With one of the most comprehensive lineups in the industry, France’s F-One Kiteboarding now offers an incredibly broad portfolio of carefully vetted performance-oriented products tailored to cover all skill levels and every style of riding. F-One’s founder and leader, Raphael Salles, takes us through the 2019 changes to the highly popular Bandit kite as well as the innovative advancements in construction and design for the surfboard and twin tip lines for this year.
THE BANDIT IS BACK THIS YEAR AS F-ONE’S ALL AROUND FREERIDE KITE. WHAT CHANGES HAVE BEEN MADE TO THE SHINING STAR OF THE F-ONE LINEUP AND WHAT WILL LONGSTANDING BANDIT FANS FIND IN THE LATEST VERSION?
Every year we ask ourselves how to improve the Bandit, and every year we succeed to create a kite that we love even more than the previous version! First of all, we are all learning from our experience; Micka and myself are more efficient in our tests, Robert is getting better and better at designing the kites, so the result can only get better!
This year our primary focus was to develop the wind range, the lateral pull, the control and the maneuverability. By improving the riding range and reducing the lateral pull, we offer our riders the enjoyment of longer sessions and the ability to perform their tricks in more varied conditions. You can land your usual tricks whether you are in the kite’s low or high end—you won’t feel If the wind has changed during your session!
Your connection to the kite is also crucial, it is how you feel the power from the wind. By improving this link, we improved the control. Last but not least, maneuverability is crucial. At F-One we believe that we’re happier when we are riding smaller kites so you’ll find the 12m Bandit flies like a 9m and that feeling is priceless. The Bandit isn’t just an all-around kite; it will take you from kite school to the strapless or big air podium!
NOW THAT F-ONE HAS A DEEP KITE LINEUP, HOW DO YOU STEER RIDERS BETWEEN THE SPECIALTY KITES, PARTICULARLY THE BREEZE, FURTIVE, DIABLO V4 AND TRUST?
That’s easy, we have kites to cover all needs! The Breeze is a very light kite thanks to the one strut structure; it is perfect for light wind conditions and foiling but we also found out that thanks to its stability, this kite is great in the waves as a bonus. The Furtive is the perfect weapon if you want to break speed records—ask Alex Caizergues! The Diablo is our ram air kite. Designed for pro foil racers, it’s perfect for top-level riders looking for performance on the race course. The good speed control and the auto-relaunch built into the delta C-Shape of the Trust makes it the perfect partner for a smooth and easy freeride session.
IN THE SURFBOARD DEPARTMENT, THE MITU GOT SOME DESIGN TWEAKS THIS YEAR THAT SEPARATE IT FROM THE LINE’S STRAPLESS FREESTYLE SLICE SHAPE. HOW IS THE MITU DIFFERENT THIS YEAR AND HOW DO YOU GUIDE RIDERS BETWEEN THE CONSTRUCTION OPTIONS OF THE VARIOUS SHAPES IN THE LINE?
Following the successful launch of the Slice as a dedicated strapless freestyle board with a cut-off nose shape concept, this board has enjoyed immense success both as a dedicated freestyle weapon with terrific pop and control but also as great board to ride smaller waves and onshore conditions thanks to its genuine speed, great planing and upwind potential. This created an opportunity to unleash a bit more surf potential in the Mitu Pro Model for wave riding, which was in line with the evolutions requested by the man himself: Mitu Monteiro. We went back to the drawing board to work with all available parameters, the first of which is the rocker line of the board. The new Mitu has a higher entry rocker line which was inspired by the latest shape in our other model, the Signature.
We have also worked on how the rocker ends at the tail by placing a distinct but smooth kick around the fin area. The concave on the bottom fills up more rapidly at the back and morphs into a double concave in the fin area. The outline and the volume were also shifted slightly to the back. This all results in a board which has significantly improved its maneuverability for both wave riding and freestyle. The board is notably easier and more intuitive to turn into the waves while keeping its true DNA with great stability, early planing and sharp accelerations.
If you want to combine one of the best shapes out there with safe construction and get maximum bang for your bucks, go straight to the Mitu in ESL construction. It comes standard with a tail pad and this year includes some footstrap inserts on the deck. We also offer a front foot pad designed for the board as a spare part. The Mitu ESL is the most accessible way to ride a Mitu with a solid package.
