Eleveight FS Kite Review | Mad boosts for Freeride Kiteboarders
Here we are in Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, USA, taking in all the SW winds we can. Day in and day out. We came from Calgary, Alberta to kiteboard with our fellow kiteboarding buddies from Regina, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg, Manitoba. We also met many other great people from Squamish, BC, Ontario and various American states.
We brought our Eleveight FS kites to Hatteras to test out their freestyle and freeride capabilities. Out of the three kites in Eleveight's range, the FS is a standout for freestyle riders that want maximum jumping ability, mega loop performance and unhooked wakestyle slack that allows for easier handle pass tricks. Being one of the top freestyle kites on the market, some riders may be a bit reluctant to purchase the FS due to its freestyle pedigree. Well, the obvious and easy recommendation for a freeride kiter is the Eleveight RS kite. However, we found that the FS kite made for a good all-around crossover kite for kiters who are still looking to boost to the moon (ahem the FS will send you off the water!) but not necessarily trying to try wakestyle handle pass tricks.
Aside from the FS kite's exceptional performance in the Hatteras slicks, we found the kite to perform well on the ocean side of the island as well. In the ocean, the Eleveight WS (wave series) kitesurfing kite is the kite of choice for wave riding, hands down. However, most of us might not be located next to the ocean and have limited wave-riding opportunities (note: the WS is a good jumping kite too, which makes it suitable for entry-level riders...but we digress, that's for a different blog post).
The FS still fared well in the waves on with a kite surfboard. The kite surprisingly provided adequate drift when riding in side-onshore winds (likely caused by the ample slack the open-c shape provides for handle pass tricks). The kite has a little less depower available than the RS and WS kites, but it is still manageable when the winds start hitting the 30-40+ knots in growing ocean swell (note: jumping the FS in 30-40+ makes for some insane boosts!).
While quick and easy relaunch is a necessary feature for wave kites like the Eleveight WS kite, the FS still provides adequate relaunch capabilities, but it is noticeably harder to relaunch in very light winds while getting pushed around by 7-foot waves. In one instance the kite fell out of the sky due to marginal winds, and the speed gathered from surfing down a wave face. After the first wave hit the kite, I quickly assessed the wind and decided that relaunch in marginal winds with no footing would be too difficult. I ejected the kite using the Eleveight CS Vary bar and swam in to minimize the amount of pounding the kite would take from the waves. Once I reached the beach, I ran down to grab the kite and sorted the lines. Rebuilding the chicken loop was a "snap" on the CS Vary bar. All you have to do is firmly push the loop back into the receiver end until it snaps back into place — a piece of cake. The challenge was sorting the lines! Haha. Once sorted out (thanks Dave!) we got back on the water and completed the downwinder. In non-marginal wind conditions, the FS is surprisingly good at relaunching for a freestyle kite. Yank on one line, wait until the kite reaches the end of the wind window and get ready for take-off!
Turning speed wise, the FS is great - that's why it's so good for mega looping. However the FS turning radius is not a rapid pivot around the kites wingtip like the Eleveight WS kite. The FS makes a broader turning radius. This is a minor drawback but still very acceptable for a freestyle kite in the waves. You might have to move your hands further to the ends of the bar to maximize turning speed.
Construction. Wave kites need to be bombproof for the kitesurfers that love riding in the waves. When you spend time in the waves and try to push a more aggressive surf riding technique, you will inevitably drop the kite in the water. Heck in lighter winds kitesurfers are likely to lose the kite in the water when surfing the face of a sizeable wave. Why is that? Well, when you catch a wave on your kiteboard, you are now generating speed from the wave face. You are now surfing rather than being pulled exclusively by the kite. In lighter winds, you might create as much board speed than the wind speed causing the kite to luff and potentially fall out of the sky. When this occurs, the kites are subject to very high tensional and torsional forces caused by crashing waves. Wave-riding specific kites are typically built stronger than other models for this exact reason. One thing is for sure, the FS is very well constructed. Eleveight took care in creating bombproof kites designed for maximum durability. For people familiar with Eleveight kites, you know that all kites in the Eleveight range (FS, RS, WS) are built for maximum durability with the best materials and techniques on the market. These kites are built to last for many seasons!
Overall we were quite happy to ride the Eleveight FS (Freestyle Series) kite in various conditions. Although it is marketed more toward freestyle kiters, it is well suited for freeride kiteboarders. We are excited to see that we can take the FS for some freestyle kiteboarding near Calgary, Alberta or wave riding on the Oregon Coast. Purchase your new Favourite Eleveight FS kite from us at Shredkiteboarding.ca