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Author: Subject: HQ Zeekai initial thoughts
nate76




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[*] posted on 12-14-2015 at 07:26 PM
HQ Zeekai initial thoughts


So I'm getting ready to go out-of-country for the next few weeks, but thought I would share a couple of my personal thoughts and experiences on the Zeekai now that I've had a chance to get a few hours on it.

We've had several great light wind opportunities here locally in the last month, and I also just got back from the Bighorn Snowkite Summit (which was great). Both Friday and Saturday in the Bighorns were very light, so it was a perfect testing ground for the Zeekai. I own the 19m but was also able to get some time on the 13m while in WY.

In a nutshell, it is a superb lightwind kite - even in the smaller 13m size. It makes riding in lightwinds about as easy, pain-free and enjoyable as you could ask for. Because of the open cell nature and light weight 20D fabric, it is pretty amazing how little wind you need to get it up and making power.

To offer up a couple of examples, Friday afternoon the winds were dying out and all the other kiters were starting to head back to the staging pick-up area downwind of the main riding location. I kited back to the staging area to drop off some gear. Seeing that our pick-up had not arrived yet and noting a light but steady breeze, I decided to break out the 19m Zeekai. I'm not sure what the actual winds were, but they were light. There were 2 other kites out: one was the 15m Matrixx2 that I had just rode back and gave to a buddy; the other was an Ultralight Summit. Both were staying close to the pick-up area where the wind was actually the strongest.

Light, steady winds like these are the bread and butter conditions for the 19m. Setup is a breeze: just run the lines out, stake the brake handle, lay out the kite and go. The kite really loves to go upwind; I immediately set out to go back to the area where everybody was coming in from, which was upwind, past a couple wind shadows, and actually sitting in a bit of a wind shadow. The 19m made pretty short work of it. I horsed around for a bit enjoying the light winds, then headed back to the others where I did a couple high speed passes for the guys who were stuck at the side of the road. When I stopped to pack up, I got more than one, "Holy crap!" from folks who couldn't believe I was still kiting - let alone how fast I was going - in that amount of wind.

Saturday, conditions were even lighter. The first person to get a kite in the air had to sled three quarters of the way up the 800ft hill on a snowmobile to an area with enough wind to inflate his Ozone Chrono. As a litmus test, I decided to attempt my summit from the base of the mountain. I waited for a puff of air to come by, and it was enough to get the kite up and start looping my way up the hill. I was the only kite to make it from the base that morning, and it felt good to conquer the mountain - good winds or not.

Later that afternoon I had decided to have one final run. There was a 15m Ultralight Summit that had been trying to get up the hill but was currently on the ground. I threw out the 19m Zeekai and within 5 minutes had it up and was cruising around, hollering and having a blast. Had enough wind to park the kite and even get some jumps in. The smooth winds, glowing mountains and untouched powder in that particular area made for a pretty magical book end to my trip to the Bighorns.

The Zeekai is being marketed as a Free-race kite (and for good reason); I think what it is ultimately going to be remembered for is quite possibly one of the best light wind kites of its time. For light winds I find myself reaching for it over everything else. The key reason being that it is just so hassle-free in those conditions. Some have argued that the newer closed cell foils make pre-inflation a nonissue. . I can tell you from experience that it took a couple of guys a good 10 minutes of trudging through snow and a couple of resets to get an 18m Matrixx inflated enough to take to the the air. In similar winds with the Zeekai it had just been a matter of setting the kite out, giving a tug on the front lines and I was off and running. That's not anything against the Matrixx2 - which has excellent lightwind inflation for a closed cell kite - its just that these winds were really, really light. Some will argue that if the winds are that light, its not worth kiting. Thats an age-old debate and a subjective one at that. All I know is that I was having a ball motoring around the mountain, going upwind and even getting some jumps in on multiple occasions on that particular WY trip while most everyone else was struggling to keep their kite in the air, if not completely grounded.

