Sky brought the Kudos 2 out in the summer of 2021, three years after the original. It’s a low-B, suitable as a first wing after training and with safety and comfort top of the priorities list.
Sky intend it to be a glider pilots will be able to grow with and do their first XCs on, so its performance and handling are honed for that. They explain that their philosophy is not to squeeze the last drop of performance out of a wing, but to make a glider that is right for the target pilot, and that feels good. To this end, they say they’ve calmed the original down a little, and made it more stable in both pitch and roll to increase the comfort for new pilots who have enough to think about while learning.
They’ve also changed the materials to make it more robust, and honed the internal structure, which is optimised for weight. Overall, the Kudos 2 is not that different in weight to the original. At 4.4kg in the middle size it’s probably on the lighter side of average (similar to a standard-weight Nova Ion, and a bit lighter than a Gin Atlas 2 or Ozone Buzz Z6).
In terms of number of cells and aspect ratio, the Kudos 2 is the same as the original: 45 cells and AR 5.05, which are fairly typical of the category of wing (as a benchmark Ozone’s Buzz Z6 is 48 cells / AR 5.16; Gin’s Atlas 2 is 47 cells / AR 5.21).
Size-wise, I find myself on an overlap of the XS and S sizes with Sky’s weight ranges. When I tested the original Kudos and the Apollo 2 Light I flew the S, but for the latter I commented that I would have liked to try the size down as well.
For this review I went straight for the XS, which I’m right on the top of the weight range on. And it felt right. I didn’t feel I was disadvantaged in terms of sink rate, and I no doubt benefitted in speed; the wing always felt safe and solid.
Design and build
The wing is made of Porcher Skytex 38 (38g/m2), a change in materials from the original which was Dominico Dokdo N20 (36g/m2). The internal structure is made from Skytex 40 Hard, and Sky say it’s optimised to reduce weight.
Despite the slightly heavier cloth, the wing is 100g lighter in the XS (4.0kg) than the original Kudos, though in the larger sizes version 2 is a tiny bit heavier. The 45 cells are quite large, and they have subtle 3D shaping. The cell openings are supported by fairly short nylon rods, and Sky have added extra reinforcements to the leading edge in the form of 8mm fabric between the nylon rods and the leading edge itself. This serves to protect the leading edge in the event it is dropped on its nose.
Everything is nicely finished. The trailing edge is taped and neatly stitched, and the line attachment points at the tips are reinforced with semi-circles of fabric. Sky’s production facility in the Czech Republic is just below their R&D office, so they have the advantage of being able to keep a close eye on the materials that come into the factory and the workmanship that is carried out there.
The risers are 13mm webbing, neatly finished and colour coded and I think the same as on the Kudos 1. I like them. They are narrow enough to be light, solid enough to be easy to use, simple and straightforward.
The brakes connect to the risers with poppers – again, a classic, fuss-free solution that works – and they have little ‘rods’ that you can place your first two fingers on to give a good feel of the information coming through the brake lines. The rods are small and soft enough that you can just ignore them if you prefer, wrap and go in the usual way which I confess I did. Old dogs, new tricks and all that.
The lines are sheathed all the way up, and colour coded, so they could not be easier to sort on launch and they are more resistant to being grabbed by the vegetation than narrower lines. There are good chunky Ronstan pulleys and Brummel hooks on the speed system, and no rear-riser steering.
This wing aims to keep things simple, so the pilot can focus on working out what the air is doing and how to get the best out of it. Structurally it feels pretty bomb-proof, built to cope with indelicate treatment. It definitely feels like a sibling of the Zoe, Sky’s mini / hike-and-fly wing, which I loved because of its ease of use and unfussy robustness. Just unpack it and go have fun with it!
The Kudos 2’s graphics are definitely more bright and fun than sleek and sexy, but I love it. Their ‘S’ logo is prominent on both top and bottom surfaces, and the colour palette is wild and shouty with black accents. “Shows the dirt”, my friend, rightly, said of the black, but it does make the colours pop.
The test wing is called Tropical Storm but check out Black Magic on Sky’s website – it’s wicked: red and green with black, a winner! I think whichever colours you pick your fellow pilots will see you coming, and that’s definitely a good thing.
Launch is very easy – the sail comes up easily, straight and true and is very well behaved, as I think you should expect in this category. A docile launch behaviour is something Sky said they worked hard on perfecting and I’d say they succeeded. It doesn’t dive off to either side or try to overfly you.
The A-risers are split, and I did find it better to launch with just the inner A’s, as I found the tips quite eager. The same for forward launching: I found it paid to lay it out in a proper horseshoe to make sure the centre inflated before the tips. But launching in all conditions was easy and problem-free.
In the air it is straightforward and undemanding. Nice handling with direct response from the brakes and a pressure that is neither light nor hard. It’s perhaps not the feeliest of wings, but enough information comes back through the brakes so you can understand what the air is doing and without it getting uncomfortable.
It really is well damped in pitch and I never once felt I was having to catch impending dives. If you hit a thermal front-on sometimes it would feel knocked backwards slightly before entering, but then turning was smooth and comfortable and it climbs well, exactly as you would expect. Which is probably doing a disservice to Sky who put in a lot of effort to make it so. They say, “We really push our test pilots until they find the most amicable possible balance between the roll and the yaw and insist on reaching the most progressive bank when tightening up the turn.”
The speed also feels decent for the class, although I think being right at the top of the weight range meant I got the most out of that. On full bar I got an extra 10/11km/h over trim speed. I re-read my Kudos review and found I said exactly the same about that. I didn’t feel as if I lost out on sink rate by being at the top of the weight range, though as I didn’t try the bigger size I can’t compare – maybe it would have been floatier in light lift, and maybe it would have been slower.
I had no reason to feel this was the wrong size for me. Big ears are easily pulled in with those separate A risers, and they don’t thrash or flap about. As soon as you let go, they pop out.
I had the Kudos 2 over the winter in the south of France, where we had a mixture of stable conditions (actually lots of stable conditions) but some nice thermals too, and I enjoyed a couple of two-plus-hour thermic flights and the local out-and-return along the ridge and back. Every flight it was straightforward, stress-free and remained comfortable in the rougher bits.
I think Sky have hit the nail on the head with the Kudos 2, and it’s perfectly suited for its target pilot: it’s straightforward to set up, easy to launch and fly, and comfortable in the air. It’s also strong and robust without being too heavy. Sky call it a “reliable buddy” and I think it is. For a first wing after school to your first XCs, it’s really everything you need.
What Sky say: “A reliable buddy for your first XCs”
Use: Soaring, thermalling, cross-country
Pilot level: New pilots upwards
Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
Flat area (m2): 21.78, 23.27, 24.85, 26.55, 28.36
Certified take-off weight (kg): 55-70, 64-81, 74-94, 85-108, 99-125
Glider weight (kg): 4.0, 4.2, 4.4, 4.65, 4.9
Flat aspect ratio: 5.05
Certification: EN B
Charlie flew the Sky Kudos 2 XS at around 70kg for 10+ hours in various winter conditions in the south of France with an Advance Success 4 harness.
Published in issue 228 (April 2022)