Peter Lynn venom 16m
Recognised innovator and left field kite company Peter Lynn has gone from strength to strength in recent years. The introduction of their Arc series of kites marked a new era in terms of the stability of foils, and further developments with the Guerrilla, Bomba and Phantom series refined the idea and captured the minds of landboarders and kitesurfers alike. With the Venom, Peter Lynn hopes to bridge the gap between the Bomba and Phantom series kites, combining the stability of the former with the efficiency and turning of the latter. This pitches the kite into the hotly contested mid aspect ratio category, and on paper the Venom looks like an ideal crossover kite between snow, land and sea. Personally I'd been aware of the buzz surrounding the Venom for some time before release, but thanks to a lend of a 16 and 13 from Adam Jones at Turbulence, I had the chance to trial the kite on the water. So I decided to take the plunge and buy my first non Flysurfer kite in over two years, no mean feat in itself given my loyalty to the brand. But, you can't remain objective if you only fly one brand, and they say a change is as good as a rest...
The construction of all Arc kites consists of two sets of strong fabric spars running from tip to tip around which the cells are arranged.
At the tips are further fabric reinforcements, with webbing pockets holding foldable carbon spars which keep the extreme edges of the tips rigid.
The leading edge of the kite features three sock type valves to retain pressure. The Venom differs from previous Arcs in several areas. Fitted inside is an internal strap which can be adjusted, altering the camber of the kite as well as the leech (trailing edge tension) depending on the feel required. Also, there are a greater number of closer spaced cells making for a more rigid, and therefore more responsive kite. The arc shape of the kite is also flatter, giving a higher projected area for better low end and extra overall power. Changes to the profile also allow better lift, pop and unhooked ability than previous Arcs.
Also there have been some detail changes for greater ease of use. Now, there are inflation zips at both ends of the kite, and a central deflation zip. As well as this, the pockets for the spars are easier to use, with a removable spar cap on some webbing, which can be pulled to the end of the pocket, making rigging quicker.
And the bag? Personally I hate it! Its awful! The idea is a good one, with a hidden pocket for the spars, an extendable bottom and internal sock style pocket to hold the kite with the spars left in. the problem is, it doesn't quite work out like that. With the kite in the sock part, the bag holds little and is cumbersome. Using the bag in the normal mode makes for a very squat but extremely thick rucksack. I much preferred the older style 'rocket launcher' bags which worked a lot better in day to day use. In the end, I ended up using a different kite bag most of the time.
After watching the instructional DVD several times, I felt ready to tackle flying the thing. The DVD makes it all look so easy! So, kite inflated, lines attached and primed in the prescribed manner, we were ready to go. Or perhaps not. Initial attempts failed due to the weight sliding off the downwind tip and the kite bowtieing. This was followed with swearing (lots of it). The first hurdle overcome, I mangaged to get the kite up towards zenith, well on its way anyway. Though the kite looked sufficiently inflated on the floor, once airborne it still needed another 1/3rd or so inflating. This would more often than not cause the tips to fall inwards and the kite turn inside out. Swearing time again...
Now I was starting to get a handle on the idiosyncrasies of this kite, and this time got it up quickly and cleanly. As soon as the kite is fully pressurised, bar feel and kite response start to come into their own. The bar feel is solid, but not as heavy as a Guerrilla, a good thing in my opinion. Turning is also good, with the kite pivoting on its tips and maintaining speed on light to moderate inputs, only starting to pivot on its axis on large movements of the bar. Take your hands off the bar and the kite drifts slowly to the top, whether low or high in the window. Nice. Compared to the older Arcs, when at zenith and a gust comes through, the Venom takes more input to recover when it overflies; it does not drift back automatically as quickly as the older designs, especially if some trim on the depower strap has been applied. I'm guessing this is to do with the extra unhooked ability, as to be able to fly unhooked well the kite must be capable of holding a shallower AoA than a purely hooked in kite. It's not a major issue and hints at the intermediate and beyond target group of this product.
Pulling the safety sends the bar shooting off towards the kite and it harmlessly flapping down. More often than not the bar goes through the lines and creates a tangle. This isn't too much of a problem on land, more of an annoyance, but on the water it means there's no real chance of being able to reset your safety and relaunch. I'm aware the kite makes up for this in other areas, but a system which gives the option of resetting and getting going again has got to be worth investigating.
On the landboard the Venom is fun. A whole lot of fun. Cruising speed is medium to high, depending on the windspeed. Upwind ability is respectable, but not in the same league as a Psycho 2, the kite just doesn't point as far upwind. However, the Venom is a whole lot easier to jump consistently. Load up, send the kite back aggressively, pull the bar in and arc the kite back over and forwards progressively, letting it come in front of you just as you land, and you'll get consistent, floaty airs. Length of the jumps is not as good as a p2, but there is more pop, and the kite is not as fickle with wind shadows disturbing the run up to your air-time. It's all very easy, and fabulously addictive. I learnt five new tricks within the first two weeks, which is normally spent just sussing things out with a new kite. Transitions are easy too, thanks to the quick responses allowing last minute adjustments to the kites' trajectory. I even experimented with some downturn/kiteloop transitions in underpowered conditions, and the kite coped well, but even still, it's not something I recommend pursuing on land. You just bounce too high after you hit the floor...
