Released earlier this year is the latest of the Nasa Stars, the Nasa Star 3. A depowerable single skin design that can be flown from handles or a bar. I fly mine on the same 3 line bar as all my other NS's - that is the middle line connected to the nose (the depower line) and the outside lines of the bar connected to the bridles. Flying it this way, it is, in effect, a two line kite with a central depower line. On my 3 line bar, this means using a trapeze loop on the bar to hook into, so no spinning the bar. There's also a 'pro depower' bar for it which uses 4 lines. The depower is activated via pulleys - I quite like it but it sort of needs it's own review thread to explain it!
Same as the NS2, the depower works by incrementally pulling the nose over, which stuffs up the airflow and reduces the lift. Like the NS2, the kite will sit back a little and lose a bit of speed and power when depowered. It's quite effective but feels a bit weird flying it depowered at speed in the buggy. I don't like flying it that way so I keep it fully powered and only use the depower line for unexpected gusts or as a primary safety.
If you prefer handles, no problems, you can stow the depower line on it's transport loop just under the nose of the kite and run it on handles with or without a Z bridle. If you buy it as standard, you'll have to separate the bridles yourself into brakes & power. Otherwise Steffen can send it to you with Z bridle attached and ready to go. For an explanation of the Z bridle, check the video on my NS2 review.
Like the NS2, this is Steffen Born's take on the NPW design. Being single skin, it packs extremely small and is much easier to keep up during the lulls than normal foils. It's also a little slower through the air than a foil so it doesn't tend to react as suddenly to gusts. These are the best kites I have yet to fly in the gusty conditions I get at home - they are far easier to keep in the air and pull from very slow speeds. Think low range 4wd.
They are also incredibly direct and easy to steer. Flying them really is child's play. Which suits me as I like to cruise and take in the surroundings, wave a camera around and not have to concentrate on the kite. They are also very stable. For me, they are nearly the perfect buggy engine. But not quite - they have a narrower window than a mid aspect foil and they fly pretty deep in the window. This means a fair bit of side pull, more power needed to get upwind and ultimately slower speeds. I think these are faster than the NS2's - my first run on the beach at Kingston this year with them got me a 56kph which I feel is a little faster than I could have gone with the NS2's. A mid aspect foil would have, I suspect, been 10kph faster than that. I feel upwind is a little easier on the NS3 than the NS2 and turning feels tighter and smoother. Not by much - it's hard to put a figure on...but everything just feels a little better.
Materials and workmanship is again, first class. These are really nicely made. They look like they have been sewn with care and attention to detail. If you want lift, forget it. You can throw these over your head to slow the buggy down and they rarely threaten to lift you out of the seat.
Landing is a little unusual. I used to release to the depower line to land but always found that a bit messy. The best way is to fly it right to the side of the window and nose it into the ground then point the bar at it. you can then hook the other end of the bar around your footpeg and the kite will just sit there. Watch the vid for a better explanation. The 3.2m starts pulling the buggy nicely at around 13- 14 knots or so and you're really powered towards 20 knots. Probably be ok to 23 knots or so but by then I would have put up the 2.5m.
Similar to the NS2, you can stack the NS3 nose first into the ground without fear of damage (providing there's nothing sharp of course). Then a quick pull back and it will fly up backwards - spin it round and your off and flying again. A very neat trick. Being bridled this way does have one interesting side effect - if you're static flying it in low wind and get a lull while holding it at the edge of the window, it can start flying backwards by itself. You soon get to recognize when this is likely to happen and just keep it moving to avoid it. In the buggy or in a bit of wind, it just isn't a problem.
This particular kite is my all time favorite buggy engine to date. It is just so easy and relaxing to fly with heaps of grunt. No, it's not fast and won't go upwind as much as I'd like but even so, you'd have to prize it out of my cold dead fingers.
My review vid:
And having a damn good time....