What a crazy afternoon it was today. Managed to get out with some of local racers, which included Chip Wasson, while it was still ebbing at Crissy Field. Started by pumping up an EPIC Renegade 9m, but with the lulls dropping in, thought better of it and also pumped up an EPIC Renegade 11m. Knowing that Dimitri Maramenides of EPIC Kites would be visiting our Nor Cal enclave, I figured lots of people would be wanting to try his kites so it couldn’t hurt to have extra ones pumped up. Of course, as it turned out, any of these kites would have been fine as the wind persisted nicely, albeit gusty on occasion.
Got out on the 11m Renegade towards the end of the ebb current and made it out to the Golden Gate Bridge. Always a lovely site and there was some nice swell heading from mid span crossing towards the other side of the north tower of the bridge, that was rockin’. Also caught up with a few tourist ferries, which make for some great swell riding as long as you can keep up with them. While I’ve ridden the Renegade 9m, this was my first time on the 11m and what struck me was how smooth and consistently it turns, just like the 9m. I just didn’t feel the size difference in the reaction of the kite. This of course is EPIC’s wave kite, but it’s so stable and predictable that you can really ride in any condition. The bar is very reactive and powered, which is great when wanting to keep your turns strong on a wave or on the swells put out by the ferries.
After about an hour or so of awesome riding under the bridge, I returned to shore to find Dimitri and his new bride, Helen, ready to enjoy the Crissy vibe. Dimitri rushed up to me to get me to try out the Screamer 12m which is a completely different kite. It’s also very different than the Screamer 10m LTD which is the other kite I have. It didn’t take much convincing to take the Screamer out for spin. Of course, it was nuking by this time and anything bigger than a 9m was totally unnecessary, but I thought it would be good to put the bigger kite to the test, especially on a directional board, so I could see how much wind it could withstand.
To my surprise, this kite not only had very light bar pressure despite the 25+ gusts we were getting, but it was totally stable in what would certainly be overpowered conditions for most 12m kites. It also handled great around turns, and you could only tell the full power of the kite by boosting a jump and realizing that it was keeping a lot bottled up. On any jump, it would unleash its fury and you’d get really scary BIG air. The thought of a kite offering that much control in that much wind with so little bar pressure is unheard of to me. It’s a very different shaped kite than the Renegade, but one that you have to take seriously. For unhooked tricks in any conditions, this would be the superior kite, since you’d be sacrificing nothing in terms of performance in order to get some very forgiving bar pressure.
Lots of kiters got a chance to trial these kites, and all came back raving about the different features of each kite. Because I like to ride a lot of waves, I naturally prefer the all in power of the Renegades, but secretly I harbor desires to have full quivers of both Renegades and Screamers to match my mood of the day.
As the flood tide moved into action and the winds got gustier, those trying the kites were still having no problems making it back to shore. One friend even went out on the 9m Renegade and managed to get back in what seemed to be very light winds. The downstroke power of the Renegade gets you through any adverse low wind circumstances.
Needless to say, I’m a big fan of these kites and recommend that anyone considering new kites at least give these babies a try out. Looks like Dimitri is sticking around the SF Bay area one more day on Thursday (3/25/10), and if the winds come up on the coast, he will likely be doing another demo day at Ocean Beach, otherwise he will be back at Crissy Field. Look for tweets about where he will be for the demo on the Epic Kites site.