At A Glance
Liquid Force spearheaded the hydrofoil revolution with their Foil Fish set up last year. The crew at the brand are fully on the program so we weren’t too surprised when the PR about the new Elite landed in our inbox. Foil kites and hydrofoils go together like peanut butter jelly so it makes sense for the brand to explore this avenue. The Elite, despite the name, hasn’t been designed to be an outright race winner like some foil kites. It’s a freeride design aimed to provide an easy foil kite experience, which is accessible for anyone.
Developed with assistance from Benoit Tremblay the kite offers fast and easy pressurisation through unique double barrel air intake ports. Inside the kite there is a baffle system, which helps to distribute the air through the cells, making the kite easy to launch. It’s a closed cell ram air design that offers increased water relaunch time. It can fly on any four-line bar; our test kite was sent with the 2016 Liquid Force Response control bar. It is worth mentioning there is a totally new bar now in production for 2016.
The Response Control Bar certainly packs a punch in terms of features and ergonomics The new bar features easily adjustable bar ends this is exceptionally easy to do, and can even be done while the kite is in the air! The depower cleat on the Response Bar can be moved in or out depending on the riders preference and reach, so no more worries for us short folk. The grip on the bar is also very stylish and comfortable to use.
Getting onto more important matters, the Response Control Bar comes with a brilliant safety system. A front line re-ride moving down to a moulded chicken loop, the release mechanism is the same as the excellent system developed by Blade. (LF and Blade actually did a swap for 2016, Blade got the Max Flow Inflation, and LF got the chicken loop release.) It’s exceedingly easy to engage the mechanism to release the kite, but it is also really simple to put it all back together again too, and this can be done on the water.
In The Air
Foil kites can be daunting for some people; if you haven’t had much experience with them, the bridle alone can be enough to put you off. However, the performance offered by foil kites isn’t in question; you can get more hangtime, loads of boost and far better upwind performance. The light wind abilities are also exemplary. However, these kites aren’t for everyone so we suggest a demo before you jump in and buy one!
Getting the Elite in the air is relatively easy, self-launch is simple, and the kite fills with air and stabilises quickly. Once it’s up it’s super stable and offers bucket loads of power, even in light winds. We rode the kite with both a foil board and a twin tip during the test, and it never disappointed.
Through the window, it’s fast, and it flies upwind like a rocket. It’s not the quickest kite through the turns, but foil kites are always a little slower to turn than tube kites. It would be good to try it on shorter lines, 15m to 18m to see how this changes the handling. On the foil board, the kite offers the ability to be riding in just 8 knots, it’s crazy how quickly you can get going, we loved this aspect and spent a few sessions just trying to get our heads around the physics of what was going on.
On the twin tip the kite offers a fast dynamic riding experience, the jumps are crazy, and the float is out of this world.
Upwind the kite is fantastic; we found we could point higher on the GPS than we could with a tube kite. However, while we wax lyrical about the positives of the Elite we do need to mention some of the drawbacks.
These aren’t issues with the Elite in particular but with foil kites in general.
They take longer to set up than a traditional kite, the bridle and lines need to be set up perfectly to ensure the launch goes smoothly. Making sure everything is OK you can still have some sketchy launches where the bridle can get caught on itself. You can usually fix this with a bit of shaking. Relaunch in light winds is amazing if it crashes in a favourable way. If it inverts or bow ties on the way down it can be a pain to sort out. And in gusty winds, the kite can sometimes lose pressure.
These aren’t issues that the Elite has on it’s own, all foil kites suffer the same pitfalls. We mention them because before you rush out and buy one you need to work out if you need one. If performance is your thing, then go for it, if you are more of a Sunday cruiser then unless you need the ultimate light wind weapon, perhaps a tube kite will be easier.
The Elite is an amazing kite, it’s not for everyone though, so definitely try before you buy…
Fast inflation, stable in the air with amazing upwind ability and hangtime in the air.
Nothing against the Elite in particular, but the downsides of a foil kite are all still here.
If you want excellent light wind performance, amazing upwind angles and huge boosted floaty jumps the Elite ticks all those boxes. Just be prepared for a tiny bit of extra time spent on the beach before and after your session…
This review was in Issue 59 of IKSURFMAG.For more information visit Liquid Force Kites
By Rou ChaterRou has been kiting since the sports inception and has been working as an editor and tester for magazines since 2004. He started IKSURFMAG with his brother in 2006 and has tested hundreds of different kites and travelled all over the world to kitesurf. He's a walking encyclopedia of all things kite and is just as passionate about the sport today as he was when he first started!