This is the same review I posted on Kiteforum, thought I’d put it here too. I had an absolute blast these last few days - the One is what I’ve been looking for!
OK, got my 12 m One last Wednesday night, and I?ve now had it out for 3 days.
In a word, I?m stoked!
The kite is bombproof ? in the last three days I?ve crashed it in the bushes, dumped it in the surf, and generally abused it, no problems at all. Just picking the thing up, it?s solid. Beautiful construction ? the recessed scuff pads are great, and I love the pinch valve setup ? they actually work. The kite just plain old looks good too.
I was so excited when the kite arrived; I pumped it up on the lawn out in front of our lab ? random strangers passing by commented ?is that a glider?? ?that looks like some sort of bat wing!? Yeah, Batman called, he wants his kite back.
We?ve got very light winds out here on the Big Island, so I should really be on a 16, but the 12 came first, so that?s what I?m riding. Here?s the thing ? I?m using a big light wind board, but I?m going upwind at a steeper angle than my 17m C kite was taking me with the same board. I really didn?t think I?d be able to use the 12 out here ? we?re happy if we get 10 or 12 knots, but the One really goes. I was even worried that going down to a 16 One from a 17 C was going to be bad, but it turns out I?m doing fine on the 12 One, never mind the 16! I didn?t really believe Evan?s light wind 12m One stories, but now I do. I was happily riding my 12 while my buds were out cruising on 16?s, and I weigh more than they do. 3 days of lightwind riding on the 12 One, and I don?t even want to look at my old 17 ? the One is the ticket.
The board is key though ? this kite likes to go fast, and you need the board speed to generate some apparent wind. I can ride my 127 cm board with it at around 12 knots, but it?s definitely harder to go upwind. My light wind board is 157 cm long and ~40 cm wide, no fins, no rocker ? it goes upwind even better than my 6?6? surfboard. And I spend a lot of time kiting on my surfboard. BTW, I?m not particularly light ? I weigh around 180 lbs.
The great thing is that you can ride a big board with these kites ? when the gusts come, you just sheet out, no problem! No more edging like a maniac trying to hold it down during the gusts. The last 2 days I?ve been heading out to an extremely gusty beach with huge shore break and winds that are almost always straight onshore. No one ever rides there due to the gusts and shore break; but I?m a glutton for punishment. The last time I rode there I was lofted about 50 feet high and a few hundred yards downwind, directly towards shore and a lot of huge trees. Often when I try to launch there I can never make it upwind through the shore break, which is usually overhead. Not anymore.
Gusts, no worries ? this kite soaks them up. I even got caught in a small squall yesterday ? I saw it coming, but I was loitering outside the breakers, waiting for a pause so I could ride in without getting munched. The squall hit, the wind speed jumped up by at least 10 knots, and it was suddenly raining so hard I could hardly see, but I just trimmed the kite in a bit and cruised on in on the backside of a big wave ? with that kind of wind I could outrun the waves with a little confidence. Self landed the kite no problem, and waited out the squall from shore. No need to play in that stuff! I didn?t want to repeat Ben Franklin?s experiments. Incidentally, I didn?t weight the kite down during the squall, just to see what would happen ? it didn?t budge. Neat.
Onshore winds ? I can scream upwind with this kite, so no problems there either. It?s funny, I seem to be able go upwind right to the point where I can?t even waterstart ? no more ?downwind only? runs in light wind. That?s cool too.
Big waves ? chicken gybing is way easier/faster now, because I can snap turn the kite 180, and just fly it straight though the powerzone, from one side to the other, without getting yarded downwind. Sweet. My no-rocker light wind board is a little tricky in the pocket of a wave (no rocker is not so good on a steep wave face that has a lot of curvature), so I?ll have to post more about that when I get enough wind to ride the surfboard. I have ridden several waves with the kite, and it?s great, but I managed to faceplant multiple times when I buried the tip of my board.
Incidentally, that?s exactly how I ended up testing the One?s relaunch from surf. It?s great ? I was facedown in the whitewater, dumped the kite on a starboard tack, but just steered the bar left ? the kite relaunched out of the whitewater just as I was coming up for air ? sweet! My old 17 would have been down for the count, maybe the whole day.
The bar works very well. Nice grip, and the stopper works like it should. Bar pressure is not an issue at all. I?ve ridden the same powerlock bar for the past 2 years, and was a little leery of giving up the powerlock, but I seriously don?t need it. I used to lock my bar in and ride one handed, pushing or pulling the bar to steer. With the One, I just ride one handed, not on the stopper, but with my hand near the center of the bar. I can turn the kite no problem one handed, and now I can sheet in and out one handed too ? that?s a plus! I rode one handed in large surf and gusty winds for about 2 hours straight yesterday, no arm pump. My whole body was a little sore from too much fun these past few days, but my arms are fine.
It?s hard for me to comment on jumping with this kite, as a 12 m kite in 10 to 12 knots of wind is not that great for jumping, but I still managed to launch surprisingly high off several waves. I even pulled some flat water jumps, but my light wind board has almost no pop - it’s an epoxy laminated birch plank - my friends call it the Door. Still, I went higher than expected for the winds we had.
Sometimes the lower stopper ball rides up, but I haven?t had any trouble with it ? a quick pull on the bar sorts it out every time. The OR guys have a plastic part in the works to fix that, but as far as I?m concerned it?s just a cosmetic problem. The cam cleat trim adjuster works like it should ? I hate kites with really short trim straps ? as soon as the wind changes a bit too much you have to land and move the lines to a different knot on the pigtails. With the One, I?ve just been setting the pigtails for full power, then doing all the adjustment with the trim strap. Easy. Launching and landing is a snap ? I tried self launching today, it was way easier than I thought it would be. I used the standard technique from Bruno?s site.
Self landing is even better ? at one point today I self launched the kite from the sand, noticed I had a minor line twist, self landed in the same spot, fixed the twist, and relaunched again, without ever walking up to the kite. The self landing is beautiful ? park the kite on its side in the sand, then reach up and yank the top front line ? bang, the kite flips over into the face down position, ready to go again when you want to. And these Ones don?t move from the face down position unless you pull a back line.
Some things to note though ? this is not your mother?s C kite. You need to know how to sheet a kite properly to fly these. My first session was a crash fest ? I hadn?t inflated the kite properly, being used to fragile older kites, and it definitely has a different feel to it. Sheeted out, it has so little pull I kinda forgot where it was and crashed it into the bushes ? I had just ?rescued? my friends board, and was talking to some tourists on the beach about whether I should ride my board or my friend?s, since he obviously didn?t need it for the next half an hour or so. Oops, wasn?t watching the kite. Actually, I wasn’t even holding on to the bar, just standing there facing upwind, ignoring my kite. Dumbass. That much depower can make you a little lax.
Day 2 was awesome ? I felt totally confident with the One, no crashes, and had fun in the big waves and gusts. It was one of those days where random people are coming up to me afterwards and complementing me on my riding style. Cool. It?s taken me a few rides to adjust to this kite, but I?m really enjoying it. It?s exactly what I?ve been looking for.
It can invert if you simultaneously don?t pump it up enough, crash it face down in the water and punch the bar through the stopper. A little more air pressure, or just don?t punch it out if you know the air pressure is low, no problems. Also, the time I inverted it on the first day, my friend on his Boxer 16 managed to invert that kite as well ? we were struggling in some pretty light wind. The good news is that even when I did manage to invert it, I could revert it in 5 seconds by just pulling one back line. Same trick if you manage to get the kite in the ?safe? position out in the water ? leading edge down, but the kite is facing away from you, just like you set it on the beach. Pulling in a few meters of one back line will get it to spin around.
In really light wind, less than 8 knots or so, the relaunch is a little tricky ? instead of just steering the bar or yanking a back line, it helps if you pull both back lines ? the kite will reverse launch straight up, then you release the lines and steer the kite back into the sky. That would be a super hot launch in decent wind, but I only had to do it when there wasn?t enough wind to waterstart anyway. It was nice to be able to relaunch and body drag in, instead of self rescuing. Usually when we drop our C kites in this kind of wind, there?s no relaunching at all ? if the kite drops, you?re swimming it in. Not so with the One.
Overall, I am really happy with this kite. I thought I?d be using my old 17 until the 16 One arrived, but no, I?m rocking upwind on the 12 and there aren?t even whitecaps! Good stuff! I seriously doubt I will fly my C?s again ? I?ve got 5 of them to sell now. I’m off to Maui next weekend for some real wind. Look me up if you?re on the Big Island and want to check these kites out.