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Author Topic: How did we get here?  (Read 5635 times)
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Allen Carter
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Location: Half Moon Bay, CA

« on: March 17, 2009, 09:12 PM »

OK, I'll start of the Wisdom Of The Ages series with a recent classic.

Topic: How Did We Get Here???

Topic author: DaveSDCA
Subject: How Did We Get Here???
Posted on: 01/11/2008 10:14:48 AM

I'm relatively new to stunt kites and have been flying about a year. I'm getting experience and building skills and, of course, looking at all the kites on the market. "Why is this one quicker or more precise than the other?" I can't help but wonder how we got here. 

What have been some of the landmark kites in the past? I imagine tricks drove the design which opened the door for more exotic tricks which pushed designs to new levels. From everything I've read and the one time I flew it, the Nirvana is a beautiful kite. It's success has created variations by other designers. 

I've also heard of the "French Invasion" that took place a few years ago. What kites were hot before that?

Prism is a successful American kite but it's obvious from all their kites that huge changes have taken place. I guess the I2K was phenomenal kite when it came out but it's considerably different from the E2 and the Zephyr. The Zephyr looks very contemporary but is very different from the E2. Then we got the Gemini, Deep Space, Sea Devil, Widowmaker, Mantis, X-Masque, STX, Machine, Krystal, Opera 23, on and on. 

I'm not asking which one is better. Each has it's own beauty. What kites and events over the las 10 years or so stand out in your mind?



Replied on: 01/11/2008 10:28:50 AM

From the 90s, this would be a good starting point. It is taken from an older issue of and put together into one picture:

And from a survey taken here years ago:

Welcome to the Forum. 

Replied on: 01/14/2008 5:18:03 PM

Here's a link to the original article in KiteLife.


Replied on: 01/11/2008 11:30:06 AM


Originally posted by DaveSDCA

I guess the I2K was phenomenal kite when it came out

I would like 20 minutes for a rebuttal.

I've actually been on/off working on a sort of answer (at least my answer) to this very question. If I ever get around to finishing it, I'll post a link.


Replied on: 01/11/2008 11:40:19 AM

20 min rebuttal???only take 2 seconds......


kites kayaks & corgis

Replied on: 01/12/2008 5:41:27 PM

Sounds like a college thesis topic.

Bob D.

Jim B.
Replied on: 01/12/2008 5:47:20 PM

Straight leading edge kites=North Shore Radical

Curved leading edge kites=Tracer




Replied on: 01/12/2008 6:12:26 PM


Good to see you here!

I hope you are still practicing the moves I showed you!


All kinds of tastlesness and goofiness was removed at this point.....A.C.

Replied on: 01/13/2008 7:23:22 PM

Oh, geez this is only Daves second post can we go just a little bit easier?
Welcome to the forum Dave!


Replied on: 01/14/2008 08:42:08 AM

Well, DaveSDCA, you are now a member of this dysfunctional family.


Back on topic.

Jim B is right about the NSR and the Tracer. Major kites.

From there changes get more subtle, but there are a few standouts along the way. Lot's and lots of good kites and some really unique kites have come and gone but two that stand out are the Eclipse and the Gemini.

Prism's Eclipse was one of the early kites that was happy on it's back. In 1993 it was way ahead of it's time and was influential for quite a few years. At 15 it is able to do a lot of modern stuff. That's like 90 in kite years. 

Forward to 1999 and the Benson Gemini. Not only odd looking, but highly capable. I bet more people learned to backspin on the Gem in '00 - '01 than with any other kite. With various mods along the way, 9 years later people are still doing wonderful stuff with it.

From there the big change was the massive adoption of tail weight to facilitate pitch moves. Kites that would not have been considered tricky, like the Masque or the Styx, had a new lease on life. Kites that could fly straight lines and do all kinda mad stuff became the expectation. The Nirvana seems to be one of the benchmarks.

