I recently had the opportunity to look after a 2009 11m Hadlow Pro kite for a couple of months. So here is a review of the pro-model kite used by the 5 times World Champion Aaron Hadlow. I managed to fly the kite quite a few time in really varied conditions from underpowered with my skimboard to well powered on a 136 Jimmy Lewis Park. (which my girlfriend bought me for Christmas. she rocks!!)
For 2009, Flexifoil the famous English kite manufacturer comes back with a new Hadlow Pro Model kite after the success of the 2008 model. This year, the kite is available in 5.5m, 7m, 9m, 11m and 13m and can be flown in 4, 5 and 6 lines like last year.
It is important to note that the kite has been developed specifically around Aaron HadlowÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s need so I was almost sure that this kite would perform above my expectations.
So I was aware that a few modifications have been made this year such as removing the centre strut and adding a strut on each tips instead of the traditional wingtip battens which have for effect to create more power and help re-launch the kite more easily after crashing it.
When unfolding the kite for the first time, I could not help noticing the quality of the product as well as the attention to details and different reinforcement patches. I have flown many kites over the years and must say that Flexifoil is still in a league of its own.
- Wind Range: 15/25 knots for 85kilos. I expect that if you are lighter you could probably get going a bit earlier. I was personally able to cruise on my skimboard in less than 15 knots and had a great time.
- Stability: the kite is really stable and does not stall when unhooked even without being trimmed. In powered condition established 25 knots gusty wind, flown on the 5th line the kite was still rock solid in the gust and did not lose its shape.
- Bar feeling: the bar pressure is quite reasonable. Not too heavy nor to light. A good compromise in my opinion. You can feel the kite and appreciate where it is seating in the window at any time.
- Flying characteristic/control: The kite is quite grunty which helped me to get going on my skimboard in really light wind. It turns really well and react almost instantly when you pull/push the bar on one side due to the large wingtip.
- Power: The kite pull is almost constant as the kite seat slightly back on the extremity of the window. You can park and ride and eat the gust as they come which is a really nice sensation. Of course you still have to edge as the de-power throw is limited.
- Relaunch: The kite is really easy to relaunch once on the back compare to what C shape used to be a few years ago. Just pull on one side of the bar or grab the little black floater if you need to pull a bit more.
- Hooked: The Hadlow Pro is quite a powerful kite. The kite boosts quite high when powered. As it reacts quite quickly to the bar input, it took a couple of jumps to time the landing perfectly when sending the kite back, but other than that, you will not be disappointed. Unfortunately, the kite does not come with an autopilot for megaloops or other tricks so you will have to learn those separately. But since you will get some nice air, you will be able to learn new tricks and rotation without any problem.
- Unhooked: I must admit I was really impressed and almost enjoyed it more than flying it hooked in. The kite is so stable that once you are parked at 9/10 oÃ¢â‚¬â„¢clock, unhooking is a delight thanks to the constant pull. The kite will not pop for you, but if you know how to, you will be able to train harder on your tricks as once the lines slack the kite does not fall but somehow waits for you.
- Waves/Wind swell: I only surfed a few small wind swells, but overall had a great feeling. The kite would follow me and on the few occasions I over-rode the kite, it did not fall out of the sky so I could send it back easily. I am convinced it has much more potential but sadly I do not have the waves available where I live.
I liked: The constant pull which made going upwind so easy (but it might just be me). The easy re-launching is for sure a great advantage especially if you unhook and let the bar go very often when learning new tricks.
I disliked: There is no auto pilot so you will not be able to dial Aaron's trick and win the next PKRA tour. I could understand that the lack of de-power might be seen as an issue by some but after a few hours you will improve your edging and will not notice it anymore.
Thank you very much to Flexifoil International for lending me the kite.
For more info about the Hadlow Pro model kite you can download the presentation PDF here and visit www.flexifoil.com or www.hadlowpro.com.