Nice picture rowboat, watch out for big cats out there!!
I finally got to fly a 17m cloud last weekend on the outer banks. Here's my take:
Background: intermediate, 180#/82kg, 8 or so years kiting, lots of other sailing experience.
Location: Pamlico Sound, Rodanthe, NC
Conditions: SSW wind 8-10 knots gradually building to 20 or so, flat water to light chop.
Gear: 17m Cloud, 23m lines, 20" bar, 135x42 twin tip, 6' thruster surfboard
Definitely a different feel from the Ozone C4 and Slingshot fuels I usually use.
It did take a few minutes to get used to the feel and different feedback. It felt more like a "sail" than a "wing" at times. The kite speaks to you differently from conventional multi-strut LEI's.
I switched back and forth between the twin tip and surfboard as the wind built.
I think the Cloud is a good kite!
I liked how the 17's turning is fast for its size and feels direct.
As others have said, stability is excellent, and it drifts very well.
23m lines on a 20" bar was fine for freeriding.
Bar throw is short, but there is linear adjustment within that short distance, it is not strictly on and off.
Upwind seems good, though it took a minute to figure out the right trim/balance for upwind with a medium-sized twin tip in low wind (about 10kt).
I definitely got good speed in lighter wind than I am used to.
I think the the cloud did better "changing gears" -accelerating, turning, drift, etc.- in light wind than other, heavier kites I have used (Zephyr, 14m rpm, 13m c4, 15m fuel back in the old days.)
Boosting was good, did not feel super high or abrupt like a C kite, but good quick steering, decent height, great glide/hang time, soft easy landing. Didn't unhook.
I never dropped the kite - I'm saving relaunch, waves and silly maneuvers for later, warmer weather.
For my size, I think the kite has a range of at least 8 or 10 knots to 17 or so on regular surfboards or medium twintips. Obviously, specialized boards would extend this and mileage may vary.
After the wind got to 20 knots, my legs were getting tired, so I rigged down to a 9m kite.
That should tell you, the range is good.
Now, at 20 knots, when I sheeted the bar out a lot, like a foot or so, I could feel the luffing as a vibration in the bar. This felt weird, but it happens only when you sheet out way too much, and likely should rig down.
Stability and control remained good whether luffing or not.
At this point, I could ride a 9, or be powered up on a 12.
So I don't call the luffing a real flaw. I think I'll happily take it as a compromise, along with riding powered at speed in 10-12, and having a light wind kite that fits in the bag with another kite, instead of taking up another XL bag.
For reference, below is the chart of the wind where I rode. Launched right in front of the wind sensor. The guys at the shop there said the meter reads about 2mph higher than reality, and l'd agree with that.
I am psyched to get sessions with this kite that I'd miss with my 13, and so far it seems more fun to fly than any other XL size kite I have used.
Mahalo to Greg and everyone who helped get the Clouds flying!