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15m Elf Joker 7

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Mossy 757
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15m Elf Joker 7

Postby Mossy 757 » Sun Aug 28, 2016 1:58 pm

Pros - Much faster both upwind and downwind, better in gusts, more "parkable" for racing purposes. Great materials/construction.
Cons - Price. Won't handle extreme light wind like previous generations. Not a freeride kite.


I had my first ride last night, wind was 12-15kts with lulls down to 9 or 10. Swell was 2-3', onshore beach break - not normally the conditions I'd choose for a speed run, but oh well. I'm on 21m Ozone race lines w/the 55cm bar, I keep about 2" of backsheeting in my bar tune. My last 15m was a Joker 5, so my evaluation of the J7 is largely a comparison between the two.

Setup of the J7 was a little slower initially because of the diablo line in the speed system. It's one more thing to have to stare at to make sure it's not twisted some way that you're not seeing. If you disconnect your lines from your kite when you pack down, this is going to add 2-3 minutes to your setup each time. There are also 3 way splices in the smallest bridle lines, which was unfamiliar from the J5, so several times I had to walk back up and double check to make sure they weren't tiny knots in the bridle.

The material is super crunchy and stiff, the kite pre-inflates itself just from the elastic rebound of the LE batons and stiff fabric. There are 2 additional intakes on the LE so inflation is very fast. Getting the kite in the air was no problem, but it's definitely a heavier feeling kite when it's in the sky, it "falls" downward in lulls almost like an inflatable does, which is very different than its lower-aspect antecedent. This took a second to get used to, but because it's a foil kite and not an inflatable, the answer was to backsheet the kite from down overhead and carry it a bit lower in the WW. Other than that minor handling difference, it's pretty standard fare flying it off the beach and body dragging out with a foilboard.

Water start was a bit different, I can usually pull the J5 down in the window then sheet out to pop it forward and yank me up, the J7 didn't like that as much; it wanted to do a proper 11 to 2 dive but felt like it settled into its forward-flying position right away, no major piloting corrections necessary, just trigger the water start and then focus on hydrofoil control. That was a huge change as the older kite needs a bit more direction to get sorted. Upwind speed was an immediately noticeable feature, I could just park the kite and focus on foil control and hiking. I don't usually get a good view of my J5 when riding hard upwind, but the J7 was right in front of my downwind eye - easily 10-15% further forward in the wind window. This forward pull made gust handling noticeably better than the older kite, instead of pulling you downwind into a powered up runaway, this thing pulls you forward so you can pinch the foil up and get a nice solid lift out of the added pressure.

Off the wind, the kite shows its biggest differences from its older sibling. There is more ability to change the shape of the kite based on the more modern design of the bridles, resulting in a few different downwind "modes" that took some getting used to. The J5 has a nice broad reach mode, you can stand very upright with your foil vertical and just gently lean back against the harness, it's the cruising down the beach mode. The J7 doesn't really have this, it wants to take the wind on more of a beam reach. I discovered this during my initial attempts at a touchdown gybe, I nosed the board downwind to slow down a bit and felt the kite really lighten up when I started to switch my feet, you need to keep some speed on through maneuvers with this kite as a result.

The other mode is the heart in your throat, holding your breath, relaxing your bowels downwind zorching fast race mode. I discovered this mode when I got a bit stuck on a wave face surfing downwind. Since it was my first time out with the kite, I wanted to warm up by just doing some long steady laps up and down the beach, but the surf was breaking in an odd way at the distance I like riding, so I spent the first hour kind of just cruising up and down focusing on riding the foil, leaving the kite just parked at 45. I have a new front wing on my foil, I rode it yesterday for the first time as well. About 1/2 way through my second downwinder in the surf, I found myself really stalled out on the back of a wave and needed to power up fast to get out in front of the swell. I sheeted the kite in hard and let the nose of my foil track downwind as the speed started to build. Because of the diablo line, this kite has a deep downwind mode that the J5 simply does not.

The J7 pulls downwind at an angle that reminds me more of riding upwind than downwind. I was riding faster than I've ever ridden and at angles so deep, the kite felt like it was almost flying backwards in the wind window while it continued to accelerate. I wasn't able to find the limit of the acceleration, partly due to the new front wing on my foil, but also because of the chop. This kite easily goes 20% deeper downwind than my Joker 5, it's simply amazing. To accelerate, you just pull the kite way back in the window and lean into your front foot to tension the front lines. Within seconds, the kite starts generating much deeper apparent wind and starts pulling the nose of the board downwind. There were several times when I was on the edge of overfoiling but the kite was so stable that deep in the window that I could just drive right towards it to control my speed and it would respond very predictably. It almost felt like my old Naish Pivot when it was oversheeted, powerful steady pull straight downwind. When you sheet the bar out from the deepest downwind angle, the kite creeps forward slowly at first then starts to accelerate through the wind window as you edge against your front lines and head up to a reach. The way power bleeds off like a horse gradually slowing down from a fast gallop. Far and away the best feature of this kite is the bear-away from hiking hard upwind to going straight downwind. When you pull hard on the bar and let the trim all the way out, the kite creates so much downwind pull that it allows you to lean forward and put a ton of weight toeside you ricochet downwind. The feeling of accelerating from 22mph upwind to 30mph downwind while steering through 160 degrees of heading on the same tack is just phenomenal.

It's a bit slower in the downloop during gybes, but I felt like it was a bit faster overhead in tacks, need to readjust my timing, but overall there was no stability issue during either maneuver when I inevitably fell and had to fly the kite back from the brink of the window. Very well behaved.

