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TKB REVIEW: 2013 Boardriding Maui Cloud Strutless Kite

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Boardriding Maui Cloud
Sizes Available: 5, 6, 8, 10, 13, 17m
Sizes Tested: 8, 10, 13m

Boardriding Maui Says:

What makes this strutless design special is its ability to dynamically twist resulting in exciting steering speed. The draft profile fills freely for great range with clean low-end lift, delivering power smoothly and reducing stall at the edge of the window. Surfing down the line, it drifts like nothing else. Super lightweight, the Cloud feels alive. It’s often the first kite that can get off the beach and the last one still out riding.

TKB Says:

We will freely admit that when the Cloud showed up for us to test we were very skeptical of the strutless concept. The Cloud is the first strutless kite on the market and is quite different compared to anything we’ve tested before. The Cloud comes in a simple stuff sack and is amazingly light and small when packed compared to traditional strutted kites.

The Cloud features a moderately long bridle, very wide wingtips, and a squared-off outline. The leading edge features a large diameter Boston valve and there are no adjustments to make on the bridle. It is inflated the same way as other kites and does not require more leading edge pressure than traditional kites.

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Currently Boardriding Maui does not produce a control bar, but the Cloud can be used with any 4-line bar with all lines even. The kite’s bridle uses fool-proof connections with loops on the leading edge bridle and knots on the trailing edge.

Launching the Cloud is no different than any other kite and we were able to successfully self launch and self land without having to use any special techniques. In the sky the Cloud feels very light and extremely stable. Turning is relatively quick and immediate with medium bar pressure.

An area where the Cloud really shines is in the amount of low-end power it produces. Our testers came to the conclusion that you should be able to get away with riding a Cloud that is about two square meters smaller than the average kite. With no struts we expected the Cloud to become more unstable and distort under load, but it seems like the opposite is true. The more load that is on the canopy the better it looks and the more solid the kite feels.

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Relaunching the Cloud is surprisingly easy. Our testers reported that they were able to relaunch it by simply turning the bar and did not need to pull on a back line. The testers also found that relaunching is easiest if you first wait for the Cloud to drift further downwind before starting the relaunch process as this causes the canopy to open more.

The Cloud is easy to get upwind on and our testers felt it has good jumping performance. Where the Cloud feels very different than traditional kites is the way it sheets. The kite’s full range of power lies in a relatively short bar throw which can lead the kite to feel a little on-or-off until you get used to smaller movements with the bar. With no struts the canopy begins to luff just behind the leading edge as you sheet out, but this is normal for this kite. Riders who do not like to see or hear their kite canopy flapping may have a hard time adjusting to the Cloud, but our testers had no problem getting used to it and commented that it reminded them of a sailboat sail being sheeted out in overpowered conditions.

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As you reach the upper end of the kite’s wind range and sheet it out further, the Cloud remains controllable, but the trailing edge of the canopy will begin to flutter, especially during turns. At this point the fluttering becomes distracting as you can feel it in the bar as you ride, but if you’ve depowered the Cloud to this point, you should be on a smaller kite.

Overall, we were really surprised by how easy and fun the Cloud is to ride. It’s a different riding experience than other kites, but not radically so. Because it’s so different some riders may be reluctant to give it a try, but the Cloud is a well-refined product that a good range of riders will enjoy.

Pros:

  • Great low end power.
  • The Clouds are very lightweight and take up about half the space of a traditional kite when packed.
  • Extremely stable in the sky with quick, direct, and predictable handling.

Cons:

  • The Cloud is a different kind of kite that takes a bit of time to get used to.
  • This kite must be very heavily sanded or tied to a solid object to keep it from being blown off a windy beach. It’s a good idea to fill the kite bag with sand and tie it to the kite so it stays put.
  • The canopy flutters a lot when riding this kite at the top of its wind range. Riders who like to ride overpowered may find it hard to get used to.

Tips:

  • Check your line lengths before flying the cloud for the first time. It’s very sensitive to trim and it’s critical that you start with all four lines even.
  • Get used to the luffing in the forward part of the canopy when sheeting out. This is normal and isn’t a bad thing. If the Cloud is luffing along its trailing edge you’ve sheeting out too much and you should be on a smaller kite.
  • When relaunching, it’s best if you wait for a few moments to let the kite drift further downwind until the canopy is fully open.

TKB will be testing more strutless kites as they become available. Strutless kite reviews will be posted here.

Read all about who else is coming out with strutless kites and their different design philosophies in the latest issue of TKB.

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