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Zippy8
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Heavy winds, light kites

Fri Apr 09, 2010 7:54 pm

OK... this could go either way. This all comes from a series of posts over at The Other Place With More Trafficâ„¢ that didn't end well. Let's see if we can do a little better.

I was somewhat surprised to hear from several owners of Lam Hoac's Fearless kites that his Light version, framed fully in SkyShark 3PT (although possibly with 5PT LSs at times) can be flown, flown well and without "deforming" or "showing signs of concern" in winds up to a claimed 28mph. The kitemaker himself claims a maximum wind of 20 mph on his website and 25+ mph when directly asked. When pushed on the subject things turned... defensive. A request for videographic evidence of this performance has yet to receive a reply.

I've been messing about with kites for a while now and I wouldn't consider flying a 3PTed kite in anything close to the lowest of these numbers. Skyburner, who also make SkyShark spars and should know about these things, only rate their 3PT equipped Widow Maker to 12 mph. A similarly framed Nirvana gets to 11 mph, allegedly.

A couple of weeks ago a rare opportunity presented itself for me to try out winds of this order of magnitude for myself.

Image

I chose to fly at this location because there is a meteorological site alongside. These are accurate measurements, not guesstimates or something from a hand held meter. I've marked when I was flying in red and as you can see the average wind speed went from 11 mph to 17 mph with gusts up to 24 mph (and lulls down to 8 mph but that's another story).

In the last hour or so the only kite in my bag that I felt even close to comfortable flying was the Seven. Mine is the initial version with a P200/5PT LE and 7PT LS - not remotely Light but curiously weighing in a 300g, the same claimed by Lam for the Light framed in 3PT.

In those winds the Seven was not fun AT ALL. In a remotely low pass the LE shape visibly changed. There was noise from the usually silent TE and wingtip vibration. Any slack line moves needed to be done very fast. Whenever the kite regained the wind it did so with such violence that I was genuinely worried about the kite. As far as I was concerned I was above the usable wind range for this kite - it was staying together but what could I do with it ?

So....

:arrow: would my 3PTed kites have withstood these winds, comfortably below what is claimed for the Fearless Light ? Have I been wimping out all these years ?
:arrow: even if it had, would it have been a worthwhile experience ?
:arrow: is there something special about the Fearless design that allows it to exceed every other kite in max. wind range despite using the same materials and being largely the same aerodynamic layout ?

Just to be clear - I'm being as sincere as I know how to be here. If the claims for this kite are correct then it is Relevant To My Interests. One kite that could cover almost any wind I'm likely to be out in is something I'd happily pay a significant amount of money for.

What is the hive mind's view on all this then ?

Mike.
 
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DWayne
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Re: Heavy winds, light kites

Sat Apr 10, 2010 12:07 am

I found the claims to be absolutely absurd. I've flown my vented Talon in 25mph winds. Even with nitro strong LLE's and 7pt LS's I could clearly see wing tip wobble. IMO a kite framed in 3pt's wouldn't have survived. Which might be why I wasn't flying my Talon UL. :-k


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Craig
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Re: Heavy winds, light kites

Sat Apr 10, 2010 12:23 am

There is no question in my mind that Lam makes some very nice kites, (I've even sold a few), and I've been reading some of the posts regarding the wind range of the Fearless and it too piques my interest, after all we're all kite geeks why would it not interest us :D

However some of the claims seem pretty wild and I'd love to see some video evidence of how well it performs in said wind, and if it really turns out to that good i'd certainly buy a set...................although judging by some of the posts I'd only need one 8)
 
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Ian Newham
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Re: Heavy winds, light kites

Sat Apr 10, 2010 12:28 am

Playing devils advocate, I'm guessing they fly in higher wind than expected by generating very little pull.
They appear to do this by going for longish standoffs close to the spine. Mohawks claimed an equally wide wind range and appeared to do so by similar means - certainly the one I had a try of was gutless and had no presence on the lines.

