The Envy is brand new for 2010 and is designed as a Delta hybrid. It combines the popular delta shape with previous Liquid Force technologies to produce a ‘beyond delta kite that has alleviated all the previous problems that deltas suffer from.
The Envy is designed to excel in all aspects of kitesurfing, it has huge continuous depower, the trusted USB bridle and Liquid Forces bomb proof build quality using the best materials available on the market, including Tejin ripstop for the canopy. After using and observing many kitesurfing kites over the years, the Envy is the best built I have seen, all the seams and joins are glued and triple stitched and the leading edge has triple layers of Dacron on crucial joints to avoid ripped stitching causing blow outs. There are also double layers of Dacron along the leading edge attaching the Tejin canopy giving maximum strength and durability as well as double layers of triple and glued stitching.
The quality construction is also present on the rest of the kite: there is Dacron along the whole trailing edge, on the wingtips and strategically throughout the canopy for maximum strength and rigidity to reduce damage and make the kite solid, stable and responsive in the air. There is also Dacron concealed in all of the strut joins to further increase the resilience of the kite. All of the leading edge seams are protected with bumper strips to stop any wear of the stitching.
When you look closely at all the graphic work you see all the attention to detail, there are small logos on the ends of the struts and the main graphic is reciprocated on the centre strut and as a shiny gloss design that catches the sun on the outer struts and ends of the leading edge, the kite looks great. I really like the main illustration graphic that is used on the Envy, it really fits with the kite’s fun personality.
Having a Delta inspired shape the Envy is powerful for its size, I used a 10m and it was nearly as powerful and my 12m Hifi which itself is a very powerful kite. Although it is powerful it is very easy to manage due to is smooth, progressive and large depower. The Envy used Liquid Force’s diamond wingtips and USB 2.0 bridle to improve on the usual delta shaped design. Having the diamond wingtips gives the kite a less swept back shape which stops instability due to being nose heavy as well and making the kite less susceptible to the common centre tear as the whole leading edge impacts at once spreading the load. Other deltas hit down nose first then wingtips creating a massive deformation and causing huge tension in the trailing edge. The diamond wingtip also makes the wingtips wide producing a large lever and so fast turning. The USD 2.0 bridle gives the kites its smooth depower as well as supporting the whole leading edge allowing it to be thin so it can cut through the air making the kite fast through the air.
The kite has a 3 strut lay out to reduce the weight, it is about 20% lighter than most SLEs and even in larger sizes it’s still solid and responsive due to the solid build, I thought it would be a little floppy but it is not at all. This weight loss is solely due to the removal of the 2 struts and so the overall construction has not suffered at all. The reduction is weight is really noticeable, much more than I thought it would be, the kite is extremely stable in very light winds and just won’t fall out of the sky, it just sits above you and drifts about, this is perfect for when you are starting out and keeping the kite at 12 a lot when trying to put the board on. Being light the kite climbs really fast and is very reactive, back stall is minimal, probably the least I have seen on any kite I’ve used, this also helps the kite drift really well. The other benefit of having just 3 struts means the kite is very quick to inflate and the struts are very thin making it even easier, this also reduces the kites profile through the air so adds to its speed and responsiveness.
Giving the kite to a complete beginner can really test its stability and how easily it backstalls. I used the 10m in a lesson in around 10-12 knots, I really was amazed, it never backstalled and climbed up well even on the very edge of the window, another school had to give up because their 12m rebel would not stay in the sky. The re-launch is very easy due to its delta inspired shape, it comes up quickly and easily even in rough seas. At the end of the lesson I (70kg) did a few short runs and was able to stay upwind on a 140x43cm board, it was still only 10-12knots.
A few days later I was able to test the kite properly myself, I usually don’t like flying bridled kites due to the mushy feel but I I found the kite to have a great feel, very direct and responsive, similar to my Hifi Comp it was great! The wind was about 15 knots so I test its unhooked performance, as you would expect from Liquid Force is was perfect, didn’t require any trimming, zero back stall and solid when popping against. As a 10m I thought it would be quite slow but it was really fun to use and much faster than I thought it would be, easily fast enough for kiteloops both hooked and unhooked, it loops really well, constant pull and comes up nicely., it turns around it wing tips like a C kite rather than spinning around its centre like other SLEs. Went and had a play on the waves and the kite worked so well, it just drifted with me as I carved up and down the wave. Smaller sizes will be awesome to chuck around in stronger winds and bigger waves, 6m should we amazing. After that I thought I should test its jumping, wow, I was surprised, most deltas are not really good at jumping but the Liquid Force Envy was brilliant due to thin profile giving it its fast air speed. Smaller sizes will be boosting and mega loop machines.
Now for the bar system; this year Liquid Force have massively upgraded their bar to produce one of the best out there. The new release is massively improved and it is a push release and can be released with either hand from the back or the front of the bar and is really easy to re-set. The release is non mechanical and had not metal parts so it won’t corrode and releases even when filled with sand and grit it pops off easily. The new bar also has a below safety line to which you attach your leash, this runs up to one of the front lines so when the safety is released the kite is flagged out to give you 100% loss of power. The trimmer cleat is below the bar and he depower rope is now thinner allowing easier cleating and also a much smoother throw, it also made of a stainless alloy to stop any corrosion but can be replaced separately if it does wear or become blunt. The chicken loop is just like previous years being very large allowing very easy hooking in and out but it can be adjusted with the simple movement of 3 screws. There is also now a small piece of plastic on the top of the chicken loop which fits into the hole in the bar to align the loop to face you so you do not have to look down to hook back in. The donkey dick can easily be removed with just one screw for easy hooking in and out.
Overall the kite has fantastic build quality; it is extremely stable, responsive and is great in all areas of kitesurfing. It is suitable for all levels: we are going to use it in our school but it is also used my many pros, Chris Burke is already using his and loving them, definitely go and have demo on one, they are fantastic, the best bridled kite I have ever used.