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Friday, 9 August 2013

Review - Flysurfer Rookie 2 GE 9m

This review was originally posted on racekites back in 2005 and I have also added it to my review section over there on the right...

As there is always a lot of anticipation around the launch of a new kite I have decided to post my initial impressions of this kite after only a couple of flights. I will update the post when I have gained more experience with it.

I received my Rookie2 at the beginning of June after buying it from, I ordered prior to going on holiday and it was delivered to work on my return.

I have been flying a 5m Samurai for the past 12 months initially with handles and more recently with a bar and harness. I loved the Samurai but needed to extend my kite bag to encompass a bigger wind range – so decided to go for a depowerable foil. This would not only have the flexibility to fly in a big wind range but the potential for getting more air and for use with my board as well as static flying.

The Frenzy was out of my price range, so after much research opted for the cheaper Flysurfer as it is supposed to have similar characteristics – I am not planning (at the moment) to go on the water so the opened cell design was perfect.

The things that really sold me on it apart from the price (£450) was while reading the PDF instructions from the flysurfer website I came across these 2 lines under the section called Kite-control in extreme situations -

“If you get lifted up very high… Don’t panic! You actually have a small paraglider over top of you and you will be able to control your flight with gentle steering impulses.”

“If the kite collapses, this is called front-stall or luff. Fortunately, you have a FLYSURFER kite and you will notice this phenomenon more often when watching other kites”

It may have been describing the Psycho2, but it was a deal clincher!

What you get

The whole package comes in a large grey and black rucksack, with gold Flysurfer logo’s on it. It has a large main pocket which has room for the kite, bar and lines, but also swallows my harness and pads. It has 3 small pockets (one on the top and two at the bottom) which will take keys, phone, instructions, etc. It would benefit from a couple more, larger external pockets, but is more than adequate for the job, comfy to wear and looks good in a subtle understated way. There is no zip on the main compartment, just draw string inner cover and Velcro lid. So no chance of getting the kite caught and torn in a zip.

Kite – gold (not yellow!), black and grey. 18 cells, all with large open vents (large enough to swallow a pigeon in the middle!), with double stitched and reinforced internal bracing. The fabric feels lighter than the Samurai but remains very crisp. There are no problems with loose threads as was reported in the review of the Psycho2’s (Psycho2 review) and all the stitching and bridle attachments are excellent. It comes with lines and bar attached – ready to fly.

There are four 18m lines, two (red and green) depower-flying-lines as well as two white steering-lines attached to the ends of the bar. They all appear to be sleeved dyneema and thicker than on my 5m Samurai, particularly the coloured lines.

The gold edition (available in 6 and 9m) comes with the 50cm control bar (looks the same as on the psycho2, but I don’t think it is carbon) with the trimmer (only available on the gold edition) to adjust the angle of attack to power or depower the kite for different conditions. The bar is also colour coded so that you know which way round it should be. The Rotor-Kite-Leash (RKL), which should allow for multiple bar rotations without the safety system becoming tangled around the depower loop, and gust absorber. It does not have the multiwac system of the psycho2.

The depower loop has a safety system activated by pulling and then letting go of the red ball (not forgetting to let go of the bar!). This allows the trailing edge and wing tips to fold up allowing the kite to fall to the ground with greatly reduced pull (1:3).

The kite is also secured to the rotor-kite-leash to stop it blowing away, which also has a similar safety quick release – though this means the kite is free to blow away!

Both safety systems are simple to reassemble after practising a couple of times.

The instructions are comprehensive with good pictures; they are generic for the Rookie2, Psycho2 and Extasy (Flysurfer instructions PDF). Again it would be nice to have a DVD showing how to setup, launch, fly and pack away the kite especially as I have never flown a depowerable kite before.

First Flight

A gusty Shropshire day wind blowing anything from 0 – 15mph (approx), first time out with a depowerable foil, so a nice nervous knot in my gut!

Unpacked it all, hooked in ready to go, adjusted the trimmer for minimal power, pulled on the webbing attached to the power lines and it started to rise gracefully into the sky then collapsed. I tried a couple more times with the same result – have I bought a dud? why did I sell my Samurai?

After playing around with the trimmer for 5 or 10 minutes I decided that it wasn’t windy enough for full trim so launched with minimal trim. Different story, the kite flew to the zenith and was much more stable, it started to generate some good pull and lift when the wind picked up, handled the gusts well, but it still tended to collapse whenever the wind disappeared (which it did frequently). Though if one wing tip collapsed or folded in it could be shaken out while still in the air and would continue flying.

With minimal trim launching and landing were straightforward and could be done without assistance – as the kite was sat there, inflated, waiting to go. To launch, after attaching the RKL to the spreader and the depower loop to the hook on the harness, all I needed to do was take a couple of steps back or pull on the webbing of the central power lines and up it would go.

