I am posing this in the foil section for a reason; I love the idea of a foil kite but my experience is limited to a trainer.
I mostly sail alone with no sand, just a stake that I screw into the ground.
In the summer I launch in marsh grass with debris or in the winter I have corn stalks poking through the snow that quickly make a mess of any tangle.
I really do not want to swim in if at all possible: I was not happy to see the video from Real of an experienced LEI instructor tie the LF Elite into a bow!
For LEI I sail mostly Switchblades which are easy to launch and land alone. My FX 12 often gets the quick release because it will not stay on the ground.
At 195 pounds, my largest LEI is a Switchblade 16 which is okay for foiling but the smaller kites are quick for me as a novice hydrofoiler.
Is there a foil that fits this or am I asking for trouble?
While I'm a fan of foil kites, based on what you are describing my advice is either keep what you have and continue to get better on HF, or replace 16 SB with something lighter. Cab (if you want to stay with the brand) makes 2 very good LEI kites for foiling, Velocity and Apollo. I don't like Contra. Once you are more efficient, even with your weight you should not need anything bigger than 13m, which should be plenty in 8 knots. Below that it gets dicy and riding becomes as much about good foiling skills as the right gear. Race style LEI are very useful in larger sizes even if they don't turn fast. They do relaunch OK in light wind, just need to know how to do it.
Foil kites are fine even for novice if you have rock solid winds. You'll need to get use to their sloooow reaction compared to typical LEI though. Not everyone's cup of tea. I've seen quite few kiters this season to give them a try only to sell them not long after. However I do believe that learning how to fly them well would be very useful for every kiter.
Foils are better for foiling in every regard EXCEPT sketchy launch sites like you described. I'd stick to high AR race style inflatables like Velocity or Edge unless you have a nice safe area to launch and land from.
^personal opinion, not asking for disagreement there, just my thoughts.
I have chrono and edge catalyst and reo and am learning hf at the moment.
My favourite is the 8m catalyst. Holds a massive range on the hf. 10-25 knots. will relaunch in 10 knots. The edges and chrono generally don't relaunch fast enough in light winds and they get swallowed up by the waves quickly.
So.... while i'm in the learning phase the easy to fly easy to relaunch huge depower of the 8m 3 strut lei is the ticket.
When I'm not so concentrating on the footwork on the hf ill add the edge and Chrono's back into the mix.
i think if you fly foil kites in light winds, you have to concede that even if you are extremely skilled you will have the occasional swim in. Not because there is anything inferior about the kite, rather its because they are so light and efficient they allow you to push your low wind limits to the maximum and sometimes you may find yourself in a position where there is simply not be enough wind to relaunch you.
In "normal" wind conditions this would never happen, this is specific to flying foil kites in the sorts of winds where an LEI will not fly in the first place.
Also like Borist points out, flying foil kites improves your overall kiting because it makes you much more attuned to kite trimming and good kite technique.
Just watched that Real Watersports video - it's pretty evident that the rider was inexperienced with foil kites - bow ties happen but with practise they are usually able to be untwisted on the water. An you you learn pretty quick not to slack your lines and allow it too happen in the first place. On that day there was plenty of wind, and with practice you would be able to sort that out on the water without a swim. Those sorts of conditions are not usually problematic for foil kites -the glassy 4-5 knot days are the ones that suck you in.
Having flown foil kites mostly now for the last 5 years, i really struggle when i switch to lei's. To me they seem heavy and inefficient, i can't point anywhere near as high upwind, they don't have the depower or wind range I'm used to. Funnily enough in really light wind i struggle to relaunch LEI's, whereas I'm much more confident in being able to reverse a foil kite off the water in almost no wind at all. And then there's the time and effort spent pumping them up and laying out lines. In the time hit takes my mates to pump & launch their LEI's, I've already launched and am on the water having fun. The best thing about LEI's for me is that they are great for the surf. I abused my BWS Noise's for years and they always survived, whereas I'm not comfortable to think about my race foils copping a wave into the canopy. Plus they drift nicely when riding down the line.
I would encourage you to give foil kites a go if you get the chance, but be prepared to accept a few hassles from time to time, especially when exploring the lower wind limits. If by yourself, don't allow yourself to get sucked in to staying out longer than you should, or riding further offshore than you can swim. Im sure most of us foil kite riders would agree the benefits far outweigh the negatives once you get the hang of them.
Thanks for the quick replies. They confirmed what I was thinking. Maybe if I sail more off the beach I can consider a foil. However, it just appears that I would be asking for trouble at my launch sites.
I am a big Cab fan but not the Contra. It is the only Cab I have seen people struggle with: twisting, inverting and breaking pulleys. I have done none of those on the water and minimal on the snow.
I will check out the Cab bow. I know the Crossbow was big in its day and I guess the Apollo is the current version. It would be a good excuse to try out the Fireball too! Thanks.