U-Turn, created from the ashes of Airea in the last few years have been working on plenty of kites and systems for the market recently.
Ernst Strobl was the designer of the Raptor and Raptor II and has been designing kites for U-Turn since Aireas dissolving in 2002. U-Turn currently has a number of kites in their range:
The Helium – Designed for beginners, a good kite for static flying and beginner buggying.
The Oxigen – U-Turns current mid-range kite, a mix of speed, power and gust handling is a good kite for progressing in bugging and landboarding.
The Nitro – This is U-Turns top of the range race kite, it is extremely technical to fly, some pilots get on with its very ‘edgy’ performance and flying characteristics, whereas others cannot get on with it, in the right hands the Nitro could do great things. Damien Sahier sits 6th in Europe in 2005 flying Nitro’s.
There are two main items written about below:
1) The Helium De-Power
2) The New Butane
Read on if you want to know more…
1) The Helium De-Power
The other week I was pleasantly surprised while flying at my local spot when Bill the UK distributor appeared and offered me a go of his 6.8m Helium on the UDS de-power system. Granted there was only 8mph wind and usually I’d expect to barely get my 12.5m Flysurfer Titan (old skool!) in the air to get rolling on the board, but the 6.8m was such a nice kite to fly.
I’ve flown so many kites in the past, I had an original 7.3m Frenzy ’03, I’ve flown all the Frenzy’s since then, Flysurfers, Peter Lynn’s and various Sabres, but the only thing that surprised and impressed me as much as the Helium did was the Frenzy ’03, it was so ahead of its time the whole experience was just: FUN! I found the Helium exactly like it, it was an enjoyable kite to fly.
People complain that the Frenzy’s tips collapse, even on the ’05s, thats been my experience too at times but even in gusty/lumpy conditions the Helium didn’t luff even once, it didn’t deflate and it only stalled once in a whole session boarding with it, in 8mph winds.
The speed of the 6.8m through the window and to the zenith was a bit lacking, however turning and lift were pretty spot on, it didn’t jerk you up in the air so you forgot what you were going to do, but it didn’t just float you along a millimeter off the ground for a minute. It was a good combination of float and pop. Letting me land some reasonable 360s, grabs and the odd one footer.
I’m looking forward to flying it again sometime, maybe a larger size, with a touch more modification to speed it up. Try and get a fly of one if you can, it left me grinning.
The question your asking now is: How does it compare to the Sabre and Frenzy? Well… I’d say it has a bit less de-power range, you feel a lot more connected to the kite (you know theres a lot of power there). Price is about £210 plus £60 to fit/deliver the UDS kit, and because its kite only add another £70 for lines and a bar. So your talking: £340 for a 6.8m De-Powerable kite compared with £500 for a 7m Frenzy ’05 or £515 or £615 for a 5m or 7.5m Frenzy ’06 respectively. I don’t think you’ll get better value for money on a de-powerable anywhere
2) The New Butane
Well I’ve just rambled on about my experience with the Helium, so I’ll be brief with this part so you can get off and get a drink…
The Butane has only just become available in the UK. U-Turn are also a paragliding manufacturer and they have integrated some of their technology to increase stability, into the Butane.
Its designed as a Race kite, but also as a Freestyle kite, fixed bridle, fast through the window, but also stable enough to with-stand gusts and lulls in the wind.
U-Turn also have an introductory offer on the Butane until the end of October ’05 of 20% off.
I haven’t flown one so won’t comment on its performance at this moment in time, but rest assured I intend to have a blast around on the beach next time Bill turns up at my local spot.