F-one dday 2012
Its always a big buzz heading off to the new seasons product launches. At the F-one Dealer day theres always the huge anticipation of all the fine new gear to get on, amazing locations, and incredible kiting setups. Also over the years I make a lot of friends at the meetings, and its great to catch up with them to share the good times and good waves. Its pretty mad how good we get it most of the time too, dropping into world class reefbreaks right next to the pros, riding in boardies in the Aussie winter, often staying in 5 star deluxe accommodation on the beach. And of course having a few hundred of the brand spanking new model kites & boards of every size and description pumped up, ready to roll right on the waters edge is pretty damn wicked. But I am here to work, and give you guys the lowdown on the latest and greatest from F-one kitesurf dealer day 2012.
Arriving in the night time I went straight to the bar to renew acquaintances and talk shop, the crew had all been kiting all day and were very relaxed and happy with some extremely good complements about the new gear. Of course I went in the dark to at least touch and feel the new kites and boards. Little hard to sleep as I was so excited to ride the new Bandit5 kites and bamboo boards, so a few hrs later I awoke at 4am hearing the wind cranking and just busting to get out there. Before the sun was up I had the lines on, boards all lined up, the straps adjusted, ready to roll. Music running through my head, and at first light with anticipation coursing through every vein the 9m rose gracefully skyward… crisp….light…. sharp… I loved it instantly. In the distance Manawas rollers called. I grabbed the trax 136 and stepped on as the Bandit pulled me smoothly onto the plane and out over the azure warm Indian sea. The 1st thing I noticed was the super smooth speed and upwind, certainly the thinner sharper profile made short work of the quick tack to the inside break. Lining up the first kicker I cautiously threw the kite back and was hooting as hangtime just kept going and going then a perfect butter smooth landing hardly downwind at all ! Immediately a big difference to last years, in the solid 25 knots this kite boosted so big I could hardly believe it, plus way less drift downwind than I have ever experienced. Keeping the speed and lift for so long, landing so easily, then railing into the next and bigger kicker, this time really hucking and hooting my head off as the Bandit5 reefed me away to the stratosphere. Pulling the bar in was like hitting the rocket launch button, Holy s*** I was getting some of the best feeling boosts ever, so much fun and so controllable so soon after getting on a new kite it was just mad.
A ½ km further and I was staring into the butter smooth bowl of Manawa surf break, double overhead but friendly and beckoning and only myself on the water. The sun crested le morne as I dropped into my first wave of the trip, adrenalin pumping, smile so big it hurt as the dawn patrol rewarded me. Feeling the Bandit5 respond to bar input like it was part of me, direct and reassuring. Fast as f*** and massively capable. Forgiving my shabby mistakes, rewarding my better moments with the crispest waveriding experience ever. Drawing speedy arcs on the big open face, man this was living, alone on the break I carved and jumped all my cares away. Exploring the kites capabilities, stretching my somewhat shaky surflegs, getting real comfy real quick man I love this kite. So how did I find the F-one Bandit5 kite compared to B4 is the common question coming my way. Its got a less aggressive feel but more direct and even more acceleration on tap when you need it, cutting like a knife through gusts and lulls alike. So much depower its crazy, so tight and responsive, just brilliant. And the new airlite bar set it off perfectly, super simple clean and strong, exactly the right cross section and compact in your hands.
The trax board too was impressive, stiffer and with a new surf shape rail this board felt immediately awesome. The pop was insane, I could charge over chop, and even take a few waves ! after a few crackers I shot back to the beach and grabbed the TX, and repeated the run out to manawas for another round, The TX being same as last years was like an old friend, beautiful board for all rounding, after a few waves I grabbed the new Acid 132 to do it all again, surprising myself on a freestyle board in the surf having so much fun, of course busting out a few big boosts and low altitude glides as well. And then the Sk8s turn… whats this an X torsion deck, and seemingly more rocker, the Sk8 just got even more fun, wow this thing flies, bummer they don’t make it in my size. After a few more waves and mach10 speed runs through the lagoon I had my fill of twintipping and was ready for the surfboard. Big changes in the signature range, subtle refinements on the SL and fish models which we think are perfect already. More on those later, by mid morning I had ridden the 9 and 8m with a whole bunch of boards and quick squirt on the 10m all absolutely brilliant. So back to the Bandit5…
The official F-one 2012 Dealer Day presentation lists 3 key points that were prioritized to improve for the Bandit5 development. Range. Lightness & Handling. Firstly the top end is better again, hard to believe but true. The thinner sharper profile and LE achieve a better result in terms of getting the kite closer to the edge when you need it most, cutting through everything making it even more controllable, quick and precise, plus I believe it absorbs and translates more smoothly than last years frame again improving range. I cannot really say about the bottom end yet as its been so windy so far but I can say that the range in terms of disciplines is definitely greater. Watching the team snap off some crazy freestyle next to the beach then swap boards and head into barreling one eye with the same kite amply demonstrated how versatile the Bandit5 is. And regarding lightness even though more reinforcements and extra Kevlar patches are all over the 20% less volume of air inflation overall reduces weight through less Dacron in the strut and LE. Apparently it also allows more twist for less effort so giving a quicker and easier handling with more precision which is the last point. Getting used to this kite was unbelievably quick and fun for me. Actually apart from the graphics at first glance it’s a very familiar shape to last year. So the devil is in the detail which is very reassuring as we all know and love the B4 so much. And how about the graphics, they are a pretty radical departure from the royal theme of previous years, they grew on me real quick. Super classy and standout in the air as we expect from F-one. Picking up the new and very bling bag with a matching graphic you notice the lighter weight per size. And pumping 20% less air will be good, not that I did any pumping so far, I did however note the new pump colours are white blue, looks good next to the all blue kite which is my fave colour at the moment.
The arvo F-one Dday session was all about the surf, One eye was massive, triple overhead and bigger on the sets, perfect wind and direction, and the F-one team just tore it apart. Skipping along in front of Mitu as he fluidly carved top to bottom on what seemed like the endless perfect wave with the new 6’0 bamboo and 6m Bandit5 is something else to witness. Super stoke pulsing around my whole body for this rare gold opportunity. Seeing all the Bandit5 kites flying down the line at incredible speed, whipping through loops, gouges and insane floaters then ripping back upwind at impossible angles was just jaw dropping. Being out there was simply a dream come true. So stoked. I will follow this up tomorrow with more, and a bunch of pics and short video. But right now gotta go get wet. We are also posting on the F-one Australia fb page. Stay tuned.