A new design from Born Kite is the single skin Longstar. If you've seen the Nasa Star 2's or 3's you could almost imagine two of them stitched side by side to form a high aspect nasa wing. The Longstar is also depowerable - it has a line attached to the nose of the kite and when pull is applied to the line, the nose begins to fold over and starts to depower the kite. You can also dump the kite to the depower line as a safety feature.
You can see in the main body of the kite how the bridles are split into two legs forming Steffen's patented 'air half pipes'. I believe this aids with directional stability.
Also of note is the 5 line system on this kite. The bridles are split into power and brake bridles by a Z bridle that attaches them together. This means that when you pull on the power lines, ALL the lines are pulled evenly (including the brakes) but the brakes can be accessed separately by pulling on the brake lines giving you the ability to back the longstar down on the brakes as it doesn't reverse launch like a Nasa Star can do on just it's power lines.
If you buy the recommended bar for the Longstar, you'll see the pulleys at the kite end of the lines. These pulleys are doing two jobs (as far as I can tell). They a: divide the power equally between the power and brake lines giving half the total force on the bar and the other half of the force on the main lines going through to the chicken loop. And b: the system adds a little bit of extra brake input into the turn making for a very smooth turning kite. And to static fly with this system, it is a very powerful and smooth experience with a reasonably wide window.
There are transport loops to keep all the bridle ends neatly sorted (and color coded).
There is also a nifty little plastic clip that you use to clip all your lines together before disconnecting them - you do it first when you're packing up and last when you're setting up to keep everything from getting in a mess. Although I have to admit that while it's a great idea, in practice I've found it fiddly and have stopped using it. The Longstar generates quite a bit of pull (and it can do so in really light winds) and I've struggled with having to hold the bar with both hands. Steffen has made a 'hook ball' that can secure the bar to the chicken loop, but it's something I think you have to setup before you fly as I'm stuffed if I can clip it while I'm under power. Mainly because of this, I've fashioned my own bar for the Longstar that I can simply hook a trapeze loop to - simple and secure. I've also done away with the pulleys at the kite end. My setup doesn't turn the Longstar quite as smoothly but is much simpler to use.
Here's the original bar....
And my version....
The kite occasionally back stalls and this is corrected by either letting the bar out with the factory bar, or a quick tug on the depower line with my bar. In a few hours of flying the Longstar with the buggy, I think I only had to reach for the depower line on a couple of occasions. It's not designed to be flown from handles (as there's no way to control the backstall) but we flew it that way at Kingston and it was a lot of fun. Chook and Doug both said it was a bit like a Rev to fly that way and enjoyed the session.
While the Nasa Star is known for it's low down the grunt, the Longstar seems to have even more. It flies with a lot of power and even in 10 knot winds, buggying is no problem. It turns pretty quick too, though not as fast as the Nasa Star. I feel the Longstar, despite it's high aspect, still sits too deep in the window. Upwind ability is only fair as is outright speed - from static flying it, I had thought it may sit a lot further forward in the window than it does. While I certainly wasn't expecting it to perform like a vapor, I was hoping for a little more speed and upwind ability from it. If you're buggying in a small area - the grunt and light wind ability are excellent and it seems to be a characteristic of these kites that they're very hard to make luff. I have never had a Nasa star fold into a ball and drop back into the middle of the window and then unfurl and it seems the same with the Longstar. The lightweight keeps them up in the lulls too when double skin foils start to struggle.
Like the Nasa Stars, I'm only using the depower line as a primary safety. To use the depower on the fly, you'll need to have the bar released and then you'll have half the total force of the kite on the bar which I find too tiring for any length of time and it robs me of being able to point cameras or gesticulate rudely at any overhead drones.
Landing is quick - pull the brake strap the Longstar will drop like a stone. Similarly, launching is quick and easy.
The design is really eye catching - I don't think I've seen anything quite like them before and the quality is very high - as is all the Born Kites that I've flown. The Longstars pack down very small and light.
Really grunty, light weight, crash proof, stunning design and it flies with real power and purpose are the kite's positive aspects. It just needs a little more speed and to sit further forward in the window - then it would be truly awesome.