To elaborate on my evolving review of the Windwing kites, I'd thought I'd post a few more observations about the two different kites. After spending most of the day today working, I was able to take off at just after two and headed to the beach at Alameda, which had lower, but more consistent numbers in the afternoon than Berkeley did, which cycled up and down for most of the day.
I first pumped up the Outrage 14, the high aspect kite, and kited for about an hour well-powered and sometimes quite lit. The Outrage kites are lots of fun for hucking big air with sailing hangtime, and with a more aggressive hand can exhibit fast turning as well. Smaller sizes obviously don't need as much input, but there was a big difference when I came in on the Outrage 14 after being somewhat overpowered and rigged down to ride the Rage II 12. Maybe 10-15 minutes or so went by between when I landed the Outrage 14, pumped up the Rage II 12, rigged and launched, so the difference was immediately apparent and was more than just having a kite 2m smaller. The Rage II is a very lively kite in the way it turns sharply and quickly on it's axis. One bystander remarked on the difference in where it sat in the window versus the neighboring 2005 Rhino riding next to me and that it looked like the kite would be good for waves. I had flown the same kite at Ocean Beach on a nuking day, and yes, it was good, but for today's purposes freestyle was the current mode.
I rode around for a bit adjusting for the feel of the smaller kite having just come off the Outrage 14 and threw a few airs and single and double forward loops (yes, I know, I need to expand on the back-looping tricks as well...). Just for fun, I hucked a few airs and at the zenith of my jumps, pulled the bar back hard, instead of forward, to get a feel for the speed and turning of the kite, and then sent it back forward for a smooth landing. On the third or fourth time, I wanted to see how fast this kite was going to come around with full commitment input, so I pulled in the sheeting strap a bit (I'n not Bertrand Fleury!) and hucked a big air, hovered for a split second at zenith and pulled back hard to initiate a kiteloop and the kite immediately pointed downward picking up speed fast, turning in a tight radius and swept through the window coming back up subjecting me to a fairly decent landing, all things considered. I landed a bit vertical and hard, but was up and riding away an instant later.
I probably wouldn't have been inspired to start throwing kiteloops on the Outrages, as the power generated by the kite sweeping through the window would have been immense, raising the stakes considerably. The Rage II 12 spun around fast at command. I kept kiting for another hour or so and hucked and sent another 6 or 7 kiteloops, some of which put me well horizontal and above the kite at times. Landings were another issue altogether as sometimes my timing was good, sometimes it wasn't. The kite behaved consistently and smoothly and whenever I took some gas, coming down hot and hard and semi-crashing, which was a result of bad timing or lack of full commitment when initiating the kiteloop. For me, there's always going to be something new to learn in the freestyle arena and I think the Rage II's are going to inspire me further to try new tricks and moves. I'm a 35-year old guy who makes a living working on houses and getting hurt is really not an option. Mistakes resulting in kiting injuries are often made through lack of confidence and commitment when doing tricks, so having gear that inspires confidence helps you do more while kiting and helps avoid injury. Ultimately, it's all down to you, but at least then you can own up to your mistakes and not blame it on your gear! Good gear is key, and we're experiencing a good time in kiteboarding now. It can be said that virtually all kites are damn good now, and what differentiates them from each other are features and cost. Lots of features are good!