History of the 08 Instinct kites by designer David Pilkington
Wow that sounds like a grand statement, but that is how it feels. Since the beginning of the Instinct kite in 2006, my aim has been to design kites that I like to fly. Simple really, but it has taken a journey to get to this point.
Back in the beginning life was simple! Well, it seems it now. All we had to do was design a flat kite, or SLE, or Bow Kite, or Hybrid or whatever you like to call the modern style of kite. Personally I don’t care what it is called, as giving them a name immediately limits their potential. Oh, and also start a production team at our Vietnam factory to make these kites of course.
Those were the days. Why bother telling you this – well, not for any sympathy that’s for sure, but simply to say thanks to everyone who bought the 06 Instincts. Thanks for believing in us to produce quality kites both in terms of design and manufacture.
But even as we launched the 06 range, I knew there was a lot more available from the kite. So I set about developing the 07 kites. Through the summer of 2006 I tried various combinations of struts and sail panels. What emerged were 3 very different kites. During the design, I had seen that I could make a kite with 3 struts work and having watched the local schools struggle to teach on other kites I realised this 3-strut kite would be the answer, whilst the high aspect 7-strut kite would make other kiters smile with it’s speed and performance. And so to this year and the development of the new kites.
So where to start explaining! The original idea was to make a pure light wind kite, a new model in the range. My basic idea was to make the kite as light as possible, with super thin struts and leading edge, no reinforcing on the sail, no Dacron in the tip, nothing added that wasn’t needed. Doing all this saved 1/3 the weight and sure enough the kite could be used in lighter winds from around 7 knots up. But the kite was not so good in stronger winds. So this kite was stopped as a product.
But like all failures, good things came from it. I had seen where the limit was on tube sizes and had worked on a new section profile for the kite and tip shape. So, starting from the ’07 kites, I added these features to the kites, just not as radical as on the light wind kite and so the basis for the ’08 kites was there. Sorry if this sounds boring, but sometimes design is a matter of step by step changes and what I have just written in this paragraph has actually taken 6 months of work. Next came the process of refining the new kites shape and trimming, a further 6 months of testing.
So if that is the summary of the work, here are the details of the changes to the ’08 kites. Sorry if this next bit sounds like marketing bullshit, guess that is what happens when you write down what has changed and what is better than before!
About the Instinct Sport II
I think people will really like this kite this year. Basically they are faster, turn better and have a better feeling in the bar. I know, I know, same as everyone else writes, but I can not think of a better way of putting it. As I said above, for me, one of the big differences with the ‘08’s is that even lighter weight riders can take the kite kites out in very light winds and enjoy them. They don’t feel like driving a bus!
The new tip shape has allowed me to trim the kites so the feel of depower is more direct in the bar and it feels like you have an accelerator pedal. To me, this makes the kite easier to understand and fly.
The new Sport really keeps pulling round the turn, especially in light winds keeping the energy and speed. I think it may be a hard job to convince people that the 15m is a good kite but if you try it, I think you will be surprised.
We have added a Sport II 5m, this kite is great fun and will be loved in the waves and nuking winds.
It’s kind of hard to choose which point to start with as the main changes are all related. Without one, others would not have been possible or have worked, so this description may seem like a circle that goes round and round, but as I say, often design is like that – you change one thing which then lets you look again at another and then another, which then leads back to the first thing you changed which can then be further refined. Round and round we go, where we stop is ……well, that comes later!
1) Thinner leading edge tube
This came directly from the work on the light wind kite. I had seen how thin I could go on the tubes, and so set about putting on the kites. There are several advantages to having thinner tubes :
a) less material so lighter kite
b) lighter kite means takes less wind to keep it flying
c) lighter kite also means it takes less energy to turn it
d) thinner tubes also mean less air inside them. Although this doesn’t really make it lighter (warning : physics content ahead) it does mean that the kite has less ‘mass’ and hence less inertia, so when you want to change direction of the kite, i.e. turn it, there is less inertia to this change and it turns faster.
e) thinner tubes also mean less drag from the kite, less drag means more speed is retained and the kite flies better as a result.
f) An extra benefit from thinner leading edge is that if the kite is one-pump, then you can increase the pressure of the front tube and hence the pressure in the struts (thankfully as they need it) without splitting your front tube open with all the force on the seam. Sorry, more physics content ahead: Pressure is the force applied over an area. So the bigger the area of cloth (i.e. the larger the tube diameter and hence circumference of the circle) then the more force is applied to the cloth. Make the tube thinner then the pressure of the air inside has less area to act over and hence the force on the closing seam on the front tube is less, or you can keep it the same as before but gain in having more pressure in the tube. More pressure in the main tube means more pressure in the struts so they become more hard and support the sail better. This then allows the section profile of the kite to be altered to be more efficient etc. Wow, long explanation sorry.
g) Thinner front tube also makes the kite more flexible, less stiff as the front tube can twist more. Helps with the feeling in the turns especially.
2) One-Pump on all models
The Sport already had it for ’07 and so we are happy with the system we are using.
So for 2008 we have added one-pump to both the Edge and the Light. By reducing the size of the front tube, it’s now possible to get the struts good and hard as well as the front tube as the size difference between the leading edge tube and struts is less.
3) New tip shape
You may only really notice this by looking at the new and old kites next to each other. But in fact the change is quite large. Basically, the tip section from the last strut to the end of the kite is shorter. The new shape tip has increased the turn of the kite. In effect, having such a long tip section on the ‘07 made the vertical difference between the back lines and the power lines larger and it was like you had already pulled the tip down. This made the bar less effective, giving the feeling of less depower in the bar and less turning effect on the kite. The new tip also lets you pull more power from the kite as it has a larger range it can go through and hence effect on the rest of the kite whilst the other changes allow this to happen without the kite stalling
4) New section profile
Because of the changes to the tubes, I was also able to experiment with different profiles on the kite. As a result, the performance of the kite has been increased and the sail is clean.
So anyway, those are the main changes to all the kites, but what does it mean in specifics to each kite and how they feel, well here goes. These are only my opinions. There is really only one way to know what you think, that’s to try them.