The Contra is a great kite I owned the 14M and it was good in light wind with good range, but in my opinion there are several very good comparable LEIs out there now. I also still own a Switchblade which also has decent low end but turns better.
I now have the Speed 2 19M silverarrow edition. To me It's way more than a just a kite it's my wind insurance policy guaranteed to ride and jump never leave home without it. I ride mostly in the ocean and weigh 175lb I hold the SA19 down to 18knots no problem. Living in Miami I use this kite 70% of the time. It depowers much better (more linear less on off) then my other bows. The smooth power and hangtime of this kite is addicting and I'm sometimes dissapointed when I can't ride it. I like the fact that I can use a smaller TT most of the time. Plus not pumping a 20M and laying out the lines means you get on the water fast. The SA19 relaunches easily even in stupid light winds where you would not want to drop a 20M tube. I'm sure the Waroo 20M is a great kite that will get you cruising and you can't beat it for the money, but if you really want to jump big and get lot's of hangtime then I would spend the money for the Speed2.
Some downsides of the kite: It's expensive turns relatively slow and it takes getting used to. I didn't absolutely love it the first few sessions. I was impressed with the power but setup self landing and jumping took some adjustment. Now I find it as easy as any bow. The bar setup is just OK, the chicken loop sucks and doesn't spin but you can easily change it (the new bar is supposed to be better) You do have to tune the kite every so often to maintain optimum performance but at least you can compensate for fabric and line stretch. Packing the kite takes some time you want to be careful with the bridles so that you can setup quickly the next time. The kite requires some periodic maintenance but it's pretty easy to fix even on the beach with just some spare line and tape. I don't see any issues with the silverarrow fabric it seems pretty durable to me and for light winds it makes a significant difference because the kite just floats in the air in bad lulls.
See attached windgraph this was one of my best SA19 sessions of the year.
Guess I won't be getting anything Flysurfer after all. After several attempts at direct contact with the distributor & getting 0>poor responses back it doesn't much matter how good these kites are. I'm sure if they're this poor at responding to potential new customers they're going to really suck if a warranty or service issue crops up.
Don't know if anyone else has had these issues but sadly its been my experience. There isn't a dealer local to my area so I'm stuck with the e-mail correspondence option for info. Maybe they think their kites are so badass they don't have to give a s#!&.
I own a Contra 2 17M and the Flysurfer SA 19.
Once I got used to the Flysurfer 19 - the Contra has never left the bag, and I now have a 2 kite quiver.
Flysurfer for wind from 6 to 15kts
12 M LEI (currently demo'ing a few brands) - for winds 12 to 25kts.
I weigh 195lbs.
IMO - I have yet to see or fly any kite that even comes close to what the SA 19 offers in the sub 12kt range. At my weight, I can be jumping with good hang time in 9kts, and heading up wind with no problem in 7 kts. (Big flat board required).
For bigger guys (>190lbs) - the Flysurfer is worth every penny if you are stuck with winds under 15kts.......but you do have to get used to it, and that can take several sessions. In lighter winds, I have found that looping the kite in transitions and after landing jumps has improved my fun factor dramatically. Due to its slow turning speed, signing the kite isn't always the best method to keep the kite powered up.
In terms of durability - flysurfers are great. Because they are not inflated, there is much less stress on the seams and hard crashes on the water or snow cause no damage (I am done with Crapinha due to this).
The only downside is all the lines - its critical that you are very methodical about packing and unpacking - cause if you screw up, your macrame skills will be put to the test.
Where are you based......I have found FS generally to be very helpful and commited......Just do it the UK distributor is always on hand to help - and I've heard of good things of Ted B in the USA, Kaito in Japan and some of the French distibutors as well.
My Magic Kite. Even at 155lbs I fly the SA2 19m on a door 59. Just means more power for everyone. I used to fly a 19.5m C and even a 22.5m C and tried a 20m SLE.... Nothing comes close to the sustained power and lift of the SA2. You have to keep it in the window and tension on the lines especially in gusty winds and jumps. But that comes after a while. If I had been flying my Big LEI... I would have dropped them in the water on lulls when the SA2 stays up there. I do unhooked back roll kiteloops with it and S-Bends down loops... going for more. Crazy power. I find I tap into some good thermals on big boosts too, with a full helicopter down loops I get an extra lift up before landing.
Nothing like it. First to ride and boost. last one on the water... It can turn faster than you think if you really pull. A heavier guy can turn it faster than I can. but I can still loop it 2-3times while riding. Not saying it's a fast turner, but how fast do you need it to turn? Better than standing on the beach.
Some picts of when LE's drop and SA2 keeps going. Tricky in some situations rare, but overall power and staying up in light stuff can't be beat. It also allows you to be on a smaller board than usual.
One amazing thing is that in light winds, you don't even have to sheet out on the upstroke, it's so light.
On high end, I've been flying it many times and moving to my 12m Rise.
At this location, the wind is sometimes super low 5-6mph close to the beach and 8-12 out a ways. I need a certain amount of power to get there... just a few hundred meters away. The SA2 gets me there and back in those nasty lulls. As well, many times there is no wind down low within a few meters from the Water, so I need a light kite to stay up there including signing when required and the upstroke.
On line tangles. I find I have less to deal with since when I used to drop my big LE's more often in lulls I used to have to untangle more often or more self rescues. As well, in the summer we get green algea which makes a mess even on my main LEI lines from dropping it.
But I love inflatable too especially my 8m Rise for mega loops... Great to have all these choices... Smaller Flysurfers rock too.
Try one if you can and compare even better... Bet you'll be hooked. Well I was...
Will have to get some shots of big jumps.
Just to show you can do more than back and forth if you want... Fun factor for all.
Not sure where you are but let me know if you need a Dealer...
After market info can be helpful as well.
I even prepared a special SA2 lesson for it in my area.
Cruising with power to spare at times...
Like floating twice as long hang with a downloop
Well OK, fun on the snow too. It does a similar thing except you can go even lower for wind... When I would usually need skis with a less powerful kite in the light stuff, I can now get on my Board....
IMO, the pulley lines aren't durable enough - my S2 19m has >100hrs on it, and I have replaced all 4 pulley lines (with thicker stuff). Doing the lower pair wasn't very hard, but the upper pair was a little tricky (hence the need for more durable lines).
The chicken loop line will also get chewed up pretty fast, unless you wax it, then it lasts a lot longer.
Tuning only takes 10min or so and most of that time is spent unpacking/repacking the kite. Because it's pretty easy, some guys like to do it more often - but IMO you only need to do it:
1) after bedding-in (10hrs)
2) after replacing any pulley lines.
3) every 50-100hrs if you feel the kite is not at peak performance.