Friday the 13th was a double lucky day, UPS dropping the new toys before the week end and the spot getting blessed after work hours with some of the best conditions we could have expected... Cross shore 20kts+ and developing with some shoulder high swell. Let's try the 8 then, with the usual allround FLX132.
Traditional with GK, on any kite smaller than 10, there is a small hand pump.
It's a bit of a pain, and definitely doesn't provide the same level of warming up, but it does the (hand)job, and would be handy for the snow, so why not... I'd use a big one most of the time, though.
The bar is quite neat, different color for the grip compared to my other sonic's bars, the yellow black grey patterns are replaced with some Red black white which makes it easier to recognize where not to pull when confused. The lines are 21m instead of 25, so the kite looks similar to the 11 sizewise from the rider point of view. Kite seems a bit fatter, lower ratio.
Factory setup was plain good, I just had to pull some 3cm more off the cleat to adjust to my preferences.
The kite needs to be quite firm to have a good behaviour when depowering and stomping the board in he gusts. If the LE is too soft, the kite will flatten too much when rushing forward in the window. A few extra strokes on the pump give the required stiffness and then it's all good.
The control of the power gives lots of comfort when going out, if a wave is closing, you can head downwind on an open section without ending at Mach2 on the next wave. You can slow down, accelerate, easy... no matter what the wind is doing actually. Really good upwind abilities despite a strong lateral current. Pretty good to get you quickly on the right place on the spot, which is part of any surfing strategy.
The 8 turns fast, is responsive, and can be depowered instantly which gives good assets for surfing, at least in these conditions, as a regular, I had to surf toeside down the line, and it was pretty good, surely better than with anything else I have used in these conditions. As I'll get dialed on the kite, it will get better and better, and the Mong will be screaming in the curves.
In terms of jumping, well, there is a fair amount of it packed in this kite, and I got some massive boosts, a couple of extra reboosts in the air sometimes, and shit it was high, even if I was not riding really aggressively to preserve my ageing body, and it was my first time on this one... Anyway, no surprise, it boosts and the landings are soft when the kite is brought back at the right time, or looped at the last minute.
So overall, it was a quick go on it (just 1hr), but it was a pretty pleasant experience while some other riders further down the beach where saying it was some rough conditions, up and down, current... Didn't notice any of these, was stoked!
No idea of the windrange, no one else around to compare, the windmeter sheltered behind the sand dunes reported around 22 peaking 27, but definitely it would have been a much harder work with the 11.
Please note that I am biased, (not a GK pimp though, but riding and marginally selling GK here for a few seasons), but I try to share my pleasant experience in the most objective way, and give some preview about this long awaited kite.
There was no reason the guys in UK could have posted some reviews of the 11 back in october while everyone else was waiting, now it's my turn
A few pics: