Reviews - Wipika VARC AirBlast 11.8
|Wipika VARC AirBlast 11.8 (Jeff Quick)||
The wind did die for a brief second (towards the end of the day) to NOTHING and the kite fell out of the sky onto the water, landing directly on its leading edge...what a perfect time to try the backwards relaunch!!! I tried, but no luck...I only pulled in about 1 meter of line on one side, and I could see that the kite wanted to lift off backwards, but since my leader lines on my current bar are only about a meter or so, I was having to pull on Q line directly with my fingers... not very comfortable, especially in 58 degree water...then something wierd happened... the kite fell backwards...with the leading edge facing me, kite laying on its back. No way out of that one that I could find. I had to swim to the kite and drag it to the beach.
The wind came back up again and I reset up the kite and went for 2 more tacks, the last being a total downwinder...the wind died to about 8 MPH....but then again, thats what the 16.4 (22.3 total area) Wipika Airblast is for!!! And this new design should allow all that power with maximum upwind/jumping ability, especially after flying the 11.8!
After flying my 11.8 a few more times, I've realized, this kite really is a very high performance kite. But with this high performance, there is a trade off in convenience, atleast in this case.
My first two sessions with this kite were flawless, bringing me to a new level of kiteboarding. However, the next two, were totally frustrating.
As it turns out, this kite still needs wind to really fly effectively. Due to its higher AR, the kite doesn't fly very well in lighter 'puffy' wind, and sometimes wants to stall, or even worse, fly backwards! Personally, I need a steady 14+ MPH of wind to ride solidly, with upwind ability on my 157cm Wake N Style (Steady 12+ for my 15.5 Naish when I sheet it in beyond stock to the sweet spot). This is because the 11.8 flies farther forward into the window, and gets there much faster than any of the older style inflateables. However, the pull has a totally different feel to it, and is definitely TWICE as fun!!! Also, with the kite flying this much more forward in the window, the upwind angles achieved are damn near unbelieveable (esp. on land, maybe 45 degrees!!!)
Also, the battens need to be pumped up very hard, especially the battens closer to the tips. If not, the kite will fly fine at first, but once under load, the tips will cup (similar to a foil while braking) and performance will diminish tremendously...After I pumped them up tighter, they did not do this, and the kite flew TOTALLY different and MUCH better. Keep them inflated tight, but be careful not to blow them out.
Securing the kite on the beach is another pain. Its ineffective to put sand on top to weight it down (and could damage the kite). Instead, you have to pile sand up BEHIND the kite or put your board on the leading edge behind the kite to keep it from sliding down the beach. (My 15.5 Naish can just sit there with NOTHING on it, even in strong winds.) If the 11.8 does get unsecured, it will slide down the beach until it hits something. All of this also makes it hard to self land the kite...as wants to slide down the beach once you land it (unlike the Naish).
Also, the bridles can be a pain too. Most of the time,
they DO get tangled, but its usually not an issue to get them untangled
(maybe 30 seconds). However, I did experience one time where the bridle
Besides these negative points, the kite is 100X worth it! The feel is MUCH more user oriented, and instead of fighting the kite to hold your line, the kite wants to pull you where you want to go. I would say the increase in performace from the older inflateables, is equivalent to the performance increase one feels coming from older soft foils to inflateables...a night and day difference. With this kite, the jumps are loftier, a bit higher, and not as jerky. They do require getting used to the timing though. But once you get used to this, you are riding at the next level...and having twice as much fun!
This kite rocks!