Entirely guess work from looking at pics and videos - they cost way to much for me to ever consider buying one and the rampant fanboy-ism puts me off.
Last edited by Ian Newham on Sat Apr 10, 2010 9:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Re: Heavy winds, light kites

Sat Apr 10, 2010 1:18 am

I'm a little surprised by all of the claims. Why would you take a UL/SUL/V LIGHT or whatever out into big winds like that? To prove a point? I'd be worried about sail stretch and my setup getting wacked out of joint (bridle, clips etc). A vented kite isn't much fun in 30+ KMPH and not condusive to much slack line unless you are ready to run. I don't think it's a good idea to send the message that 3pt kites are designed to fly in the big stuff- particularly when some nuffnuff WILL nose plant the thing on his/her first session and destroy it. Anyway, they look like fantastic kites- I just wouldn't prescribe such wind (un)limits.

Cheers,
Mike
 
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Zippy8
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Re: Heavy winds, light kites

Sat Apr 10, 2010 1:42 am

Ian Newham wrote:
I'm guessing they fly in higher wind than expected by generating very little pull.

I'd accept that as entirely plausible. I'm sure we're all aware of the bridle tweak of setting the kite very far forward in strong winds to simply allow it to fly, albeit very fast and not very well.

But even given that possible explanation the claims are that it continues to fly well at what other kitemakers only claim for their vented models and that is still a shed load of wind to put 3PTs through, no matter how you shrug it off. Does anyone here want to put any of their non-Fearless 3PTed kites through a Snap Lazy in 20 mph ?

Again let me stress - I would love this to be true and I am willing to be convinced of it but I really do need more than someone's say-so on it. It is a sufficiently big claim to require proof.

Mike.
 
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Re: Heavy winds, light kites

Sat Apr 10, 2010 3:17 am

Bringing this up again? :? :lol:

As I recall, we left the conversation thread "over there" like this.

.....
You do only really need 2 Fearless, but one of them is not the Light. You can easily fly from 1 to 28 with the SUL and standard vent and depending on how you want to tweak the high vs low range of the vent you could also go with the vented light.

But, having said this, I love the Light and would not be without it. Perhaps in time I will switch to the vented light (I have not had enough time on it yet, but it seems likely).
....


(and earlier with comments like this)
...
I made the original statement - perhaps saying the frame is untroubled was an overstatement, but it certainly was not flapping or in any imminent danger or breakage. As Jim previously said, 2 flyers and one in particular flew the Light all day in that wind while most of us were using standards and vents. I think it is highly unwise to fly the Light in 20+mph, but i have no stability concerns at all flying mine in 15.


No-one at any point ever recommended that you should fly the Light in 20 mph on a regular basis for laughs and giggles (as you imply). Also, it does come by default with 5pt lower spreaders btw.

If you want ONLY ONE KITE that flys very very well in wind that is low (3) as well as in wind that is high (to 20), then the FEARLESS VENTED LIGHT is the way to go. Repeat, NOT the LIght, but the FVL.

-Tom
 
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Zippy8
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Re: Heavy winds, light kites

Sat Apr 10, 2010 3:47 am

tpatters wrote:
Bringing this up again? :? :lol:

Yes.

No-one at any point ever recommended that you should fly the Light in 20 mph on a regular basis for laughs and giggles (as you imply).

I imply nothing. You might be inferring. This is merely speculation on my part though.

This really is the crux of the matter for me. A kite any kite that is merely Not Exploding at any windspeed is no use to me. I want to be able to fly it as I wish for me to call it "flyable" at that windspeed. The Seven was not flyable at the 17-gusting-to-24 mph I experienced and even keeping it in the air was simply inviting damage for zero reward. If the Fearless Light's usable max. wind isn't 20... 25... 25+... 28... whatever has been claimed by whoever then what, please, in your experience is this kite's max. usable wind speed ? Is it somewhat closer to Skyburner's 12 and R-Sky's 11 for their 3PTed up kites ?

