F-One has been around since the very beginning, but for most those years it has focused extensively on the development of a single kite model—the award winning Bandit. Having mastered the art of refinement, F-One is now branching out, applying its exceptional attention to detail and performance to a wide array of models in the kite, twin tip, surf and foil categories. Charles Bertrand, Head R&D for boards and foils answers our questions on the latest and greatest F-One products for 2018.
NOW THAT THE F-ONE KITE LINEUP HAS SHIFTED TO A MULTI-PRONGED APPROACH TO SATISFYING KITEBOARDING PERFORMANCE, HOW HAS THAT CHANGED THE ROLE OF THE BANDIT IN THE F-ONE FAMILY OF KITES AND WHAT CAN WE EXPECT IN PERFORMANCE FROM THE 2018 MODEL?
The Bandit really has its own path which is linked to the reality of the sport. Kiteboarding evolves and so does the Bandit accordingly. We’re riding with all kinds of boards all year long, strapped or strapless, on the water or above the water, and the Bandit is developed to deliver in any situation. The reality is that a lot of people are riding twin tips so that’s our base and then the kite evolves over time to also adapt to the more recent ways of kiting such as riding strapless or foiling. It almost sounds unreal to get a kite that’s so good to boost high on a twin tip freestyle session, shred the spot on a strapless surfboard, get barreled on a coral reef wave and foil around the bay, but it is the reality of what we do and we do it all with the Bandit. In the words of company founder Raphael Salles, “The Bandit is a kite with lots of power, excellent top-end control, smooth power delivery, great hangtime with plenty of support when flying; it offers fast turning capabilities, auto relaunching, superb upwind drive and control at high speed, coupled with exceptional bar feeling and perfect feedback. If you have a kite with all of these qualities, in which discipline would it not work?”
Noticeable this year is all the work we have done to reduce the lateral pull of the kite. The trick is to place the kite in the right spot in the window to balance the power and pull precisely. It’s an often-overlooked aspect but the end result is a kite the gets you riding for longer withless fatigue, better control of your board and a great upwind angle.
The depower is cleaner than ever with a short depower stroke that provides power at the control of your fingertips. This means you can dump a lot of power in an instant and get it back with a smooth transfer, which enlarges the wind range of each kite size. When many brands mention wind range, they mean the spread between the top and low-end range of the kite. With the Bandit it is so much more than that—power, depower, lateral pull, power transfer, the stability of the profile—all these factors combine in the Bandit and this is the secret of its success over the last 11 years.
EXPLAIN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE FURTIVE AND THE BREEZE AND HOW A CONSUMER SHOULD PICK BETWEEN THESE KITES AND THE DIABLO.
The reason we’ve developed other kites around the Bandit is to answer specific needs that required specific solutions that couldn’t be implemented in one single kite. The Breeze, Furtive and Diablo were all developed around foiling for specific reasons. The Diablo is a ram-air kite designed and built for winning races, from club level races to world championships. The Furtive is a performance tube kite that can deliver an impressive amount of speed with the all-important control that you need at these speeds. The smaller sizes (10 and below) are aimed at stronger winds and are mostly designed with 5 struts to provide better support to the profile and keep the kite super clean and efficient in the high range. The larger sizes (12 and above) put a bigger emphasis on light wind performance with a 3-strut geometry to keep a lighter weight. The qualities of the Furtive can be harnessed with any type of board. This kite is winning races in twin-tip racing and long-distance courses on and above the water. The icing on the cake is its great hangtime potential.
The Breeze is a light wind freeride kite whose design was triggered by the new and specific needs brought by foiling. With hydrofoils, you could be foiling in less wind that you need to fly your kite so we made the Breeze as light as possible to fly as early as possible. We made it very stable in the air to reduce the chances of getting it down in the water. And in case this happens, we made its super easy to relaunch backward so that you can keep enjoying your sessions rather than having to sw
im back to the shore. The Breeze is reassuring as it gives full control over speed and acceleration and has great handling even when depowered so the rider will feel at ease when foiling.
WHEN IT COMES TO SURF, F-ONE HAS INTRODUCED A NEW SHAPE ALONG WITH ITS PROVEN MODELS IN SOME EXCITING CONSTRUCTION METHODS. TELL US ABOUT THE CONSTRUCTION OFFERINGS AND BRIEFLY EXPLAIN THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE MITU AND SIGNATURE BOARD MODELS AND WHO WILL BE THE IDEAL CUSTOMER FOR THE BRAND NEW SLICE MODEL.
The ESL standard offers a reliable bamboo sandwich construction with classic surf deck that only keeps the tail pad to reduce the weight and allow the riders to have direct contact with their board for a feeling that’s closer to a prone surfboard.
The HD Foam Flex composite construction uses a sandwich construction combining high density foam with glass fiber and epoxy resin that keep the board light and brings some flex to the board for more comfort and a better ride in the waves. These boards are fitted with footstrap inserts, a full deck pad and with some shock absorbers that really add to the comfort of the board with their extra 5cm of EVA foam underneath the front foot. Finally, the HD Foam Carbon composite is our most high-tech construction and uses bi-axial carbon fibers with the HD foam to make the board as light and as responsive as ever. We only use +/- 45° carbon fibers to keep some degree of flex into the board. They come fitted with a full pad but no inserts to save that little bit of extra weight.
