Almost two weeks ago, I mentioned that some design work was being done
on the Tracer and that I hoped to learn more while at SunFest. Here's
what I found out:
TC Powers redesigned the sail, giving it 6 panels, 3 per wing. One panel
is at the wing tip, running perpendicular to the spine, starting at the
stand-off point and ending at the leading edge. The second panel is
demarced by the first panel at the bottom, the leading edge, and a seam
running from the stand-off point to the top of the spine. The 3rd panel
should be obvious. The two panels comprising the trailing edge are
biased parallel to the edge. The tensioning line has been retained in
the trailing edge, but as on some of the later Tracers, is left "floating
from the stand-off to the wingtip (ie the line is not sewn onto the
edge). There is a new line running along the leading edge that's used to
tension the leading edge, very similar to the line used for tensioning the
The new graphic is a stylized flame comprised of two panels, one of
which is laid diagonally over the other. While both pieces of the flame
are the same shape, the top one is smaller. It's really hard to describe,
but quite pretty.
To date, TC has sewn 24 of these kites, 4 of which are custom team kites
for Skyward (they are *gorgeous*! sort of a half-moon hanging off one
leading edge, with clouds appliqued on the rest of the kite). I've no idea
what's being done with the other kites. I also still have no idea what's
going on with the Tracer in terms of marketing. I do know that I want one
of the new kites!
On a somewhat related note, Mike Simmons has been working on a new team
kite, using a Tracer as his base. The new kite is something of a cross
between a Tracer and a Tandem, but where as a the Tracer has 2 wings and
the Tandem has 4, the new team kite has 6! The two extra wings are on the
back of the kite, nestled into the keel. The extra two wings on the front
are much further out from the spine and to a large extent mimic the two
"normal" wings. This is in direct contrast to the Tandem, which looks like
a normal delta with a miniature kite stuck on the bottom.
The kite is still being overhauled and I've no idea if/when it'll hit the
market. I did get to fly it for 30 or 40 minutes, though, and it's *great*!
The biggest problem is that it's heavy 'n bulky, and I'm not sure what
sorts of wind it will require to get airborne. I was flying in winds about
10-15 and it was wonderful. The kite is very slow and very stable. The
speed remains constant no matter which direction you're going. Turns are
fairly tight and angles are very crisp. The kite is completely silent.
Turtles and other sorts of stalls are possible, though it takes practice
to overcome the tendency of all the wings to make the kite want to fly!
Also, this kite, more than any other *needs* that handy piece of monofilament
strung along the trailing edge because there are *7* places for a line
to get caught in a stall. My only complaint was that we didn't have
a couple more for some actual team flying!
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