The control bar is like a trottle - pull in - you got power, push out, you are riding the wave.
Depower - I am not going to repeat what everyone has said, bottom line is it is all true.
Relaunch - kite didn't touch the water so can't comment. Unless you are riding unhooked and drop the bar , or you have bad kite flying skills, this kite is not hitting the water. It slides back in situations it should fall out of the sky and allows you to recover it.
Kite going inside out - didn't happen;
Overall, very solid kite. Love the fact I could put this kite up from 10 to 25 with no fear. Literally, that is the range if you have a wakeboard and a skim board - I am 185 lbs. Highly recommend for someone who is not a super technical rider - you want something good, but don;t need to know your kite goes the highest and will be pissed if something comes out that adds another 6 inches to your height. I ride in a very crowded area - not with kites, but with people sitting around, and the piece of mind I had having it in the air and not worrying about getting lofted a few feet into someone's beach chair is worth a lot. I would say owning this kite is like having a new mercedes w/ an air bag vs having a porshe that only has a seat belt. You might be able to get a little better performance in certain areas, but overall the mercedes is a much more verstaile car. This is really how I would look at the bow vs LEI option. Living in Florida, the land of no wind, I could easily get by with this kite, and an 11 as my entire quiver.
A little more info about what else I have owned for reference:
Wip 2000 Classic 8.4
Wip 2001 AB 8.4
Wip 2001 AB 11.8
Cabrinha 2001 Blacktip 12.2
Wip 2001 AB 16.4
Naish 2001 15.5 ARX
Wip 2002 AB 8,4
Wip 2002 AB 11.8
Naish 2002 X2 14
Naish 2002 X2 20
North 2003 Toro 18 (worst kite ever)
Best 2004 Yarge 11
Best 2004 Yarge 15
Naish 2004 X4 16
Cabrinha 2004 Contra 19.5
Cabrinha 2004 BT 10