At A Glance
FLYSURFER has well and truly hit the ground running with their all-new Era, which dropped towards the back end of 2023. The Era is literally a new Era for the brand who, behind the scenes, have put in tireless work to launch their first big air specific inflatable kite. From the performance it has achieved so far, it's safe to say that FLYSURFER has created an all new big air weapon that can compete with the very best of the best.
The proof is in the pudding, and so far, the Era has been nibbling at the heels of the top riders of the Woo charts, with jumps of 36.0m by Hugo Wigglesworth, 35.8m by Evan Klijn, and even a strong showing by one of FLYSURFER's kite designers, Luke McGillewie, who recently threw down a monster 35.1m jump in the Mother City.
Let's take a deeper look into why this kite is catching the attention of many. The kite features a 5-strut design, and its construction is supported by a 6-point scale, which twists the kite and adjusts the angle of attack to ensure constant contact and generate additional lift. With numerous options to configure on the wingtips, the control forces felt in the bar can be increased depending on what the rider wants from the kite.
As far as materials go, FLYSURFER has stuck to what delivers for both their team riders and punters. We're all aware of the ever-changing materials that are being used in kites nowadays, which, of course, enhance performance and help in different areas. However, with the Era, FLYSURFER stuck with the reliable Dacron leading edge and Teijin D2 canopy. A combination of these time-tested materials offers extreme durability even after intensive use. While using traditional materials, the kite doesn't feel heavy in your hand or in the sky.
The design team has achieved weight reduction through reducing the sail segments, allowing air to flow more efficiently over the canopy and creating more lift. They have also chosen strategic areas to reinforce the kite to further reduce weight. With weight saved this way, the kite is still extremely reactive and fast in flight while able to take a beating.
The high aspect ratio design provides a great combination of lift and stability. Whether you're a pro competing on the tour, or a rider who has taken their first steps into big air, the Era can be as friendly as you want or as raw and powerful as you want to push. Either way, you'll most definitely see yourself push new heights.
Sizes: 5m, 6m, 7m, 8m, 9m, 10m, 11m, 12m, 14m
In The Air
I must be honest with myself. Before trying the kite, I wasn't sure how it was going to perform compared to other, more established big air kites which have a proven record of topping the podiums over the past years. I was treated to classic Cape Town big air conditions, and I left the water slightly shocked and stoked with just how well this kite rides and feels.
The first thing I noticed was the turning speed of the kite. I had the pleasure of riding sizes 7m, 8m, and 9m, and they were all so quick in every element. It definitely took a little time to get used to because you must understand how the kite moves and when you now must pull your down loops, but it doesn't take long until you're dialled in. On this kite, slowing down the downloop was the key to getting that second and floaty landing.
When looping, it's ultra-fast through the wind window and fires back up to 12 whilst still offering great pull at the critical moment. You're able to really decide when you want to pull the loops and how much angle you want to give the kite, depending on how extreme you want to push. This speed, partnered with its ability to shoot up to 12, allows riders to progress with their kite loops and feel safe doing so.
I also had a few moments where I personally made a few mistakes when trying a few kiteloops/general tricks. But, another thing I loved about the Era was its ability to save an error due to its turning speed. If you make a mistake or pull a heli/down loop too early/late, the speed of the kite has the ability to save you if you want to redirect it somewhere else in the window.
For your general jumps, the 5-strut construction paired with the high aspect ratio gives the rider the capability to decide how high they really want to go. If you time it with perfection, on a good kicker and in strong wind, the sky really is the limit. I think the recent heights from the team riders speak solely about how high this kite can really jump.
With height, you also get hangtime, and again, it's a big air kite that offers enough hangtime for the advanced riders to progress with board-offs or manoeuvres with multiple rotations. It also gives any rider time to try new moves and enhance their level of kiting. From personal experience, I didn't get the same 'floaty' hangtime feeling as I did on a few other kites, but it's not too noticeable, and may just be me being a little picky. I think this can come down to the shape being a little more C like than the bow kites out there, but also me personally needing to spend a little more time on the kite to squeeze every drop of goodness out of it.
It's hard for me to put a finger on negatives with this kite. FLYSURFER and their team have delivered a big air machine where, in 2024, I wouldn't at all be surprised if we see more high-level riders on their kites and seeing the brand hit some home runs on the podium. For the first version of the Era, I, as well as others, am very impressed.
If you're just getting started and want a kite that allows great progression into jumping, it's a great choice. It's also a choice for the more advanced/pro rider who wants a high-performance kite to take their riding to the next level with serious reliability. The turning speed really has this kite feeling like it's not made out of Dacron; with your eyes closed, you might guess it's made from much more expensive materials! It's definitely predictable in the unpredictable.
Also worth mentioning is that it's a great general freeride kite, too. If you're into just cruising up and down and enjoy riding this way, it's a very easy kite to drive you upwind and offer a forgiving ride with light bar pressure.
This review was in Issue 103 of IKSURFMAG.For more information visit Flysurfer
By Liam DredgeLiam fell in love with all Watersports after completing numerous seasons aboard, he then picked up kiting whilst in the warm tropics of the Carribean and has been obsessed ever since! Anyone that knows him would say it's near the only thing he talks about (which drives some crazy), and he loves to keep up to date with all the latest news, equipment and events that kiting has to offer. Liam also runs his own Watersports Centre along the south coast of the UK, LOOP Watersports, which is where our IKSURFMAG Test Centre is located!