I had the opportunity to ride the new cloud 13m kite this morning at my local spot.
wind was marginal probably in the mid to upper teens based on the local wind sensor.
I think greg drexler has addressed some key issues with big kites and responded with a great product.
first of all big kites can be heavy. sometimes its a challenge to keep a big sheet of fabric in the air especially in the lulls. due to lack of struts, this kite weighs in around 6 pounds.
big kites have been known to turn slow. as with many other newer kites, they seem to be making these kites turn much better than in the past.
the cloud seems to pull very nice through a loop. I am impressed with it's turning speed.
large kites always take more effort to pump up. yeah this "one pump" kite takes about as much effort as my 10m park.
I'll add that I've been flying a 14m naish park for the past couple of seasons and absolutely love that kite.
the cloud is a bit different than the park, but both have pretty good low end. the cloud really sits back in the window and bar pressure is more prominent when compared to the park.
I think the major advantage of the cloud over most other kites of its size, is this kite seems to handle the lulls better than any other kite I've experienced in lighter winds.
I have only flown the 13m so I can't give you feedback on how the smaller sizes perform.
I like the size when rolled up making it a great travel kite. I used this with the naish control bar, but have also flown it with the blade unibar. both bars work great. just about any 4 line control bar will work, however the jury is out whether it performs as well with a bar with short front lines (north, cabrinha, best) or if shorter lines limits its performance.
this video demonstrates how it performs with self launching, self landing, water relaunch and how it can flag out when releasing it to your leash.
It looks like the stopper balls on the bridle are set at a very short range for the bridle guides to run toward the centre of the kite - which might preclude the kite being flagged to both front lines?
The self-land looks very easy.
The launch looks reliable enough in those winds of mid to upper teens. It will be interesting to see how it fills with wind at very low winds when the canopy is wet, but Dr Lightwind said the 17m relaunched OK in 7 mph. I dont know how much lower it could go, but that's already pretty good (although its hard to be exact about wind strength, so a side by side comparison is a better way of comparing kites).
The other thing I would wonder about is if the kite was flagged on both front lines to fall on its back, would it fill with wind easier by turning it end on and pulling the far end of the kite up onto its side? (a bit like with a 5th line kite).
Just seen this kite at a demo weekend, looked very nice indeed.
My only question was how is the re-launch when the canopy has water on it?
Might sound like a daft question, but I only saw the kite on land and notice the large area of sail. With no strut support this was pretty much all in contact with the ground. Which got me thinking if a wave went over the kite would this hold down the sail?
Paul - watch Stringy solo-launch his cloud closely - I think the key to getting the unsupported canopy in the middle of the kite to fill, to come up off the ground or water surface and dump off any sand ( from a solo-launch ) or water ( water re-launch ) is to pull a steering line to spin the kite around.
Then the wind will catch the under-side of the canopy beside the supported wingtip and then work from that side across to the centre of the kite and on to the other side, filling or tensioning the canopy. From there, with some tension on a steering line, that side of the kite will lift off from the water and the kite pivots and takes off pretty hot - you can see all this happen when Stringy relaunches after releasing the kite to leash.
Granted the above is from an armchair kite pilot, dreaming and scheming a way to get the cash together to acquire a quiver of these very intresting kites....