Landing it is even easier, as recommended in the instructions, either unhook or pull the safety on the depower loop and it would flutter down completely depowered onto the trailing edge. You can then either stake it through the loop on the RKL and then weigh the down trailing edge or hook back in and have another go.

Reverse starts were simple, by pulling on the thick steering leader lines the kite would launch backwards and could be turned to land on the trailing edge and then launched as normal.

Later on I had about 10 minutes of steady, clean wind, I am guessing about 5 or 8 mph (from experience) in which the kite became a different beast – it was smooth and stable, and turned really quickly almost on its tips at which point it felt very similar to my Sammi – the grin started to appear. The wind then picked up and the gusts came back, the kite started to generate some good pull enabling me to skud down wind (about 10 – 15m) and it started to show its potential for plenty of lift – unlike the Sammi and one of the reasons I bought this kite.

The control through the bar was excellent, with subtle movements of the bar resulting in subtle movements of the kite. But pull hard on one side and the kite responds in kind, with a tight hard turn. The feedback through the bar was good. Without looking at the kite and while it moved through the window, I was able to feel the change in direction, power and wind strength (sounds a bit Jedi I know). To my surprise the gust absorber (a dense foam cylinder on the depower line, which the bar pushes against when the kite is caught by a gust) seamed took work and did absorb some of that excess energy.

My hour of fun was then up and I had to pack away and head back into work.

Following an e-mail from Gary at I was told that the problems with the kite collapsing and small wind window should resolve with the 6m line extensions and as the kite settles in. This has also been suggested by other members of the forum.

My initial impression, following the early frustration is – that this is going to be a very stable kite, quick to turn and with the potential for loads of power and lift but with the controllability and safety of the depower. Yellow (I mean gold!) wouldn’t normally be my first choice of colour for a kite, but it looks great when flying. Nevertheless it is going to need the line extensions; I am not sure why flysurfer sell the kite with the 18m lines.

The line extensions – four lengths of 6m sleeved and looped dyneema colour coded to match the lines on the kite. Easily attached in 5-10 minutes. Increases the total line length to 24m – lets see what difference these make to the performance. In theory, they should increase the size of the wind window, improve low wind performance and overall give an increase in the stability, power and lift. The only draw back is they may take some of the edge off the handling as shorter lines tend to equal greater responsiveness.

Harlech Beach, North Wales

With the line extensions attached I took the kite out for a couple of hours on the beach.

Wind blowing 8 mph (approx.), sun shining and the beach was very quiet considering it was 20°C, the tide was just about on its way out when we arrived.

Unpacked, bar out of the bag unwound the lines (no tangles) and staked it out through the safety on the RKL. Went back to the bag and got out the kite, unfolded it and it instantly filled and sat there like an eager puppy, ready to fly.

I returned to the bar attached the RKL to the spreader on the harness, hooked into the depower loop and up it went straight to the zenith with a nice steady pull where it sat. I added a slight bit of trim, to prevent it overflying and it sat there happily with only minor touches on the bar to keep its position.

I spent a good 1 ½ hours just static flying it, getting used to the size of the wind window and the feeling of the power zone, lift etc. This kite is awesome, with the line extensions it is very stable, and the wind window is huge. It is pretty quick through the air and I would imagine the speed would increase with the wind speed. It turns on its wing tips and at no point was there any sign of the tips collapsing or luffing.

There is no or very minimal loss of responsiveness with the line extensions, and the bar forces allow for constant feedback at all times.

The power delivery is smooth and constant through-out the middle of the window and as you near the top the lift kicks in. I was able to scud effortlessly and spent 10 minutes filling my shorts with sand while butt scudding and having a real laugh. I managed a few small jumps (2 or 3 feet high) I am positive these will be bigger with more wind.

For the last ½ hour I tried it out with my board, I am still in the early stages of board riding, but this kite dramatically increased my ability, as I was able to do a few good runs and stay in control and slide to a stop – fantastic! it was the best session I have had for ages.

Overall I rate this kite very highly; my initial concerns have been wiped out with the introduction of the line extensions (why don’t flysurfer sell this kite with the longer lines?).

It is well made, looks fantastic in the air, and has great smooth power delivery and the potential for loads of lift. It is quick through the air and turns on a wing tip, but is hugely stable and with the line extensions doesn’t luff or collapse. The safety systems work well and are easy to reassemble. The kite can easily be launched and landed if you are on you own.

I would recommend it for static flying and boarding and in particular on the board my confidence and ability have increased dramatically with this kite.

If you are considering a depowerable foil take a look at the rookie2 as you get a lot of kite for your cash and the performance to match.

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