Also, it does come by default with 5pt lower spreaders btw.

Lam's own website states "For the ultralight models, you can request your choice of either 3PT or 5PT bottom spreaders" (my emphasis).

If you want ONLY ONE KITE that flys very very well in wind that is low (3) as well as in wind that is high (to 20), then the FEARLESS VENTED LIGHT is the way to go. Repeat, NOT the LIght, but the FVL.

And this is the one Lam claims to have flown in 30+mph winds at the Vung Tao kite festival. You haven't happened to check the historical weather data for that place and time have you ? :wink:

Mike.
 
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Ian Newham
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Re: Heavy winds, light kites

Sat Apr 10, 2010 9:47 am

tpatters wrote:

No-one at any point ever recommended that you should fly the Light in 20 mph on a regular basis for laughs and giggles (as you imply). Also, it does come by default with 5pt lower spreaders btw.


I asked Lam a direct question on GWTW - Does he recommend his customers fly his lights in 20mph+ and he said it was OK


See you in a weeks time, I'm off to do some flying :dancing:
 
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Re: Heavy winds, light kites

Sat Apr 10, 2010 9:49 am

I find this also very intriguing, but I think we have to agree on what exactly we are discussing first.

***Can we agree to discuss only sustained wind speeds, rather than gusts. If the wind is blowing 10mph on the beach, and three times every hour it gusts for 30 seconds at 25mph, this is NOT flying 25mph winds. You don't get credit for the data points more than 3 SD above the mean. This is where I think most of the controversy lies.

I learned to fly with the Dutch. They have beaches. They have a ridiculously flat COUNTRY. And they have plenty of wind. I know what real genuine sustained 20mph feels like. It ain't fun to fly ANY kite in that wind. Lars F. could fly in that wind, but even he (big guy, strong arms) gets a workout and can't do much. That being said, taking it up to 25mph can make it pretty lame to be on the beach at all. 30mph on the beach will clear the beach of nearly all people. Only experienced kite surfers and wind surfers are still out in the water above 25mph.

In 25mph winds, your clothes are pulled tight and flap wildly, your hats don't stay on, and you need a jacket even when it might otherwise be quite toasty warm. In 25mph winds, the sand can hurt on bare legs, your straps can become buried after 5 minutes unattended, and dropped things run away. And to stay smack on point, center of the window flying consists of a quick vaaaaerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrt sound only.

I am sorry, but without video evidence, these claims about fun tricking above 25mph are all nonsense, and 30+ is just plain ridonkulous. If the wind speed was sustained above 30mph, there wouldn't be much of a kite festival at all.

Can a good flyer pull off tricks in this wind, yes. Is it fun...NO. I think we all are in disbelief because this would be truly revolutionary gain of function in stunt kite design.

obi
Last edited by ObijuanKenobe on Sat Apr 10, 2010 10:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Heavy winds, light kites

Sat Apr 10, 2010 9:56 am

This whole thing seems to centre around subjective assessments (with the exception of Zippy8's wind chart) and definitions.
:?: What do we mean by "fly" - I'm sure you can keep most kites off the ground in most winds, but only with comes concessions - light kites in strong winds must stay the edge of the window, or have the bridle adjusted so they nearly don't fly, or you have to run forward like a loon (which is simply a method of reducing the apparent windspeed).
:?: How do we know what windspeed the kite is actually experiencing at the end of the lines? How is the windspeed measured at any other point relevant?
:?: What is meant by "without problems" when folk talk of flying light kites in 25 mph wind. Here's the only fact I think I recall in all of this debate, which is that "without problems" means "nothing broke". This does not mean that it was any fun, nor does it mean that no damage was done to the kite, it only means that the kite had the same number of parts after the flight as before and no additional venting!
:?: Any claim that the frame of the kite does not deflect or deform in flight is simply incorrect. The frames of all kites deform under all flight conditions (at least where there is tension on at least on bridle leg) - that's a fact because the materials have a finite modulus (stiffness) which means that any load causes some deformation. So this again comes down to a subjective assessment - people mean that they "didn't notice any significant frame flex or deformation". What is significant for one flyer may be insignificant for another. Some folk simply don't mind the frame changing shape, or consider it normal, whereas others find this effect unacceptable.

