The Peter Lynn Vapor currently at the time of writing this is most likely the best-known race kite, however when I first started flying the Vapor it was the new kid on the block. After years of flying a large variety of race kites I consistently find myself coming back to the Vapor for it’s predictability and ease of use resulting in much more confidence in flying the kite in its upper wind range. To really get to know how a race kite performs you really do need to fly it at its upper wind range as they just come alive.
Lets start with the Kite Bag, it’s simple and I love it. It looks nice, it lists the kite and size on both the front and sides which is great when sifting through a pile of them and it breathes via a mesh window on the side of the bag giving moisture collected in the sail/canopy somewhere to escape.
The graphics of the Vapor have been cemented in the minds of many race pilots throughout the world with its bold top-skin colour scheme that quite shines through and the distinctive splash of colour on the bottom white skin on most Vapors. The colours whilst highly contrasted in this edition of Orange, Blue and White also complement each other stunningly in the sky.
The shape of the canopy is rather interesting, in the air it looks like a regular race kite with a uniform shape and it continues this look somewhat when laid out on the ground. However once you flip it upside down and take another look there’s a very distinctive trailing edge to wingtip contour that actually makes the kite look much wider in the middle than what it looks like in the sky. Compared to some race kites, laid out upside down it nearly looks like it’s verging towards a mid-aspect kite. However the look of it being lower aspect completely disappears once in the air.
The Vapor also has quite a considerably open leading edge, which makes inflation and bringing the canopy up to pressure really quick. I’ve found the power delivery of the Vapor coming out of a corner is produced much quicker than some kites that take a noticeably longer distance to build their power.
The bridle on the Vapor compared to the older generation of race kites is quite minimal and nearly all the connections are bridle line spliced in to itself and looped. The result is the kite’s bridle no longer catches on itself anywhere near as much as a cheaper conventional bridle that’s just knotted and stitched. Some will argue the benefits of reduced drag, I see the reduction in bridle complications during a kite luff or mishap a bigger winner. Bridle points on the wingtips are fully reinforced and across the trailing edge the bridles start about an inch in from the trailing edge.
The rest of the build is well finished, both inside the kite and out, and includes the standard little things like dirt-outs in the wingtips etc. Like most performance kites however it's built incredibly well technically, however it's also built very lightly and leans towards performance over longevity. Less bridles, lighter bridles etc will all lead to the kite needing adjustments in the future.
Now what makes this kite so special is it’s flight characteristics, it’s power and how it delivers that power to you. The Vapor in its lower to mid wind range is an incredibly easy kite to fly, in fact I would say it’s probably the easiest low-wind race kite that I’ve flown personally. The kite is incredibly forgiving for a race kite and if you brake input isn’t 100% accurate, even if isn’t 80% accurate the kite will still fly and forgive you in low winds for those errors. So whilst you may not get the best performance out of the kite, it is s a kite someone unfamiliar with race kites can pickup and fly, as their skills progress so does the reward in performance that the kite delivers.
However typically we don’t fly race kites under-powered, and it’s in the kite’s upper wind-range that it really comes alive. The kite is incredibly stable for a race kite but that’s not to say it’s boring, infact its stability is one of the most exciting things about this kite because it gives you the confidence to push further and further in to it’s upper wind-range limits. Being slightly over-powered on a Vapor is an exhilarating pleasure, unlike flying it underpowered you can’t make large mistakes however the kite will forgive those little inadvertent mistakes you may make that with other race kites have consequences. The Vapor heavily forgives a lot of those little errors in judgement and then when you correct yourself the kite continues to deliver an amazing flight experience.
The power delivery on a Vapor in its upper wind-range is explosive, like most race kites. However the explosive power is delivered to the pilot in a controllable manner and not a result of the kite surging and moving around erratically. The kite holds incredibly well, and when those 3/4/5knot variable gusts hit you at high speeds instead of the kite bouncing around it continues to hold fairly steady and just produces more power at the handles. The result is more confidence to keep pushing harder when those little wind increases hit.
Pushing the kite to the edge of the window when sliding against it yields in a drop in power, but rarely with the right amount of brake input does the kite shoot out of the window. This gives confidence in slowing down for turns much later and closer to the mark, coming out of the turns the Vapor builds power very quickly over a significantly shorter distance than a number of other race kites I’ve flown. Overhead the kite is controllable, making upwind turns somewhat a more predictable event than kites that suffer when not moving through the window at high speeds.
Overall this is a very controllable, well rounded and predictable race kite. I’ve never felt the design of the Vapor was the most efficient, the fastest, the most cutting edge for speed or upwind ability, however I’ve always felt that the characteristics of the kite have given me the confidence to try and go faster, try and push further and try to hold on longer. This has always resulted in me flying faster on and on the edge for longer than if I was on a kite I trusted less.
The Peter Lynn Vapor was the race kite for nearly a generation of kiters, for many it will be their first and last race kite they ever fly with, for those of us who have the luxury of flying many kites it makes you appreciate just how good this kite is.
Edited by .Joel