Brief History :
I started kite boarding a few months ago in April and bought a 16m Naish Aero II but the wind has not really been favourable for such a big kite this year and it has either been howling at Troon and just too exciting for such a big kite or just not quite enough to get it going (<10mph).
My Reasons For Buying a Smaller Kite :
I wanted to get more experience flying kites so a week ago (20th September 2003) I bought a Flexifoil Proteam 8 from Bjorn at The Wind Wizard in Glasgow just to get more experience of actually flying kites because due to weather the number of times I have been flying my big Naish kite is not into double figures yet!! I was great, lots of fun doing tricks with such a fast kite and the wind has not been above 10mph for days ...
The problem is my son James Fergus who is 9 and built like a brick out house has virtually claimed it for himself .... He will get a serious shock when the wind starts to blow a bit harder. +8mph will see him in serious drag mode down the beach!!
Getting The Bullet :
I was thinking about buying a Super 10 for myself with a bit more power in lighter winds and went into Cotswold Outdoors in Crow Road Glasgow six days later to take a look at their prices. Discussing it with one of the staff he suggested that for not much more cash I might have more fun with a Flexifoil Bullet. They had them all in stock except the 4.5. The 3.5 was on display hanging from the roof of their huge shop and chancing my arm I negotiated a 10% "shop soiled" discount on it.
To The Beach :
Of I went new kite in hand ... Straight to Troon beach with my son and what is now "his" Proteam 8. The wind was hardly more than a very light breeze < 4mph I knew I was wasting my time but I sat in my Land Rover read the instructions (very clear and explicit) and wandered onto the beach with the kite in the natty rucksack to get it set up.
The Set Up :
Setting it up was just a case of unwinding the lines then untangling the lines and connecting like colours to like. Red ~> red, red/white fleck ~> red/white fleck, blue ~> blue, blue/white fleck ~> blue/white fleck. Then untangling the lines again!!! And finally getting it right.
The Take Off :
I put all the leftover bits (winders etc) back into the empty rucksack and slung in on my back, which is really handy. I laid the kite down flat with the trailing edge facing into the virtually non-existent wind and put a bit of sand along the edge to stop it flapping about. Went to the handles picked them up put on the kite saver wrist straps set myself up and gave the kite a tug. The shock!! It filled with air and rocketed up to the zenith. To say I was amazed was and understatement!! What fun!! No wind and a flying kite!!?? Surely a contradiction in terms??
The Flight :
In such a light wind the kite obviously was not flying at 100% but if I kept its apparent wind up by moving it around in the wind window it flew superbly. It even produced a bit of drag along the beach at one point in the afternoon. The sea was like a millpond and here I was having fun with my new kite. I can't wait to get a better wind say +10mph. I don't have much interest in land boarding but I can tell you if the sea is still as flat in these light winds I will have to get my kneeboard from my waterskiing days out of moth balls because I am sure it will have enough power to pull me up onto the plane! And if it does who knows perhaps a new craze will have been started ;o)) I will keep you posted on that subject and remember you saw it here first!!!
The Landing :
Having no real experience with foil kites I dumped it a few times at first because,
I was letting it go too low close to the edge of the wind window where it crumpled in the light winds.Inexperience with the quad handles meant I was pulling on the brake lines instead of letting them hang free while it was flying.
After a few tries applying the brakes dropped the kite out of the sky in a reasonably controllable fashion, but the had to be applied all the way down or the kite would just rocket back into the sky again.
I have not tried the edge of the wind window landing yet as there has been no real wind and the kite is not behaving at 100% yet. After a few times out with it now (3 times) I can control the brakes well and if it gets dumped I can reverse it up into the air on the brake lines and flip it up the correct way easily keeping the lines from tangling up. POSSIBLY JUST THE COOLEST THING I HAVE EVER DONE WITH A KITE!!!
So easy to fly, simple to set up, so stable even a "foil" novice like me can get it right and muchos fun for the future. A bit like that yogurt advert "All the pleasure with no pain!" In fact after being a bit disillusioned with the lack of decent kiting weather, just about the best kite I can think of to re-invigorate my flagging enthusiasm!!
My wife said to me this morning while I was checking the XCW1 wind reports for Troon on my mobile phone, "You know there is more to life than kiting!"
My answer was, "You know I quite like the look of paragliding." She shook her head and closed the subject rapidly!!!!
Any Complaints? I am wishing I had bought the 4.5m with a bar instead of the dual handles!! Would it be possible for Flexifoil to put little drain holes at the back of each the cells to let the water, sand and other crap drain out when it gets dumped in the sea / beach puddles??
The Future :
Do Flexifoil have any plans to manufacture this in bigger sizes? 5.5, 6.5, 8.5, 9.5, 10.5? Would they be as stable as the 3.5? What about making the bigger ones closed cell and water relaunchable like the super expensive Flysurf Titans?? Having read so much about it now, I would love a wee shot of a big Blade III just to experience the experience if that makes sense?
I was going to buy a smaller inflatable 10 or 12m Naish X3 or Aero II for the winter (allegedly) winds but after having had such a good first experience of foil kites I am keeping my Visa card in my wallet. I can visualise me buying a bigger foil to kite surf with or even snow ski with in a few months!! Up the slopes without waiting in the tow queue.. Now that would be a novelty!!
By : James Downie