On September 6, 2008, HQ Kites USA and Coastal Wind Sports hosted a power kite demo day event on the section of Jekyll Island Beach knownd as "Kite Beach". Participants got a chance to fly the latest models of HQ Power Kites in a kite buggy, on a land board and static flying on the beach. We were among the first to get a sneek peek at the new...
I want to express my gratitude to Tim Baxmeyer of HQ Kites-USA and Jan Hendrik Junker, Product Manager, HQ KItes, Germany for thier time and effort to give us this special sneak-peek at their newest products.
Also, special thanks to the Jekyll Island Authority for their continued support and promotion of power kiting activities on the Island. We are really lucky to have a kite-freindly local goverment.
|Hanging in camp and waiting for wind||Wind is from the west early in the day|
|HQ's Jan Hendrik Junker runs like a mad dog to get the 8.5 sq. m Neo into the air in a 4-6 mph breeze||Once moving, the Neo does well in the light off-shore breeze. Notice the front lines coming down to single line, forming a "Y".|
|The Neo overhead. You can see the sleeves of the one-way valves inside the kite behind the leading edge inlet vents||Jan Hendrik goes over the features of the Neo ce-power bar with Robb VanWie, local kiteboarding instructor|
|The Neo De-power bar is un-cluttered with everything in easy reach. The two seperate straps for shortening or lengthening the de-power adjuster are replaced by a single strap controling a cam-cleat||Detail of cam cleat. The strap controlling it is tethered to the lower power-line, keeping it in easy reach all the time|
|Team Rider Wexler Muse set to launch the Neo||Jan Hendrik gets some un-hooked flying time with the Neo in the light breeze|
|Don "Tridude" Leech checks the trim on the Neo bar after launch||Robb VanWie of Golden Isles Kiteboarding with the Neo bar. The Neo left a smile on the face of everyone who picked it up.|
|The 11 sq, m Neo. I've got my eye on one of these for the demo bag.||Jan Hendrik manages to get up on a skim board with the 11 sq. m Neo in just 8-9 mph|
The Neo was the most anticipated and got the most attention and with good reason. This new closed cell twinskin inflatable is unique in many respects. It is a true cross-over de-power kite suitable for Water, snow and dry land.
First is the set-up and launch. Obviously there is no pump, but the great surprise was that there was no need for pre-inflation as you would with a Peter Lynn ARC. It launches like any open cell foil and inflates itself on the way up to the zenith. In light winds, a couple of yanks on the center line will help insure that it fully inflated.
Then there's the low end that other inflatos don't have (except the more expensive Flysurfers). We launched the 8 sq, m Neo in 6 mph and at 8-9mph, Jan was able to get up on a skim board on the water with the 11 meter version, but not so much up-wind. In the air it is smooth and stable with no tip-tuck. Overhead, you can let go of the bar for long enough to open a water bottle and take a few sips without it wandering too far off.
When the wind came up I took the 11 sq. m Neo for a run in the bug. Power was smooth with lots of de-power range. It was even stable in a deep down-wind broad reach, with no tip tuck. Upwind was easy too, even in the light wind that day. Turning was fast, easy and predictable.
The new de-power bar is clean and neat with all components easy to reach. Gone are the familiar separate pull/pull straps for adjusting the center lines, replaced by a single line with a cam-cleat that is super easy to adjust. The strap leads all the way to the bar so it's never out of reach. Our local kiteboard instructor Robb VanWie really liked the bar.
The Neo is rigged in a 3-line configuration with the front lines coming down to a single line about halfway down to the kite, forming a "Y". Up in the bridle there is a compound 2-pulley mixer system that changes camber as well as angle of attack. The rest of the bridle is simple and neat and , with the shape of the kite, they never seemed to get tangled or want to wrap a line when the kite is luffed. With the light and variable wind that we started off with, luffs were inevitable but we never bow-tied the kite.
Landing and takedown are worth noting too. The Neo has a landing handle across the rear lines like a Montana and it's easy to back the kite down for a downwind landing. Once on the ground, pulling the top-hat safety dumps out the front lines by a few meters, plunking the kite down squarely on the brake lines, something Tridude noted would never happen with his Flysurfers. Staking the kite by the landing handle leaves it parked securely with no worries. To put the kite away, first open the de-flation zipper on the top skin, fold the kite tip-to-tip with the bridles tucked inside, then roll it up from the tips to the center with the air spilling out as you go. Neat and easy.
"Sweet- No hype- the real deal" were the first words out of Tridude's (Don Leech) mouth after he put the Neo down. He went on to enumerate to Jan Hendrick the advantages of the Neo over the Flysurfer Psycho and Pulse, but I will let him post those if he wants as I am no expert with FS.
The Neo is available now in the US. Jan Hendrick tells me that the first production run in Europe sold out right away.
|The new Montana 4 in the 7.5 sq, m size. It sports the same 3-line rig with the front lines coming together about half way down and joing a single line to the bar.||The 9.5 M4 prototype. The M4's sport new profiles in the sail for added stability. They also went back to the mixer system in the bridles that was used on the Montana 2.|
|Bobby "BeamerBob" Muse shows good form launching the Monana 4, grabbing the center lines.||A good yank gets it off the ground.|
|With the Montana off the ground and in the window, Bobby takes off on a good scud.||Bobby and Elizabeth Muse ponder why it is the wind quit the minute she picked up the camera.|
The Montana IV
My only beef with the otherwise great M3 were the de-power adjuster straps on the center lines that were hard to reach when let all the way out. Well they fixed that big time with the new bar, which is essentially the same rig as is on the Neo. They also used the same single line front line "Y" set up to reduce weight and drag. With this bar comes greater de-power range as well. Up in the Bridle, they went back to the same 2-pulley mixer as was on the M2. The kite's profiles have been optimized too for added stability and reduced tip-tuck. The M3 was great in this department and this is even better
|Dustin Burch launches the Apex II. The kite retains the standard two pull straps for shortening and lengthening the center de-power adjustment strap.||This is Dustin's first time picking up a depower kite and he does real well.|
|The Apex II is a great entry level de-power kite, stable, easy to fly and un-complicated.||Side view of the Apex II. A great looking kite.|
The Apex II
The Apex has always been a great, super-affordable entry-level de-power kite and the A2 gets even better. We get the benefits of an updated foil with new profiles for added stability. The sail graphics have been updated and are very sharp. This is the perfect kite for someone with some experience with a 4- 6 sq. meter fixed bridle foil that wants to try de-power.
|The new Hydra is like a baby Neo on a fixed bridle bar.||The Hydra 350 down low mixes it up with my Reactor 8.3 way above on 30m lines.|
|The inflatable closed-cell Hydra is water-relaunchable and can be reverse-launched with its single rear brake line.||Tim teases the Hydra off the water. Besides being a great kiteboarding trainer, the kite is great to play with in the surf.|
The Hydra is like a baby Neo on a fixed bridle 3-line rig and bar. Take a Rush III Pro 3-line (single rear brake line for reverse launching) and put on a closed leading edge with 2 one-way air inlets and you have a great water-relaunchable trainer. Besides a trainer that is sure to be popular with kiteboard schools, the Hydra will be a fun kite to play with in the surf for body dragging and the like. It will be available in a few months for about $50 more than the Rush III Pro.
|Tim is thinking of a shower after a run with the buggy through the sand and surf. We all got pretty grimy but had a great time.|