I recently sold my Air'G Sophie 2 (23) and bought a brand new Gradient Freestyle 3 (22) and fly at around 105kg total weight. I did a few test flights with a friends FS3 and fell in love with the lively, precise feedback. I also had a test flight on a FS2 a year ago and it felt likewise but less dynamic than the Sophie. Doing wingovers felt like carving the air with a scalpel.
I did around 200 stalls and deep stalls on the sophie but did not have the courage to try helico with only 500m training height over ground. I'm not experienced with spins. The sophie was easy to handle as it reacted quite predictably. It was easy to catch any shoot and the canopy was under good pressure in an instant after negative manoeuvres. Flying the sophie was always confidence inspiring and I never experienced a really bad moment. Having a full frontal on the top dead point of a very high wing over was no drama at all. I once had the chance to try an Emilie Peace 20: It was faster and more dynamic but also similarly easy to handle.
Handling the Freestyle 2 was like handling a scalpel: precise and effective. Handling the Sophie 2 was like handling a sledgehammer: heavy duty but intuitive
A few weeks ago, I did the first flights on my own FS3 at lake garda. Helico was my goal for the week so I continued with full stalls and deep stalls to get to know the glider. In the last years, I also tried deep stalls on my other gliders: The Gradient Nevada felt not as precise as the sophie and it did shoot quite severe; I guess also due to the longer brake travel. The Gradient Avax XC2 was a bliss to stall and to keep in deep stall. It is calm but reacts very precise to your inputs. And the shoot is easy to handle thanks to the shorter brakes.
I expected the FS3 to behave similarly but had a hard time to feel at home. It launches in any wind and has a very big window of flyable wind speeds thanks to its trimmers - great for launching on monte baldo where wind can be very strong. It also glides very good and fabrication quality is immaculate. But it is harder to manage, demands much more precision. I lost trust in my skills and was searching for a reason.
The brake travel on the FS3 feels longer than on the sophie and it's harder to catch a shoot: Once I had a complete full frontal (pressurized canopy but reversed) and sometimes I did not release the brakes far or symmetrically enough so the glider started turning and shooting at the same time. Sometimes, I lost a lot of height stabilizing the full stall after a fucked up helico on the FS3. I did not try many helicos on the sophie but from almost any situation, I just could go into stable full stall position to get back under control. From there it was possible to go through deep stall to normal flight in no time and without any shoot. On the FS3 I was not even able to ensure a symmetrical exit from stall.
But I did not give up. With more flights and 120 deep stalls my precision got better and i managed my first few heli turns in both directions, some even with a clean exit. But it still is not an easy game. I still would keep a bigger safety margin flying acro on the FS3 than I did on the Sophie. Or to phrase it differently: Stay concentrated and precise if you don't want to hurt yourself handling a scalpel. As goes with the sledgehammer: To prevent any harm you have to stay commited, know what you want to do and choose the right size.
That's just what I experienced after a humble 250 acro flights over a few years. But I get the impression that many acro gliders can be assigned to one of these two characters: Thrillers, Emilies and Blackouts seem to be easier to handle. But the former Nikitas, the N-Gravity or the Gradients seem to be more precise but quite a handful to control.
What are your opinions on this? I have not enough experience to judge it. Can somebody clarify?