In my search for a light wind kiteboarding setup I chatted with Andy over at Kite Paddle Surf Bellingham. So far every gear suggestion he’s made has turned out awesome so I trust him to evaluate a lot of gear and point me at the best stuff. He is excited by the Blade Kites Fat Lady 17m light wind model and shares his thoughts below.
I have been on a full on search for the best lightwind kite for years. I have tried everything from 26m Foils to 23m Inflatable C’ kites… only to end up dissappointed. Typically big kites don’t turn well, and you lose their size advantage by not being able to turn the kite to generate speed. This is where I think Blade has it right.
The Fat Lady is a 17m Kite. Yes… that is larger than most kites out there today, but you have to realize to get true power, you are going to need more surface area. This kite does that, but does it with a narrow leading edge, and 3 super skinny struts. Why is this important? Mass. This kite doesn’t weigh as much as any other 17m, or 16m, or 15m that I have ever flown in the past does. This allows this kite to be light in the sky, while still generating all the power that is needed. With a narrow leading edge and skinny struts, this kite only takes 70 pumps to fill up. This is typical of what I’d expect for a 12m….. which may be why this kite turns more like a 12m than a 17m.
Up until recently with lightwind specific kites, all you got was a scaled up version of a 10m kite. The materials were all the same, and as a result, you ended up with a kite that was heavy and not fun to fly. The Fat Lady has been designed as a single kite. Ie.. this kite isn’t just a scaled up version of something else. It was made to be a lightwind kite, and nothing else. This means that the camber (airfoil curve) is made to be maximized in the 10-20mph range, wheas most other kites are designed to be flown in the 20-30mph range.
So enough tech, what does this kite feel like? It is fast enough to loop, turns on a dime, and generates power through both static traction and appearant wind. Having only 3 struts allows this kite’s canopy to twist, which allows this kite to be manuverable and lively unlike any other large kite I have flown. It surges forward in the wind window, and goes upwind effortlessly. Bar pressure is moderate… definately not too high……. and you can fly this kite one handed no problem (either hooked in or unhooked)
This kite is stable and very user friendly. Put the kite in full power, unhook, and hold it above your head in a steady 10mph of wind…. and it is parked. No back stall… Just steady as can be.
Relaunch might be the best I have ever experienced. Seriously in light wind the Fat Lady just rolls right over and relaunches. When other kites are falling out of the sky, this kite can relaunch very easily.
What is the realistic range of this kite? With a race board, I am sure you could break the 10mph barrier. With a skimboard or Glide? 10mph is when it starts getting powered enough. A normal twintip? 12-13mph. Will it power you in 5mph…. No way… Upper wind range is in the low to mid 20’s. It is a powerful kite for sure… but it does have very good depower, even on the stock above the bar sheeting system.
Why buy this kite over other similar kites? I have tested most of what is out there, and this is the one that I am most impressed with. 3 struts is important. Single kite design (ie.. this kite was designed for only this one kite) Insanely easy relaunch. Blade has been around for 5 years and Momi is a great kite designer. Graphically it looks great!
This kite is very similar to the Epic Infinity, which is also a very nice kite, but the Fat Lady has a narrower leading edge and struts, is slightly higher aspect, and turns faster. Jumps are higher on the Fat Lady, but there is more float on the Infinity. Both are great…. but my preference for the riding I do is the Fat Lady. If you ride more waves, you may prefer the Infinity.