I am down at Paul Menta's kiteboarding operation, THE KITEHOUSE, in La Paguera, Puerto Rico enjoying WIND, for a change. You can read about the operation at:
The riding and conditions are great but more about that with lots of photos, wind, connection and area info later on.
I wanted to toss out some early impressions about Cabrinha's RECON kite system. Paul set me up with a 17 m CO2 RECON setup with 18 to 22 kts on a 2003 Lightwave Designs 158 cm TT this afternoon. I weigh about 185 lbs. . After a while the wind shifted and dropped down to around 13-17 kts with a rare change in weather conditions. Paul at 170 lbs. was on a 14 m CO2 RECON and a LWD 136 cm TT. The chop was less than 4 inches.
I was a bit overpowered initially with the wind at or a bit above 22 kts. but managed to work back upwind and stayed near the primary riding area for the duration after that. One thing that hit me right away about the kite is that it has very POSITIVE control. That is it was very stable particularly right after launch on the edge of the window with minimal control input. The kite provides nice lift, floaty jumps and adequate speed despite the larger size. Paul and I were tossing off some nice jumps with our respective rigouts.
I first tried the relaunching feature of the RECON system. The kite was lying leading edge down on the water and straight downwind. I tried this in a very light wind area in the wind shadow of the mangrove cay that Paul nick named "The Elevator!" He gave it that name for the excellent bump and extended glide you can grab from the slipstream off the mangroves upwind. Paul gave me a few pointers, basically:
1. Decide which way you want to launch the kite, to the left or right.
2. Make sure the red lines are on the left, just as you would have them from normal flight with the kite aloft.
3. If you want to relaunch to the right, pull the ball on the LEFT or red leader. If you want to reluanch to the left, then pull the ball on the RIGHT or black leader.
4. By pull, you merely reach forward, grab the ball and pull it back to your side and wait. If it is really light, reach forward and grab the end of the leader.
5. The kite will soon lift up on one side, then stand perpendicular to the water. At this point merely slowly release the ball and the kite pivots and flys up.
I was able to do this on my second try. If you are a bit more careful on easing the ball out, it is easy to guide the kite to the edge of the wind window to avoid a "hot" launch. I was amazed at how easy it was to do. I have to confess that I never was able to sucessfully relaunch any of my Airblasts using the relaunch bridle. Must have impaired relaunch genes or something. Anyway this system makes it reliably simple.
The second thing that I tried was activating the emergency kite safety release. This was even easier:
1. First I parked the kite at the zenith (miles of open water to shore downwind) and fully powered the kite up for the test. The winds were about 18 kts. at this point, which is a fair amount for a 17 m kite.
2. I just reached up and pulled down on the orange depower ball just above the bar.
The kite IMMEDIATELY depowered, folded up like some messy laundry and glided straight downwind. Another very surprising thing for me was the LACK OF POWER once the kite was depowered. The kite had FAR less pull than my 17 m 2003 Blacktip or 16 m Airblast when those kites are depowered by using the kite leash. It doesn't seem obvious that it would have such a light pull by looking at the depowered kite, but TRYING IT tells the story.
Another very nice aspect is that the kite hit the water and stayed there. My other kites will continue to fly even once depowered if the wind is high enough, making me have to walk up to the kite hand over hand on one line. Not my favorite activity but in the future, no more!
We even reconnected the emergency safety release, in shallow water with a fairly good wind blowing. This is less easy and for advanced riders only. There is to be a modification detail available that will make this reconnection process much more simplistic and for less experienced riders. The thing to remember is that the RECON emergency safety release, is for EMERGENCIES! That is to say, it is a kill switch and simple relaunching is normally not an easy option with any system today.
So, those are some early impressions. I will upload photos showing various components of the above sequences once I can process them. The main things that hit me about the kite was the ease of relaunching off of the water and the very effective depowering that occurs with the emergency safety release. So, rather than puzzle over these things why not give it a try first person and form your own impressions. I understand that there are a ton of on the road demos planned all over. Chances are that the local demo clinic will be advertised online or at your local shop, so if you are curious about this new technology, check it out.