I suspect that this kite is positioned in the quiver as the "most conditions" kite. The meters looked like they hit up to 16kts last night, mostly hanging around 13-14 with a lull down to 9. I never feared for the kite falling, but it certainly lost its punch in the lull, in a way the J5 does not. I believe this kite is the heaviest 15m Elf has made, which might explain the loss of deep low end. To borrow from sailing:

18m - Code 0
15m - A1
11m - A2
9m - A3/blade

windmlv
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Re: 15m Elf Joker 7

Postby windmlv » Sun Aug 28, 2016 2:53 pm

A big thank you for your detailed thoughts on your first session.
Interesting that you found it heavier. I would have thought that all the racing foil kites are becoming lighter.
Thinking about the 11m Elf Joker 7.
Any photos? Let us know how the subsequent sessions on it feel.

foilholio
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Re: 15m Elf Joker 7

Postby foilholio » Sun Aug 28, 2016 8:56 pm

Nice post Mossy.

Yes the the joker7 are a tiny bit heavier. The weights are here http://internationalkiteboarding.org/in ... cing-kites

When you talk about modes? is that changing settings or when the diablo line engages? or just how the kite behaves?

A lot of what you are describing particularly downwind etc is due to the diablo line. You should try a wac line, combined with the diablo line it is like "insane mode". Or as an alternative it offers other benefits, like better relaunch, landing, turning and more camber change.

Mossy 757
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Re: 15m Elf Joker 7

Postby Mossy 757 » Sun Aug 28, 2016 9:34 pm

foilholio wrote:Nice post Mossy.

Yes the the joker7 are a tiny bit heavier. The weights are here http://internationalkiteboarding.org/in ... cing-kites

When you talk about modes? is that changing settings or when the diablo line engages? or just how the kite behaves?

A lot of what you are describing particularly downwind etc is due to the diablo line. You should try a wac line, combined with the diablo line it is like "insane mode". Or as an alternative it offers other benefits, like better relaunch, landing, turning and more camber change.
Modes as in "best VMG upwind" or "best VMG downwind." Essentially what the kite is designed to do well, locking in takes a little practice and new balance points, but I went out again today and felt a lot better on it than yesterday, it's a little more collapsy in the downloop than the older one, but always snaps right back out when you sheet out.

foilholio
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Re: 15m Elf Joker 7

Postby foilholio » Sun Aug 28, 2016 11:06 pm

ok thanks

do you use a gps to work out the best VMG? or some other method?

Mossy 757
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Re: 15m Elf Joker 7

Postby Mossy 757 » Mon Aug 29, 2016 3:12 pm

foilholio wrote:ok thanks

do you use a gps to work out the best VMG? or some other method?
For the purposes of this review, it's just sailor's eye...when you're going faster and faster than you've ever gone AND at a lower angle than you've ever gone, it's a pretty clear increase in VMG. Normally, the best way to calculate incremental improvements in gear or technique is through GPS tracks, but for the purposes of comparison to my last 15m, it's abundantly obvious that this will be a better kite on the race course.

foilholio
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Re: 15m Elf Joker 7

Postby foilholio » Tue Aug 30, 2016 12:56 am

No problem, I use my eyes too like most. The problem I have with making best VMG is I like the feeling of pointing closer and closer upwind or down wind, but I know if I back off and go faster I will get better VMG. I was wondering if there was a trick to it, obviously in a race you can track your position up or down wind against other riders and see if you're catching or losing someone. I guess with a good eye you could track the land, that is sort of what I do but it's hard far from shore. I was also wondering do you have GPS's that sort of just beep at you to tell you how good your VMG is like gliders have for climb/sink rate?

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davesails7
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Re: 15m Elf Joker 7

Postby davesails7 » Wed Aug 31, 2016 1:39 pm

windmlv wrote: I would have thought that all the racing foil kites are becoming lighter.
Thinking about the 11m Elf Joker 7.
I was at a regatta recently with guys who had been riding joker 7 15m and 11m kites. The entire regatta was 15m winds. 8-10 kts on day 1, 10-13 kts on day 2. They all have experience flying many other foil race kites (j5, j6, chrono, r1, diablo, sonic). Every one of them agreed, the 15m joker 7 is not an ultra lightwind kite, but it's crazy fast when powered up. I think they probably designed it this way because many racers are getting 18m kites for wind <12 kts.

Everyone who has flown the Joker 7 11m said they loved it and it's their favorite kite they've ever flown. All of these guys are racing though, so they are only riding the 11m at >13 kts. For freeriding, you might ride the 11m down much lower, but I haven't heard how it behaves in lighter wind.

WH Lithuania
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Re: 15m Elf Joker 7

Postby WH Lithuania » Wed Aug 31, 2016 3:04 pm

I've got Joker 7 11m here. That's my first foil kite. I was able to ride it after a bit of practicing. For free ride hydrofoil you can go from 6-8 knots I think. It goes upwind well at such low speeds, but downwind and tacking is really challenging. Hopefully I'll be able to try it at 12+ knots this season.

Mossy 757
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Re: 15m Elf Joker 7

Postby Mossy 757 » Wed Aug 31, 2016 4:44 pm

WH Lithuania wrote:I've got Joker 7 11m here. That's my first foil kite. I was able to ride it after a bit of practicing. For free ride hydrofoil you can go from 6-8 knots I think. It goes upwind well at such low speeds, but downwind and tacking is really challenging. Hopefully I'll be able to try it at 12+ knots this season.
I'd love to try that kite in 17-20, really powered up 11m sessions are almost as cool as light 15m sessions.


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