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Sven

Sven

Kite addict since 1998. Still addicted!
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I thought you might be interested in how I'm doing the 'testing' of the Stunt Kite Classics. Come on and join me behind the scenes, and I'll let you know.

There are a few guidelines that I use to get the most out of the flying in order to find out what I need to know to be able to review the different kites in the best manner. This way I get to fly the kites in great wind conditions, thus basing the review of the kites flown in premium winds! 👍

The first I’m looking for is favourable winds. What is the optimum wind range for each and every kite? I also look for wind stability. So open fields close to the waterfront are ideal.

For flying, I use 25m/50kg lines. I find this length a good compromise between shorter for flat out trick flying and longer for dedicated precision flying. This line length is also pretty good for shooting footage. Longer lines make for a ‘smaller’ kite on the screen. 😉

For each of the six tricks, I look for specific key elements. These are elements that must be there to define the trick itself. Take the axel…. It should be flat, it should rotate all the way around and what does it take to enter and exit the trick.

I also want to describe – subjective, yes, I know – the “feel” of the trick. The feel from the kite, the feel from the lines and … my own feel as well.

Have in mind that there is no one truth. It’s all based on my taste of kite, my flying style, my time with the kite, conditions and so on. You might feel differently, your flying style might differ from mine, your taste might differ from mine. So everything must be taken with a grain of salt really.

Now, let’s dive into the details!

Now this is a classic stunt kite, isn't it?
Now this is a classic stunt kite, isn’t it?

Precision and Speed Control

Some kites are designed for precision flying, flying razor-sharp trajectories and cutting ultra-crisp ninety degrees corners in the sky. Other kites are designed for all-out trick flying, to be whacked around in the air … and recover. In the precision department, I will be looking at:

  • trajectories
  • turns
  • input response
  • feedback
  • speed.

How does the kite track? Will it hold the straight line or does it require tending? Is it sensitive for turbulence/bumpy winds? What happens close to the edges of the wind window? What’s the pull like (all over the wind window)?

How does the kite turn? Pull turns, push turns, combination turns? Does the kite show signs of oversteer and can you prepare for/remedy this. Does the kite lock on to a straight trajectory web exiting from a turn?

What kind of input will the kite require? Loads or subtle? Does it differ depending of the position of the kite in the wind window? Wrist/Hand- arm- or body motion? How does the kite react to the input? Crisp, unforgivable, soft, spongy, slow…? What feedback will the kite give in the lines? Heavy pull, contact, tension, losing it…?

Speed control is another vital aspect of precision flying. The kite should fly in one constant speed no matter in what direction it flies or wherever it is in the wind window.

So how easy is it for the pilot to maintain a constant speed? Does it take a lot of moving back and forth on the ground? What’s the pull like? Does the kite speed up while crossing the power zone? How does speed control interfere with pilot input?

Based on this I will give my “verdict” of the kite’s precision capabilities, biased only on my own taste and likings. 😉

Tricks and Freestyle

Now, let’s move into tricks and freestyle flying. For each of the tricks I’m looking for certain key elements, elements that define the trick itself. I will also pay attention to how easy it is to do each trick, what kind of input is required and the general feel of it. Flow and tempo are other characteristics I look for. Can the trick be performed as a part of a flow ow tricks (freestyle flying, when one trick transcending into another) or is it better to do it on a stand-alone basis? Yes, I know, the latter is somewhat subjective 😉 But anyway… Here we go!

My Nirvana UL - Another Classic
My Nirvana UL – Another Classic

The Axel

Definitely one of the most classic dual-line kite trick around. They come in various shapes and colours. Sharp and snappy, sloooow and floaty, super flat or …. not so flat…

When judging an axel I look for the following.

What does it take to set it up, to ‘enter’ the trick? Will it need a perfect setup or can you get away with a sloppy one? What’s the exit like? Will the kite rotate all the way – with ease – or do you need to do a … premature recovery?

The flatter axel is the better… IMO. Some kites will do super flat ones, other kites will rotate in a more ‘upright’ position.

The pilot input will vary too. Some kites you can do the axel with just a tiny pop, other kites will need a more distinct pop to go all the way.

These are the key elements I’m looking for:

  • Entry and exit
  • Flatness
  • Flow
  • Input
  • Tempo
  • Setup

The Fade

The Fade…. Oooohh, the FADE! You know the feeling when the kite just locks into that upside-down position and just sits there … kind of forever! Bliss!

