Years kiting: 6
Stats: 174cm, 75kg
Kites owned: Wipika FreeAir, Wipika Wip, Naish X4, Flexifoil Strike, Slingshot Fuel, Takoon Skoop, Ocean Rodeo Stinger, Peter Lynn Arc, Takoon Nova2
KITE: 8.5m GK Sonic on short lines for fast turning surf/unhooked
BOARDS: 128x38 FLX, Nobile skimboard, 6.1 surfboard
Preferred wind speeds: 18-25knts
Number of 2008 kites demo’ed: 7
Why a new kite:
Baby on the way has reduced space in the car to a premium, need to swap my two kites for one. Would like a kite mainly for the surf, don’t want an all rounder comprise kite that is “ok” for everything.
Min required attributes for a new kite:
Non-delay response, kiteloop with confidence, predictable, simple relaunch, large(ish) wind range, stable when unhooked, must have some bar pressure, stylish, durable, simple safety systems, not a nancy kite(i.e. if I get it wrong the kite spanks me). *** It has to better than my existing kites ***
Conditions: Gusty 10-18knots, cross onshore, knee to waist high waves
Boards used: Nobile skimboard with front fins removed, 132x38 twin tip
Session duration: 60mins
The 10m Era performs well in light gusty conditions with smooth power delivery and constant tension i was in no way lit up, but managed to head upwind and do moderate jumps/toeside riding/powered carves etc on my skimboard. Only just managed to hold my ground in the lighter winds on the FLX but could do backloops and small to moderate jumps on the gusts. Kiteboy had a go at the same time and he was managing to do some impressive kiteloops and un-hooked tricks as he is lighter than me. This kite is great for light wind(12-15knots) and does a great job of almost replacing my 12m nova2 for bottom end.
First impressions of the Era are very good indeed, the kite has constant tension with no zinging and still maintains smooth power without luffing in light winds. Had to share the kite with other guys demo’ing and there was a constant squabble when the kite had to be passed to the next rider. Things were looking promising.
Conditions: Gusty 25-33knts with the odd gust of 35knt(according to seabreeze), cross onshore, head high waves.
Boards used: FLX twin tip, surfboard
Session duration: 140mins
Was fortunate enough to get the demo alone and for longer this time and had a chance to have a good look at the shape and construction. It’s almost impossible to determine what category this kite sits in(except that it’s an inflatable), as it’s a combination of styles and shapes. The construction on the pre-production kite complete is good, but there are areas for improvement. Most notably are the safety systems and the lack of protection on the leading edge, this is only a pre-production however and improvements have been made to the final product. Simone went through a huge number of shapes/kites before fine tuning to this one and while the safety is ok the kite itself feels polished, is very stylish and looks sweet in the sky.
On the beach alone in 28knots and head high surf:
Self launched the kite with ease and played around with it a little on the beach to see if I could get it to stall/hindenburg or other nasties. I am an expert in flying kites badly and did my experienced best to drop it as it’s not my kite and a demo. The Era is predictable, very powerful and accurate in the sky. I tried to fly it past the window, the kite slows down and then stops just after the window(if you spank it), then slowly returns back into the window. I hate using the word stable, reminds me of horses, but this kite is exactly that. After getting too cheeky on the beach and a little friendly with the fence I hit the water.
Heading out into the surf on my FLX was pure bliss, the kite’s predictable power delivery enabled me to ollie over the incoming waves and sail smoothly over the “bubbles” behind the breakers with no loss of speed or dunking. It took me a couple of goes to find the sweet spot for jumping with the Era(quite a difference to the sonic and the nova). I will get slated for this overused statement, but the kite feels “C” like in its power delivery. There isn’t any other way to describe it. Once the sweet spot is sorted then boosting on this kite is immediate, there’s no delay on the bar(this ain’t no bow kite), you won’t get arms like Arnie using the kite, but you will feel it in the morning if you go for it. Toeside/heelside/gybes, using the kite to pull you round, feel really smooth and if done just in front of an breaking wave are a joy with the power of the Era really starting to impress. Backloops/kiteloops/unhooked raleys and other middle of the road tricks were done with ease, the kite installs confidence even with powered landings. I did get it wrong a few times and got spanked, this kite has some power and remember to bend your knees if you pull on the bar mid trick.
My FLX is very flexi and holds a lot of power down, it bl**dy well needed to with the power of the Era creating impressive line tension and testing my edging ability. Needless to say, boosting/popping/looping/powered carves/etc all done with a massive smile. This kite is simply unreal, my original idea of replacing my two kites for just one was fast changing into how many kites can I fit in a roofbox? This session had my pea-brain thinking what new stylish(hahaha) wakestyle tricks I needed to be learning this summer. Negative of this kite is that it makes you feel better than you are and i can see myself doing tricks that i am not quite ready for and relying on the kite to help me through. I am not into “massive boosting”, but on occasion when I spanked the kite hard and fast(yeah baby) through the window the upwards pull is luuuurrvely. You don’t get the hang gliding float like you do on a bow, but landing is soft with the kite retaining power and speed. Those of you enjoying looping and double looping and landing at speed will relate to the feel of the ERA. Lots of scope for impressive and powerful tricks.
