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2013 Buyer’s Guide: Flexifoil

Photo Richard Boudia

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Flexifoil has many changes in store for 2013 including the introduction of the new Force and Shiva kites as well as completly new designs for their control bar, Hadlow Pro kite, and Hadlow Freestyle MK2 board. Designing products is a team effort at Flexifoil. Anthony Van Dort (CEO), Andy Preston (Kite Design), Aaron Hadlow (Board Design), and the Product Development team of Peter and Oliver Vandeweege worked collaboratively to answer our questions on what Flexifoil will be offering for 2013.

Flexifoil has made a renewed commitment to the North American market. What does this mean for retailers and riders?
2012 has been a great milestone for Flexifoil with the company celebrating its 40th anniversary. This year we achieved two brand new world records and beat one of our own existing world records. On June 30, 2012, Sam Branson, the son of Virgin Tycoon Sir Richard Branson, smashed the current world record for the fastest crossing powered by kite from France to England.

Joined by eight other kiting enthusiasts, we went on to achieve the world record for the most number of kite surfers to cross the English Channel as well. The next day, Sir Richard Branson achieved the world record for the oldest person to cross the English Channel, this time from England to France.

We believe retailers and riders can be confident when selling and riding the very latest world record producing products with the quality of construction and performance you’d expect from the brand which designed the first and world’s fastest power kite 40 years ago. Flexifoil has a wealth of experience in kite design and employs a team of consultants who continually drive innovation and ground-breaking ideas.

Photo William Milne

New for 2013 is the Force, a high performance hybrid which replaces the popular Ion. Where does this kite fit in the Flexifoil kite mix?

The Force combines the qualities of the Ion but with a brand new shape, profile, and plan form. The Force has been developed to be more powered and give a much more dynamic and extreme feel (especially in the boost and loop) than last year’s Ion 5 range. Its 4-strut design removes a lot of unwanted weight and creates a better self-adjusting profile keeping the airflow connected for longer, which increases the kite’s ability to drive harder through the turns and give a longer float time.

Its new semi-cathedral bridle has been tweaked to bring the focal point inboard of the tips a little more which distributes the force more evenly over the canopy giving massive stability in the high end of its wind range allowing it to be flown without deformation, even in gusty winds. Outstanding design and build quality have always been at the center of Flexifoil’s core values, and we are constantly working on new detailing and strengthening.

For the Force, all strut joints have been redesigned and webbing straps now terminate under Kevlar load spreading patches on the ribs. The leading edge bladder closure is now Velcro to distribute the unwanted forces during relaunch or wipeouts evenly across the leading edge tube for improved strength. With the Force you can be assured that it will give you the best possible build quality and kite performance. The Force is aimed at intermediate to advanced riders. It’s a specialist kite which has huge boost and float. It’s designed to take you up and keep you up there longer. It is an extremely stable platform even in gusty winds and turns quickly for its size. The lift is phenomenal, the height is impressive, and the float is comforting.

2013 Flexifoil Force

Will former Ion users be comfortable on the Force or will it be an entirely new experience for them?

After the Ion 5, we decided it was time for a fresh updated feel with some new blood. There’s no doubt that the Force is a different kite than the Ion 5, but we have been very careful not to alienate users of the Ion 5. We have kept the overall feel of the Ion but have introduced more direct response for more rapid and powered turning. The overall feel is that of the Ion 5 on fast forward and steroids. The 7m and 9m Force kites are adjusted to their most efficient flight trim for maximum fun in the higher wind speeds. The 11m has been designed for use in those marginal wind conditions which dictate a larger kite. This is where the largest differences are to the Ion range of kites. The 11m has a much larger depower and flatter profile compared to the 7m and 9m to speed up this kite in the lower end of its range and produce more usable power, while still allowing for maximum boost and hang time in the upper end of its range.

We have tailored the 13m to fit its preferred wind speeds with a higher aspect ratio, redistributed strut positions, and thinner strut diameters for maximum profile variance when sheeting. This kite carries an insane board speed and unbelievable float, yet is still usable in the really low wind speeds where you would normally expect to take a 15 or 16m kite. We believe this is a marked improvement over the 14.5m Ion 5 kites. All Force kites feature our new intense bold graphic look which identifies them instantly on the water. This new kite had a lot to live up to, and after extensive testing and remodeling we believe we have made a large leap forward in this design.