I think that everyone is susceptible to making inflated claims for the performance of their preferred kite. Low wind claims are the same - how do most people actually measure 2mph for example? Even (cheap) windmeters are pretty unreliable that low. So I'm simply accepting all of the posts about the Fearless and it's siblings with the scepticism that all subjective, unverified and "published on the internet" data deserves. That doesn't mean that I can't believe some of it, just that for now it resides in the "maybe" pile, and data in that pile isn't strong enough for me to stump up the cash to find out for sure. Maybe one day I'll truly appreciate the sail design of the Fearless and decide I need one, but when it arrives and I can't trick it in wind above 12mph I will be neither surprised nor disappointed...
 
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Re: Heavy winds, light kites

Sat Apr 10, 2010 6:12 pm

In my experience, upper wind ranges are reported only as "it will survive with no damage" not "you will love flying the kite in this wind".

The 3-20 range for the vent framed with 3pt and 5pt lower spreaders is the range that I enjoy flying the kite in. Of course, I am not doing mid-window slack line tricks at 20, but aggressive higher wind tricks (comete, insane, snap lazys, landings, snap corners) are no problem. Slacker line stuff I do on the edges or occasionally in the center just to see if I can (but thats no sustainably fun).

Above 20, I'd rather fly a vented rev.

These are competition kites. You use the vent to get an edge in higher wind making 15 feel like 8 so that you can perform better. On the upper end, you want to be able to perform on long lines in 25 with no concern of damage to the kite. For me personally, the value of the vent is allowing for easier slack line tricks in the teens and either vent delivers that in spades.

I hope this clears things up - I'm done posting on the topic either way.
 
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Zippy8
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Re: Heavy winds, light kites

Sat Apr 10, 2010 6:49 pm

tpatters wrote:
I hope this clears things up - I'm done posting on the topic either way.

Thanks for taking the time. It is appreciated.

I do think that there has been a little confusion sown here - I doubt that we are all talking about exactly the same thing vis-à-vis "flying" and "showing signs of concern".
I don't consider a kite's max. wind to be slightly less than total failure although I know some do.
I also think that there has been some evidence of fanboy hormones taking over in biggin' up the Fearless :wink: We all have our favourites.

So... anybody willing to take out their 3PTed kite with the wind in the 20s and video what happens ? :-D

Mike.
 
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Re: Heavy winds, light kites

Sat Apr 10, 2010 9:50 pm

Ian Newham wrote:
Mohawks claimed an equally wide wind range and appeared to do so by similar means - certainly the one I had a try of was gutless and had no presence on the lines.


And IIRC the Fearless appeared not long after Lam having visited with Rob for a while ... hmm ... :-k

I've owned Sea Devils - all models ... and I'm calling bullshit on all these ridiculous claims

-Frazer
 
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Re: Heavy winds, light kites

Sat Apr 10, 2010 11:10 pm

Ian Newham wrote:
I asked Lam a direct question on GWTW

For those who missed the relevant thread...

Ian:- I've read claims of some very wide wind ranges for your unvented UL. Do you recommend flying them in 20mph+ and feel confident they will suffer no harm as a result?

Lam:- I will give you the wind range for all my Fearless kites:
Light fly from 3 to 25 + mph in high wind this kite will go little faster. All the Fearless kites have been tested by me personally.


If I go fly, I only need three kites:SUL, Vented light and Vented Std and the wind anywhere from 1 to 30 Mph.

Again, my emphasis.

Mike.