So here I am flying about the Gorge on a typical wacky 12mph-30mph day, and along comes this spaceship looking thing. Holy crap, that's the Crossbow (9m.)
The guys were nice enough to let me take it for a spin (thanks guys!) Here are my findings...
DEPOWER! This thing goes from full on powered to trainer kite like pull in about 8 inches of sheeting. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a little unnerving at first because you can quickly lose track of what the kite is doing and have the feeling that it must have luffed and fell out of the sky because you can't feel it anymore, but its still flying merrily. Cool!
When riding the power control was really quite something. Pull back on the bar for some power, sheet out when you got too much. Its like your sheeting on your regular kite, but 10x more effective.
Because of the effective sheeting of the kite and low drag, it rides very fast, which I like a lot. You really get a feeling of control like I haven't felt before on a traditional kite.
What about steering?:
It turns fast, truly pivots. Crank it hard and it spins like a top. Anyone could do kiteloops on this kite.
Kind of disappointed here, I don't think flat kites will be known for all out jumping performance like you might think. The one advantage is you could go out in normally overpowering conditions on a bigger kite and use the depower to set you up for some lofty jumps, but it just doesn't have the explosive lift of an "C" shape kite. I tried jumping it a number of different ways, the best ones where were when I didn't send it too far, those jumps weren't super high, but it did hang pretty good. I watched as a more experienced rider took it out, he did get some good jumps on it, but still not the huge boosts that you can get when you know what to do on a typical kite.
This seems to be another area of disadvantage, during a few gusts I felt like I was holding nearly all the power in my arms, almost like being unhooked. Also to really take advantage of this kite, I doubt you would want to ride with it powered against a stopper ball, then you wouldn't be able to take advantage of its sheeting to control power. So those that are normally used to riding powered against the stopper ball, may not find this style of kite desirable.
The bar I tried was a prototype, so I am not sure how much is fixed in production, but it did seem to be quite heavy and complicated. The double pulley system especially adds a great deal of complexity to things, and I'd be worried how serviceable all the components would be if anything were to break. But again, this was a prototype...
I never got a chance to try it, but it seemed that relaunching was pretty instantaneous. Just pull on one line and it goes. Nice!
Seemed around average, I think you could get more upwind out of it once you had the feel for the sheeting dialed.
I think with the sheeting control this kite could have awesome range, especially at the high end.
Not sure that there are any real breakthrough here. In lulls I had to work the kite the same as I would my regular 9m.
The flat style kite is revolutionary for the beginner kiter or an all out safety solution for anyone. If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re the type who takes safety of utmost importance, than this is the kite for you. The ability to instantly shutdown the power at any time is just awesome in that regard.
However, if you feel pretty comfortable with the current feel of your kite and its range then you probably wouldn't feel a big benefit to going to this type of kite. It is a fundamental shift in the way you will fly your kite, and for some that's not necessarily a good thing.
I talked to other experienced riders who took the kite out, and nobody was sure if they would switch or not. Everyone was impressed by the depower aspects though, that is definitely one part of this kite that has not been over hyped.
I think also its fair to mention that the Windwing Rapture that has been out for some time now is also a flat/depowerable kite. Windwing has taken off in the Gorge, their popularity has exploded in just a few months. The riders I have talked to who fly their kites all say the same things about depower and control. So I think they should be given the credit for being first to market with this new brand of kite.
Still the Cabrinha Crossbow lends a great deal of legitimacy to this design direction, and no doubt all others will follow now. These new flat kites are a huge breakthrough for our sport in terms of accessibility and safety. Good job guys.
Now, I suggest you give one demo and come to your own conclusions...