I’m probably over-thinking this as usual but I’m looking for some advice on changing to and buying a foil kite. There’s a lot of good advice in the threads on here about it but it still comes across as a bit of challenge to people like myself that have learnt on and only ever flown LEI’s.
Basically I’m thinking of getting an 18 or 21m to replace my 17m Contra for light wind and a bit more beyond. I’m 220pounds, not a lightweight and I ride the contra up to about 22 knots without too much problem so I reckon I can get a decent wind-range out of an 18m foil.
Watched all the videos on self-launch, land, water relaunch etc and they all seem reasonably manageable. Some of the threads on here make these out to be pretty sketchy though.
There are also some things I’ve never seen mentioned about foils. Can they be drift launched? Occasionally I use a beach anchor instead of normal self-launch, I assume a kite anchor is no issue? Are the bridles really that much of a pain in the ass or are they not a problem if you’re careful with them?
Foils just make too much sense to me with all of their aerodynamic advantages to not try them, especially for the lower end of the wind range. The added bonus of light weight for travelling and apparent (?) ease of use have convinced me I need to go for it. At the moment I’m thinking Flysurfer Speed 5 or Ozone Chrono V2. Both are a good chunk of change so I want to get the right one first time then probably sell the Contra. Any opinions on which would be best for an intermediate rider, mostly riding a twin tip but getting into a strapless directional more and more and I’ve got a Sector 60 for really light wind. Not tried a foil board yet but intend to. Not into the pure freestyle stuff, my knees are too gassed for that.
I've got a 139 Axis Vanguard, 6' Axis New Wave and a 139 Nobile split. Would the 15 be equal to the 17 Contra in performance or an improvement? Ideally i'm looking for an improvement so that's why I was thinking 18 or even maybe 21m?
Would the 15 be equal to the 17 Contra in performance or an improvement? Ideally i'm looking for an improvement so that's why I was thinking 18 or even maybe 21m?
I think going from a 17m LEI to a 15m Foil will feel like an improvement once you gain some competency. Your first few sessions, it'll feel worse and you'll be frustrated, then it'll click and you'll wonder why it was ever tricky.
Davesails07 did a back to back test with a 19m Ozone Edge and an 11m Flysurfer Sonic - the bottom line was that the sonic was better pretty much all around.
Based on your weight, the 18m might be a good choice, but coming from a 17 LEI you'll probably be pretty stoked with a 15m. I'd consider your average wind speed before making that decision, I'm 155lbs dry and about 165 in gear and I can ride my 15m Elf Joker with a hydrofoil up to about 17 knots with 17m lines before I size down. If you think you'll be riding well into the teens or possibly up to 20 something, get the 15m. If you're trying to ride below 10 knots, get the 18m.
I second Speed5. For size, Mossy is right, consider average wind speed you want to ride in. With your weight and TT I'd go big size unless your launch area is small or wind speed changes often and by big margin. 15m will be improvement over Contra once you get efficient with it because you'll be able to ride upwind lot easier and get floatier jumps. However 21 will give you a big jump on low end. A friend who weighs about the same as you swears by it. He likes smaller foils as well with hydrofoil board, but with TT 21m Speed5 is his favorite.
While useing a TT with 220pounds 15m is too small!!!
I used a 15m Sonic FR with 176pounds.
Afterwards I changed to 18m Speed5 and 18m Sonic2 from Flysurfer.
If I wouldn't own a 18m Diabolo, I would go with the 18m Sonic2. I love the more Power from the 18m to the 15m!
With your weight also the 21m Speed5 would be a good option for you!!!
I'm a newbie to foils and I've got a Speed5 21m with 6 sessions under my belt. Launching and landing are to be considered especially if space is limited like my home launch. Mostly self launch. I am just now getting tuned in to the kite, finding the sweet spot. I'm 200 lbs. and can ride/stay upwind in 8 knots with a 135x46 twintip. I would keep your contra for awhile until you get used to higher winds with a foil. I've flown mine in up to 17 knot gusts which seems to be my upper limit for now. At 12-16 knots I fly my 16 xbow. I may be able to expand my low end with more experience.
For water use with a TT, I'd recommend setting your expectations low.
I bought a 15m foil this past spring (the "Chinese Speed3 Lotus") because I was comfortable with foilkites from snowkiting, and wanted 10kt wind capability on water with a TT. Rode LEI's on water up to that point, biggest in my quiver was 11m- not fun below 15kt.
The 15m high-aspect foil doesn't have much low-speed pull. I know from using it in the snow that it behaves better when going faster, but I'm just not able to get into its powerful speed range in light chop on water in just 10kt of wind. Downloop waterstarts are easy and effective, but I find trouble keeping the speed. Stroking / sineing has a very limited benefit, unlike an LEI. Usually hotlaunch unassisted. Tethered launch seems impractical- it collapses and recovers in unsmooth ways when a wingtip rests on the ground. Water drift launch seems inconceivable- choices are unwind the lines while holding the kite (leads to bridle mess), vs inflate and release the kite and unwind the lines as the kite drifts away (risk of launch with lines not ready). Evidently people make it work though; I'm just here reporting that it's trivial with my LEI's, and very much not with the foil.
I'm kinda down on it for water use now, after a few sudden unexpected bowties from wind shifts. Now whenever I think of that kite I just envision the slog of being far from shore and having it suddenly collapse. Mine water relaunches pretty reliably actually, but often it relaunches with a bridle tangle that takes a few minutes and good luck to shake out. If there's a bowtie, you're probably swimming in.
Hydrofoiling with these things seems state-of-the-art regarding covering distance upwind. Spooky stuff, heading 10mi away from your launch in marginal-relaunch winds with equipment that often turns into a mess if it hits the water. Makes great video though.
So, I shelled out for another big LEI. Found that I like using 17m FatLady or 14.5 Flite on water much more than the 15m foil. Keeping it for snow use.
me: 1 season TT rider 139x42; 2 seasons snowkiting; 70kg; Michigan; go upwind easily; won't impress anyone
Thanks guys, some great advice and things to think about in your replies.
That's a great point about considering the average wind speed I want to ride in Mossy, that will probably be the deciding factor between 18 and 21. Sounds like 15m is going to be a marginal improvement and I prefer to be over-powered rather than struggling for power. If I go 18m and want to be out in 10 knots or less then I guess I'll just use my Sector 60. Might not be the most exciting session but...
Seems like whatever size I go for, I need to get spend some time learning to use it properly rather than just jumping on it like we can do with any of the LEI's. I quite like the idea that it's more involved and needs different techniques to get the best out of it.
Thanks for the dose of reality RagingGrandpa, all good things to consider but I think I need to just go for it and manage the risks. Note your point about it not generating much low end grunt.
That's impressive you can ride in 8 knots with the 21m on a twintip JakeF, that's almost foil board territory. Keeping the Contra for while is a good call I think, I'll def do that.
It'll depend. I'm heavier than you but I get out with the Speed3 15 and my 140x43 Limited in the same wind that the other guys are riding their TT and Zephyrs . . . but it's not a lot of fun. I have more fun on a 170x50 board, but would rather be foiling. The 18m Sonic I have is better but I prefer the 15 cos it's more nimble.
The advantage of the 15 is when the wind picks up, you won't want to put it down, but the 18 and especially the 21 will get a bit hairy. Add to how bloody slow they are, and you'll not enjoy them as much as a 15.
I think the Contra and the Speed5 15 will be comparable, so if you're looking for more power you'll have to go bigger. Demo if you can.