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II / Next Generation Predator
From 2.2 to 6 m with a 1.7 and 9m to come
From £170 - £600
Sky Kites originally launched the new legendary Predator
around 1995. It's the kite that helped achieve Mark Kingshott's world
buggy record of 53 mph.
What Mirkovic has been hunting all along with his Predators is more pull from less/the same
sail area. In the Predators Mirkovic has surpassed himself with kites that deliver even
more grunt', extraordinary pull, from the same sail sizes, incredibly delivered in such a way as to not
scare the trousers off the flier.
Each kite comes in its own nylon bag and is 'para' packed, ready to pull out and unroll in seconds if
desired. You see straight away just how different this kite is from its predecessor the noticeably thinner
foil section and change from the deep rectangle to slight elliptical shape being the two most obvious,
slightly higher aspect ratio less apparent at first glance.
We tested the kites in a variety of wind strengths with a good deal of light wind flying. It's not overstating the case to say they were
incredibly efficient. Amazingly nearly all the sizes would fly in down to 2 to 3 mph of wind with surprisingly positive forward drive to boot. Even then you could sense that they had loads of gas in the tank if the wind should pick up. Slight increases in wind speed delivered a correspondingly satisfying increase in what the buggy boys euphemistically call 'grunt'.
Take-off was usually simple enough and easily achievable in the all important reverse mode. The kites accelerated up/across the wind window with impressive speed, developing huge traction en route. They flew steadily and had a phenomenally large window with excellent lateral movement both low down and high up. Edge handling was also excellent with no real hint of the tips collapsing or nose rolling over.
Despite the huge pull handling in normal flight was surprisingly fight allowing you to fly much more on the fingertips than hanging on with every sinew of handlarm strength. This made them especially good for beginners who tried and found they could handle the pull better than expected in addition to finding basic control relatively easy to pick up. Interestingly braking was smooth and the reverse flight comparably fast and straight showing no sign of collapsing the rear of the kite. Once down and
parked on the ground the kite stayed reassuringly put.
For this part of the test particularly I am indebted to my co-test-pilots, experienced power fliers and buggy drivers, both much more capable of really putting the kite through its considerable paces than I.
No problem, once sat in your buggy the kites were in their element, incredibly quick and powerful, at the same time incredibly stable, able to fly and hold position in all parts of the wind window. The impressive 'grunt' levels and comfortable-to- pull inspired confidence, the kites holding their shape as weft as they held the window, no suggestion of collapse anywhere in the canopy.
The power at the window edge, hard to believe at first, made for very fast buggy speed. The sails' efficiency meant less resort to those tiring huge sweeps around the sky searching for those extra pockets of power. Less tiring flying means more time spent driving your buggy means more fun for your money (unless your idea of fun is lying on the ground gasping for breath). The lutes were comfortable in the turn, allowing the flier to steer with two or four lines, combination turns seeming to give the best result. The strong pull comes smoothly and there's
never a worry about being pulled out at any stage of a turn. The great thing was that the kites had enough power and drive to satisfy the hard-to-please experts but would fly at more comfortable speed and power levels for beginners simply by partially applying the brake lines.
The next generation Predator kites are very fast racing kites, also very stable, user friendly and unintimidating. This makes them suited to buggy drivers irrespective of their experience level, a considerable bonus. This is a good time for a new kite, leaving plenty of time before the next race season for buggy drivers to adjust and prepare themselves for the new technique a change of kite always demands. In a market developing as fast as traction kiting the need for new products to sustain the increasing clamour of interest makes this a well timed new release. Mirkovic will hope to get the same life span for his new kite as the original has achieved, still setting new standards even as Predator H makes its entry into the world. He has consistently striven for the radical, awkward approach that conventional wisdom says cannot work, deriving considerable pleasure proving the 'experts' wrong. If they're as wrong as they were last time this promises to be an outstanding traction kite.