In the Summer of 2011, Blade introduced the Fat Lady, which was the first time a 17m kite had ever been produced for the purpose of making lightwind kiting fun. Prior to this, big powerful kites existed, but they were all slow, or lacked a fun factor. I had been looking for the perfect lightwind kite for a while, and actually found Blade because of the Fat Lady. I had tried the Epic Infinity (15.5m) which I was very impressed with, but wanted something more powerful. Initially I thought that the Fat Lady was basically a larger Infinity, but as soon as I received my first Fat Lady I realized there was more to it than just a larger size. The Fat Lady had smaller diameter leading edge, and the struts were significantly smaller, event thought the kite was larger. In addition, the dacron that was used in the struts and leading edge (the heaviest part of the kite) was a newer lighter HPE dacron. When first testing this kite, I was impressed that it not only had more low end than the 15.5 Infinity, I couldn't perceive a difference in turning speed. The Fat Lady was fast, powerful, and most importantly FUN! - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qu180fPa3Fw
After 18 months of the original Fat Lady, the Fat Lady 2 was released. (Please note the Fat Lady is on a 18 month release cycle.... not so much by years.... So the Fat Lady 1, was really a 2011/2012 kite, and the Fat Lady 2 was really a 2013/2014 kite). The Fat Lady 1 had built a reputation as a fast and fun kite, and people were eager to try the Fat Lady 2.
The changes from the Fat Lady 1 and 2 were pretty significant. First, the low end power of the Fat Lady 2 was increased. Back the back, I could ride the Fat Lady 2 in very light winds where the Fat Lady 1 wasn't quite enough. In addition the upwind ability and top end increased on the Fat Lady 2. You could ride the kite into more wind, and the kite would handle the gusts better without as much bar pressure. This meant people were riding the Fat Lady 2 into both higher and lower wind than the Fat Lady 1 was. The cost of this however was that the Fat Lady 2 was not quite as fast as the Fat Lady 1. This slightly slower turning speed was also due to the change from a 55cm bar to a 52cm Unibar. That being said, the Fat Lady 2 was the FASTEST TURNING and MOST POWERFUL kite in the Kiteboarders Lightwind kite test. http://www.thekiteboarder.com/2013/04/2 ... te-review/ Not only that, its easy relaunch was noted. The Fat Lady 2 was a real winner, and the only common request I heard was from Fat Lady 1 owners wishing the Fat Lady 2 turned as quick.
This June, the Fat Lady 3 was released. Besides a huge graphical update, to the untrained eye, the Fat Lady 3 structurally looks very similar to the Fat Lady 2. Its the subtle changes though that sometimes make the biggest differences in performance. With the Fat Lady 3, the bridle was changed and moved further forward on the kite. Additionally, the wingtip shape and canopy airfoil deepened so that now the Fat Lady 3 is not only the most powerful Fat Lady, but also turns like the Fat Lady 1 did. Because the bridle is now further forward, the Fat Lady 3 also goes upwind better, and jumps higher.
This summer I took my family on a trip along the west coast, and one of our stops was in Alameda where we used to live. Alameda is the "light wind" kiteboarding capitol of the Bay Are, and we knew the Fat Lady would be the right kite for the conditions. While there, two guys showed up with a Core 17m and an OR Flite 17m. In speaking with them, they mentioned they were trying to compare the two, and I offered to throw the Fat Lady 3 into the mix, which they eagerly accepted. The winds were a good test of the bottom end of the kites, and both riders came back and said that while all three kites had good low end power, the Fat Lady 3 was the fastest, which made that power more usable than the other kites. In other words, the Fat Lady 3 got them going easier because they could get more power strokes in. Both guys ended up ordering a Fat Lady 3 based on this test.
Lately I have been learning to ride a foil board, and combining the Fat Lady with a foil has allowed me to ride in conditions I never thought were possible. To be fair, you need enough wind to keep the kite in the air, and when you push the lower limits there will be times when the lulls are low enough kites just don't fly. In this pursuit of the absolute lowest of wind kite-foiling, it is important to have a kite that can relaunch in ridiculously light winds. I am happy to report that the Fat Lady doesn't disappoint in this arena. I have been able to relaunch this kite in winds that once relaunched aren't even enough to ride a foil board. While this doesn't help me foil-board in 5 mph of wind, it does help me body drag back to the beach instead of swimming in.
There are lots of choices out there for kites, but if you are looking for a lightwind kite that is really fun to ride, give the Fat Lady a look. I am not going to claim it has the low end of a 26m Flysurfer Psycho (yes... I had one of those for 6 months.... until I realized its wind range was 8mph to 9mph), or that it is going to win races like a race specific super high aspect kite, but I believe it is the best kite for most people looking to get out and actually ENJOY light wind sessions.