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Kite U.S. Forums _ Boxing Ring _ Tube vs Foil Kite

Posted by: D_Clark Nov 9 2007, 12:58 PM

This is my first post in the boxing ring, but this is a topic that will lead to some punches being thrown.

The age old debate. Foil kite or Tube kite?
Foils were some of the original kites and have had a cult following over the years.
It seems that only engineers fly foils, are they on to something?
or are foils just for nerds?

Basically there are two major groups the open cell guys and the closed cell foils. Here is a simple primer for the those who don't know. Open celled foils are used only for land kiting and snow kiting or kitesurfing if your good enough to NEVER drop your kite in the water. Closed cell foils have a one way valve on the leading edge of the kite and the air can fill the cells but can't easily escape back out. This allows them to be used on the water, since they will float for a long time.

Foil kites are like a religion, ones riders are converted thats all they want to fly. There are the crazy guys who follow the profit Peter (Lynn) and the creations from New Zealand. Peter Lynn foils may look like flying maxi pads, but they do work and are definitely unique. Then there is the German Flysurfer, these guys have spent way too much time engineering these kites. The company is owned by a paraglider firm and the kites look like wings (they even have a kite that can also be used as a trainer glider). Flysurfer is known for making the best light wind gear available but what about everyday kite sizes?

OK thats enough background on foils. lets start the debate.
- DC

Posted by: D_Clark Nov 9 2007, 01:17 PM

Tube Kites
They float - easy water relaunch
Simple Bridal = more depower and safety
Fragile (they are very rigid)
PUMPING - oh what fun, especially on BIG kites
Bladders (oh what fun it is to find pin holes)
One pump (repairs take longer)
Battens - I HATE battens because they break
Bridals on Blimps = tangles
Durability - will only last a season or two under moderate to heavy use.

Foil Kites
(I'm going to break this one up in to two groups because I'm trying to rationalize my ownership of a Peter Lynn foil.)
Peter Lynn (Arc foil)
No Bridal = Simple
4 lines - clean and simple
Flys just like a C-kite
Self inflating
It looks like a flying Maxi Pad
Relaunch - requires a special technique
Low Projected Area - c-shape because it has no bridal
Battens - another thing to break
Flysurfer (2006-Current Generation)
Durability - built strong and will last many seasons
4 lines or 5 lines - clean and simple
Depowers just like a bow or SLE-kite
Self inflating
Very high power per m2 - large projected area
Large Wind Range
Snow, Land and Water use from 1 kite
Water and boat Launchable
Spendy - Higher initial price
Bridals and pulleys - bow kites have the same stuff
Hard to dry out after a water landing (my 19m is 34ft long!)

Posted by: don pitcher Nov 10 2007, 09:30 AM

Nice topic Dave!

You did a good job with the Pros and Cons, but I have to add my two cents regarding, “All foil kite owners are engineers?”

I know for a fact that all foil kite owners are not engineers. But, for someone to be happy with their large depowerable foil, I think it takes a personality that is willing to take proper care when packing and unpacking the kite. This is because packing and unpacking is when most bridle tangles will occur. If someone is an “it’s good enough just jam the kite in the bag” type of person, that would not be a good match for a foil. If someone takes care and packs the kite properly, then bridle tangles become a rare occasion.

A person with physics on the brain is not necessary for a foil. But, a personality that is willing to overcome the initial intimidation of a complex bridle system is necessary. Engineer types are not easily intimidated with complex mechanisms, so they find it easy to enjoy the versatility of a depowerable foil. Once someone becomes accustomed to the bridle and the many benefits of a foil become their standard, it can be very hard to switch back to bladder kites.

IMO, no one kite is right for everyone. We just have to find which kite best suits our needs and personality.

Here is a good video that shows how to properly pack a large foil.

Posted by: BoneDoc Nov 10 2007, 06:55 PM

I thought I'd add my 2 cents worth.

My main reasons for flying foils (Flysurfer) are:

1. Self-Landing-much easier than with my bow. Self launching is also good. My bow I have to drift launch which is not as easy in the waves.
2. No pumping. I really hate to pump. It is simply unredeeming manual labor. I would never have thought this had I not got used to the self-inflating foil. I'm not sure
I could go back-maybe that is just laziness on my part.
3. Durablity-I have had to replace leading edges in my tubes. This really bites in terms of time/money.
4. Portability-the foils pack down smaller-I like this since I travel some with my equipment. Also, I don't need to take a space-occupying pump and its paraphenalia. The pump is
just one more thing that can breakdown.
5. Depower-the Flysurfer depowerability is awesome.
6. One set of kites for snow/land/water. I really would hate to use a tube in winter (See reasons #2 and 3)

Things that I don't like:
1. Occasional bridle tangle. These are easy to solve but I still don't like to spend the 10-15 minutes it may take to solve it.
2. Dropping it in big waves. If I don't relaunch quickly, it may get twisted up.

Things I'm not sure about:
1. Self-rescue. There are methods to do this but I haven't practiced them yet. I have been good about being close enough to swim in or have been able to drag in.

Because I was earlier in my learning curve with tubes rather than foils, I admit that I am biased.

Don Pitcher has swayed me significantly since his engineering background is convincing.


Posted by: Thirdcoast Kiteman Jul 11 2009, 07:32 PM

Nice thread...I fly HQ kites...anyone else out there flown an HQ Neo?

Posted by: KyleK Jul 17 2009, 11:24 AM

foils are mooshy feeling with no zip or snap.

they can also sink on you if you get in a pinch.

just too easy in the winter though.

here's a question: why is it that foilers seem to always leave lines attached and pumpers detach everytime?

Posted by: Cruz Jul 17 2009, 01:12 PM

Hmm, interesting question. I do that too and did not even realize it. I guess because your trainer was a foil and it was always easier to leave the bar attached to roll the kite up.

Posted by: pbr Jul 20 2009, 06:15 PM

The real question on every one's mind is, which performs better in GPS speed runs???

Posted by: KyleK Jul 21 2009, 11:19 AM

forget the gps, lets dragrace beyatches.

Rebel vs. neo in the lee of the Frankfort pier.

if i ever get up there?

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