Time for an update.
What a season! The airs were put on hold a little, but eventually came back to the forefront for me. I'll look back on this season as the summer I switched to Peak4s... Best move ever.
I was worried Peaks wouldn't be very good for jumping. Like a lot of things, I was wrong. Turns out the Peaks are super comfy for the type of airs I'm pursuing. Early on after getting a 4m and having a few really powered sessions on it, I realized I had never actually tested the boost of these kites. I was getting to know the lift for softening landing in my small little airs, but had never pulled the trigger hard like you would with straps. Hit the gas, loaded up, pulled the trigger and left the foil behind. The 4m ripped me up to a respectable 8-9m of height, not a lot of glide, but landing was plenty soft and controlled about 30m downwind of my foil. Not unlike most med aspect LEI kites in the 7-8m range. Was a bit of an eye opener. Since then, have picked up a 3m and spent some quality time on it. Getting used to the 3m sharpens kite control big time. Extremely helpful in landing strapless. Suffice to say, IMO Peaks are ideal for busting strapless on foil. In the sweet spot they are perfect. Overpowered It's easier to work on airs. Underpowered its better to just ride swell.
I've come to the realization that you can throw so many different types of strapless airs. Straight up and straight down was were I started, using the kite only on landing. That has broadened out into all kinds of variations. Airs with a little more travel that are very much up face, landing back down face/wind trying to get as much tail whip into it as possible. Long travel airs at speed where air resistance against the board is much more relevant, and the classic combo of the two that combines a bit more height and distance and uses the kite for take off and landing just like on a tt. Those require a good grab and put more load on the foil when landing. All of them feel a lot bigger in my head than they are, but I'm throwing between 20 and 40 a session and foiling out of most. The success rate has gone way up even if the amplitude has not! The back loop landings have morphed into a much more stalled use of the kite during the air than at the beginning of the season. I now pull the trigger more and keep the kite back behind me providing some lift before pulling it into the back loop on landing. These have been my best airs so far. Probably about 3-4m of height on good ones, 5-8m of travel with a nice looped straight downwind foiling exit that pretty much act as a transition riding out toe side. It's almost routine to throw them in at the end of a good heel side wave ride. Definitely my main air. Not enough tail whip in it yet.
Second fave is the long distance air used to scrub excess speed. Bit counter intuitive to jump when things get on the edge of control, but popping up at high speed has great board pressure on your feet and doesn't really need a grab. Landing with more forward speed also makes it easier to get a smooth entry and avoid touch down. Fun gust management. Landing is very much all rear foot until the foil engages and then you can weight the front foot. I suspect this is slightly different on different foils and has a lot to do with stab size.
The airs of my dreams did not come this season. True sideway yanking, fully grabbed kite loop airs are possible and someday someone is going to make them look super sick. Beyond that, grabbed front or back end over rolls are also likely possible. Just like back in the day on TT and then SB, my imagination has all manner of stalled, looped and boned out airs in the 2-5m height range.
I have begun to get enough amplitude at times that I worry more about the loads on my foil. So far the Lift 170 has been a dream and shows zero signs of strain, but with carbon I think its likely fine until it isn't ! Definitely ever more conscious of timing kite lift to landing, and like most airs, you know a bit ahead of time when you've screwed it up so have the option of kicking the foil away.
Anyway, throwing new kites into the mix has spread out the learning curve, but only slightly and in the end has me dreaming up moves I hadn't pictured last year.
Still a really long way to go.
TLDR: Strapless airs are still awesome with Peaks. Still really enjoying the learning curve. Have a few new types of airs and landings as apposed to just one last season. Their still in their infancy, but the potential for sickness is definitely there. Hope to see more and more of it out there.
Last edited by jumptheshark
on Sat Sep 19, 2020 4:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.