If anyone is interested then some chat over in the UK forums:
My review of the 9m is on there:
I previously had a pre-production 9m Union to test and now I’ve got my own so I feel I have spent a good few hours on it in a variety of conditions. My initial feedback to the team after my three-hour session on Saturday was it’s an absolute weapon and a very, very capable bit of kit.
From the very first time I put it in the air I thought ‘wow, this is quick’...which was good because I love fast kites. That said it is quick, both through the air and in response to input, but it is also very deliberate and precise. There is no vagueness to it and unless you are an absolute novice you won’t be caught out with it. I have it setup on the low bar pressure setting on the LE bridle (as opposed to medium) and the back lines are on the middle setting at the wing-tip. The feedback and feel is excellent – I know where it is and what it’s doing without looking. Not sure if it’s just been the conditions but I find on the low LE setting it drives though the turns more, on the medium there is a bit more sheer/braking round the wingtip, but there is no pivotal-loss-of-power in the turn even on this setting.
This type of direct responsiveness and speed is what I really want – why - because I love to boost. Big air on the Union it is just stupidly easy to do, plus it somehow gives great float. Sometimes with kites that give really explosive vertical climb like this you get the height, but it’s then straight back to earth afterwards – the Union you get plenty of time up there. Also with the responsiveness a redirect or down loop for smooth landings is very easy – you can use how fast and responsive it is to do this at the last possible second i.e. drop back from inverted, touchdown and re-direct and go without sinking.
The other aspect to getting good height is the power delivery where this is very linear with the bar throw – there is no spike or surge and it’s all very smooth. One thing of note is that I don’t think the last few inches of the throw offers any more depower (maybe if nuking?) and at the very extremes the canopy luffs a bit. You see it go a bit slack behind the points where the dyneema load frame coalesces, but if doesn’t flap like crazy – almost like it goes into a neutral gear. Also at this point (due to the V4 Bridle) there is still full steering input as backlines remain tensioned... it’s like it has told you that you have gone too far in a very easy to understand way.
Unhooked performance is good – it won’t slack like a Razor, but it the power doesn’t spike when you unhook and you can gradually load to get very controlled pop plus it won’t haul you off downwind on landings. It’s just very composed – balanced probably describes it well, the responsiveness might be a minus to the most hardcore freestyler, but it won’t drift or turn without you knowing about it and you probably could setup the LE and wing-tips to slow it a bit more.
The 9m has a huge range – I was swapping with local kid (riding a 9m razor) who weighs about 30kg less than me – he was on my 135 Bronq, but there was no loss of performance and we were getting similar height jumps. I do think though that to get the absolute best from it you need to know how to let a kite ‘fly’ and not simply rely on pulling the bar in to go – get some speed up and be light on your feet. As said previously I have been out on it when people were on larger kites (including a 15m Flysurfer Speed) and I could still have fun and not worry about loosing upwind. I’ve not yet had it fully powered – maybe about about 70% and it is just electric in handling and performance… I cannot wait for 30mph on it as the jumps are going to be BIG!
My all-time favorite 9m used to be the Wave… not anymore and this 9m Union is an instant classic IMO.
Other things - the bag is better again this year, nice backpack style without excessive straps or handles that try to garrote you, it has a pocket for the bar, straps for a pump and the zipped opening is much larger. The new bar is also good with the major noticeable change being the narrower diameter and grip which after a few minutes of feeling different became surprisingly comfortable. Beyond the funky colour scheme and molded floats it is the same quality affair and reliable release it has always been – of and the bigger leash ring make it much easier to rig suicide (they do listen to feedback).
I have also had one session on the 12m in variable conditions and so far it is very promising, much more like the 2014 12m which I thought was stunning – more to come on that after another session or two… but again standout trait so far is big floaty jumps ☺ - See more at: http://www.kiteboarder.co.uk/kitesurfin ... 59#p369759