Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Gradient XC3 - First Impressions

I received my new Gradien Avax XC3 yesterday and kited it for an hour.  Today I flew 2 sled rides off a 700' hike-up to check the trim and handling of the wing, before I head out tomorrow to fly in the Chelan PWC.

Here are a few of my initial impressions.  I'm sure I'll have more meaningful info next week, after climbing in 8 meter/sec thermals and pushing the bar all day.  But for those of you who like the minutia, and are looking for any info about this new wing, here's a bit -
My Background: 
Most Recent Wings: Gradient Avax XC2-26 (220 hrs)Gradient Aspen2-28 (120 hrs) – Airwave Sport 2 (200 hrs) – Gin Bandit (40 hrs) – Edel Confidence (80 hrs)

The XC-3 is a 28 meter wing (100k-115k), standard blue color.  The bottom of the wing is all white with a small Gradient (smileyface) logo at the centerline at the leading edge and trailing edge of the wing.  The blue is a lighter, baby blue, than the blue used on my previous Gradient wings (Aspen 2 and Avax XC2). I chose the 28 since I'm flying a heavier harness now & the XC3 is a meter smaller than it's XC2 counterpart.

The lines are thin, unsheathed Edelrid Aramid - 1.2mm to .5mm in a 3-riser configuration which reduces line length by about 20%.

The risers are thin but robust, with “snap” type brake handle stowage and nice swivels on the brake handles. 
The speed system on the XC3 is a 2-pulley system and is easier to use than the one-pulley XC2 system.  I really didn't find the one-pulley to be a problem, but the XC3 will be much easier to modulate and hold speed for those long transitions.

Workmanship is excellent.  The wing ribs are thin material with a mylar type of reinforcement along the lower surface.  A 'strimmer-line' reinforcement runs along the lower surface beyond the "A" line attachment points.

The Aspect Ratio of 6.8 and 3-line configuration made the wing a different animal while ground handling, but using A's and brakes was very effective in controlling the wing without the Aspen like launch into the air.  The tips seem a bit more 'sticky' on the XC3 than they were on the XC2.  I'll be watching this more next week, but in the small assymetrics I pulled today, the tips needed patient pumps to come out.  Control was very good during the recovery.

Launch is very Avax XC2-like. The wing comes up easily and can be stopped accurately with brakes or rear-risers. Directional control is good. No bad habits.  

Landing was very straightforward.  Good control and no problem deep in the brakes during the swing-through flare.

Like I said, I will (hopefully) get 15-20 hours on this wing in race conditions, next week.  I'll have much more meaningful info then.

For my complete bit of feedback on flying the XC3 go HERE.

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