After a long time researching for a light wind wave kite and not having access to demos I pulled the trigger and bought the big Cloud. In theory it just made sense and seemed the only hope to escape the law of diminishing returns of light wind riding, a law which becomes specially mercyless when going down the line a wave towards the kite.
In short, I couldn't be happier with it. The way it drifts when depowered, which is the result of the canopy's luffing aided by the ultra low weight of the kite, opened a whole new realm of light wind kitesurfing for me.
For the kind of riding I use it (hooked down-the-line off the wind wave riding), I would say the main PROs are:
- Paradigm-shifting drift
- Direct steering and turning response to input (result of combination between low inertia, short non-pulleyd bridle, and low aspect-ratio planform with wide wingtips), feels like a much smaller kite (yes I know this sounds like marketing BS, sorry)
- Negligible vertical pull when fully depowered (luffing canopy equals significant drag, which makes the kite drift downwind along with the rider, but negligible lift), allowing for a less "strings attached" type of feel when trying to emulate surfing
- Extremely resistant to hindenburging (front-stalling) due to either lulls or overflying, result of how the low weight is distributed depthwise. I once spent about an hour flying it on the beach in almost no wind and trying hard to make it front-stall with abrupt and long depower inputs, and could only front-stall it twice (when the wind died it just slowly back-stalled). Any other kite would have front-stalled "n" times.
Also, the low inflate-deflate times (result of both the lack of struts and super nice high flow valve) and packing volume are a welcome plus, even though not the reason why I would buy a kite or not.
As for the CONs, I can only mention:
- When water does get over the canopy, relaunch becomes tricky and may be eventually impossible (for flatwater riders this would not be an issue, specially in light wind (no tall whitecaps), since when the canopy is free the relaunch is actually easier than most kites).
For me personally, this CON doesn't have any practical effect, since after having some kites destroyed by waves in the past I've made full ejection a standard procedure if the kite isn't relaunched in a handful of seconds.
Other riders (specially in flat water) may not be able to enjoy the full potentialities of this kite, and may also find other CONs depending on their riding style, for example:
- lack of static grunt for wakestylers
- lack of hangtime for oldstylers
- increase in drag when depowered beyond a certain threshold
- canopy luffing during kiteloops, specifically the second half (for the donwloops I do when waveriding the luffing is actually a good thing, since it translates to less power and more drift downwind at a still smaller than average looping time from start to finish)
Please note that these "CONs" are extremely subjective. For my riding style, they are nothing but part of what makes the PROs mentioned above possible.
Also, if you are looking for just riding back and forth in the lightest of winds, there are better options out there. The Cloud does not have neither a deep airfoil profile (which would translate in static grunt, i.e. sheer power in low apparent wind speeds, suitable for low-efficiency boards) nor it develops much more L/D at higher apparent wind speeds (like the race kites, suitable for high-efficiency boards) due to its low aspect-ratio.
But those other kites simply do not work for light wind DTL on swell-driven waves.
So to sum it up, this kite may not be for everyone, but for me it was the missing link between kiteboarding in light winds and kitesurfing in light winds. For what I expect from a wave kite, I would go as far as to say it was the single most important innovation in this sport, more than any other since going from 2 to 4 lines.