Just my experience on Peaks, of which I own a large quiver (13, 8, 5, 4).
They are very special instruments, and I completely understand the hype (they are my only kites, now).
But I don't think the relaunchability issue can be downplayed as much as some are doing.
Of course, some people are inherently better/more talented than others, but me, I have several
swim-ins with the Peaks, and none
of them has been any nice in the least.
I use the 13m for ULW with a large surf foil. It gets me going from very little wind (I'd say between 6/7 knots, if there's not much current), which, given my weight (110Kg) is nothing to sneer at.
But bar pressure is very high, and while it is a relaxing ride that has allowed me a lots of otherwise impossible sessions, but it will never relaunch in such a low wind, and trying to get back to shore without losing the foil, and trying to pack a huge 13m sail is no joke.
Do it when wind is dying, but there are waves big enough to pull the kite like a tractor underwater, and to shake you, and it's even less of a joke.
The 8m is a "meh" size. You would never try surfing with the 13m, but you may attempt it with the 8... and be disappointed.
Agree that the 5m is a fantastic
kite (still haven't tried my 4).
It flies amazingly, pivots, has gobs of power and enormeous depower and drift.
But while small, it will still be a hassle (in the best case scenario) when it falls.
Me, I have (still) no idea how some can "swim towards kite, turn it upside down, swim back, apply pressure to lines, wait for wind to raise the kite and then fly it".
I had a tough swim-in yesterday (my fault): kite fell, relaunched, but it all happened in an instant, with the kite launching horizontally, immediately hitting the water while I was grabbing the foil (which is black, again my fault, so not easy to spot if lost), being submerged by a wave, and collapsing in the dreaded un-relauncheable position.
I then had to try to load it on the foilboard, didn't succeed (again, my mistake, as I usually succeed with the 13), and when 20minutes later I got to where I could touch with my feet, the whole kite's bridles were tangled everywhere. I acquit myself partially, as at shore break waves were big, and they would have rolled my and my foil happily if I gave to much consideration to the Peak trailing underwater.
Current near shore was very strong, so dragging the now full-of-water Peak out required serious efforts, and when eventually I exited to shore, I found the Peak's bridles so tangled around my harness, and the peak itself choked amidst them, that I almost panicked realizing in true emergency I would have had to get rid of the harness not to drown, as I couldn't even unhook the chicken loop and it would have taken ages to cut through all of them.
40+ minutes later I had disentangled the unholy mess (thanks to previous experiences I was "quick"), and some time afterwards I reconnected the bar and flew it.
So, unless one is very experienced, or kites in a nice, non dangerous location, the Peak is not a very recommendable answer, in my opinion. Sure, you will make it relaunch when there's not much current and your feet stand on the ground, but doing the same when current drives you towards it faster than you can leg-kick backwards, with waves tumbling over it, it's another story, at least at my level of ability.
And Peak's best use case is exactly in waves...
So, long story short: the Peak will
fall, and it will mean swim-ins, and swim-ins with a kite that eventually sinks, and is subject to the underwater currents.
To each one his/her choice.
I still fly them (although after each swim-in I go to Gong's site to see if they have Strutless availables
), and when conditions are right they make me truly happy, but in no way would I ever honestly say "Peaks are easy" or "Peaks are for anyone", or "Peaks are relaunchable".
amazing in the proper conditions, just amazing
easy, in the right conditions.
for anyone, as long as they are in the air.
relauncheable, as long as all the conditions – including kiter ability – are right on the spot.
The trade off is necessarily very much personal, not matter how good these things fly... and how little they cost!
And don't get me started on the unholy mess that is the 5th line
Whoever invented it, and gave it cables of same color as internal bridles, has much, much to answer for it.
Yes, it will allow lowering the kite "easily" and safely.
But it adds significant time to install and remove (after at least 50 sessions, I still have not got any faster), and it is responsible of the worst tanglings.
Only, I don't feel flying without it to be good for the Peak: yes you can crash it on the ground, but that will not be very good for the kite... and backstalling the 5m in moderate wind is not for the faint of the heart: if released, it will zip through noon faster than you can see it, and pulling like a 17m!!!
(I wonder how fast truly the 3 and 4 are!)