Here goes nothing.
For the last few days we've finally got decent winds so I've unpacked newly bought Soul 12m. I've watched videos of happy testers, read so much about this kite, how stable it is, how friendly it is, not a kite, but a miracle... And it all was HUGE BULLSHIT!
A bit about myself and what conditions that I had. I am 98kg (216 in freedom units), I ride for more than two years, yet I can't call myself as an experienced rider. My experience with foil kites was ancient FS Pulse2 for those two years that I used it on the water and snow alike, but mostly on snow. For now I snowkite and for the last two days we had 8-14 knots of wind, which was gusty and turbulent.
Let's start with yesterday. I assemble it, check bridles, hooked in, launching, getting in the starting position, diving my kite... nothing. Diving again, nothing. Third dive, it's not even pulling the harness. But there is plenty of wind. Somehow I manage to start. I heard people saying that Soul ignores the gusts, no it doesn't, it gladly catches the "bricks" and goes slack with the small lulls. Also for some reason pressure on the bar was monstrous, I had to put a lot of effort in order to turn or sine it. I'd say it went slack with any inconvenient reason. Mostly it recovered itself without much of problem, it even got into tie once, but unfolded it. But then I've decided to take a small break and put the kite at 10 o'clock, keeping the lines tensioned. And guess what? It backstalled, going down like a rag, had some twists and ended up with the lines over the canopy. So I had to go to it and fix everything. For some reason some of the lines were inside the bridle, so I've disconnected the bar lines and pulled whole speed system through the bridle. Who knows, maybe that was main cause of my problems from the start or it appeared at the recent twist, I can't tell. After that incident kite went smoother and bar pressure got lighter, yet I think that's the wind got slower. I could not understand this kite, it had no power when I needed from it and gave explosive power when I didn't. Some transitions and downwind attempts sent me flying. But I guess it's just me not getting used to that kite. This kite requires apparent speed in order to ride well, otherwise it goes slow and lazy. I had to sine it all the time, but most effective way to get the speed was to downloop it. Oh boy it's so slow on the turns! My 17m LEI turns faster! The only thing that brightened my day were jumps. I'm bad at jumping, I only try my first ones, but this kite pulled me higher than I expected. Gladly it lands those jumps pretty smoothly. Fun thing, when I pulled the bar there was a half a second lag before liftoff, when my LEIs used to pull me out instantly.
The next day things got better, wind got smoother, so the riding. I still had to sine it constantly, cuz wind was pretty light, but at least it had really nice upwind, so I left the major traffic without issues. It was much more relaxing ride and I felt like I getting used to that kite. But it was still prone to go slack and fall with any inconvenience. So once I had an issue like yesterday, kite goes slack, falls twisting, lines over the canopy. Also it friggin loves to invert itself! I had a lot of times when kite decided to fly in the middle of the wind window with the trailing edge up, showing me the back of the kite. I had no idea how to react and how to fix such situation. I'll try to pull center lines next time, maybe that would help. Also the flying trailing edge is the reason why I couldn't safely self land it in wind over 10 knots by pulling the steering lines. So I had to use safety instead. Also because of how light the fabric is I had to throw half a ton of snow on it and a harness so it won't get blown away from the parking... And sometimes even that wasn't enough, so I had to run and catch the kite.
Why did I mention Pulse2? Because it gave me far less unpleasant surprises than Soul! I know it's ancient, slow turning and has less aspect ratio, but it's predictable. It had twists and ties sometimes. Sometimes! Not with every god damn session!
For now I slightly regret buying Soul. It's not the super-duper dream kite everyone praised it to be. If not for the sudden jump in price of Hyperlink I'd rather go for it. But I would get used to it, maybe I would find common ground and discover its charm. But for now I'm rather disappointed.