This year, foil fever took over the Liquid Force’s headquarters and for 2016, the company has added three new models to its foilboard program. The brand also launched its first dedicated surf kite and continued small refinements to improve efficiency and performance of the rest of their kite and board line. Liquid Force’s Rich Sabo answers our questions about what loyal Envy fans can expect from the new model along with what other changes or additions have been made for the 2016 product year.
The WOW surf kite is a new model in the 2016 lineup. How does this design work better in the surf compared to existing kites like the Envy?
While the WOW was developed to be a wave kite, the result was a far more versatile kite that not only excels in the waves, but serves as an incredibly fun freeride machine. It is our top performer in the surf due to its light bar pressure, quick pivotal turning and stability in the wind window. It’s most certainly the fastest kite in our lineup and actually our biggest booster! Unexpected from a traditional wave kite, I think we we’re all shocked at how high this thing jumps! Envy users who were looking for a quicker kite and a little more drift in the surf will find a perfect fit with the WOW.
How has the Envy changed both in terms of construction and performance for 2016, and has the target rider changed over time?
It’s the sixth year of the Envy and we did a great job in not messing with a good thing. The Envy has been improved this year by refining the wingtip profile and adding some new technologies like the Tension Trailing Edge. The new high sweep wingtips increase the turning speed of the kite and give it a bit more responsiveness in the sky. The new Dacron pattern on the trailing edge delivers a smoother transition between canopy materials, which results in a tighter canopy that doesn’t flutter through turns. We also added a bunch of bridle attachment options that allow you to make the kite higher or lower aspect depending on what you’re looking for. The full adjustability of both the steering lines and the front bridles allow for anyone to tune their Envy to their liking. Following our ‘Envy ethos’, this kite is fun for everyone. Easy relaunch, quick turning and solid unhooked performance – the Envy does it all! This kite works for beginners in our schools all the way up to our top level riders like Brandon Scheid. We think that everyone will find something they enjoy with the Envy.
The target rider of the Envy has always been the same — kiters who want something that will allow them to have fun in all conditions. People who loved their 2015 Envy will find that this year’s Envy is extra reactive with a more solid canopy through turns. All in all, we are really stoked on how this turned out and how much adjustability it allows to make your Envy just right for you.
The Solo got a bit of redesign for 2016. What changes will we find in terms of construction and performance, and what type of riding do you recommend the Solo for?
Yes, the Solo most certainly got a little bit of redesign this year. The story of the Solo starts with our design team working intensively to prototype and test numerous strutless kite designs. These kites proved to be extremely lightweight and possessed a very direct feel with a great amount of raw power. Although these results proved to be successful, we also found the design to have multiple compromises in performance that overshadowed the benefits of the strutless kite design, compromises we were simply not willing to accept.
The SOLO evolved from many design iterations from half struts to battens and eventually ended up with a very thin, low profile center strut. The SOLO, our dream that became a reality, is an ultralightweight, single strut design that offers an unparalleled efficiency, stability and wind range compared to any kite on the market today,all with the added benefit of pack-ability for travel. We are excited to introduce the SOLO, an all terrain kite that can be summed up in three words: simple, powerful and fun.
For 2016, we added a few slight changes that enhance the handling and feeling of the SOLO at the bar. We also increased the wingtip profile for a better bar response and non-visual feel from the kite. The addition of the Tension Trailing Edge increases laminar flow, which results in decreased fluttering and gives the kite a smoother feeling at the bar.
In short, the Solo v2 is the ultimate freeriding kite. Because it’s got a huge wind range and lots of depower, it’s our favorite choice when it comes to hydrofoiling. The ease of use is really nice when trying to learn or progress on a foilboard. That said, any person looking to have a kite that is fun and easy-to-use will love the Solo v2.
The Response control bar looks like it has a new quick release this year and tons of added features. In your experience what are the top five features that make this bar the most appealing to LF customers?
