At a Glance
You’d have to have lived under a rock for the last ten years not to have heard of Lou Wainman, one of the early pioneers and stars of our great sport. After an extended absence from the limelight Lou came back with a whole new brand and philosophy. The range is certainly different, but then what else would you expect from the man who flew in the face of convention for so many years. The Smoke is the 9m kite in the range; each size is slightly different and designed around the conditions it is aimed at. The whole range consists of the 5m Bunny, 7m Gypsy, 9m Smoke, 12m Boss and the 15m Big Mama. The Smoke is striking enough when you get it out of the bag, well finished with some neat attention to detail in places where you wouldn’t expect it. The kite is a 3-strut design, no one-pump here either, but with just three struts you hardly notice it. The kite has a tiny bridle on the leading edge attachment, and we mean tiny! It also features a huge chord depth (the length of the centre strut) and the leading edge is pretty chunky too, all pointing to low-end grunt and power, but more about that later.
The bar echoes the quality of the kite, featuring a carbon composite construction with an alloy centre hole for the chicken loop. Line winders are built in and floats are there to make sure you don’t lose it, there is also a really simple rope and cleat depower strap. The bar itself feels great in your hands; the moulded shape sits nicely in your fingers. The chicken loop works well too, and is easy to release, although the stock one provided is really small and tricky to hook in and out of without using your hands. The lines are 17m with 7m extensions, so if you want to have a short line set up like the man himself it can easily be achieved.
In the Air
Once you launch the kite you will get mesmerised for a second or two by that chord depth, the kite is really fat in the middle and looks quite rounded in the air. That huge middle section coupled with the chunky leading edge gives the kite huge low-end power. It is actually quite daunting at first, especially if the first time you fly it you are maxed out. In 30 odd mph of wind the Smoke is really at its limits, whereas other 9m kites would still be holding on the Smoke will be looking to be swapped for the 7m in the range. That’s no bad thing of course, because at the other end of the range you can fly the Smoke with a surfboard in about 14mph of wind and be comfortably powered up. In the right winds the kite is a joy to fly, really stable and solid, in spite of its 3-strut design. The turning is very direct and any input on the bar is quickly related to the kite; ‘well behaved’ and ‘responsive’ were two words that sprung to mind on the beach! Jumping on the Smoke is great fun, the fast nature of the turns allow you to throw it back through the window and the low aspect design enables it to hang in the air for what seems like forever. It is sure to put a smile on your face! Whilst the kite is really powerful that power delivery is very smooth and predictable. There is a good range in the kite, even if the top end for the 9m is a little lower than some; it still depowers and handles well when the wind does get up. However, at 80kgs this will be your light to moderate machine rather than your top end blaster…
Quality finish, fantastic looks and simple design; especially the bridle, which can hardly be called that really. Certainly very easy to set up.
It would be good to see a bigger chicken loop provided with the kite, and we would also love to see one pump considering the cost of the whole kite package.
Outstanding quality and finish from a relatively new kite brand, predictable and easy to fly the kite makes you look good, just be sure not to take it out in a hurricane!
This review was in Issue 18 of IKSURFMAG.For more information visit Wainman Hawaii
By Rou ChaterRou has been kiting since the sports inception and has been working as an editor and tester for magazines since 2004. He started IKSURFMAG with his brother in 2006 and has tested hundreds of different kites and travelled all over the world to kitesurf. He's a walking encyclopedia of all things kite and is just as passionate about the sport today as he was when he first started!