Opie- Odd but I had almost the opposite experience when I purchased an A15 18m last year. I had no trouble at all launching - just some rhythmic tugs on the center line, kite hops up and down on the beach, filling more with each tug, then when maybe half inflated a big tug and the kite takes off, bar out on the way up then in tight, tips flapping for 15 seconds or so until they inflate, done. From the first attempt this went perfectly for me. Landing, not so much. In really light wind, sure, can backstall it down, but in 10+ knots, no way. I take it to the side of the window down to the ground, pull the rear lines, kite goes down on its back, then rolls and rolls until straight downwind and on leading edge, now I'm stuck. I don't even try any more - just hit the release (only takes a few minutes to sort out).
Also impressed with your relaunch. I only dropped the kite once last year (pendulum-ed under it on jump in too-light wind), and it was a mess by the time it hit the water. Luckily was 150 ft. from shore, drifted in. A little gun-shy now, though, which is too bad because some of my best sessions of the year were with this kite (8 knots, very long directional, flying over glassy water like magic).