As you can see this is not a short story, instead a comprehensive review and product guide...something that manufacturers should do as standard - especially with a new style of kite. When I received this kite I was one of the first, other than the 'testers', to fly it and was a bit shocked that the user guide was only one big picture with labels and where to connect lines! So off I went on holiday to the middle of know-where within days of receiving it....
I recently got back from 4 weeks of kitesurfing in South Africa using only the 14m Sonic (baggage allowance!). Firstly I am 100kg with a litewave 135 x 41. I have flown/owned Cabrinha, Slingshot, Naish, PL and RRD. Last year was my first year of kitesurfing and when I hit SA I had never been in big waves or really strong winds (thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s UK for u). I used it in all sorts of conditions including extremely rough seas, waves with winds gusting a 10knot change in speed! The report for the one day was 40 gusting 60kmh!
I took the 14m Sonic out of the bag for the first time in 30+ knots...yes I know...crazy, but the beach was massive and totally clear plus I had someone with me (my mom, shame!!). I spent more time in the air than water - nothing learnt there other than that when you really do start getting dragged down the beach...donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t stress just let go of the bar. When you let go the bar, the kite does not just crash instantly to the ground, it will rise then arc round and drop down at the edge of the window and then sits upright in the launch position on land or water at the edge of the window (no real power during this and there is plenty of time to get back to the bar if you not using the stopper).
In light winds:
I could get going in light winds of 9/10knots (if no waves to negotiate), however by 12 knots I start heading upwind and doing jumps. You will find like any kite that turning is a lot slower but still faster than C kites of same size. The best is to power in, then turn and release power, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t hold the power as it may want to stall, this kite loves to be given the reigns and will move very fast if given a bit of slack.
In stronger winds:
When it is powered the kite turns very fast, cruises upwind and becomes a real pleasure...I love riding this kite powered because it has the turning speed of a kite alot smaller but still give you all that power of a 18+ C kite (if you want it)...which means A+ for jumping! DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be surprised if you end up very far down wind cause of the hang time. I could do a 4m high jump without having built up any real speed. Put some speed and a pop or connect with a wave and the lift and hang is incredible...if its jumping you want then you definitely canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t go wrong. I'm not into all those other tricks/moves yet so I can't help you there.
I would be out on the water all day (1000-1700hrs) and my arms, neck and shoulders were hardly stiff Ã¢â‚¬â€œ thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s how light the bar pressure was! Yes the rest of my body was very worked over though! SA is extremely gusty and the kite handled well. When you feel a big gust hit, just sheet out the bar and the kite takes it in. Nothing IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve tried can be compared to the sense of ease and control that this kite offers and I cannot imagine a kite that is easier to learn with.
Stopper for bar:
Works fine but I only ever used it in lighter winds, in stronger winds I wanted all the range in power/depower. For learners first comes to this kite I would say rather donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t use it to start with - for safety mostly - so when you fall badly just let go and the kite depowers totally instead of dragging you about.
Line set-up and clam/power adjuster just above the chicken loop:
I found that the 'as comes' settings are fine; I actually later adjusted it for more bar pressure. In light winds start with about 15cm of spare end at the Clam and as the wind rises just pull more spare end through until comfortable. In light winds this can be done while kite is stationary with one hand otherwise if too strong, position the kite above your head, let go bar (the kite sits above you for a while), pull centre line with one and adjust with other hand then grab up for bar. Otherwise just drop kite on beach at window edge and adjust with both hands.
I found that pumping just under 6 PSI worked fine, no need for more.
I had a seam come loose on the LE on my 3rd day, which was a quick stitch job. According to GK and the distributor, this was the only reported fault of that nature so I think it was a once-off. The Ã¢â‚¬Ëœdonkey di**Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ popped out one time Ã¢â‚¬â€œ so I lengthened it by 1.5cm. Other than that I am happy with the build quality...I had some big waves wash over it and it was still fine.
If kite happens to come down down-wind of you (rarely happens), pull on an outside line and it drifts to edges window...from there it is simple. I also managed reverse launches with kite down-wind and the LE down or up.
I find that the 'weighing down wing tips' method doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t work well with bows as you need tons of sand and a relatively low pressure LE! So what I do is set up as normal then walk to the edge of window and pull the kite round so it catches wind and launch from there....just ensure no people downwind of you.
In light winds it is possible to let go the bar, when the kite drops at edge, grab one of centre lines which drops it onto its LE. Have not worked out how in strong winds. I just dropped it behind a sand dune (not something you get in UK) or kept kiting until the wife came to pick me up!
Wind range 14m:
Me 100kg: 10-30knots
Avge Joe 75kg: 8-25knots (my estimate)
To say that my skills have improved is an understatement! I'm trying to think of negatives...I can be very critical...but other than that small seam coming loose and not being able to comfortably self-land in strong winds, there is nothing. I could give them a few tips for the next one, but thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s it.
I have tried to cover most FAQ and I hope that both current and future users get some benefit from all this typing!! Any more questions please ask.