Haven't been on this forum for ages but when I saw the Helium 3 post it conjured up very pleasant memories of our recent trip to Cocos Keeling islands where I had my first ride on the 18m Helium 3. Only had a 2-3 hour session on the kite and its the first 18m kite I've owned in more than 10 years since owning a 18m Naish X2. I used to fly Naish, Best and then tried the Switch Nitro3 about 4 seasons ago. I've been flying the Nitro 3 12m and 8m the past few years, recently bought a used 10m Nitro 5 and also bought the 18M Helium 3 out of the box to ensure that I could kite each day at Cocos should the wind drop below 15knts. (only did that 1 morning out of the 7 days)
I'm not really into low wind kiting but I was not going to visit a kitesurfing paradise and sit on the beach. The dominant kite at Cocos would be North and average size 9-12m2
Anyway, the Helium material feels a lot thinner than the Nitros, it does not have all the scuff protection of the Nitros and pack up almost the same size as the 10m Nitro 5. Still broke my back to pump-up the bloody thing. Same single pump system as the Nitros and yet to see how long it will last. Both my 8 and 12 Nitro 3s developed a leak in a strut where the strut delaminated at the bladder connection after 4 seasons. One of the 12m bridle attachments where its sewn into the main bladder has become very frayed as well but besides that the kites so far have given me no issues. The kites are still better than me and a different kite is not going to make me a better rider anyway...its mostly in my mind (mental block) to try new stuff and crash and burn...and not the kite.
Only had a morning session in 15-18 knots and had the kite 50% depowered on the bar, me, after a hearty breakfast coming in at 102 KG and on a 140X40 BOARD...still pulled like a truck. Impressions that came to mind as I launched and started kiting were thoughts like solid, light, spongy...and it flies fairly different from the Nitros. Bar pressure was really light, surprisingly so when only using a 45cm bar. The kite just sat in the window and the canopy was totally solid. Nice floaty jumps...especially in time between take off and landing, spotting me at least 1 additional second to do what I have to do. Did a few kiteloops and she turned quick enough for such a big kite.
Reckon if the kite is fully powered I should get away with 12kts, anything less and i'll rather go surfing anyway.
Honestly enjoyed the kite and stoked that I did not waste my money. It ticks all the boxes in what I look for in a kite...Medium Bar pressure, responsive, no flapping, must not be jerky in gusts, must provide float when jumping and sit fairly up in the window
Below our Cocos trip, the Helium is close to the end.