BTW, the I2k was neat, but really didn't win the hearts and minds of the hard core flyers. Did lots of things fairly well, but nothing exceptionally well (IMHO). It was sort of an odd duck.


Replied on: 01/14/2008 11:45:42 AM

Hi, Britt,

Yes I am!!! I'm out there every chance I get. Flying in light winds is a lot more fun. 

I definitely have a better feel for the kite and the trick and my timing has improved. When you were showing me these, I wasn't aware of what was going to happen with each input and didn't understand what the kite was doing. It's fascinating to vary the speed at which the trick progresses; to create a different tempo. The bottom line is I still look terrible but I'm having more fun.

How about you? Are you finding the time and place to fly? If I ever head north, I'll let you know.


Replied on: 01/18/2008 2:25:18 PM

Thanks for the info. It's a great family. I'm enjoying it.

I'll have to ask Jim B. about the Tracer and the NSR. This is the first I've heard of them.

A couple other questions are, when did yo-yo stoppers appear and what was the first kite to use tail weights?

What about bridles? What kind of changes have these gone through?

Have a good weekend. I appreciate everyone's advice.


Replied on: 01/18/2008 2:26:59 PM

Originally posted by Jim B.
Straight leading edge kites=North Shore Radical
Curved leading edge kites=Tracer

Thanks, Jim. Can you tell me a little more about what made the Tracer and the NSR special?


Jim B.
Replied on: 01/18/2008 4:33:15 PM

Well, I was being somewhat facetious but at the same time somewhat serious as you've asked a relatively big question given that sport kite design is such a small field of interest. Even so, it might be interesting to try and ascertain just how many kite designs have been brought to market. I have a feeling that it would be a fairly mind boggling number.

I might have picked the Masque over the North Shore Radical.. I'm not sure which showed up first to tell you the truth.

I'm not really the one to lay out the history of stunt kites for you. We have a few people around here who would be much better at tracing the design progression. I'll stand by the NSR and Tracer I guess.

These kites are archetypical in many respects.

The NSR was one of the most successful competition designs when team flying and precision was the name of the game.

I'm more familiar with the design progression that stems from the Tracer.

It was a very influential design. There wasn't much of anything that couldn't be traced (appropriate name, don't you think?) back to the Tracer for a while there. Dean Jordan, Peter Betancourt, and on and on.. there just is almost no end to the list of designers who were influenced, either directly or indirectly, by this kite at one time or another.

Straight leading edges have made a big comeback and seem to have broken the Tracers hold on designers' imaginations.

Maybe we can get one of the old dogs to break it down for you? 

Anyway, discounting winglets and multiple stand offs for the moment, the NSR and Tracer will do for now.


Replied on: 01/18/2008 9:23:45 PM

Hmm.. I started a reply then noticed Dave wanted a history only to 10 years back which took out the Tracer & NSR. If we're going back more then 10 years then there have been developements in Sport Kites.

Approximately the same time as the Tracer was the Stranger, two completely different answers to solve the same equation, that is, kites to do slack line tricks. 

Only going back 10 years negates pointing out any significant developement in Sport Kites since in my opinion anything built since the Tracer/Stranger have been simply refinements on these two kites abilities. 

I'll not argue that todays kites aren't much better then these were, they are. I'm just saying they haven't broken new ground the way the Peter Powell Diamond Stunter, FlexiFoil, Top of the Line Chevron, Top of the Line Spin Off, Revolution, FlexiFoil Stranger & Skynasaur Tracer did. 

"People do not quit playing because they grow old, they grow old because they quit playing" Oliver Wendell Holmes

Replied on: 01/19/2008 05:55:21 AM

I'd like to nominate the Buena Vista X4i as zero wind/indoor innovator. The PI was even better. Their Streaker was probably a trick kite way ahead of it's time. I could only do axles and flic flacs, but that kite had other ideas. I miss that kite.

« Last Edit: March 18, 2009, 01:54 PM by Allen Carter » Logged

Allen, AKA kitehead
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