2013 FLEXIFOIL KITES
Kite Name Sizes Stock Line Length Target Date Available
Force 7, 9, 11, 13.5m 20 + 4m Freestyle, freeride Nov. 2012
Shiva 4, 5,5, 7, 9, 11, 13m 20 + 4m Waves, freeride Feb. 2013
Storm Chaser 5.5m 20 + 4m Freestyle, freeride, waves Now
Hadlow ID 6,8, 10, 12m 18 + 4m Freestyle, freeride, waves Now
Hadlow Pro 7, 9, 11, 13m 18 + 4m Freestyle Feb. 2013

We understand that a new freeride hybrid kite is also planned for 2013. How will this kite differ from others offered from Flexifoil and what kind of rider is it best suited for?

The Shiva will be primarily for wave riding. It’s an all-around high performance kite. Wave riders should be very pleased with this new offering and intermediate freestyle riders will also feel at ease as it has great depower and keeps its responsive control even when depowered. Early testing revealed a very nice smooth application of power, great depower, and forward speed. This kite is completely different to any other kite in the Flexifoil range with an easy-to-ride feel and smooth fast depower with great downwind drift for thrashing down the line. When fully sheeted in, this kite gives an easy and large pop to get you out over those breakers without the mega float of the Hadlow ID or the Force kites.

Will Flexifoil be offering a new bar for 2013?

Yes, we have designed a completely new bar called the Sky Bar which offers a new grip that will be a bit softer than on the Hadlow Pro bar from last year. This new Flexifoil bar will be available in 48 and 54cm sizes and features a new above the adjuster swivel assembly which is completely strippable for easy and quick maintenance. The depower strap has been changed to keep the depower and re-power handles just above the bar. We’ve added a single front line flag-out safety system to completely depower the kite when released. A new self-aligning stopper ball fits into the new bar core design, keeping everything straight for hooking in. The lines now feature new lengths which correspond to our new flagout safety system with a total length of 22 meters.

The Hadlow Pro now has a new setting that is said to achieve 50% more depower. Will this setting change the performance or feel of the kite versus the regular setting? What other tweaks were made to the kite?

Well, the new version of the Hadlow Pro kite has definitely changed. The sail is now using the curved Dacron cage design to dissipate any focus of pressure in the corners (which are now gone), and to maintain a higher accuracy in manufacturing along the front of the profile. The internal reinforcements on the leading edge have been improved as have the webbing retaining straps on the ribs. The toggle positions have been changed to work from the leading edge tube, not the sail. This improves turning speed and stability in gusts.

New asymmetric graphics help it fit in with the other kites in the Hadlow range. We also implemented a new rib to tube connection design for improved strength and Kevlar scuff pads on the leading edge for reduced weight. All sizes of the Hadlow Pros will feature the same length line sets, so no more threading an extra set of lines to each kite when you change sizes. The add-on depower bridle seen on the last Hadlow Pro has also been removed from this latest version as the new Hadlow ID is the preferred kite in the Hadlow range for wakestyle depowerable riding.

Photo William Milne

Were any modifications made to the Hadlow ID? How does this kite differ from the Hadlow Pro?

o, no changes were made. The idea for the Hadlow ID was to create a kite that would be credible with a solid feel great for freestyle kiting, but also a kite that you can jump on at almost any level. Equipped with a bridle-supported leading edge this kite can boost and depower for wave or freeride kiting, but it still creates enough pop for wakestyle tricks. Even if you are just learning to jump, the Hadlow ID will suit you, easily covering intermediate through to pro kitesurfing. The Hadlow ID offers performance close to the Pro, yet with increased wind range and user-friendliness. The low end of the Hadlow ID seems to be a couple of knots better than the Pro.

The Hadlow ID also flies less on the front lines, causing the bar to be pulled away from you in the gusts more, which helps to iron out power spikes. Relaunch on the Hadlow ID is an improvement over the Pro and upwind performance seems comparable when powered. The bar pressure on the Hadlow ID is very similar to that of the Pro and it offers very good levels of feedback and control for an SLE, yet the Pro still remains king in this department. The Hadlow ID generates the most power when driven in straight lines or wide arcs, yet the Pro will continue to generate power on tighter turns – it’s amazing for kite looping.

