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Woody Valley’s X-Rated 7, Three Months On…

Monday 5 September, 2016

Hugh Miller reviewed Woody Valley’s X-Rated 7 harness in Issue 173 and, having flown it now for over 30 hours, offers some further impressions to give a more rounded view…

“C’est enorme!” I wrote in the review. This is an enormous harness, and it’s also a courageous, big piece of design as the French might intend to convey in their meaning of the phrase. A friend told me ‘hurry up and pack your sailplane away’ when I was getting retrieved the other day, and it’s true, you do feel properly cockpitted, if we can coin that term, when barelling along on full bar in this harness.

I still find filling the ballast bag annoying. With the Triple-Seven King I’ve been flying, I only needed to add 3kg, but filling the pipe was frustrating, with inevitable spillage. Also, the harness needs packing in your bag as per the instructions. Fold it too much and you’ll find the zips around the sides of the harness that keep the reserves in place might start opening up. You need to add a visual check of these in to your pre-flight routine. Another slight annoyance is I find the shoulder straps slip off to the side a little when weightshifting hard. I’ve been flying the Large size: at 180cm tall, the shoulder straps are only 5cm away from being fully extended and still tight against my back, so I don’t think the sizing is an issue.

But holy crap it’s a cool looking harness. And the stability and feedback is fantastically balanced – I really have come to love the seatplate for that. It gives little nudges and nuances that I’m now questioning if I missed out on with the seatboardless harnesses I’ve grown to love so much over the last five years. In light lift, in the last climb of day, it adds a nice level of intuitiveness to thermalling. And in strong lift, the geometry feels secure, while giving you the ability to kick into a turn with your hips in a way you can’t without a seatboard. My other complaint – the weight – well I’ve got used to that. The X-Rated 7 is 3-4kg of harness more than I’m used to, but it’s not exactly substantial, and it’s fine for the fairly short walks to take-off that we do here in the south of England.

So, all-in-all I’d now give the X-Rated a more favourable thumbs-up. Being a very specialist, performance-and-comfort orientated harness it’s not going to be to everyone’s taste, and it still has its niggles, but if you’re used to an X-Rated 6, need a double-reserve system or have just been totally seduced by the online marketing, well, get yourself to St Hilaire and marvel at one.

Still haven’t tried the head-rest in flight though…

Woody Valley X-Rated 7 review in Cross Country 173

Woody Valley X-Rated 7 review in Cross Country 173. Click to enlarge…

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