But not every kite hold the fade that solid. Some kites want to dip out, others need tending, some kites rise, others sink. With some kites the Fade is easy to enter, with other kites immaculate setup is required. Some kites you can use the Fade as a starting position for a bunch of other tricks, like Backspins or Backspin Cascades, Flic-Flacs, Jacob’s Ladders and others. Other kites lock so well into the Fade that they’re next to impossible to exit and perfect pilot input is required.

But how are the classic stunt kites holding up on this trick? Well, that’s what I’m gonna find out!

These are the key elements I’m looking for:

  • Entry/exit
  • Input
  • Setup
  • Stability
  • Angle/flatness/dipping
  • Tending
T2 Comp Evo Zero - a more precision-oriented kite
T2 Comp Evo Zero – a more precision-oriented kite

The Flic Flac

Yet another of those classic dual-line kite tricks. I remember I had trouble doing them way back when, but equipped with an HQ Obsession and after watching Dodd Gross’ Flight School Video(s) I finally managed to pull them off.

Not all kites do good Flic-Flacs though and different kites take (very) different input to get them going. From just tiny flics of the wrists to large arms, yes even body motions to Flic-Flac different kites. (I really look forward to doing – or try to do – Flic-Flacs with my Nuclear Reactors!!!)

The Flic-Flac will be one very interesting trick to do with the different classics, and I guess that for a few of them it’s gonna be difficult. But…. If you don’t break anything, you don’t try hard enough!

These are the key elements I’m looking for:

  • Entry/exit
  • Input
  • Setup
  • Flow/rhythm (fast/slow and tending)
  • Angles (overrotations)

The Side Slide

This is another trick that I foresee can be quite kite dependant. From the old school precision kites like the before mentioned Nuclear Reactors that are able to side Slide the whole of the wind window to the (much) more skittish and all trick out Mini-Gem. I have a feeling they will perform the Side Slide quite differently!

This is also a trick that is quite wind dependant. The Side Slide in smooth and stable winds in the optimum wind range is quite different than the same trick in gusty and stronger winds. But as mentioned above, I will try to fly each kite in good wind conditions in order to make the most out of it.

These are the key elements I’m looking for:

  • Entry/exit
  • Input
  • Setup
  • Feel
  • Tending
  • Float
  • Stability/Position
  • Distance (sliding)
A bunch of Classics - An R-Sky Opium in the front
A bunch of Classics – An R-Sky Opium in the front

The 540 Flatspin

This trick really shows me that I have a stronger side and a weaker side. I can do clockwise rotations drunk and blindfolded in any kind of winds … well… sort of. The counter clock rotations, however, are different. They do not come easy, but as practice makes … better, they are improving. …and every time I hit the field with a dualie, I always spend a few minutes practising the counter clock ones.

The 540 is a gorgeous trick. You can do them sooooo sloooow and graceful – especially with the ULs and SULs in just a whisper of wind. Or you can du them sharp, fast and snappy – really fast actually – with other kites in a bit more wind. When you nail ’em they look great fast or slow, it doesn’t matter … as long as you remember to give enough slack in those lines allowing the kite to spin all the 540 degrees!

These are the key elements I’m looking for:

  • Entry/exit
  • Input
  • Setup
  • Float
  • Feel
  • Flatness
  • Tempo

The Backflip

I remember from the classic instruction video “The Advanced Way to Fly” by Prism Kites – I must have watched it literally hundreds of times – how Mark is talking about the Backflip, at the time the new revelation in dual-line kite flying. No wonder the Backflip (or Turtle) is one of the classic tricks you wanted to include when doing this Stunt Kite Classics column.

Woah! The kite is flying upside down! Intentionally? Yes!

…and different kites take different input both entering and exiting. For some kites, just a little slack in the lines is all there’s to it. Other kites need way more input, WAY more! Exiting differs too. For some kites, you just have to increase line tension just a little and the kite pops back into flying. Other kites – like the Tramontana – it’s just impossible to get out of the Backflip. …or with a bit of luck and loads of skills, you might lure it out pretending to do a Jacob’s Ladder, but pull on both lines when the kite’s nose is pointing downwind. Some times it works, others not.

These are the key elements I’m looking for:

  • Entry/exit
  • Input
  • Setup
  • Angle
  • Stability
  • Rising?
  • Transitions (is it easy to exit and flow into another trick?)

I guess that’s pretty much it. How I fly the different classic stunt kites for writing about them in the column Stunt Kite Classics. I really hope you have found this little (?) blog post interesting, and please feel free to leave a comment or question in the comments form below!

Go fly a kite!

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