It’s been a long time coming, but given the great contributions Denis has made to paragliding harness design over the years we were confident the KANIBAL RACE 2 would be worth the wait.
With a tag line of ‘Killer Instinct’ it is clear who the Race 2 is aimed at. Features including an anti-G drag chute pocket, 8l ballast container and a weight of around 7.5kg also make its intent very clear: competition flying. We saw prototypes at the Coupe Icare and Denis Cortella, namesake and founder of Kortel Design, had much to say about his newly released competition harness, talking us through some of it’s innovative features.
Improved stability is currently a common theme across the freeflight industry and when it comes to harnesses Denis has been on the search for the perfect solution longer than most. His aim is to find greater stability through providing improved feeling and giving the pilot more precise control, rather than adding too much passive stability which potentially limits the pilot.
Like most harnesses, the Kanibal Race 2 has an Anti-Balance System (ABS) to transfer weight from one side of the harness to the other in the event of a collapse; think of it working in a similar fashion to a torsion bar in the suspension of a car. However the KR2’s innovative ‘Variable Stabilisation System‘ allows stability characteristics to be adjusted in-flight, with more stability available in turbulent air and less on offer when in the light stuff where more feel is required.
It is also, as far as we know, unique in giving independent adjustment on each side offering the possibility of an asymmetric setup. This has a use when thermaling in one direction for a long time where weight shift can effectively be ‘dialled in’ to the pod therefore saving pilot effort.
The system is adjusted via cords on either side, with sailing-style cleats to hold the desired setting. This takes a little bit of getting used to but is easy enough with some practice. In the harness flight simulator it felt very effective and more so than the Woody Valley X-Rated 7 harness with which Carlo has been flying over the past year.
Denis explained that pilot comfort is provided through stiffness in a lengthwise direction. Rigidity is a desirable quality in many respects also contributing to the stability of a harness. Torsional rigidity is a key factor in the responsiveness of the glider as felt by the pilot, as stiffness in this plane allows body movement to effectively transmit weight shift to the wing. Given that a harness is primarily made of very flexible materials, much invention is required to achieve this.
Another factor which contributes to the feel of this harness is the consideration given to all contact points between pilot and harness and the ability of the design and materials chosen to effectively transmit body movement at each point. This comes into play at the hips for example, where tilting the pelvis produces weight shift, and wing feedback transmits not only though the seat but through the ilium (the uppermost and largest part of the hip bone). In this area a more solid contact gives more feel.
Many such design subtleties combine to make a real difference in the way a harness and wing feels in the air. An aerodynamic feature of the Kanibal Race 2 is a rear airbag/fairing optimised for varying angles of incidence and not just the ideal one found only in a wind tunnel. It is also designed to contribute to yaw stability.
The Kanibal Race 2 packs plenty of other nice features too: two reserve containers; drag chute pocket with central attachment point and left/right access; excellent dorsal protection with combined foam/airbag protector. The foam back protector is removable and doubles as a glider packing pillow, also allowing a smaller pack size; the speedbar runs under the seat and over the ballast, giving more travel; while a rigid vertical tube at the front of the seat plate offers a higher hang point for a suspension strap to support the pod and pilots legs.
Despite its excellent build quality and very impressive set of features, the M size weighs 7.5 kg complete (not including reserves or drag parachutes, of course). The Kortel KANIBAL RACE 2 displays plenty of the innovation Denis is renowned for.