Two Flights, One Opinion- a Review of the Niviuk IcePeak 7 Pro

I was not alone in disappointment this December when we got the email from Air Nomads in Roldanillo that newly certified wings would not be allowed at the Pre Worlds in Colombia under the CAT1/2 FAI rules.  Which of course I hadn’t read.  I’d sold my IcePeak 6 just a few weeks before and had been lamenting the decision without this added kick in the groin.  At my feet was the just-delivered crispy “Sunset” version of the IcePeak 7 pro and I wanted to fly her BAD.  I was leaving in a week for the event and didn’t have a wing to fly.  I knew very little about the PRO other than a brief, but somewhat guarded conversation with Olivier Nef at Coupe Icare back in September where I tried to pry info out of him, but the only thing I was able to ascertain was that it was quite a bit higher aspect ratio (7.5 from 6.9) and they were trying to “tone it down a little.”  Which meant to me that it was going to be considerably more demanding to fly, and likely- a little bit scarier.  Given the IcePeak 6 is in my opinion the greatest certified comp wing ever produced (although admittedly this shouldn’t hold much weight for any readers as it’s the only comp wing I’ve ever flown!) and to me is the safest wing I’ve ever flown (yes, even more so than EN B’s and C’s, which is an entirely different conversation, but one I’m willing to have if any of you ping me), I was excited- but also a little nervous.  Comps are great, and I’ll continue to participate, but my comp wings are also my send-it wings at home, where the air is strong.  I was happy to have a wing with more speed, but I wanted to be able to manage her in rowdy conditions, which the IcePeak 6 does so magically.

Second at the Pre Worlds on the IcePeak 6!

Second at the Pre Worlds on the IcePeak 6!

 

Nate Scales saved my butt by lending me his immaculate and well-cared-for ship, a 24 M IcePeak 6.  Considerably too large for me, but I’d flown the exact model for my first PWC in Sun Valley in 2012 and I knew I could ballast up to a safe level.  Not nearly the “perfect” level of 112 kg’s (according to guys who really figure this stuff out), and given I knew they would be weighing at the Pre-Worlds I could max out at 103 kgs as I’m a bit of a shrimp at 69.5 kgs.  So…I’d be a bit slow, but at least I could fly.

Turns out being light probably helped.  The weather in Roldanillo was quite a bit wetter and cloudier than normal and the first three tasks were all very slow going.  Light climbs, careful use of speed bar- basically the game was staying in the air.  Some good decisions and some luck landed me in 2nd overall going into the last day, behind last year’s Superfinal 3rd place winner, Julian Andres Carreno.  The final day was more “normal” conditions in Roldanillo, with good climbs, fast racing, plenty of sun.  I fell off the lead early after a great start but luckily it was a long task and I was able to reel the lead back in at the last turnpoint to hold my second place.  And then, finally- I got a chance to have a go on the 7 Pro.

Just after launch, IcePeak 7 Pro- note the TINY air inlets!

Just after launch, IcePeak 7 Pro- note the TINY air inlets!

 

I had only one day left in Colombia and the weather looked perfect.  Jared Anderson and I and a bunch of other pilots headed up to a launch I’d never used.  I unpacked the wing, and much to my amazement and many other curious pilots the first thing I noticed was the lack of lines.  Only two A’s on each riser, only 6 lines in total.  And the badger bars were MUCH higher than they had been on the 6.  The higher aspect was evident in the wider, slimmer profile but it wasn’t until I got airborne (silly easy to launch by the way) that I noticed the absolutely tiny air inlets in the shark nose.  You could see that the wing pressurizes instantly but must be incredibly efficient through the air as there must be little to no exchange of air.

Note the much higher badger bars

Note the much higher badger bars

 

My second thought was how flat she turns.  Which I’d expected with the higher aspect ratio, but god she turns SO nicely.  In fact she turns so flat that when it’s banging (as it would be on my second flight on the wing two days later in Valle De Bravo, Mexico) you have to work a bit to get her up on her tips, but I think Olivier has found an absolutely perfect compromise here.

