Hyrdrofoil board test in Kiteworld magazine issue #78 - Liquid Force, North, Cabrinha, Carbon6ix

Kiteworld Magazine Foil test part one

Kiteworld Magazine Foil tests

The first in a regular series of hydrofoil sessions and updates from the test team. As manufacturing designs evolve and our experiences on them develop, we’ll continue to update these pages.

 

TEST #01

LOCATION: Puckpool, Isle of Wight
CONDITIONS: 6 – 12mph cross-onshore and butter flat water

TESTERS: Neal Gent has been kiting for 16 years and was part of the very first Kiteworld magazine test team. He had his first go on a Cabrinha foil board with bindings six years ago, but now has one full season of foiling under his belt.

Kiteworld magazine editor Jim Gaunt has been kiting for 13 years, but this was only his second full session on foils. We are not claiming at this stage to be experts, but rather reviewing products according to the experience we’ve had.

 

ON REVIEW THIS SESSION:

CABRINHA DOUBLE AGENT
CARBON 6IX KAZE
LIQUID FORCE FOIL FISH
NORTH FOIL LTD

KITE:
OZONE CHRONO 11M (Click here for that review)

 

LIQUID FORCE FOIL FISH

This was version one of the Foil Fish and, as Liquid Force were the first to the non-custom production-based foil table in 2014, this set-up has had up to a year’s less development than the others here. Dipping their toe into the foil market, LF released this as two boards in one to represent tempting value. The foil is all modular and packs up into a neat, padded case. The Happy Foil and the Rocket Fish have since been released to sit alongside the Foil Fish, but we were too early to get our hands on those.

The ‘Skim’ Fish board is bombproof. The actual foil section is made of aluminium rather than slinky carbon like the racier types. However, aside from the financial savings of aluminium, you can bash it about without too much damage (and yes, it’s amazing how clumsy you become when trying to cart one of these around in your early stages). There also aren’t any sharp areas, so there’s less chance of lacerating yourself.

 

 

The board was set up with one inline front strap, more like a twin-tip. These boards however ride nothing like a twin-tip. You’ll see most boards now set up with two front foot straps and one back strap as it’s easier for tacking and gybing and the three strap set-up is an option on the Fish (we only had one strap though). As an early planing skim board the Fish has very little rocker, but because of its construction was probably deemed as the suitable board in the range for the foil to be bolted on to. For 2016 the boards have more rocker, which helps stop the nose diving when you’re learning as the board dolphins up and down on the water’s surface. However, the Foil Fish is relatively easy to get foiling and then provides a steady ride. This foil clearly has a top speed, but it did allow us to crank it over a bit and push upwind against the kite. Neal was able to carve around steadily, too.

Who’s it for? At a good price point it’s a bombproof entry-level foil that gets you foiling quite easily. LF have also now released extra modular pieces so you can bolt on a faster front wing and back wing for example. You could interchange with a friend if you want to share upgrade costs as you progress and, for the majority of people, having slinky carbon isn’t necessary. The Happy foil and Rocket Fish have more rocker, which is good as this board does have a tendency to nose dive – you could ride out of the nose dive, but it’s inconvenient and doesn’t help when you touch down to turn around.

More information at www.liquidforcekites.com

 

CABRINHA DOUBLE AGENT

The Cabrinha is very similar in set-up to the Liquid Force: the board is relatively low in volume and thickness compared to many of the boards designed for foiling. The foil also has similar delta shape and the keel and fuselage are a modular aluminium construction. It was also set up for us with two inline straps, but there are insert positions for three. The Double Agent doubles up as a regular directional surf/skim type board in its own right without the foil, but the board itself has a bit more shape and a bit more rocker than the LF Foil Fish, which really helps it feel smoother and transition well between the moments when you’re riding the surface of the water and actually foiling.

The Double Agent feels lively. As well as the slight increase in rocker, the board itself is also lighter and there’s more shape in the foils. Directionally it’s stable and you can find comfort on it quickly, but equally Neal found it playful.

 

 

As a general note for beginners when comparing board shapes, you’ll see the really advanced boards have these big chamfered rails to help racers in big chop. You don’t need to worry about that for now, you just need a soft board and enough rocker to not dig your nose. The Cabrinha pretty much fits that bill.

The actual keel is a bit shorter, so it’s less intimidating as you have lower angles of descent as you bob up and down. The keel on the North for example seems massive! As the Cabrinha has a lower height you don’t come in at such a steep angle as you bob up and down, and that extra nose rocker keeps the board going on the water’s surface and gives you confidence to go faster on the water or while foiling. The downside of a lower volume board when you’re learning to gybe, particularly in light winds, is that you don’t have long to change your feet before you sink. But the flip side is that the board is a bit easier to man-handle in the water to get into board start position.