All true! The top five features that make this bar the most appealing to customers include the adjustable bar ends, adjustable above-the-bar depower, a new and improved quick release and an automatic top swivel and the ergonomic EVA grip on our control bars.
Long gone are the days of needing two separate bars for your large and small kite. The 2016 Response Bar makes it easy to switch from a 46cm bar to a 56cm bar. Just a quick click and you can change your bar length for optimal control of your kite. As far as the actual bar, while many systems use knots and intricate weaving systems, ours is incredibly easy to use and adjust. One rope feeds through our adjustable cleat; a simple design that allows the rider to adjust the throw to their liking. If you have short arms, it’s just a quick 30 second adjustment to get the cleat right where you can reach it. The excess depower rope also has Velcro on it so that the slack doesn’t get caught around your lines.
The Response’s new and improved quick release is definitely another highlight of the 2016 bar. We searched throughout the industry to find the best quick release available and partnered up with Blade. This year we have a custom UNI loop release that is clean and simple to use. We also have our Automatic Top Swivel that keeps your lines untangled as long as you promise to keep sand and junk out of there. It’s a nice way to keep your lines clean if you are working on a continuously working on a trick the same way. Last but not least, the Response Bar’s ergonomic EVA bar grip is super soft and comfortable. It’s not a simple circular shaped bar, but one that will give you better grip with less effort – meaning you get to ride longer!
Last year LF introduced the first production foilboard to the market, and this year, the lineup includes three models. Can you explain each model and the target rider for each design?
Foil fever has most certainly taken over here at Liquid Force! We were so stoked on the Foil Fish that we are continuing to offer it this year in our 2016 line up. It’s an incredibly beginner-friendly shape that is perfect for anyone looking to try out the hydrofoiling side of our sport and not break the bank (it’s $1650 for the complete foil set up)!
Starting in January 2016, we will be introducing two new models to the lineup. The Rocket Fish is a new addition that will also be a beginner-friendly shape. Designing the Rocket Fish as a progression from the Foil Fish, we shortened the board to a 5’0 and gave it more nose rocker. This shape will be more forgiving when taking those nose dives on the board and will help to keep the board above the water. The shorter length also makes the board a bit more maneuverable. In addition, we added strap positions to the board so that you can either ride with inline straps or have the staggered front foot setup that some people prefer. On the bottom of the Rocket Fish we’ve added an adjustable mast position mount so that you can fully tune where you want the mast to lie under your feet. It also makes the installation of the mast much easier.
The mast profile has also been changed for the Foil Fish. If you are looking at the mast head on, you will notice that it is narrower and sharper towards the edge. From the side view, you will notice that the mast is now wider. This provides an overall more stable feeling and the sharper profile gives it better water flow for a smoother ride. The mast is also longer than last year’s model.
The Rocket Fish fuselage is now 10cm longer which gives a more stable platform for the rider to work with. The low aspect wings are the same shape that come stock with the Foil Fish. This year, we’ve just made them with a slightly different material.
For 2016, the Happy Foil is a totally new shape and construction. It comes with the exact same mast and fuselage that comes with the Rocket Fish (except it’s blue and not red), as well as the adjustable track mast mounting system. The difference is in the board and its wings. The Happy Pill is a multipurpose molded board that is 4’10” in length, lightweight and durable. It’s got a lot more float than the Rocket Fish and comes with our new medium aspect carbon wings. If you are unfamiliar with the differences between aspect ratios, the thing you need to know is that medium aspect wings are faster than low aspect, but also need to be ridden at faster speeds. That being said, this foil is designed with a more advanced rider in mind; someone who is looking for the next thing after the Foil Fish or Rocket Fish. It’s faster, more maneuverable and despite being tougher to ride than our lower aspect wings, it is still incredibly fun!
In addition to three foil models, Liquid Force is also selling some add-on products like a carbon fuselage and high aspect wing. Which products will these make most sense with, and what can kiters expect in terms of performance from these upgrades?