The Hadlow ID is definitely an easier kite to boost or transition with as you can just send it above and sheet in and pop to get airtime. The Pro requires more aggression and considerable backward send in order to get serious height. Both kites are very good to boost with, but it’s significantly easier to go big on the Hadlow ID and the float is also improved. Both kites are a dream to unhook and pop with, as we designed the Hadlow ID to have great slack line feel to allow time for handle passes without the bar being ripped out of your hands. It’s not quite as much slack as the Pro, but its still more than enough to give any serious wakestyler a big smile.

Were any changes made to the Hadlow control bar?

It comes in one size, 48cm. This year there is a new grip featuring a new asymmetric grip design with texture to stop the bar from slipping out your hands for those working on handle passes. The depower line has also been made adjustable so you can choose the setting for you and make it longer for the new depower setting on the kite. One of the main features of this new bar is that all working components are visible and can be stripped for maintenance.

A new self-aligning stopper ball keeps the chicken loop at the right angle for hooking in after unhooked maneuvers. New lines have been tested and assembled with the bar. They are stronger and Teflon coated to decrease the amount of tangling. We have used ultra-premium materials used for unrivaled levels of durability and quality as well as a clean bar setup, familiar simple safety system, and attention to detail. You can be sure that you’re equipped with the very best in freestyle-suited bar design.

Hadlow ID

The Storm Chaser was released in late 2011. Meant for high winds, it only comes in a 5.5m size. Were any changes made to this kite for 2013 and what makes this kite so special for high winds?

No, we didn’t change the Storm Chaser for this year. The Storm Chaser takes high wind kiting performance to new levels and with Flexifoil’s current construction standards, the kite guarantees durability, quality, and power that you need to rip on those high wind days. The kite is very stable and munches gusts like you would not believe. It’s a perfect solution to the gusts and lulls of high winds! Despite the kite being a 5.5m the kite does not get out of hand easily, is very predicable, and turns at a sensible speed as the last thing you want is a super quick kite in strong winds! Don’t get us wrong, the kite is still plenty fast enough to send for the biggest jumps and hang times, but it’s all very controllable and fun.

2013 FLEXIFOIL BOARDS
Board Name Sizes Type Target Date Available
Hadlow Freestyle 134, 138cm Twin Tip Freestyle, freeride Now
Hadlow Wakestyle 138cm Twin Tip Freestyle Feb. 2013

What’s happening with Flexifoil’s twin tip board line for 2013?

Aaron Hadlow and Flexifoil present two boards for 2013, the Hadlow Freestyle and the Wakestyle. The Freestyle comes in two sizes (134×39.5 and 138x40cm) and the Wakestyle comes in one size (138×43). The new and improved MK2 2013 versions have many improvements and sport nice new graphics too! Aaron has built upon the success of the original Hadlow Freestyle kiteboard. Built from the original design and shape of the late, great Colin McCulloch, the Freestyle board brings innovative and unique features to the world of freestyle kitesurfing. It is manufactured using state-of-the-art materials which have made it even lighter, stronger, and more robust. While the outline remains the same as the original Hadlow Freestyle kiteboard, the center of the board between the straps has a slightly stiffer flex pattern to add performance.

The Wakestyle board is accessible enough for any rider using or wanting to use bindings. With its smooth cut through chop, comfortable ride, and fast and aggressive performance, it’s a great ride for those looking to push themselves in wakestyle riding, rails, and crossover to cable parks. The Wakestyle board is aimed squarely at riders using bindings to offer a new standard in performance. With a long list of features and intricate special designs, this really is the best performing board you can ask for in its category.

Hadlow Freestyle

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Yes, we’d like to talk about our kitesurf trainer, the Quark. It’s a 3-line, fun, and affordable kitesurf trainer designed specifically to help new kiters learn to fly with skill and confidence. We supply the Quark complete and ready to fly with a 55cm control bar. The Quark is ideal for use in kitesurf schools or for anyone who is looking for a tough, high performance kitesurf trainer. The Quark also offers experienced kiters a kite to introduce to friends, or just to fly for themselves when the wind is not enough to be on the water.

We’ve designed the Quark to be easy to fly and incredibly stable. The kite reacts quickly to input making it responsive, predictable, and most importantly of all, good fun to fly. The power is delivered smoothly and progressively by the high performance 2.4m canopy. The power provided is enough to prepare a new kiter before they start flying water kites. Designed to fly in almost every wind condition, the kite’s huge wind range means that even if the wind is low you can still gain valuable flying experience and fine tune your kite skills.

Want 185 pages of 2013 kiteboarding gear info on 28 brands? Check out the TKB 2013 Buyer’s Guide.

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