A few years ago now I bought both standard and ultra-light versions of the vortex. Since then other kites have come and gone from my bag but these have always remained …. and with good reason. I also promised to write a review sometime ago but never got round to it …. So here we go, a promise kept!
Nothing unconventional here. The construction on the kites I own which were made by the designer Christian Derefat himself are very good. The stitching is great with the conventional use of materials, icarex sail Dacron leading edges, leech lines and skyshark frames. A neat touch is a Velcro rub patch on top spreader where the removable half can simply be replaced when worn out.
The sail pattern is slightly unconventional as the panel lines are curved but this is a grower and you can make some interesting themes without the sails pattern dominating the flying experience.
The frame on the standard usually comprises P300 leading edges with 5pt lower spreaders which gives the kite some considerable momentum when tricking. I plumbed for P2X leading edges and Nitro lower spreaders which makes for a slightly lighter stiffer frame and this works very well.
The ultra-light has P100 leading edges and 3PT lower spreaders. Again I have seen a combination of P100 and P90 in the leading edges and both work very well.
Overall the construction is great with no design issues such as snag points. Mine came fitted with roll bars (upon request) which worked very well but given but given the kite’s pitch capabilities were not necessary.
Having owned a few models of kites designed and made by Christian it is obvious that he accomplished trick and freestyle flier. What’s more there has been a bloodline in his models and a progression in the designs over the years. Typically his kites have great pitch characteristics, good solid turtles and a solid fades. Even his larger designs move quickly and fluidly from trick to trick.
From the moment the vortex took off I liked it. It felt familiar instantly. The combination of the relatively high aspect ratio and the 2.4 metre wingspan gives really good feedback through the lines. The pull is relatively light for the size of kite without being vague.
I would say the wind range of the standard started at 3 mph and it still felt comfortable in higher winds. The ultra-light took off in as little as 1-2 mph depending on frame and tail weight. The precision is actually not bad at all but for me the emphasis is on tricks.
The trick repertoire was impressive. The highlights are as follows:-
Axel – No problem at all but typically French in so far as it did not do a full rotation. This is nit picking though.
Half Axel – Solid and quite precise. The half axel to fade deserves a special mention as this trick is easy and quick.
The Yoyo - Was mighty quick and very easy.
The Fade - Was solid and only a bit of maintenance was required. The backspin was also easy.
The turtle is also solid and deep without being locked in. The transition between fade and turtle in the Jacobs ladder was impressive and quick.
Slot Machine - was nice.
The Comete - was very nice and you can build up serious momentum and speed. The comete looked good too.
Cynique - this is possible but with care.
Taz – When the kite is set up the taz is not hard. It wasn’t a giveaway but this is not one of those kites where you need to be spot on with precise to pull it off.
Yo-fade – I am not the best at this trick and have a low strike rate. However the flare to fade on this kite is quick which makes this trick relatively easy. This is a characteristic reminiscent of the Diablis, one of Christian’s slightly older models.
I am writing this review because I think the vortex is great. The vortex has many strengths and few weaknesses I can think of. It’s fluidity in transition between tricks is also impressive.
Christian’s contribution to the kite world is there to see and is considerable …. An true unsung hero.
If you fancy building one many of his designs are available on the internet, including this one