Our Dark Star was the first kite to have a full system of air brakes, including a self- adjusting adaptive brake called the Cruise Control. We've now completed a new system for the T5.
The trick with air brakes is to produce enough effect to slow the kite, but without compromising the wind window or affecting the handling of the kite. In general we prefer brakes that fit directly on the kite, not the flying line.
The T5 brakes look like conventional 'nappy' style brakes, but fit on the standoffs - a large brake on the outers and a smaller brake on the inners. They can be used separately or as a combination.
Note these are slack when fitted, until wind pressure pushes them to form the correct shape. The brakes will deform slightly with sharp turns, which offsets the oversteer you can get with fixed brakes.
This can be fitted on its own or in combination with the strip brakes.
This is an updated version of the original Dark Star Cruise Control. These are self-adjusting brakes, which give an almost constant speed across the wind window. These are especially helpful in irregular or gusty conditions.
The Cruise Control works by allowing the wind pressure to deflect the brake surface - the higher the wind, or the faster the kite, the more deflection, the greater the braking effect. Unlike a fixed brake, the Cruise Control doesn't affect the wind window. As the kite nears the edge of the window, there is less pressure on the brake, so it 'switches off'. So you get maximum braking where you need it most.
You can adjust the tension on the brake to increase or decrease the overall braking effect and sensitivity. The Cruise Control works best on the V1 and V2 kites, where air can be ducted through the mesh panels.
These are triangular brakes which fit vertically from the outer standoff. They channel airflow to minimise the effect of turbulence, and because they are vertical (at 90 degrees to the plane of the sail) they have a small impact on wind window.
The original Dark Star system comprised triangular brakes, both mesh and solid versions, Back Brake and Cruise Control. The ambition was to make a kite which would work in any wind; for ultra-light wind we added the Light Wing - an extra wing panel to fill in the high-cut sail of the Dark Star.
When we developed the T2 (as a full set of team kites), we used larger versions of the Dark Star Air Brake + Back Brake. Having a fully vented kite in the set reduced the need for brakes except for extreme wind.
For the T4 series we experimented with a wide variety of brake options; the best of these we've developed for the T5.