The Mitu Pro Model is a very successful board and the reason for this is because these boards are great at doing a lot of things. From wave riding to freestyle, its strapless potential is impressive and blends with remarkable ease of use. The Signature is a pure wave riding machine designed to rip any kind of wave. Its round pin rail, narrower outline and raised rocker make this board a beauty when it comes to carving solid bottom turns before hitting the lip.
The main novelty in the surfboard range is the Slice. With its compact and squarer outline, the Slice was designed as the next step for strapless freestyle. The reduced swing weight, the wide nose, the thin rails and its specific rocker are making one hell of a difference when you’re trying to land some tricks. The board is super responsive with a lot of pop. But we’ve realized that early planing, great upwind angle and added reactivity were also much appreciated by intermediate riders when they hit the waves. Most of them will feel that they ride better with a board like the Slice. The Slice will please the freestyle aces as well as the riders working up their game in the waves and will feel great in weaker or onshore conditions. WHILE F-ONE HAS BEEN IN THE FOIL CONSTRUCTION GAME FOR A COUPLE OF YEARS NOW, THIS YEAR F-ONE FEATURES ONE OF THE DEEPEST LINEUPS OF FOIL MODELS TO SUIT EVERY ASPECT OF THE FOIL GAME FROM SPEED, TO CARVE AND SURF. WALK US THROUGH THE 2018 FOIL OPTIONS AND EXPLAIN THE SKILL AND STYLE OF RIDING EACH MODEL IS INTENDED TO SATISFY.
Yes, the foil range is a product of a great deal of work. We’re very keen and we’ve trying to address all the various disciplines. What people are realizing now is how much fun you can have on a larger wing. These are easy, accessible and great for carving and playing around with the foil. Their flying speed is moderate but a lot of people will prefer to feel in control and the top end speed is still thrilling. So, for the wings, our kiting range starts with the 1000cm² and goes down to 510cm². The larger wings are designed for freeride and carving, but every time you go down a notch in surface area you gain some speed potential. It’s worth noting that a faster wing can also be great for carving and our 510cm² is a great example in that respect.
In terms of construction, we have the aluminum hybrid range and the carbon range. The aluminum hybrid uses an aluminum mast, which we offer in a large selection of lengths, with some carbon wings and a carbon/steel fuselage. The carbon range offers full carbon foils with a beautiful carbon mast that benefits from a refined and thinner profile. The 1000, 800 and 600 wings are offered with the aluminum hybrid foils with the standard fuselage and freeride stabilizer. The 600, 540 and 510cm² wings are offered with the carbon foils with a choice over the standard fuselage and stabilizer or a shorter/smaller version of both.
We have a setup using the 900cm² wing that’s dedicated to windfoiling and we are working a lot on the surfing wings. We recommend the 1200cm² wing with a 65cm mast for surf foiling and this same setup is really enjoyable with a kite too. The design of the 1200 wing lets you carve your lines at lower speed so you can sharpen your turns and play a lot more with the waves. This setup is available both in carbon and aluminum hybrid. The main benefit from working on such a wide range is that we learn a lot more and what we learn working on a large surfing wing, can then also be used on a smaller kiting/carving wing. That’s something that’s easily overlooked but it’s a real wealth.
IT LOOKS AS IF THERE HAS BEEN SOME NEW MODELS AND CONSOLIDATION IN THE TWIN TIP CATEGORY. HOW DO YOU STEER THE VARIOUS STYLES OF RIDING AND SKILL LEVELS THROUGH THE 2018 TWIN TIP LINEUP?
The F-One twin tip range starts with the Next and Next LightWind boards and then the freeride offering is capped with the Unik. These boards offer a wide selection of sizes to match all types of rider size and levels, from complete beginner to intermediate and advanced riders.
Moving up the range, the Trax is our most popular board: fast on the water, it allows early planing and a great upwind angle with great pop. The Trax is known for its freeride and freestyle performance with its cutting edge HRD rails. It is available in Carbon or Lite Tech and the latter has been upgraded with a new layout of the all important transparent insert which remains a unique feature in the world of kiting.
The newcomer to our line this year is our freestyle WTF?! combo that includes a dedicated full C-shape freestyle kite and a twin tip board. This combo was developed to meet the needs of our top freestyle riders so the shape of the board is all about emphasizing the pop on takeoff and making the landings easier. It comes in three sizes that reflect the demand in freestyle for larger boards. A girl’s version is available with some specific graphics and we also offer the New Generation model that comes with more flex and a smaller size. The WTF?! will help you send and land your tricks with more amplitude than ever!
The Spicy is our dedicated wakestyle board, fitted with a grind base for sliders and kickers. Its construction has been upgraded with a new fiber layout that brings more flex. As a result, the board is easier to use and just as explosive.