The Kite :
Flexifoil has just re-written the book on inflatable kite design and construction with its new Storm 2. This kite is at least one year in the lead on the rest of the market with regards to design and construction. Its massive windrange and tune- ability make it virtually impossible to rig the wrong kite ! The Storm 2 is a high aspect kite, though not as "ribbon like" as some of the skinnier blimps on the market.
Let's tech out ! Two things pop out at you when first viewing the new Flexi Storm 2. The first is the obvious switch to the curved wingtips, where the leading edge and bladder curve around the wingtip and finish at the trailing edge of the kite. According to designer Henry Rebbeck, this does two things. It reduces the drag at the tip and smoothes the airflow over the tip on all points of flight. It allows the multiple leading edge "pigtails" or attachment points to be placed on the kite vertically leading up the leading edge rather than horizontally across a conventional square wing tip. The positioning of these pigtails is key for tuning the kite with regards to its windrange and type of pull. The result ? A kite with massive windrange, that can be tuned for different types of riding styles.
After leaving the wingtip, the next thing you'll notice is the connection method between the struts and the leading edge. While all other kites feature struts that taper down then connect to the leading edge via one straight line seam, the Storm 2 struts taper then connect to the leading edge on an oval seam, similar to one pipe connecting to another. The result is a much more rigid connection that keeps the kite perfectly shaped no matter how powered you get. This kite is RIGID ! It also smoothes the airflow over the top and bottom of the kite making for a much more efficient wing. Flexi calls this new connection the "Rigid Strut System" and are the first to use it and secondly figure out how to manufacture it (it's not easy connecting these two seams but the results speak for themselves !)
The construction of the Storm is high end. The seams are solid, the materials reinforced in the right areas. The trailing edge of the kite (one of the highest load areas) is double layer to prevent stretch and tearing. The leading edge is connected to the canopy with a durable strip of Dacron that will prevent total blow outs. The pigtails are durable spectra, no skimping here. Every detail on the kite, including the bag, is well thought out, finished, and polished.
The tune-ability of this kite is a big plus. The curved wingtip orients the pigtails on the leading edge vertically rather than horizontally like on conventional square wing tips. This allows both window positioning and windrange tuning through changing the leading edge attachments. The kite can be tuned to sit deep in the window for "pop" tricks or all the way to the edge for high speed boosting. The kite's windrange can also be tuned through these pigtails. Attaching the front lines to the depower setting (further forward/high) will make the kite ride like a full size smaller. Attaching it to the medium power bring the massive windrange this kite displays for it's size. Setting it on the "full power" setting produces a powerful kite capable of making juice out of no breeze at all. Tuning this kite is definitely quicker than pumping up the three blimps that it would take to cover the range. No exaggeration...we had 8,10,12,14,16 all out on the water at the same time with everyone ripping ! The kite also has three settings on the trailing edge for adjusting the turning speed. Slow for tech tricks, medium for all around riding and fast for surf !
The performance of this kite is excellent. In flight, the kite is very stable and VERY smooth. Across the window, the power delivery is steady and reassuring. The kite never surges, jellyfishes, or bucks. Give it to Flexi to come up with a blimp capable of matching their 4.9 Blade in smoothness of flight ! Jumping these kites is as rewarding as flying them. They go straight up, have good glide and land soft as a feather. I witnessed Jason Slezak get the biggest, longest jump I've ever seen,...and it was on the 20m ! The 10 and the 12m go to the stratosphere. The wind range on each size is massive. The kite turns well and is very predictable when flown "blind". The smaller sizes 16m and down can be ridden with chicken loop or tied off on a pulley bar, while the 18 and 20m definitely ride better on the chicken. This is the smoothest, easiest to fly, high aspect kite on the market.
Water Relaunch :
For a high aspect kite, the Storm 2 relaunches fairly quickly. The 18 and 20 can take some time, but with finesse can be relaunched without too much hassle.
The Bar :
The Storm 2 Bar has a lot of nice features that differentiate it from most stock/standard bars. The bar is a carbon composite construction with a slightly tapered ovalized grip. This grip is very comfortable and positive in your hands. The rubber winding posts on the end have ample room for a 30m 4 line set, plus have a lock off for keeping your line on the bar when it's not being used. The chicken loop line is thick, durable spectra. The loop itself has a quick release in case of emergency and has a pu tube to keep it attached to your harness hook. Above the bar, Flexi incorporates its "leash-less" leash system (we call it a "boneless chicken") where the entire leash is incorporated through the chicken loop/center line assembly. No more wrist leash to get tangled over everything ! The trim system incorporates a new metal cleat specifically designed for flexi that is easy to adjust on the fly and doesn't stretch or slide. The whole bar package stores in a custom storage bag that is included with the bar !
The Lines :
Red, white and blue color coded dyneema make rigging easy and safe. The lines took the rough abuse that Puerto Rico dished out and looked to be in great shape after the trip. No stretching, straight out of the box they worked !
Flexi has a winner with the Storm 2. Easily accessible for the intermediate rider, this kite excels in flight quality, smoothness, lift, jumping, landings, and windrange. The experts in the crowd will love the fact that they can ride a high aspect kite with great lift and not have to fight it anymore. The construction and design of this kite has just upped the ante on the rest of the industry !
By : realkiteboarding