On a recent trip to South Africa Progression embarked on a new project that we have been trying to get off the ground for a while. The project takes a lot of what Progression have become known for – practical content, in depth analysis, and a focus on equiping kiters with all the knowledge they need to be better riders.
The idea is to provide a independent and ubiquitous video guide to as many kites on the market as possible, allowing users to easily compare and move between brands as well as understanding how to use any kite to its optimum performance.
So for the last couple of months we’ve had a Flexifoil 9m Hadlow as a pilot for this. We had some time with the Flexi team and Mr Hadlow himself to pick their brains on all the technical setup side of things. We’ve now flown the kite a fair few times, putting it through its paces so here’s a few points that might be of interest:
- The kite comes setup in 5 line mode which works well and re-launches easily.
- Swapping over to the 4 line more is pretty straight forward. Kite does feel a bit more solid and if you are really into your freestyle you’ll want to go the 4 line route. Relaunch is still pretty good (supposedly way better than previous years).
- We did a lot of testing of emergency releasing the kite in every possible configuration of line setup and harness leash connections. If you’re gonna be unhooking, your gonna let go of bar at some point and you want to be confident of how the kite is going to react. The 5th line is the by the far the easiest and safest. In 4 line mode, simply unhooking and letting go will send the kite to the edge of the window but leave it reasonably powered. You’ve got grab handles on each side of the kite for emergency release or self landing – they do the job but as with any 4 line kite that you release on one line, you can get some death spirals until the kite settles. Best tip – fly the kite to the side of the window, so the bottom tip is pretty much touching the ground, then grab the top grab handle and release the kite.
- UPDATE: Was remaindered (thanks Pete) that you want to pump the kite as hard as you can, that’s a strong recommendation from Aaron himself. Improves performance and makes re-launching loads easier.
- The kite has no tuning setting, as far as additional pig tail attachment points or even extra knots in the pig tails or leader lines. It basically has one setting and that is it but that setting works really well!
- You do have the de-power bridle. Really easy to fit and doesn’t alter the flying characteristics too much but does seem to offer some additional de-power. I didn’t fly it on the water in this configuration so I can’t offer to much insight but definitely seems to have some effect on de-power.
- One thing to note, when you look up the lines at the kite, it will looks quite difference to most kites. My previous experience is mainly based on C-kites where the wing tips look parallel and even. If the tips are flaring out then you have too much tension in the back lines and the kite will be sluggish. But the Hadlow always seems to have the tips slightly flaring out, probably due to the way the kite wants to fly with more back line pressure and it works on the better for it!
Flying the kite
- Firstly the kite is super stable, just rock solid when you place it at the side of the wind window.
- It flies noticable forward in the window, so flies upwind. Takes a little getting used to when you jump as it will fly directly overhead, so you have to be quite aggressive when bring the kite down into the powerzone as you land.
- You’ll also find if the wind is too light for the kite or very gusty, the kite will luff over head and stall. So be careful on sheltered beaches or if the wind drops dramatically.
- Very fast – I don’t mean turning, which is very quick, responsive & direct – but fast flying through the air. So be prepared to ride fast to keep up! You can see it when you watch Aaron riding, he is always going at ‘Mach-10’ & exploding into tricks. The kite is designed for that speed in every way!
- The kite comes setup with a short de-power line (though you can length it) but it actually works great like that and though there isn’t alot of depower the kite seems to be able to handle alot of wind.
I think the main thing I took away from flying the kite, especially on the water, is that if you have come from flying 4 line bridle/hybrid/bow or older c style kites, then the Hadlow (much like a Fuel I imagine) will feel quite strange! But even after my first hour I was starting to adapt my riding to take advantage of what this style of kite has to offer & really loving it. So my main bit of advice would be that if you demo the kite don’t just take it out for an hour and then make a decision, you need to devote some time to changing your riding style to get the most from the kite. This goes for any kite really but for something which is aimed at the more high performance end of the market, like the Hadlow, you need to be prepared to give it a little more of your attention. But, it will pay off!
Anyway, we’re back in the UK and starting the edit of the first set of Kite Guide videos so expect to see all this & more explained in video form real soon…
A forum post on Kite Crowd actually made us decide to write this blog post a little earlier than planned, check it out for a discussion on the new Hadlow 2011 kite.