I can’t say enough about the new positioning of the Badger Bars.  Having them up higher was pure genius.  The connection you get to a wing on a two liner with this added input and feel on the B-lines was genius to begin with (thank you Eric Reed!), but with them up higher the connection and inputs are heightened DRAMATICALLY.  Now, it’s easier to pull in both directions- down and back and she talks in a whisper, even more urgently and quicker than before.  In short, I’ve never felt so connected to a wing.

Dreamy.  That’s the word I would use if I had to pick one when describing this wing.  I expected something a lot more twitchy and harder to control.  It might be because I’m so excited, but I actually feel like she’s easier to handle than the 6.  I know that’s impossible, I don’t know what they could have done to make this happen with the higher aspect, but she doesn’t jump around at all.  Doesn’t “bend” even a little bit.  I haven’t had so much as a ripple or tip collapse.  And I bet it would be nearly impossible to have a frontal, especially if you were paying attention.  Yesterday, on my second flight on her in Valle De Bravo, Mexico the conditions were typical for this area- strong.  I was just cruising around having fun and broke the site record, flying a 108 km FAI triangle out to the volcano.  I hardly left base all day.  Hardly turned.  She glides like a sail plane (in fact in Colombia on the flight there I flew with a high-end hanglider for a good portion of the day with no problem), thermals like a hawk, has the same feel on speed bar that you got on the IcePeak 6- that everything just gets more and more solid the more you use.

Back in Colombia Jared and I flew an incredibly enjoyable 107 km FAI triangle, crossing the flats a couple times and just wandering around enjoying ourselves.  He later said he was working really hard to keep up on his ENZO.  Ok, I was pushing plenty of bar and we were shooting for an FAI and I had a bus to catch, but I wasn’t flying very fast.  Clearly the ENZO2 is no slouch, judging by the Superfinal results through Task 3 the wing is going like a bat out of hell.  But I know for certain (Ok, I’m guessing for certain as I haven’t flown one, but if we can make some assumptions given the differences with the Enzo and IcePeak 6…)  the IP 7 Pro is much easier to handle and I’m sure that she will be giving all the comp wings a hell of  run for their money.  Safe, easy to handle, fast as hell, insane climber.  Olivier, I love you dude.  How you make wings like this for us goofballs to fly around in the sky is beyond me.  THANK YOU!!!

 

 

Super nice FAI triangle to a few places very few have flown in Valle

Super nice FAI triangle to a few places very few have flown in Valle- click for details

 



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Comments

3 thoughts on “Two Flights, One Opinion- a Review of the Niviuk IcePeak 7 Pro

  1. Great read and makes me want to try one out for sure!!! Olivier is making some wicked wing designs at the moment from the Acro wings to the comp wings, great stuff coming out of his brain!

    Im curious as to wether you could expand on your comment of claiming that the wing feels safer to you than an EN-B or EN-C. Wondering out of curiosity as I have recently made a jump from a Mentor 2 (EN-B) to an Ozone M4 (EN-D) and have also felt much safer. But only after a lot of acro hours and the knowledge of how to react correctly with collapses, frontals, spins and keeping the tips apart ext.

    To me it feels like an upper end wing is more responsive, and the safety relies on the pilot doing the right thing rather than a passive safety system of just…hands up.

    In this way, I feel more in control as the wing does what I want, when I tell it to – even when its not so controlled momentarily – does it make sense that to the right pilot this is safer than an EN-B?

  2. Hi Gavin,

    I’d like to take you up on your safety conversation offer and ping you about your statement: “…the safest wing I’ve ever flown (yes, even more so than EN B’s and C’s.”

    I think the EN standards need to be overhauled and I also think we need more public discourse on this subject in general. Gliders like Bruce’s UP and the Carrera that I tested recently are making into EN classes a level lower than intended. That’s worrying because it invites pilots to step up to a higher level wing based purely on the handful of tests performed to satisfy a catalog of criteria, even though it’s clear that paraglider development in recent years has outpaced the ability for any body to regulate it.

    I’ve never flown an EN-D or comp wing, so I’d be interested to hear your views on safety between these classes. I’ve asked some EN-D pilots about how their glider reacts in extreme circumstances and many tell me that they can’t say because they’ve never had a collapse. I’m not sure if that means these wings are safer or that the theory of natural selection is working here.

    So how can an EN-D wing, with its long AR and just two line levels be so safe? What about the front collapse problems of just a few years ago?

    All the best to MEX!

    David

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