Here in Colorado, we get a lot of post-frontal days that are very light after theyve dumped snow. This kite has already been a session-saver on several occasions, and for the conditions Im often given, it is going to significantly multiply the number of sessions available to me this season. Particularly locations within a short distance from my house. As a guy with a lot of things vying for my time (as we all have), that is worth its weight in gold. And the fact that the sessions arent just mowing the lawn, but fast and floaty, really has me looking forward to future light sessions on this kite.





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nate76




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[*] posted on 1-14-2016 at 01:19 PM


Had another fun day with the Zeekai yesterday. Some of the best overall conditions I've had yet - certainly in terms of snow.

Patched together some video footage; it was a fun day:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xy6l0jbyg0






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abkayak


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[*] posted on 1-14-2016 at 01:33 PM


gotta admit that do look fun...i skied 40yrs before i ever found this kite stuff, now i dont ski too much effort involved
i fly in front of the ocean every time out but theirs something about those mountains that's really quite appealing
:thumbup::thumbup:




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ssayre




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[*] posted on 1-14-2016 at 01:33 PM


:thumbup: Awesome
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lunchbox




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[*] posted on 1-14-2016 at 02:25 PM


Great reading and very fun video to watch. That looks like a magical session to me!

Damn....I got to try this snowkite thing :P




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Windstruck


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[*] posted on 1-14-2016 at 03:54 PM


Nate - that video was a great taste of the sweetness you are experiencing on the Eastern side of the mountains we both so enjoy. I like you editing style and song choice to boot! Thanks for the share... And the stoke!



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yeti


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[*] posted on 1-14-2016 at 05:04 PM


Well you have the powder. It's a shame when the wind packs that down before you get a chance to use it. Gotta have the big kites to save the snow.
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Baluk




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[*] posted on 1-14-2016 at 06:14 PM


Looks like a lot of fun! I can't wait for snow to actually accumulate here. Just had our first snowfall this week in Toronto.

I don't think any of our lakes are gonna freeze over this year... by the time it's thick enough it's gonna start getting warm again.




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nate76




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[*] posted on 1-15-2016 at 05:09 AM


abkayak/lunchbox - you'd be hooked if you tried it! The 3D aspect of snow kiting makes it a lot of fun; there's just something about skiing up a mountain that never gets old.

Steve - ya, I spend so much time trying to eek out sessions on barely-covered fields, I forget how nice it is to have a deep base. Made the jump landings feel like you were landing on pillows (even the screwed up ones!).

Got some buddies I'm trying to get trained up and we're going to try to hit the spot again on Saturday - hopefully it hasn't gotten crusty by then.




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yeti


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[*] posted on 1-15-2016 at 05:03 PM


Gotta have the junk skis when you're itching at the beginning of the season. Doesn't matter if you take out an edge or wreck your base on rocks. Once the snow starts gathering you'll have the real fun, but next year you forget about it and you need those rock skis again, because you forget how crappy the light cover is compared to having real snow to ski on.
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nate76




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[*] posted on 1-15-2016 at 06:27 PM


Yeti - lol, ya I've always got my $15 Goodwill skis in the car on standby. It'll be hard to go back though, after a little taste of the glory.



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nate76




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[*] posted on 3-6-2016 at 03:54 PM


A little more footage from a few weeks ago. Sure makes a fun light wind kite.






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ssayre




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[*] posted on 3-6-2016 at 05:05 PM


Hey nate, nice video. What size kite and what were the winds?
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nate76




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[*] posted on 3-6-2016 at 08:16 PM


The winds were pretty light; most of the footage in the clip was in about 4kts (you can tell the kite isn't looping very quickly). That kite happens to be the 19m.

I would probably consider the 16m if I were to do it again, just for a slightly higher turn rate, although the hangtime and float on the 19m sure is fun (the turn rate is actually very good for the size). My jumps don't tend to be very high, but they feel like they go on forever. good stuff

For light winds, I haven't been on anything like it. It seems to combine the quick lightwind launch ability of something like a Peak with the lift of something like a Speed.




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