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How Many LEI Riders Own A Foil Kite For Ultra-Light Wind?

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How Many LEI Riders Own A Foil Kite For Ultra-Light Wind?

Postby FLandOBX » Fri Aug 21, 2015 1:57 am

I'm a dedicated LEI rider. I want to ride lit, boost big, loop, slide, etc. But I'd also rather be on the water than on the beach when the wind is really light.

Most of the Flysurfer/foil kite riders I know are dedicated to foils.....i.e., they have multiple sizes of foil kites and don't ride LEI's.

Not wanting this to be a discussion about what's the best light wind kite, I'm curious how many LEI riders have a foil kite for ultra light wind days (e.g., a 21 m Flysurfer Lotus 4)? For those that do, is it worth having the additional gear, and how do you find the periodic transition between LEI's and the foil (recognizing that there are different techniques)? :?:

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Re: How Many LEI Riders Own A Foil Kite For Ultra-Light Wind

Postby darippah » Fri Aug 21, 2015 2:10 am

thats how I started with foils but ended up switching to them for all sizes. they fly very different from LEI's so the transition between the two is annoying when once is used far more than the other, but definitely doable

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Re: How Many LEI Riders Own A Foil Kite For Ultra-Light Wind

Postby awo » Fri Aug 21, 2015 2:14 am

I own a few LEI from 6 to 17m, but when I have light winds and a large launch area I use a 21m flysurfer. It has saved many days.It s slower in turning but gets good lift .

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Re: How Many LEI Riders Own A Foil Kite For Ultra-Light Wind

Postby fogmeister » Fri Aug 21, 2015 2:20 am

I just got the 18m sonic for ultra light 70kg......I have 4 tubes including 15contra for light winds. But from now on, if spot allows I will be on comparison totally different , sonic just so much better in everything in light wind for fun. After going back on contra it feels like a wave only takes a tack to get back into it! having said that sonic is very direct for foil and was easy to fly, turns much faster than 21m.

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Re: How Many LEI Riders Own A Foil Kite For Ultra-Light Wind

Postby Pump me up » Fri Aug 21, 2015 4:41 am

RAM AIRS ARE INFERIOR LIGHT WIND KITES - anyone who REALLY knows kites will ride LEI in high AND light winds.
Ram airs are inferior light wind kites for the following reasons:
a) Excessive drag
(bridles, lack of internal rigidity, excessive friction at the "boundary layer", and trailing edge thickness), compromising the Lift/Drag ratio
b) VERY slow turning
c) Inertia. See above.
d) Bridle failures and tangling
e) Wind dropouts and gear failure
ALL kiters experiences a few gear failures (eg broken lines) and COMPLETE wind dropouts every year. Inflatables can be "sailed" (self-rescued) or swum to shore. If things are REALLY bad, the inflatable structure can support your weight, eg viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2368004

In contrast, ALL ram airs eventually become hopelessly waterlogged, un-relaunchable, and unable to support body weight.
eg viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2346569
eg viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2358958&p=608890#p608890
eg viewtopic.php?t=2359156&p=617396
eg viewtopic.php?t=2358602&p=704984

The following is an example of "diraklib's" experience with ram airs in wind dropouts:
diraklib wrote:"the SA-19 is huge and can whack you silly if you let it get down wind of you in a low wind launch. It is downright scary - be ready with the QR at all times if not up and riding!!! I can't say I agree with claims that you can ride the SA-19 in anything lower than a steady 8 knots. I made a personal choice to not ride the SA-19 any more. It went down twice in lulls and managed to bow-tie on the way down - there was no way to relaunch. I was not as lucky as others that self rescued. My kite was full of water by the time I dragged my very tired and frustrated a$$ to shore. It sounds simple, "wrap the lines around the bar, fold the kite in half, roll it up on your board and paddle in"... noooo... there are lines everywhere under water that wrap around your feet as you are trying to manipulate the kite. You just pray that a gust won't pop the kite up and slice of an appendage. The kite ... is just too scary when it goes down. My attitude now is - if my LEI won't fly, I shouldn't be on the water. Anyone interested in a slightly used SA2-19m??? Cheap???"
For the full epiphany, checkout viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2360979&start=40

