I finally had the chance to first test the Wave 8.5 two days ago. The wind was 15-20 knots at a wave spot in South of France. There were some nice little waves too (waves are nice because it is a reef break but this is a dangerous spot). Around me there were 3 kites: a speed 3 or 4 12m with a no volume/mutant surf, a Naish 14m + TT (heavier rider), a Neo 12m + surfboard. I was with my beloved sweet potato 5'2.
I had not a clean spot to launch as there were a lot of plants with pikes on the ground. After a bit of search, I found a place where to put the 8.5 for launch but it must start right in the air and not slide on the ground. I put my 60cm bar with 19m lines and give it a frank pull on the front lines and right in the air. It inflates well without pulling. Once inflated stability looked very good -- and it better to because the beach is only 15m large with rocks on both sides. I went out in the water to avoid any surprise (that was not the perfect place to test a new kite but wind+waves + only time window to get out).
I stayed in the water for around 1h30 then I had to go back working. I have first tested the kite on long tacks to see how it goes upwind and speed, ok good that works pretty well and handle very well speed (no saturation). I do not struggle to go upwind, very easy indeed (with some wave kites this is painful)... then first frank turns of the kite, vow it turns, very agile, first grin on my face
. Ok now I can go in waves seeing that the kite was behaving very well. I had to be precise because waves break on the reef and there is very little escape at the end. The kite turns very well and has an excellent depower. My fear was that with the increase in size, the kite would not be as dynamic as the smaller sizes, and thus not very fun to fly. But it is not, it is fun to fly and the one thing that really impresses me for that size/power is I could surf and loop the kite in one direction and then in the other direction on slack lines ... something that I do on the 4.5 and 6.5 and now on the 8.5 Cool! The Wave 8.5 is just like a big big trainer kite
As the other sizes, the wave 8.5 is flying a lot on back lines, with little in the harness. This means that the bar pressure is not light (as for instance FS kites which fly mainly on front lines). That is on purpose as the aim while riding wave was to have a direct feeling with the kite and little in the harness to focus on surfing and have the hips "unlocked" (similar to being unhooked without the pitfalls of being unhooked ... shifting a little the consensus to more ease). This means that some riders may not like it as the concept here is to focus on surfing so everything is done in that direction. It can be surprising for riders who are used to very light bar pressure (this is something I don't like for surfing because this is more difficult to know where the kite is and it forces the rider to counter the power of the kite with the harness and it locks the waist/hips --I prefer to turn around my harm that holds the bar). This said, the bar pressure is similar to the 6.5, maybe less (my guess is less but this is subjective). On hydrofoil it is not an issue at all according to owners of the 6.5.
To sum it up, it is now in my two kites quiver for travelling light! Waves 4.5 + 8.5 + surfboard (paddle surfing below <12-15 and kites out otherwise). I am going to Argentina for 4 months so let's see what I can do with it on the Ocean on days off.
Here is some more (in French): http://www.lesfoilz.com/phpBB3/viewtopi ... 0&start=10