The retail price is very competitive for the full set up and when you’re kiting and foiling at entry-level, you can have fun on this aluminium set-up. As you get better you may want to feel more speed and finesse in the carbon. Comparing the LF and the Cabrinha, both are nicely set up and well priced, somewhere around £1200 / US$1800 for what you get in the complete package. The Cabrinha handles speed better in the set-ups we tried, but it takes more to get it up and going than the LF.

More information at www.cabrinhakites.com

 

NORTH FOIL LTD

It’s very apparent that the North, although production, is a lighter and a considerably more expensive set-up (over £2k in the UK). The board is more buoyant, it’s bigger and thicker, but it’s also light. First impressions are the length of the keel, it’s noticeably bigger and the foil has rails that join the wings, so in general it’s more cumbersome, however, having said that, there are also no pointy bits anywhere on the wings, so you do feel a bit safer with it in the water.

 

Kiteworld Magazine Foil tests North Foil Ltd North Kiteboarding

 

The race foilers are looking for extra length in their keel to help them deal with choppy conditions, but for beginners it doesn’t make things any easier. The North however has an almost auto-foiling feel. It really doesn’t take much speed to get it foiling, but you have to get it pointing correctly first. Get moving steadily and it just rises up and then that’s it. You can switch off from it and the North is much more of a transport truck than a nimble rally car sort of ride. It just wants to take you for a ride once it’s up. Once up it’s stable, so you can then have time to focus on your kite, but as you improve and start to want more manoeuvrability, the North becomes a bit more of a handful. For long distance cruising in light winds though, the North will keep going forever, but at its own speed.

More information at www.northkiteboarding.com

 

CARBON 6IX

The Carbon 6ix (based on the Isle of Wight in the UK) has been our first experience on a full carbon design and high aspect wing. The foil alone is priced at £1,350, so you need to be fairly committed, but there’s no doubting it’s a classy product.

Lots of the production hype about foils has focused on low aspect wings being easier to learn to foil on. Yes, we think those delta foils can be a bit more forgiving, especially in terms of foot placement, but in terms of handling speed, they reach their wall quicker and then become more difficult to manage.

 

 

Although the surface area of the Carbon 6ix front wing has less surface area, it’s very high aspect, obviously extremely efficient and gets foiling very quickly indeed. One of the big challenges with foiling is managing speed in your first sessions. There’s no doubt that the Carbon 6ix does that better, so you can go faster – we reckon at least 10mph faster – but that also means that when you inevitably crash, you’ll also be crashing harder.

The difference we found is that the lower aspect wings don’t have as much lift, but aren’t so sensitive and perhaps a bit friendlier in your first few sessions at low speed. Once you’ve got a feel for it the Carbon 6ix it comes up out of the water at very low speed. There is a huge difference in feel with the carbon, it’s obviously stiffer and then there’s more speed available. Once you’re past the very early foiling stages, the Carbon 6ix makes sense. It’s not as easy to learn to turn, but it’s possible.

The board we had was a bit out of date for a high-performance board, as it doesn’t have the chined rails, the back foot strap was a bit too far back (so we didn’t use it) but as a full carbon layup it’s also a bit over the top for someone just learning. Carbon 6ix aren’t specialising in boards, though.

The main difference with all these will come down to your pocket, and how quickly you want to commit to a carbon offering, that probably means about an £800 – 900 difference to your budget.

More information at www.carbon6ix.com

 

OVERALL

The actual shape of the LF and Cabrinha foil sections are quite similar, but other than that, these board set ups are all so different, showing that there are still many schools of thought for what’s right for the market. The LF is a perfectly good start-up foil option and if you want a little more rocker and different front foot strap set up options, they have those in the range now as well as faster wings. The Foil Fish is certainly strong and reliable.

The Cabrinha is surprisingly agile and user-friendly. It’s not the fastest gun in town, but it deals with speed and is quite a progressive first option that handles the inevitable touch downs well.

The North and its almost auto foiling tendencies felt the most different with the longest keel. It foils at very low speeds, but if you’re going to be an aggressive foiler, you will start to want more response and maneuverability.

The Carbon 6ix, as a more customised, all carbon product and is the fastest to foil (when you’re practiced), it accelerates smoothly and handles speed the best. It represents the decision you have to take about how seriously you want to invest in foiling. Do you just want to get out and float, or really push the sensations of speed while also shelling out close to an extra grand for your set-up?

 

Kiteworld Magazine Foil tests

 

Thanks to James at Bracklesham Boardriders for the loan of the Liquid Force and North boards this issue.

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