The Spectra 2 is the flagship paraglider from Flow Paragliders with an EN – CCC (Certified Competition Class) rating, aimed at the advance XC or competition pilot competing at high level events and doing big distance flying or just looking for the ultimate in performance. Theunis has been flying it for some time now and sharing his experiences on it.
Early 2021 Felipe Rezende the owner and designer from Flow paragliders launched the new EN-A or school glider called the “Future”, one of the first “shark-nose” school gliders. It was noticeable that there was a big shift in glider design taking place in the Flow headquarters. The Future was one of the first of a new era of gliders from Flow incorporating a newly designed airfoil leading the way for modern paragliding designs to be implemented into all the Flow paragliders to come.
This use of the airfoil immediately improved stability throughout the speed range and also improved the handling and efficiency, by keeping the pitch more stable in turbulence the overall usable speed was more manageable. As a result, all of our students was constantly soaring 50m above the rest and it was becoming a hassle to get them down for landing.
Not much later the Freedom 2 followed suite and much to the same new airfoil redesign showed in this amazing glider for an EN-B level now allowing EN-C performance with much more comfort. Currently the XCRacer 2 is at certification to follow this trajectory and yes, it is in the Spectra 2 as well.
After much anticipation we got our hands on the Spectra 2…And yes, we were excited as it follows from the above!!
The Spectra 2
Takeoff and landing
Takeoff and landing are as expected from a thoroughbred racer albeit maybe slightly easier than on previous racers due to some increased stability. It is still snaky, but very controllable.
For landing the shallow approach glide has to be considered especially for those tight spaces. The flare action is smooth and progressive with a gentle stall occurring from the tips
Having flown many High Aspect ratio gliders over the past few years I felt very comfortable on this slightly stretched Spectra 2 as it now sits at 8 compared to the 7.5 for the Spectra 1 and has 111 cells for a clean leading edge. Funny enough the glider was not moving around as much as was expected and generally not bringing about lots of movement except for the tips, where it is wanted. Even with this stretched design it feels super comfortable even in strong and turbulent conditions giving the pilot that extra performance whilst still keeping the sense of safety and stability. Thanks to the new airfoil, arc curvature, leading edge shape (strong Shark nose design) and rigidity all contribute to this precise glider. The lines also have a slight new layout with the stabilo line connected from the main A3 line giving some incredible feedback of the air. Having 111 cells it is not super lightweight and needs some careful packing.
Risers and speed system
A clean riser with only 6 main lines and 1 brake line; a pure 2-line design! On the front there is a split A’ that has a small pulley ratio for accelerating the tips on speed bar.
Small wooden handles for the back-riser steering makes it ergonomic and easy to handle on speed.
The speed is a smooth sensation of air rushing over you as the glider picks up speed, the increase of the speed is a gradual increase compared to some of my previous gliders, but as the speed is picked up gradually it is maintained and kept smooth with that somewhat stable airfoil keeping the pitch activity low even in some rougher conditions.
The pressure of the speed system is soft and easy to push and maintain especially for longer glides. The top speeds are close to or even faster than some of the competitors, but it comes in much more usable with this stability. It even feels as if the A riser can take much more travel before it becomes twitchy. I am looking forward to fly this at some races and bigger XC flights soon.
The glide on the Spectra 2 is the best cheat ever as it simply keeps on going and is far more superior to its predecessor and perhaps even its competition. Across the whole speed range, the glide is steady, smooth and incredibly flat. At top speed it feels like it just keeps going.
Handling and stability
The brakes have a smooth progressive travel and feel with a feeling I can describe as somewhere between an Ozone Enzo and Gin Boom feeling. The back-riser steering is a tad softer than the Enzo and allows for an easier back riser control. The back risers can also be actively used towards the sides to allow a somewhat 3d- steering. The wooden handles are easy to use for extended periods with excellent feedback and enhanced control.
We know that the race is often won in the climbs and the Spectra 2 has excellent climbing ability in a variety of thermals (light, strong and broken).
The Spectra 2 is agile and can be turned on the wingtip to stay in those tighter thermals to core all the way to the top or just turn it gently in those softer/bigger climbs.
With 6 sizes available to market it is easy to find yourself at the optimal weight range from 80 minimum on the XS to 135kg on the XL. Currently I’m on the M that stops at 115kg all up weight and clipping in at 100 which seems to be very close to perfect. Flying at lighter or heavier wing loadings should not be a big disadvantage to the pilot, but can change the handling a bit.
The Spectra 2 is overall an excellent package for the top pilots that want or need that extra edge. Advance pilots will feel right at home on the Spectra 2 with its comfort and ease to push it to the maximum and break some records or stand on the podium!
More about the current range of the Flow Paragliders:
- the Future as EN-A for student and progression
- Cosmos low EN- B, which is undergoing revival for version 2 in 2022
- Freedom 2(high EN- B) for anyone wanting to progress to XC flying
- Game changer in the EN-C class as the Fusion
- XCRacer in EN-D and is currently getting a version 2 later in 2022
- The Spectra 2 as the flagship EN-CCC
Also, some fun gliders from Flow:
- Panorama as a tandem glider
- Yoti 3 as a fun allrounder that can be flown as a hybrid, speed glider, Paramotor or normal glider.
- And later this year a lightweight 2 liner X-Alps version might show up.
On Paramotor side:
- Future power – The easiest method for learning PPG and doing easy flights
- Cosmos power – for the intermediate and XC enthusiast
- RPM – Fast and dynamic for stacks of fun and adventure.