Rider: Koma (Jason)
Weight: 78kg dry
Board: '07 Underground FLX42 (with Cabrinha Sync bindings) & '06 Naish Sol 136
After checking the Windwing Batwing for the first time down at Rosebud on the Saturday i'd had a good look at it and was keen to see how it flew. Shame there wasn't even a light breeze let along the 15-25kn the forecast called for, so i checked out the detailing. This kite is built quite tough. The leading edge was neatly finished with solid scuff pads at regular intervals; nicely finished and not too heavy. Reinforcing along the trailing edge felt solid and possibly even overkill compared to other kites on the market. The one thing i noted in the main sail was that there was no joins across the material, just a single canopy piece from LE to tail except for where the Windwing logo was where the main sail (black) was cut out and a red logo piece was stitched in it's place.
The bar and lines setup is much the same as many other setups on the market but with a few important differences. The clip for the safety leash is rigidly mounted to the chicken loop on the top of the chicken loop. The depower rope and it's clam cleat (assuming the leash mount is on the top) are on the bottom of the chicken loop and remain quite neat and out of the way. I found it slightly difficult to adjust the depower to begin with until i became familiar with the direction of the calmcleat as i'm used to being able to see the cleat. If you wanted to you could very easily have the depower rope and cleat on the top which i would recommend. The quick release on the chicken loop is a very neat little piece of design with a nice small locking pin folding away from you and being held in place by the QR plastic collar. It has a groove in the bottom of it to make sure it stays in place and takes a concious but not difficult action to release it. Reassembly is relatively easy but requires a tiny amount of fiddling. I wouldn't recommend attempting to re-rig this underwater but it's significantly easier than some others.
Once launched and in the air the kite has quite a smooth and stable style of flight. It is most definitely not a fast kite and required a reasonable amount of bar and effort to get it turning quickly. When the bar is cranked it has a slight delay before the kite commits to the turn and then smoothly arcs through it's turn much like the majority of bows and SLE's. Attempting to get it to pivot on a tip with very aggressive flying didn't reward me with any faster turning speed, so i'd say the kite is quite accomodating of mistakes.
With a bit of speed on the water and the bar held almost all the way in the kite makes smooth steady power sitting steadily forward in the window. Letting it ease back into the window by riding towards it rewarded me with a smooth increase in power giving me enough time to tension up the lines for a nice smooth load and pop. It took quite a firm edge to force it to the edge of the window. I only attempted to downloop the kite on transitions just to see how quickly i could get it to turn and from my tests i wouldn't recommend looping it. It's just not quite fast enough through it's turns to make it a looping kite.
The forte of this kite for me was it's boosting and smooth glide back down. A bit of speed with the bar held half way in and an enthusiastic redirection followed by a quick yank on the bar lifted me gently off the water into what i can only describe as a wonderfully slow-motion style jump. Holding the bar in and gently flying the kite back forward gradually brought me back down to the water for a nice gently landing. I haven't had a chance to check out the beach mid-way through a jump for a while, and whilst not stratospheric it gertainly rewarded the enthusiastic bar movements i was giving it.
One slight hiccup occured when i aggressively pulled the bar in and cranked it for a turn whilst the kite was easing back into the window. Much to my shock it caused the leading edge just for a brief moment to fold back under the kite. Quickly letting the bar out returned the leading edge of the kite back to it's intended shape but not before giving me a quick spook. I attempted to recreate this problem following the actions i described but it didn't do it again. Might put this one down to my over-enthusiastic flying clashing with the design intent of the kite.
Overall a lovely beginner/intermediate kite with a smooth and friendly flight characteristic.