Had a chance to get some more time on the Superblade 10.5 and thought some people might be interested in an update. (see Super Blade thread for description of this modified 10.5 Blade III) Conditions: 155lbs, 150 x 43 side-cut plywood, calm waters, some downwind tidal current.
Started the session in around 7-8mph wind. One dive and I was up and going with the kite parked at 45 degrees going up wind with light edging. Nice powered jibes and absolutely no sining required. I found the whole thing hard to believe. It's an entirely different ride from any other kite I have ever flown. When sheeted out, the kite goes up wind so far that you hardly need to edge at all. It's almost effortless.
On another session, the wind picked up to 15-18mph. On the old Blade I would have been freaking and busting my ass back to the beach. On this kite I just de-powered a bit and was able to handle the power with no problem, even with the big ply board. This was quite a surprise since I would have not considered bringing this kite out in 18mph wind to start. I also noticed that I was able to go on very long tacks with substantially less rear leg fatigue that with any other kites I have flown.
Bottom line. This is the best performing light wind kite I have ever used and is a lot of fun when the wind picks up too. It is going to add many days of riding to my typical year.
Thank you loco4viento!!! Your infinite supply of beer awaits you.
I have been out with riders flying Speed 17s but haven't flown one myself. I can say with a fair amount of confidence that the Super Blade 10.5 will get me out and riding upwind in any condition that the Speed 17 would based on comments I have read on the forums and from Speed flyer's I have met. It is a smaller more efficient kite due to it's open cells and weighs quite a bit less so it's ability to handle lulls that are typical of light winds is probably somewhat better. It also turns quite a bit faster. It's upwind performance is the best I have ever flown but, again, I have not flown a Speed. Not just a poor mans light wind kite.
All that said, I am 155lbs and the Speed 17, being a more powerful kite, will probably offer some light wind advantage to riders over 180-200lbs or so since it is a more powerful kite. Everyone who has one seems to really like it. Also note that the Superblade, being an open cell foil, will not relaunch of you crash it in the water so it may cramp your style if you are trying new moves etc.
If you don't crash your kite a lot and if you weigh <180lbs the Superblade 10.5 will probably get you out in the lightest wind possible (with a flat style board) but if you weigh more it's hard to say at this point since I don't know any heavier riders you have used it. The Blade III 10.5 comes up for sale once in a while on ikitesurf.com for $400-$650 but new I think they run around $850-$900. The mods take about an hour to do and the kite is flown with a standard 4-line bar with around 18-20" of sheeting travel and a power strap or cleat. If you get one and want to mod it I can send you the mod diagram.
I use a 26" bar and 90' lines. If it's really light or there is a gradient I use 120' lines. The mod requires a fair amount of sheeting ability so I use a 20" line from my chicken loop to my power strap and I set the lines at equal length when the strap is between halfway out and halfway in with the chicken loop against the bar.