The number of new foil models continues to expand with new shapes and improved construction technology refining and improving performance in 2019. There’s never been a better time to add a new foil set up to your quiver and set up yourself up for success this season. A lot of these new, large-winged, easy-cruising, high-lift foils can help enhance both your foil riding and overall kiteboarding experience. After three full seasons of having freeride foils on the market, a lot of kiteboarders have found themselves hovering on their newest wings for more sessions than on any other board. This is the third year the Kitesurfing Magazine team has put the latest freeride foils through the ringer and the smiles on our test team riders’ faces have never been bigger.
The new foil models tested in this round include both kite-specific and more surf-or-SUP-oriented designs, which also work great behind the kite. The light wind efficiency and easy cruising nature of these new designs make them easier to learn on and a lot of advanced riders use them because they are easier to pull off advanced transitions and carving manoeuvres. Essentially the larger wings of these set ups make them easier to carve and cruise around on as they generate extra lift in lighter winds and they stay on foil at much slower speeds. With a shorter 60 centimeter mast you don’t crash from as high a point and they can smoothly cruise in shallower areas of around four-to-five feet. Lots of new technology and better materials and refinements in shaping and wing hydrodynamics that have gone into improving many of this year’s foil models. If you’ve been stuck going back and forth on a smaller, more speed-oriented wing and are struggling with consistency on your transitions, the new surf style freeride foils can help you improve.
There are lots of options and within these are variations and differences in the feel and function of each set up. The only fully kite-dedicated foil of the test was the HI:RISE LIFT which is Cabrinha’s answer to no-hassle foiling. This is the only foil model Cabrinha offers and and it’s geared towards freeride cruising and ease of use for any skill level. The HI:RISE LIFT isn’t a massive wing but it fits in the trend towards a larger front wing that provides lots of lift and great stability at low speeds. It doesn’t foil up as quickly as some the larger surf foils but it is highly efficient and provides good stability. The HI:RISE LIFT cruises at speeds even slower than some of the larger winged surf foils but it keeps under control when kite power and pull increases.
The Liquid Force Impulse Foil was a ground breaker in the carving and easy cruising category last season and its performance still holds as one of the best for all around performance. Paired with the Galaxy deck this set up was one of the most well-rounded cruising rides with access to more speed than the HI:RISE LIFT but greater amounts of lift and smooth glide through the carves. The Impulse has more moderate sized wings that have slightly more control and less lift at higher speeds than some of the jumbo wings tested this round.
On the other end of the spectrum you have the Progressive Tri Foil; a large winged foil that can be used for kite, windsurf or surf. It’s a simple design that follows Progessive’s value model and checks all the boxes of an easy cruising set up. The thicker size and larger surface area of the Tri Foil makes for a super stable and very low speed cruising board. It pops up quickly but quickly reaches full speed.
The AK Surf and the Naish Thrust Surf are both more surf foils that have very similar wing shapes and were designed with lots of early lift and stability for carving on a wave. The AK Surf was one of the earliest lifting foils and has some of the tightest turns at super low speeds. You can push speed into the AK with less lift by inverting the tail wing on the AK reducing the sensitivity for steering and stabilizing the AK at higher speeds. The Naish Thrust Large also has quick and easy lift and has slightly more top end speed. It has a longer fuselage which might help the Thrust with more glide through some smooth arcing turns. Lots of new tech in the Naish also set this one apart with the single bolt-on plate system called the Abracadabra. It makes mounting the foil on the board faster and easier. The other bonus of kiting with the Thrust Large is the easy adjusting tail wing. By angling the wing up or down you can adjust the amount of lift on the foil which is a bonus for different weight and speed preferences or kiting conditions.
Slingshot had two different wings in their completely modular Hover Glide system. The FKite Wing was designed last season and used primarily as a tight-turning and skatey surf wing. It works so well with a kite that it’s now their recommended starter, and skill advancing kite foil set up. The Fkite wing is one of the easiest to carve tighter radius turns and responds quickly and intuitively to heel-to-toe input. This skatey, edge-to-edge feel seems more familiar to a surfboard and makes initiating turns and transitions easier than some of the more hard tracking and slower turning surf foils. It also has some nice even foot pressure while driving upwind with speed and it doesn’t get unruly if it gets some power and speed into it. Slingshot’s Infinity 76 was one of the wings in the test with the largest surface areas and had some of the smoothest carving as it carries its speed easily through the turns. Surprisingly quick and slippery upwind, this Infinity 76 has some sweet carving skills. The different wing shapes of the whole Slingshot lineup is a bit confusing but they definitely have some magic to it feel and performance. Equally at home behind a boat or on a wave, the Infinity 76 smooth riding and carving prowess will let it dabble with some swagger in every foil discipline.
So look for one of these great foil set ups to get into this amazing kite discipline or to help advance your underdeveloped foil skills with more control and carving ability at slower speeds. With the right set up you are guaranteed to increase your days on water and reinvigorate your stoke for kiteboarding in what were once considered marginal conditions.
Be sure to check out the individual Hydrofoil Reviews to find your ideal setup.