Just received my new 2013 fat lady and thought I’d post my thoughts.
I’m 180 pounds, strong skills - but not freestyler, and like most people don’t like big kites. Was last using a delta style kite as my low end machine, but it was just terrible at sub 12 knots with (even with a surfboard), it just wanted to pull me down wind and no power in the turn.
OK, first I gotta say the fat lady is huge. When I unrolled it in my basement it was covering all my furniture (ha), it’s probably 17m, but looks bigger. Quality seems good, but all kites I’ve ever owned seem about the same these days. Bag is definitely too small, but the kite will fit if you roll tight and fold it 4 times. One issue I first noticed is the struts are so thin that if you have to carry your kite into/out of the water with little wind the center strut will buckle, making very hard to carry. (this is also a major issue with any 2 or strutless kites).
Beginning of session was about 10 knots, but quickly got up to 15, and the last half hour was 18 knots gusting to 23. So I got to test quite a range.
First 30-40 minutes was about 10 knots (maybe oscillating from 9-12), and small board 135 x 42. Relaunch worked well, it tuned up on its wing tip and launches deep from the window (similar to my old c4s). Admittedly, I was having some trouble at first going upwind, but I’m going to attribute this to getting use to the new kite, because I seemed to be fine after a little while. The FL is a pretty fast kite, but initiating a full turn is slower than what I was expecting, a fair amount of bar input is required to spin the kite quickly and there seems to be a little delay before the turn. I can’t say it turns super fast, seems similar to my old 14M – but hey it’s 17M you can’t have it all. Once turned the FL does dive quite fast to generate the power. Result was I was going pretty good in light breeze with a small board. So goal achieved.
As the wind picked up to 15 (and gusting to 20) I progressively pulled in the depower. I would say that it felt really nice 12 gusting to 15, I would have had ¼ to 1/3 depower pulled in. Jumps were really, really nice, I’ve never had float like that! And it downloops in air very nicely. Was doing backrolls easily and surfing some 2 foot lake waves in. Bar pressure is not that light, less than my deltas though.
Towards the end the wind got up to 18 knots (gusting over 20). I had the full depower in and was really just hanging on. The puffs really pulled me out of control at points, and had to edge like crazy to slow down. I still managed some jumps and backrolls, but I was mainly trying to keep my speed down. One drawback I see to the FL is the lack of depower at the bar, you really have to know how to edge at the high end, because even with the bar totally out it can pull very hard. This lack of depower is a bit of an issue for me though, I have a bad back and my deltas which have so much depower on demand really help me to maintain the correct posture and protect my back, a matter of fact I have not felt pain in my back for quite some time until my FL session. But to be fair I know had this kite out of the appropriate range. I think the depower throw was fine below 15 knots, but I have to test it again to be sure.
This might sound odd but my initial thought is that this kite is very similar to my old c4s, the FL looks to have a little c shape curve in it, and it turns on its wing tips which generates good power in the turn and sinning, the relaunch is very similar.
So I didn’t really get to ride this kite for long in light wind, but it did get me going. I can conclude 20 knots is possible but I’d switch down much earlier because I don’t find it comfortable above 15 knots.