The following is the experience of "pmaggie" with ram airs in wind dropouts:
pmaggie wrote:I rode foils only a few times, so these are really my two cents. The problem I experieced with foils in very light wind when they suddenly fall. In my home spot, in very light wind days, sometimes the wind really goes to zero for 1 minute or so. When this happen, both foils and inflatables suddenly fall. In this cases, my inflatable, since it's far heavier than a foil, fall directly into the water with no line tangling and I just have to wait for a gust to relaunch (when possible, that means about 7 knots for my Core 17). When a foil falls with no wind, being very light, it's common that its lines roll over it and became completely tangled. At that point, it's not that easy to relaunch.
The other big problem with foils in very light wind is when the wind completely stops. With an inflatable, you just get your kite and swim attached to your little floating boat. With a foil, you have 20 sqm of tissue to carry home with you!
For the full story, checkout: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2376332

Here is the experience of "FredBGG" with a line failure:
FredBGG wrote:The other day I had a front line fail.
Wind was slightly off shore...
I really needed a tow to the beach.
I had the kite safely on the 5th line folded in half (flysurfer Foil)
I waved down two kiters.... both expert judging by their riding.
Both refused to help.
One even yelled if you can't relaunch it's your problem.
Anyway after a difficult ordeal in the surf and current I got back to the beach.
I had to rest a bit but my board was still out there.
For the full admission viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2362065
The problem here isn't with the other kiters, it's with Fred's choice of kite. If Fred had an inflatable, he would have been able to "self-rescue" by grabbing the tips and "sailing" to shore. The other kiters refusing to help is understandable: Fred opted for less safe equipment. It's his problem and he shouldn't impose on others to make up for his equipment deficiencies. Also, towing a ram air to shore is like towing a sleeping bag full of water - difficult and dangerous.

f) 8 knot limit
Despite the lies of ram lovers, you won't really get going on any kite (ram air OR inflatable) unless the wind is over ~ 7-8 knots and won't really have fun until ~ 10 knots.

This video may prove the 7-8 knot low limit. Both kites - the 21m Flysurfer and the smaller (?17m) inflatable are FAILING TO STAY UPWIND and, by the look of the flag, there's about ? (hard to say) 8 knots of wind.

It's interesting to note that the ram air and the inflatable are both struggling IN SIMILAR CONDITIONS.

Ram lovers have been shown to lie repeatedly about their light wind capabilities:
eg "jumping 8m in 8 knots" viewtopic.php?f=1&t=6349
eg viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2350141&p=539227#p539227
gmb13 wrote:My Speed 3 19 DL gives up under 5 knots... - Gunnar Biniasch
Wind moving at <7 knots (13km/h) simply cannot deliver enough power for ANY kite to perform; certainly NO KITE WILL PERFORM AT 5 KNOTS. Gunnar's exaggerations can be found at viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2361421

g) Objective Testing
A variety of kites were tested in a "Light Wind Showdown" in San Diego viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2319439&hilit=ram+a ... +san+diego . Despite the over-hyped claims from the U.S. Flysurfer rep, Ted Bautista, Flysurfer ram airs crashed and burned. The overall consensus was that ram air kites are ok in light wind, but turn VERY SLOWLY. The overall impression was that there are much better inflatables.

h ) BIG INFLATABLES are better than BIG FLYSURFERS in Light Winds

See this thread about the poor light wind properties of Flysurfer viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2349064 , in particular:
gobigkahuna wrote:I read all the same reports and reviews that everyone else here probably read and spent the "big bucks" for the S2-19, but to be honest was extremely disappointed and sold it…Flysurfers just plain suck in gusty, light winds…I had a hard time keeping the thing in the air much less getting enough power from it to go on the water… A couple months later I got an 07 Waroo 20m…and it is the best 20m I've ever flown. I am able to fly it in winds I would never have thought possible.
i) Peter Frank's opinion
Peter Frank, a well respected commentator on the sport, says 8-9 knots is the bare minimum viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2365531
Peter_Frank wrote:
Night_Thrasher wrote:What is the lowest wind condition I can go kitesurfing and what is the best kite brand and size for it?
It depends a lot on your weight, how low you can go.
If you are "average" around 80kg, the lowest you can go will be around 5m/s (10knots) with the right kite and board.
If you are REALLY experienced, you will be able to push the lower limit down to about 8-9 knots, but this is the absolute lowest wind possible to kitesurf in (holding ground/going upwind) with average weight IMO.
And talking about EXACTLY how "low you can go" is just pure bullshit - as you can not measure the windspeed at the kite, which is the only true value for this.
Sometimes you have a huge windgradient, sometimes a small one, and air temperature and height also influences.
But around 10knots is the limit for most kitesurfers, and just a small tad lower for the "extreme" ones :thumb:
When you talk about windspeed - where is it measured then ?
At headheight, maybe around 2 meter above the water ?
Or at 10 meter height, which is our (Denmark) meterological standard height for wind measurements ?
There is a difference of typical 2 knots, so VERY important.
My point is - always take those claiming "this and that" as their minimum wind speed with a grain of salt :roll:
8) Peter