Changed over to my surfboard(yes its strapless, no I don’t think that makes me cool):
Was a W/SW so headed out natural on my heelside, the ability of the kite to pull me up and over the breakers is superb, a quick sine wave pattern produces immediate additional power if required, there’s nothing worse than getting bogged behind a wave. Did a simple carve/gybe without changing my feet and headed back in toeside. I used the Era to “tow me into” a wave, then tried to surf it while parking the kite(repeated this process of out and back for 25mins or so). On the wave feels close to normal surfing, I easily adjusted my feet towards the middle of the board and “released the edge on the board”. Basically the kite just sat back while i tried to impersonate slater. The kite performed a lot better than me with its predictability and stability. Only negative is that the kite pulls more than my Sonic, it doesn’t quite have the same depower range so wasn’t able to just cruise on the wave, couldn’t be a lazy b*gger like normal and requires more pressure on my back foot than I am used to.
Headed downwind for 800m (switching between goofy and natural), using the kite to pull me into waves and back down them(like in the magazines, but without style). Doing powered turns and using the kite to change directions was surprisingly forgiving, the kite really feels smooth all over the window. Heading back upwind toeside into the waves, which is my weakest link, was tricky while i got used to the kite. Head first wipeouts for quite a few minutes before getting the hang of it. The Era at this stage is no quicker at gaining upwind metres than my Sonic toeside into the breaking waves. This is probably my technique rather than the kite, but i thought i would mention it just the same. Heading upwind heelside into breaking waves is about the same as my trusty sonic.
Kept swapping between my twin tip and surfboard for about an hour, doing downwinders and then tracking back upwind and started to relax and ride with the kite. The gusts coming through(seabreeze says 35knt tonight) were too much for the kite and the top end for the 10m with my stats and abilities is 30knts, any more and you are just surviving. Got spanked repeatedly and crapped myself on how much power this kite has, better riders may be able to fly the Era at this wind speed and power setting and achieve some amazing results. The wind steadied back at about 25knts, which is this kites sweet spot for sure, middle of the road tricks(backloops/kiteloops/raleys etc)all done easily.
The kite goes upwind fine and kiters with ability won’t have any problems, you will need to learn how to edge properly though to get the most out of it. Seasoned bow kiters will have a few sessions adapting, but the performance of the kite far outweighs any lack of depower or easy edging. This is not a kite for beginners, grab a second hand bow instead and work up towards the ERA or other performance kites.
The production kite comes with line extensions which will increase the top end and enable an average rider with average ability to use a 10m Era on a 128-132 twin tip a range of 12-30+knots(different size boards and bigger cahunas can extend the range either way). Having a one kite quiver can be a pain, i’d recommend two if you have the cash.
Things not tested:
EXPERT Tricks: I am not a sponsored rider and when it comes the magazine style tricks I can’t comment, but the power is smooth, jumping feels high and immediate and looping is a joy.
NEW Safety Systems: The pre-production kite doesn’t have a great safety setup. Going on what I have read and posts by simone himself these issues are resolved and the production kite has better construction and improved safety systems. Some riders have mentioned that the quick release is too sensitive even though i didn’t notice anything with the demo. The bar looks sweet so i will see what the production one is like and if there is a problem then I will use another bar or modify the Royal to suit me(which is what i normally do anyway). If it’s a huge issue then i would expect a fix to be released by the manufacturer.
Different Setups: The kite arrived setup and I didn’t adjust any connections. There are a few options for those of you that like to tweak the connection points, knot settings yadda yadda.
A powerful, predictable and stylish kite designed by a kiter for a kiter. The ERA will improve my wave-riding and allow me to try more technical unhooked tricks with confidence. The smoothness through the window will improve positioning on the wave whilst the power “should” improve my powered spray shots for magazine covers. The Era is exactly what I want out of a kite for my current kiting and style requirements, this doesn’t mean the other kites I demo’ed weren’t any good, on the contrary none of the 2008 kites I demo’ed were bad, the Era is just what I am personally after. There are heaps of new kites out at the moment all getting rave reviews, which is great news for the industry. I don’t think most people need a new kite, but I do think everyone wants one. If you are looking for a new kite, then demo as many kites as your local dealer will let you and don’t forget to include the ERA even just for comparison. And remember that a 2008 kite should be better than the your current kite!!!
When my 10m arrives I will re-review the ERA and post the differences compared with pre-production if people are interested. This kite is proving so popular overseas that waiting for the ERA to arrive is annoying as fek! I’ll just have to keep re-demoing the demo until then.
WOW Meerkat, that took some reading after a very good 3 hour session today. The ERA looks very nice and solid, I've seen it out a few times now. That 10m with 2 or 3 boards to chose from will be great for someone after a large wind range out of 1 kite.
I'm still extremely happy with the rise though, the 8m handled very nicely today.
Readers that are in the market for a new kite should get in touch with West Oz Kiteboarding for a demo before buying, they have some really nice kites that noone else has to offer being Ocean Rodeo and Royal. They've also distributed Liquid Force and Flexi Foil for some time now.
I have no affiliation but was very happy with my dealings with them and like to pass it onto others.
Sounds like you have really looked around meerkat, good work and enjoy.
Other reviewers opinion's on the 14m and the 10m
10m era arrived last week and the production model is much more polished than the pre-prod demo i had. Had a quick session today in 18-20 knots and it feels and looks great.
couple of kite-pron-pics.
Hope the black and white looks just as sweet!!
ok seriously this is liek a 1000 word essay. Nice.