This is my first time posting on a kite forum but I felt that my experiences with different kites and boards could help some of you that are searching for the best experience in this sport. I have been kiting since 2005 but didn't get serious until 2009. My passion is big air so I need lots of power to lift my 225 lbs high in the air. I have owned many different light wind kites so I felt that my comments would be appreciated by those that are thinking of spending $2,000 to enter the light wind kite arena. I have spent almost $10,000 pursing light wind and I have discovered some truths that are not clear on some of the many forums but take everything I say with a grain of salt cause this is my opinion and everyone's experience is different.
My 1st light wind kite was a 14M 2007 Cabrinha Contra - Pulled like a truck but slow with massive bar pressure.
2nd light wind kite was a 15M 2009 Best Waroo - Never liked this kite and sold within a month of buying
3rd light wind kite was a 13M 2010 RRD Obsession - Nice Kite with lots of power, turns fast, but a bit scary when wind picked up. This kite was just not that smooth especially in gusty conditions.
4th light wind kite was a 14M 2010 Slingshot RPM - Smooth Kite but sluggish and lacking in low end power.
5th light wind kite was a 19M 2011 Flysurfer - This kite has the most power of any kite I have ever flown period and foils outperform inflatables in the light stuff in my humble opinion. With that being said I didn't like this kite. It's expensive, the bridle lines would tangle occasionally (I know it's my fault), it's a pain to land cause very few people know how to assist you, the kite turns so SLOW that the power stroke needed to pull my heavy butt up on plane didn't generate enough torque to accomplish this and I'd sink back down.
Foils fly completely different than inflatables and I personally didn't like the differences. I did have some Killer Sessions on this kite though.
6th light wind kite was a 2011 15M Epic Infinity - I liked this kite at first but I had a hard time staying upwind on it. This kite has good power, turns fast, jumps good, but upwind is mediocre at best so on to the next try!
Man, by this time I am frustrated and BROKE!
7th light wind kite was a 14M 2012 Epic Screamer - Fast turning, loads of power, predictable, great low end, tons of pop, SUPERB upwind-ability, PERFECT! But the minimum wind needed with my Spleen Monster Door was 13 knots. Surely other kites must allow me to go lower and have more fun but I ignored the light wind chatter for a full 2 years.
8th light wind kite was a 17M 2013 Blade Fat Lady - Good Power but didn't compare to the Screamer 14M for upwind-ability and at 14 knots I was jumping 50% higher on my 14M vs the Fat Lady. I didn't like this kite at all.
9th and FINAL light wind kite I purchased was a 2014 Ocean Rodeo Flite 2 - Surely this kite that beat the new Cabrinha Contra, Slingshot Turbine, and Core 19M in comparison tests would save the day and establish the need for a big kite in my quiver. I called a buddy of mine to help me test this kite. Here are the facts regarding the test.
Where: Fresh Water - Lake Michigan
Wind: 13-16 knots
Waves: 1 foot or less
I weigh 225 lbs and my buddy weighs in at 160 lbs. Both of us are avid jumpers and love to go big. We were both excited by the hype surrounding the Flite but were also sensitive to spending the $2K to enter light wind kiting. We pumped up 3 kites for the test: my 14M Epic Screamer, his 12M Cabrinha Switchblade, and the 17M 2014 Flite 2. We each had 2 boards - a smaller board (137cm) & a Spleen Door.
We switched kites at least 6 times over a 3 hour period comparing them on the 2 most important elements to us: upwind-ability & BIG AIR!
The Flite: SMOOTH, POWERFUL, Magical Light Bar Pressure, Best Light Wind Kite I have ever flown, Sharp Looking!
My buddy and I concluded that there was ONLY a 1-2 knot advantage over the 14M Screamer and the 12M Switchblade. We also concluded that the smaller kites are much more fun and jump much higher than the big boys in the SAME amount of wind with a big board.
The question became; am I willing to spend the money just to ride in 2 knots less wind when there is not enough power to jump. My buddy and I easily answered our own question with a big NO!
Synopsis: If you want to kite in light wind and jump don't bother buying a kite larger than a 14M. Get a big board - this will make a much larger difference than the kite. The other lesson is that kites fly differently depending on the style and size - for example neither my buddy or myself like the 14M Switchblade cause it's SLOW but the 12M Rocks. I would fly the 12M, 13M, or 14M of a few different manufactures and pick a light wind kite in these sizes UNLESS you enjoy mowing the lawn, don't care about big air, and have money to burn for a 17M.
My favorite kite of ALL TIME is the 14M Epic Screamer and if you think I'm plugging Epic remember that I SOLD the INFINITY because it is very difficult to stay upwind.
Happy Kiting and I hope my opinions shared help some of you navigate the light wind world!