Enter the Fat Lady! Like all other Blade kites, the Fat Lady is designed to be fast. The unique Fat Lady design maximises the power-to-weight ratio by pushing the aspects of the geometry and construction to the technical limit of integration. After almost two years in prototyping, the Fat Lady has plenty of power which is delivered with handling that is as crisp and direct as you would expect from a good 12 metre. As she flies and turns fast, the Fat Lady still pops in spite of her big size. Combine that with the hang-time of a big kite and you can throw everything from immense old school to low, technical freestyle in the type of wind that you would normally have trouble staying upwind in. Skilled riders will get her on the water in around eight knots, and even beginners can park her at ten knots and get going.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
The Fat Lady looks good. She's well dressed and actually doesn't carry a lot of baggage, with just three struts but does have one pump. She's obviously fairly wide in the middle but has some good sized tips to help her with steering response. The Fat Lady isn't heavily reinforced, it's nice and light, but our impression is that there's enough there for it to take the usual wear and tear. The bar system is Blade's usual unfussy affair - basic but functional.
The Blade goes up in really light winds. We didn't try it in eight knots, but it was only a little more than that. The feeling at the bar is fairly light when it first goes up and we were doubtful if we'd have enough power, but as soon as we dipped it into the power the Fat Lady builds up power and gets you up and going nicely. Light in feeling and fairly responsive, we immediately got on with this kite, feeling good energy from it once again as the only riders able to get out on the water that day.
Of all these kites the Fat Lady isn't the most forward flying. It sits forward enough to have good upwind ability, but sits slightly back at a really sweet spot for providing a steady pull. The Blade is great for unhooking with that deep profile, hanging back nicely. Once it starts turning, the Blade turns quickly, but there's a slight pause that means when you unhook the kite doesn't wander around, it stays put nice and stable. Unhooked it's not a monster, you get a steady pull that's not overpowering so for getting to grips with unhooked tricks, this is actually really useful. The pull-pull depower straps are within reach and you do need to trim the kite a bit before unhooking but it retains good shape and is well behaved out of the loop.
While it doesn't have a huge amount of lift at the top of the window, it loops quickly for a 17 and is a lot of fun for throwing around and for really enjoying light wind kiting. You're not restricted to just mowing the lawn on this, there's lots you can try. There's plenty of throw on the bar and we actually had the Fat Lady out when the seas were starting to white cap quite considerably, so you're not going to get stuck out on this desperately trying to get in as soon as the wind picks up over 15 knots.
Although you may not feel there's a lot of power in the kite on the beach, as soon as you get on the water the Fat Lady has good get up and go, building up apparent speed nicely and then has a lovely throw-about nature. Out of the loop it really does feel like a smaller, sportier kite. If you're looking for a kite with similar characteristics to sit in your quiver above your 12, allowing you to simply get out and have fun, this is a really good option.
The Fat Lady's performance is all about fun freestyle in lightwind conditions without the chugging, downwinding issues of old.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
We were surprised there wasn't more lift at the top of the window, but this was more than made up for in good turning and excellent unhooked performance.
This test is in issue #52