The wind speeds increased and I got a chance to use the kite in its upper range. The most impressive thing about the Venom is the amount of available depower. It really is something else. Pulling in the trim strap allowed me to take it out up to circa 30mph on land, which is very impressive for a 16m kite. As the wind increases, so does the riding speed, as I found out at the Outer Hebrides using the kite in similar conditions. Everything works well, but throwing backloops etc at a cruising speed of around 30mph is well, a little disconcerting.
The more wind there is, the better the kite holds its shape, and the stronger the auto-zenith feature becomes. The kite copes with gusts reasonably well, but a sudden increase in windspeed means to have to be on your toes, due to the overflying tendency mentioned earlier. Also, if suddenly caught behind a large wind shadow, the kite loses pressure and tension in the affected area, and more often than not, makes it bowtie and then propeller towards the ground. Something similar can happen if not redirected well in slightly underpowered conditions, seemingly stalling out one half of the kite and causing it to fold.
Unhooked ability is excellent, the Venom being one of the few kites which can be turned easily with one hand, whichever side of the bar you're holding, as well as tracking straight and true. This helps with blindside tricks and passes a lot. Jumping unhooked on land is also very respectable too, with the float probably being a bit better than when hooked in.
Though the Venom is good on the land, it really excels on the water. That high cruising speed on the land can be easily managed by stamping on your back foot in the water, as I found out the first ever time I flew a V16, using a 120! I thought it would be a recipe for disaster but the Venom works very well with small or narrow boards. Initial grunt is impressive, allowing you to get onto the plane quickly, and the kite has the peculiar sensation of feeling underpowered, even in very high winds. However, this impression is soon dispelled once you go for a jump, as you can get some truly massive boosts with this kite on the water.
When in the Hebrides I switched between waveriding and jumping often, and can report the kite sits well parked when you are catching some surf. You only have to be careful that you keep the kite slightly in front of you to prevent the lines going totally slack. Even so, relaunches are pretty easy (id got the hang of it by now) the kite coming off the water quickly, often just bouncing off if it comes in contact. Even bowties can be recovered, as long as the kite does not twist itself up too tightly. However, to be perfectly honest, the kite doesn't come down very often at all. Just get used to the fact that you take your hands off the bar, or make no input, and the kite will be right where you left it; as some as my friends will testify after watching the ensuing mess of arms and legs when I catch an edge at speed!
The most wind I took the Venom out with on the water was between 35-40mph, and it handled it well. Considering the previous day had yielded similar conditions, and then I used a G9! Really quite remarkable. Hence the start of the phrase 'it's always 16m Venom weather'. I didn't think id be flying all week in the Hebrides given the change in wind, but the Venom coped exceptionally well.
Unfortunately Venom ownership was not without its trials and frustrations. Firstly, a spar failed mid-air when a friend tried out the kite the first time.
The kite instantly looped through its own lines and dragged him off, but I was able to stop him. The spars had suffered no impact damage up to this point. I later found out through the Arcusers site, that the brass ferrules on the spars can work loose, and they recommended taping them. Such information included with the kite could have prevented a very scary looking failure. I replaced the foldable items with 1 piece spars to prevent this happening again. As well as this, the stitching on the webbing pockets started to come away, and had to be professionally repaired. This was annoying to put it mildly.
However, the worst (and potentially fatal problem) centred around the bar. The Peter Lynn safety system relies on a red stopper ball sitting in a metal ring. This metal ring is spliced to one of the lines attached to the depower strap. Just before a jump on my landboard, this splicing gave way, sending the kite into a powered up death spiral, and pulling the elastic safety cord clean away from my harness, and the bar from my hands.
If this had happened while kitesurfing, or mid jump, the consequences do not bear thinking about. Equipment failures are the scariest things in my experience, and this is only the second time ever something has failed on me. Consequently the kite was sent back for a refund.
Flying wise the Venom was deeply impressive, the most enjoyable and user friendly multi purpose kite I've flown since the Flysurfer Psycho 2. Its performance, stability and range were exceptional. Even the launching and landing became easy once some time was spent with the kite. However, such serious quality issues cannot be overlooked. I know many people with Guerrillas, and none have had problems like this, that kite just seems better built. Some research on the net revealed I was not the only one suffering Venom problems either, with spar breakages and problems with the pockets, as well as stitching problems on the V13 requiring a product recall on a certain batch. For such a manufacturer to allow something onto the market with such quality control issues is deeply distressing, and takes away from the innovation and performance made available from this product. I'm sorry to say that I wouldn't consider a Peter Lynn product again on a day to day basis, as I simply wouldn't be able to trust it.
A great shame.
By : bushflyer