If you’re after superior comfort level and looking for construction that enables you to push the board further and harder into the waves, look no further than the Mitu Pro Flex. The Flex version is the ‘full option’ board as it is built using the higher tech HD foam flex construction and comes equipped with deck stringers, shock absorbers, deck inserts and a full pad. Packed with all these features, the Mitu Pro Flex is probably the most comfortable kite surfboard you can ride.
If you’re after ultimate freestyle performance or looking for maximum reactivity in smaller surf conditions, you can head directly for the Mitu Pro Carbon. It is built using the HD foam carbon construction for an absolute overall lightweight feel with deck stringers for added durability and a full pad to minimize the impacts on the deck and to spare your ankles.THIS YEAR, POPULAR BOARDS LIKE THE TRAX ARE AVAILABLE IN DIFFERENT CONSTRUCTION OPTIONS. HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THESE OPTIONS AND HOW DO YOU STEER RIDERS OF VARIOUS LEVELS AND DISCIPLINES AMONG YOUR FREERIDE LINE OF TWIN TIPS?
Being happy with the results that followed the introduction of the ESL concept in the surf board range, we were keen to implement it as well in our twin tip line. The Trax line already included a glass fiber construction (HRD Lite Tech) and a carbon fiber construction (Carbon series). This year sees the introduction of the Trax ESL to further complete the line.
The Trax HRD Lite Tech is built using a fiberglass layup over a Paulownia wood core. It comes with the HRD rail shape technology and the Lite Tech process, patented by Rossignol snowboards and unique to F-One in the kiting world. The shape of the board provides amazing glide while the construction ensures a smooth ride. The flex is well balanced between performances, pop and comfort. The graphics are really enhanced by the Lite Tech insert for a unique aesthetic appeal.
The Trax HRD Carbon series is built with a complete layer of carbon fiber, also over a Paulownia wood core. The properties of the carbon mean we can reduce the amount of material and therefore reduce the weight of the board, but most of all it is the responsiveness and the flex response of the board which greatly benefits from the carbon construction. If you are looking for maximum speed, glide and control with minimal deformation, head for the Carbon Series.
As we mentioned, the Trax ESL is being introduced this year with a new shape worthy of the Trax heritage with a stronger focus on comfort and ease of use for maximum fun on the water. Featuring a double concave bottom with top channels, this board planes early with a good glide. It feels super intuitive whatever the conditions and stands ready to enjoy session after session. With fiberglass construction over a Paulownia wood core, the board has solid construction and comes at an attractive price point.
F-ONE WAS ONE OF THE ORIGINAL KITE BRANDS TO OFFER A PRODUCTION FOILBOARD AND THAT LINE HAS EVOLVED SIGNIFICANTLY OVER THE YEARS. WHAT ARE THE MAJOR CHANGES FOR THIS YEAR AND WHAT PRODUCT DO YOU RECOMMEND FOR THE FIRST TIME FOILBOARDER?
The foilboard range has a number of levels, all of which come equipped with the twin track system which works with most of the foils on the market. And for those that do not directly fit, we have a range of adapters available to make it work.
The first board is the 51TS (156×51). Its proven shape, great stability and bombproof construction make this the ideal board for a first time foiler. The slim construction provides a lot of control and makes waterstarts easier. It comes with a full pad for good comfort and various strap inserts on the deck.
The second level includes the 51 and 49 bamboo foilboards (156×51 and 156×49). These boards are custom built with superb hand-painted finishes. The shapes have evolved to be ever more user-friendly. The main beam has moved forward, the rails have become thinner and the volume has increased to improve the behavior when the board hits the water voluntarily or involuntarily. This board makes it simply harder to crash whilst foiling and the transitions feel smoother and more intuitive.
Next, we have two pocket size boards (130×47 and 120×46) which have developed more recently. These share the same construction and finish process as the 51 and 49 bamboo versions. Their compact or ultra-compact shape really transforms the feeling while foiling and provide a lot more freedom and maneuverability. They are ideal for carving and for freestyle aficionados. The 130×47 is really accessible and can be considered by any intermediate foiler.
Finally, we have the bamboo carbon range which benefits from lighter carbon construction. This range includes the 49 with the same shape as the standard bamboo version. Then we have the 46 (153×46) and the 43 (148×43) with shapes that become more radical as the width drops. With their narrow beam, these boards can be cranked harder to extract more potential from the foil and reach new performance levels.