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 Post subject: Flysurfer SPEED 17m vs Cabrinha Contra 23.5m
PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 5:40 pm 
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Disclaimer:
While I have had a lot of time on the Contra 23.5m, I have had only one 4-hr session on the SPEED 17m - and while the windspeed during that session covered the whole range of the kite, my opinion may change for the better or worse after I have a little more time in. If my opinion changes at all, I will repost here.



Weight:
SPEED (no contest) - SPEED 17m: 8lbs, Contra 23.5m: 12lbs

Setup / Packdown:
SPEED (no contest). MUCH shorter setup time, even if you have to preinflate a little. Packdown time is even less, just unzip the vents and roll it up. If you only have an hour to try to get a session, the SPEED will give you 30min of water time, the Contra might not give you anything.

Convenience/Bag:
SPEED. Lighter, more compact, better bag design - the bag for the SPEED allows for carrying 2 boards, the Contra bag can only do one (and it has a tendency to scrape the back of your legs).

Snow/land:
SPEED. Try pumping up in -10F windchills, it can be done but it really sucks. Also, the SPEED 17m will stay airborne in winds that the Contra won't, so you can landboard with it while waiting for the wind to come up enough for a water session.

Ease of use (non-flying, i.e.: setup, etc.):
SPEED (once you learn how it works). If you're only familiar with LEI's then the Contra is a standard LEI and there's nothing new to learn, but the SPEED is easier to set up and get going. Self-launch with the SPEED is WAY easier.

Ease of use (in flight):
Contra. It flies like an LEI, not prone to backstall (much), very straightforward. The SPEED requires a different touch so you'll need good flying skills going in, and some time getting used to it. If you don't want to have to adjust your flying style, or you're low on kite skills, you won't like the SPEED.

Turning speed:
SPEED, but not by much. Depending on the bridle settings, it will turn as slow as (or slower than) the Contra, or much faster. But on the faster settings the kite is more prone to backstall and riding style will have to be adjusted accordingly. On the stock settings, it turns slightly faster than the Contra 23.5m, except at the edge when first getting started.

Relaunch:
Haven't tried it yet on the SPEED, but it seems easier than the Contra - getting a 23.5m kite back in the air in light wind is a real challenge, even with RECON. In addition, the SPEED stayed solidly in the air in winds where the Contra would have been questionable at best, so you're not as likely to need to relaunch the SPEED.

Power:
SPEED. Jumps felt bigger on the high end, and during my first session I wasn't even aware of how light the wind had gotten near the end - still on my small board and still going upwind. Absolute low-end isn't increased a whole lot, but it is slightly better.

Leash system:
SPEED. The Contra doesn't have a spinning leash, and landing on the leash with the SPEED will park the kite on the trailing edge - Contra usually lands LE down and seems to have more pull in that position than the SPEED has when parked.

Safety:
Contra. RECON has a release on the bar and a QR on the chickenloop. The SPEED only has a QR on the chickenloop, so I will be putting a Slingshot Surefire spreader bar on my harness to provide a backup.

Windrange - top end:
Too close to call, so I'd say they're basically the same...

Windrange - bottom end:
SPEED. Near the end of my first session the wind was avg 9mph, gusts 12mph lulls 7mph, and I was still on my small board and still going upwind (although not as far as earlier). The Contra would barely get me started in those conditions, and ONLY with my light-wind board.
[UPDATE:] The low-end really depends on whether you're already up and going or if you're trying to get started - when trying to get started, the low-end is only slightly better on the SPEED (maybe 1mph or so). But once you're up and going, it can tolerate some pretty low lulls without completely losing it like the Contra might.

Speed:
Just guess. :wink: The Contra will go fast for its size but starts pulling downwind quite a bit sooner than the SPEED.

Upwind:
SPEED (no contest). I was going upwind as far with my short board and the SPEED as I usually go with the Contra and my long board.



Recommendation:
Both of these are big kites, best suited to heavier riders in light wind - neither one turns as fast as a 14m LEI. If turning speed is most important to you, get a really big board and stick with a 20m LEI or smaller (or maybe the 13m SPEED). But unless you're really stuck on LEI's or your kite skills still need development, get the SPEED 17m - with few exceptions, it is the better light-wind kite. As with anything different, it will take a little while to get the feel of it, but IMO the benefits should more than pay back any learning time.



NEW: Power delivery:
I'm leaning toward the SPEED on this but need more time to be sure. The power delivery on the SPEED seems much smoother than the Contra, this has a noticable impact in two areas: gusts, and waterstarts in light conditions.

Gusts:
I didn't really notice any gusts until I got back on shore and a friend pointed at another guy on an LEI, the LEI was doing the surge/flex thing even though the guy was basically going in a straight line and didn't appear to be pumping the bar that much. I think maybe the foil's "soft" shape tends to soak up small/spiky gusts rather than twitching around like a rigid kite, although the larger/sustained gusts definitely are translated into more power - but more smoothly than the Contra. The wind chart shows it wasn't that gusty anyway, so it's hard to be 100% sure on this.

