AERO DESIGNER INTERVIEW
Jens Baxmeier, editor of the German kite magazine Kite and friends sat down with our kite designer Michel Dekker and spoke about the development of the Aero:
Michel Dekker is a long-time buggy kiter and has been one of the world’s most renowned kite designers for many years. With the Peter Lynn Vapor, he not only shook up the racing scene, but also redefined the demand for handle kites for high-school champions. With the recent development in de-powerable foil kites and their dominance in racing, Peter Lynn enters the arena with the high performance Aero designed by Michel. We spoke with Michel:
K & F: Many wait anxiously for the Aero, now it is there. How long did it take you to get the Aero ready?
Michel: It took a lot of time to understand every aspect of these types of kites and to see how far I could push performance before the kite would became unmanageable. I think investing this time into gaining a real understanding into how these kites work ultimately leads to a better product, so yeah I took my time but this translates into how the Aero measures up against the competition.
After first getting these insights, I then made a small batch of prototypes for the team to test. This was a very interesting process because for this kite I had feedback from land, water and snow, something that has not happened before in our range of kites. The challenge was to put as much rider feedback into the kite as possible, challenging because land, snow and water riders do not always want the same things. This final stage, getting from prototypes to the final production kite took about 6 months. But the research before that definitely took a lot longer.
K & F: Was it easy for you as an experienced developer to adapt your knowledge from the design of fixed bridle kites, or did Depowerkites have completely different requirements for the design?
Michel: Of course it helps to have experience, for the Aero I took a lot of insights from perfecting the Vapor II. But this insight is all specific to the canopy design, the real challenge in developing a functional depower kite lies in perfecting the bridle and speed system. In some ways it is easier to make a fixed bridle foil because it either performs or it doesn’t. Over the years I have seen it all. A depower kite on the other hand flies 99% of the time, the trick is finding the perfect balance in handling and performance.
K & F: What distinguishes the Aero from the already established kites in the high-lift sector?
Michel: The biggest distinguishing feature is that I really took the time to design each size separately for their respective windranges and use, and by doing so ensuring maximum performance and synergized handling across the range. Next to that we offer the kite in two fabric options because experience teaches that a kite used primarily on land gets to endure more abrasion then kites used on water. For the water specific kites which are used for racing, the fabric can be lighter. Besides this we made the wingtips out of slightly sturdier material as these parts scrape the ground most. I think that overall it balanced out very well.
K & F: First successes in the Snowkiterace definitely make you listen. We are especially interested in how the Aero can be driven in the Kitebuggy. Where do you see the strengths of Aero?
Do you think that with the Aero a similar scoop can succeed as at the time with the Vapor?
Michel: I think the Aero is an easy kite to fly and get along with, a bit like the Vapors when they first came out. It performs well even if you’re not flying it to its maximum potential. But if you do get to know the kite you can still push out another few extra percent. The Kite excels in the up and downwind courses and in its stability. The first buggy races with production kites in France and the UK were a great success and hopefully an indicator for the coming season. In the snow it did great too so obviously we
are looking forward to see more successes. I expect that the Aero will be a strong contender, of course you have to consider the pilot as well.
What happened with the Vapor back in 2009 was unique but the scene has changed dramatically since then. In the following years some of our direct competitors switched their focus to depower kites and we now have different players in the game too.
K & F: How do you see the development of the scene from the handlekites to Depowerkites? Is there still a realistic chance to win races with handlekites?
Michel: I think it is evolution. It’s like moving from 2-line kite to 4-line kites, nowadays nobody uses a 2-line kite in a buggy anymore. Some 2-line kites are still very fast but they’re simply not as safe as 4-line kites or nowadays, depower kites. 4-line handle kites can certainly still compete but one would need steady winds and a lot of skill. The depower kites will improve a lot in the coming years compared to fixed bridle kites so in the future it will be even more difficult to win with a fixed bridle.
For me the sport has always been about picking a fight with the other pilots around you and not so much about getting on the podium. It is about the fun of the small battles and improving your kite handling skills.
K & F: Is Peter Lynn building a large international driver team like the Vapor?
Michel: The early success of the Aero has been noticed, and we have a lot of interest from people all over the world eager to test the kite. The Aero is an important product in our range and the team that rides them will be a reflection of that.
K & F: How do you rate the situation for Kitebuggy leisure riders without regatta ambitions? Is the Aero also compatible for this cross over usage? Do you plan a model under the Aero?
Michel: The current generation of buggy riders started mostly with 4 line fixed bridle kite and then experimented with a depower foil. A new generation of kiters might want to step right into the depower foil kites, without having the experiences or background with the 4 line fixed bridle kites. This opens a new demand of products with specific requirements.
K & F: How are you personally? Which system (Handle / Depower) do you like most and what do you appreciate about it? Do you as a developer still ride your Kitebuggy for fun? Do you go out snow kiting, kitesurfing and Foilkiting?
Michel: I fly kites a lot because it is still something I love to do, both systems and even two line kites have their charmes. I’ve bought a hydrofoil last year and look forward to the challenge. In competitive flying I think I prefer the depower foils. They handle the power easier and it are a lot less demanding. Yet if I’m just going for a ride in the buggy I much prefer handle kites, not because of performance but because of the fun of getting the most out of the kites. I think that also makes the difference in racing, you have to practice a lot with handle kites to, once in a while, just get close to depower flying. I think this will change in the future. Guys that spend a lot of time on their dep foils will excel pretty soon. The early adaptors still have the advantage but this will change in the coming years.