Viper Sport Kites “Vendetta” Review by Carlo

Since I own a few Vendetta’s by Viper Sportkites and considering I’m a 100% fan of these kites, it seamed appropriate to write a review about these American competition cannons. I flew the Vendetta as much as possible during last Tricksparty competion seasons and it turned out to be my first choice in most conditions.

How it started for me

A few years ago when I just rediscovered kite flying and was still getting familiar with modern trick kites my friend Bram Bijlhout showed me a video he downloaded from the web. The video showed a black and white kite flown on the beach which appeared to be flying in slow-motion. At first we thought the speed of the video was changed in edit but there where people walking and cars moving in the background as a reference. It couldn’t be a slo-mo effect! The pilot was flying beautiful straight lines and snappy corners and he did great slow tricks in between. Very impressive. This kite turned out to be the Vendetta SUL.

Two years ago I received a private message on Fractured Axel from Jay Coeuy who informed about a demo Vendetta STD which was being sent to europe for people to try it. The kite arrived at my place a few weeks later. Conditions were not great when i first flew the kite in offshore wind on the beach of Julanadorp during a winter meeting. I was sold right then and there. Luckily, the owner was willing to part with the kite for a more then reasonable price so the Vendetta was never sent on.

Who is Viper Sport Kites ?

Shawn Tinkham is the person running Viper Sportkites and the designer of a few great trick competition kites. He used to compete in the American Tricksparty league and did quite well. His designs consist off the older Viper (hence the name Viper Sportkites), Vendetta’s bigger brother Venom and the smaller, more radical version: Tantrum. The Vendetta came in 4 flavors: SUL, UL, STD and Vented. There’s a note on Shawn’s website informing us about the fact that due to a unforeseen personal situation he is not taking any orders at the moment. Let’s hope everything is well and Shawn will be producing some more of his wonderful kites soon.

Construction quality and used materials

When unfolding the Vendetta for the first time you’ll notice Shawn’s no-nonsense yet very accurate building style immediately. There are no gimmicks or over the top design elements in his kites. The kites are all build from Nylon sailcloth instead of the much more frequently used Icarex polyester material. It seems like the properties of nylon give the Vendetta it’s flying behavior.

Mylar reinforcements are absent at the spine or sail grabbers for instance. The trailing edge is completely covered in dacron and a double layer was used at the standoffs. There’s no leech line fitted. The leading edges are ‘covered’ in the most common way but holes were used instead of cuts which results in a very smooth LE.

The yoyo-stoppers are fitted in a rather large cut out. This is done to make the stoppers adjustable to improve rolled up flight. The nose consists off webbing and some self adhesive dacron was sewn on to get rid of the notorious snag points.

Skyshark rods are mostly used for the frames. Only the upper spreaders and standoffs are pultruded carbon rods. The frame specs for the STD are: LE p200/300, spine p200 and Black Diamond 5pt LS. APA, EXEL and R-SKY connecters are used. A 3-point bridle is fitted which is shortened for the lighter versions.

Straight Leading Edges and a fairly long spine (89 cm) give the Vendetta it’s shape. The standoffs are quite long at 28cm which makes the sail deep. Wingspan is 236 cm. Loads of sail area is the result. The leech line-less dacron Trailing Edge generates some noise in higher wind speeds.

Flying characteristics

I had the urge to start pumping the lines when I first pulled up the kite because it seems the kite has no drive at all. The drive is there all right but this kite is just that SLOW. I had to get used to it at first but after a while I noticed this is one of the hallmark characteristics. The other thing you”l notice right away is the polyvalent feel to the kite. Quite french actually. I personally have no doubt Shawn was inspired by the Nirvana when designing the Vendetta. There is not that much wind needed to get the STD started but the fun starts at 2 bft. At these conditions there’s already  some feedback on the lines and the handling is really precise. Above 4 bft it gets a bit racey so then is probably time for a Vented version (never had the pleasure to try one though).

The inputs required to let the Vendetta do it’s moves are rather big. When executing a stall you’ll notice the pressure is easily taken out of the sail. Two point landing are a blast and can be done nice and hard. Same goes for spikes. It’s really stable on one tip.



Tricks

I’ll start off with my favorite trick on the Vendetta: the Slotmachine. The nose of the kite seems to snap back in a certain way without moving forwards. This results in a  nice rotation which stays in one place and the center of rotation is a bit low in the kite so the nose tends to point upwards slightly. Multislots can be done until your lines won’t move anymore. 540’s are flat and floaty. Half Axels and Cascades can be done aggressively and gentle. Full Axels are a bit more difficult. Tazmachines are easier with the lighter versions. The timing for a Taz is crucial to be performed correctly but if you hit it right it looks fantastic.

Backflip tricks are easily accessible but the Vendetta doesn’t really have a deep, locking backflip. Rolling Suzans, Lazies and Inverses are quite easy but require some slack. Rolling cascades are slow but controllable. Multilazies need to be guided trough their rotations but can be executed with an input comparable to a backspin and are nice and flat. The kite rolls up faster then one might expect. It pitches forwards easily and requires a small input on both lines to roll up at once. Rolled up flight feels stable and performing tricks in rolled up position is possible without losing grip on the stopper. The Comete requires rather large inputs but it looks amazing.

Jacobs Ladders need to be guided but this is mainly caused by the wide bridle when the kite is in a fade position. The fade isn’t really stable because of that and tends to be a little “nose high”. Backspins are not it’s nicest trick. The first rotation is just plain difficult and looks like a barrel roll. The following rotations are easier and look way better. I wouldn’t choose a Backspin Cascade in my TP ballet list… The Frontflip is not too difficult so Crazy Copters are accessible. Yofades can be done but are hard to maintain due to the unstable fade position.

Conclusion

You can say I fell in love with the Vendetta and the distinctive panel layout grew on me. I reckon these kites have a big advantage in competion since the readability of the performed ballet/tricks is so good. Apart from that it’s just so nice to fly and trick these kites in a nice evening sea breeze. Too bad it’s so hard to get one these days…

-Carlo (http://www.kareloh.com/?page_id=87)