Waterstarts in light wind:
For waterstarts in light wind, the Contra has a bigger surge on the downstroke, and then loses a lot on the upstroke and if you're not sheeted out it can easily stall (in light wind). The SPEED had nearly constant power on the water starts, especially on +1 hard steering - the first turn is pretty sluggish, but the downstroke is nice steady pull, and that same pull continues on the upstroke. I think this is why I could still get going on my small board, the steady pull gradually got me up on plane, while the Contra would get me planing then bog down, then plane and bog down again. I also didn't have to work the SPEED as hard, the Contra has to be dived almost straight down to (hopefully) get enough board speed to coast through the upturn, while the SPEED only had to go halfway down or so because it was constant power the whole time - and increased as the board speed increased.
I can only attribute this to the weight of the kite and the efficiency of the profile - the Contra generates a bigger spike on the downturn because gravity is helping, but then you lose it on the upswing because what gravity giveth, it soon taketh away - without a big board to help you coast through that first upswing, you're going nowhere.


Last edited by Tom183 on Thu Aug 04, 2005 5:49 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 6:21 pm 
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thanks for the comments tom, a very fair review. hope you enjoy the 17m, the 10m will blow you away :bye:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 6:54 pm 
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Hey Tom, how're you finding the adjustment to the handling of a speed as compared to an LEI?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 7:05 pm 
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Location: Iowa
Relaunch:
In really light wind, I put a reverse launch bridle on my 23.5m Contra. The reverse launch bridle gets the kite back in the air very easily in light wind conditions. Whereas, the recon is much more difficult if not useless (in very light wind). The reverse launch bridle allows the kite to spread out and capture more wind, since the bridle pulls on the middle section of the kite. The recon pulls on the ends of the kite thus keeping the kite close up a bit more. The reverse launch brindle works for any LEI. I was on ice with some friends last winter. We were using 23.5m, 16m, and 12m. All of us got our kites in the air in very light wind with the reverse system.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 7:13 pm 
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please enlighten us as to the building of a reverse bridle for LEIs

how do you calculate the lengths , etc


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 7:38 pm 
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For the reverse launch bridle on the Contra 23.5m:

I attach kite line on the trailing edge of each strut next to the middle strut. There is a place to thread the kite line where the recon system attaches. Each line coming off the struts are 15 ft. Then the 2 lines are connected to one line. I tie the one line using the hole in the bar where the chicken loop passes. With this attachment point, there is no interference with the recon or the QR. I put enough slack in the reverse launch line so that it does not interfere with the AA of the kite.

With the kite face down in the water, pull in the reverse launch line. The kite spreads out and starts rising. Then, while holding the reverse launch line, I pull one of the rear lines. The kite rotates, seemingly, about the middle. Does not lose altitude. Once it spins around, just let go of the reverse launch line. Up she goes.

I don't like the extra complexity of the bridle, so I don't use it when I don't have to.

My buddies use this on their Ocean Rodeos in all wind for relaunch. I just use it on my Contra in really light wind. Recon works great otherwise.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 7:48 pm 
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Hai,

and there´s a link to jn kites where there is a picture of a reverse bridle system: Light Wind and Snow Starter Kit
However, even with the reverse bridle i´d be surprised if the contra stood a chance against the Speed at relaunching in low wind.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 8:07 pm 
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Random wrote:
Hey Tom, how're you finding the adjustment to the handling of a speed as compared to an LEI?


It's not quite the same, but pretty close - like a high-aspect LEI, you get most of the power from working the kite, rather than by pulling in the bar (which tends to stifle the kite, high-aspect LEI's included). The SPEED is just more sensitive in both areas - more power when worked, and more touchy about too much back-line tension (and partly this is due to a longer depower on the bar, so it's easier to oversheet than the Contra). The steering settings really affect how the kite flies, there are 2 or 3 knots in each direction, and just moving it one knot has a noticable impact. I will probably need quite a bit more time to try out various settings and see what works and what doesn't.

On the "hard steering" setting, it definitely felt a lot like the Contra 23.5m (i.e.: higher bar forces), didn't have to worry about backstall and could crank the bar pretty hard, but it turned as slow or possibly slightly slower than the Contra on that setting (have to try them back-to-back to be sure). Had to wait for it a bit on the jumps (same as the Contra), but could pull the bar all the way in and then float for a while. Felt more "powered up" on that setting also.

Turning speed is faster on the stock setting, but backstall is a little bit more of an issue so it's a trade-off. The further toward "soft steering", the faster the kite turns, the more prone it is to backstall, and the less powered up it felt.

I was getting the best jumps on the "hard steering" setting, but it felt more overpowered too, so maybe the windspeed will affect that also - seemed like the "soft" setting might actually extend the upper end of the windrange. There's still plenty of feedback on the bar, and the turning speed really was pretty impressive for such a big kite - but I would have to get used to not pulling the bar in quite so far on the jumps.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 8:30 pm 
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Hi Klaus,
I can't speak to the comparison of Speed vs. Contra. But, the bridle does extend the low end relaunch for the Contra. FS sounds pretty good.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2005 1:21 am 
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Hai,
Quote:
But, the bridle does extend the low end relaunch for the Contra.

no doubt about this. Thank You for adding the idea to this thread.


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