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Re: How Many LEI Riders Own A Foil Kite For Ultra-Light Wind

Postby Kamikuza » Fri Aug 21, 2015 4:57 am

Foils and tubes, myself. Same way I have different boards, I have different kites...

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Re: How Many LEI Riders Own A Foil Kite For Ultra-Light Wind

Postby plummet » Fri Aug 21, 2015 6:01 am

12m chrono - foil.

Rest lei
13 edge
10 edge
8 catalyst
6 reo

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Re: How Many LEI Riders Own A Foil Kite For Ultra-Light Wind

Postby Jojo1 » Fri Aug 21, 2015 6:31 am

Ozone Edge 7-11-15
Ozone Reo 9
Foil 18 / 90 % of time

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Re: How Many LEI Riders Own A Foil Kite For Ultra-Light Wind

Postby joriws » Fri Aug 21, 2015 7:45 am

I have a quiver of Flysurfer foils (P4 6-Lotus 10-Sonic 15) and 2011 Edge 11m. With those the transition is very small, I don't need to adjust anything at least that I need to think about it. But I started with foils so foil handling is in muscle memory.

I tend to use Edge less and less due to somekind of collapsing problem if I load it high. It has the nice "ping" pressure and I've tested that it does not leak air at least at my backyard for 3 hours and the kite is used less than 20 times. But sometimes when I jump big the Edge's tip fold/collapse in the air. Perhaps increasing bar pressure would help on that, I currently use the lowest setting. But foils does not collapse in mid-air and easier to carry to beach etc.

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Re: How Many LEI Riders Own A Foil Kite For Ultra-Light Wind

Postby snowflake » Fri Aug 21, 2015 10:05 am

I have already seen people kite in around 6 knots. One spot where you can regularly see that is called Traunsee, a small lake in Austria with very low but constant thermal winds. Flysurfer is actually testing prototypes there. In my opinion LW kiting is very much less dependent on the kite than on the board. It also requires intense practice. With a raceboard / hydrofoil 6 knots are realistic and believable. You know that Gunnar is an experienced hydro foil pilot right?

Imho LW kiting is all about maintaining speed, once your moving the apparent wind at the kite is much higher (which unfortunately also shifts the wind window and makes it harder to go upwind) because you are moving with the kite and you can move the kite itself. I sometimes ended up kiting out in the deep water, then slowing down while doing my turn and almost dropped the kite.

Your video does only prove that there are different combinations of pilot and gear that do not function in the same amount of wind. Not more not less. Deducting general statements about kite concepts from single observations is logically flawed.

I sometimes use small ram air handle kites to landkite with my longboard in around 4-5 knots. When kiting in these marginal conditions sometimes the wind completely dies and the kite falls from the sky. I can restart my ram air solo and without walking to the kite then. This would be next to impossible with an inflatable (believe me we tried and destroyed a couple of kites by rubbing the leading edge over the asphalt).

I agree that ram air handling can turn out to be difficult and I personally prefer LEI kites too especially in the water. However the race scene is currently dominated by foil kites and there are reasons why paragliders usually have foil kites too.

I am happy that both kite concepts exist in the water I prefer LEI kites but on land in weaker winds foils. I would happily give up foil kiting in exchange for more stronger wind days.


That's me on one of my first days with the cheap China fabricated ram air of a friend (Pansh Adam). The spot is in the middle of Munich called Theresienwiese and Oktoberfest will be there in a couple of weeks. Before Oktoberfest setup starts you can regularly see a couple of people including me kiting there in very marginal conditions.

Winds on this particular day were measured with my Kaindl Windmaster 2 and ranged from 0 to 8 knots. As you can see in the video I sometimes struggle to keep the kite in the air and have to actively run backwards to keep it in the sky. Please let me know how to kite there without damaging my beloved LEI kite within one or two sessions. I would love to know!

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