Yes, the really cool thing about our whole setup is that everything is interchangeable and upgradeable. No one gets left behind in the LF foil department! Currently, we have a longer aluminum fuselage available as an upgrade to Foil Fish users out there. It’s 10cm longer than the first generation fuselage and has two different rear wing positions so that you can fine tune your ride.
Once riders pick their favorite board from our lineup, they will be looking for their next upgrade. What most foilers want as they progress is faster speeds and lighter weight. Therefore, we have the high aspect carbon wings and the carbon fuselage available as upgrades for any of our foils. Lighter weight just means that you need less lift to get you up and out of the water, so a lighter fuselage will mean you need a bit less power in your kite to get going.
The high aspect wings are for those who are looking to get a taste of what racing on a foil is like. They are the fastest wings in our lineup and the toughest to ride, so make sure you know what you are doing before checking these guys out.
We also have some cool accessories available like wing covers and board bags that you can put your fully assembled foil into. The best part about all of this is that you can find exactly the right foil setup for you from top to bottom!
For those that are just getting into kiteboarding, how should they choose between the entry level twin tip boards in your lineup?
For those just getting into kiteboarding, the most attractive boards in our lineup are the Edge and the Drive.
The Edge is a simple shape that comes in a 136 and a 146. This thing is built for rapid progression in the early stages of your kiteboarding career. It has asymmetrical bottom contours, including a turned up toeside to minimize edge catches and also a super simple concave set towards the sharp heelside edge for extra bite. Its compression molded core means that you get all of this at an incredible price point!
The Drive is a step up from the Edge but still designed with the beginner in mind. It has a bit more of a comprehensive size range: 134, 137, 140 and 143. For 2016, the new additional technology is a smooth, shallow center concave. This board is fun, easy-to-use and looks great. Its outline delivers a really easy ride that is quick to plane with a flex pattern that is really forgiving in chop. The top sheet allows you to see right through to its profiled wood core, which delivers a really responsive ride. It also comes stock with our
Liquid Rail, a urethane poured rail around the edge (which you can clearly see) that will keep the board protected from run-ins with rocks or your truck.
For more advanced riders that are pushing the freeride envelope or getting more into more difficult freestyle, how do you steer them through the options of the Legacy, Echo and Carbon Element?
I think the easiest way to steer yourself through this is to think about the riders who inspired each of the shapes. The Echo is inspired by Brandon Scheid who is our wakestyle rail and kicker master. He likes to go big and fast, which is exactly what the Echo does. It’s got the most bottom shape of any of the boards in the lineup which gives the board the grip it needs to be ridden finless. Its flex profile is super fun for rails but doesn’t sacrifice the ability to take big landings. This year, we’ve added a bit more rocker to the board so it will make bigger landings even easier. The profiled wood core, high rocker line and stiff flex pattern make this board an aggressive rider’s dream!
The Legacy is inspired by the legendary Jason Slezak. Jason is a smooth, stylish rider, who likes to do it all. This board is in its 10th year of refinement. It’s had a lot of changes along the way, but has maintained many of the features that make it such a fun ride. Liquid Force has kept its double concave on the bottom, along with its CNC blended carbon composite wood core that can do it all and delivers a really comfortable ride. The Legacy’s advancements include a progressive rail concave for added edge hold and the enhanced durability of a full double concave for more efficient riding and a state-of-the-art flex profile for choppy conditions, softer landings and more powerful takeoffs. For 2016, the Legacy gets a weight reduction with the use of a vector net carbon weave base lamination that allows for the reduction of multiple glass laminations. Finally, we offer the Carbon Element, inspired by World Champion, Christophe Tack. Tack is looking for a board that can help him win world titles by delivering amazing pop in all conditions. The ultra lightweight Carbon Element utilizes a unique honeycomb top and bottom bi-axis carbon weave, reducing the weight beyond standard carbon fiber board laminations. This construction, combined with a shallow concaved center hull to a deep-channeled tip shape, delivers the ultimate freestyle experience.