Ahhhhh the joys of early mornings at Le Morne, sounds of birdsong mixing with surf, the warm tropical first light illuminating the beautiful hues of the Indian sea and surrounds. Aroma of good coffee and scented flowers, 5 star buffet after dawn patrol, holidays anyone ? And its warm even in winter you just cant wait to get wet. Swell and wind had been steadily backing off so these days were perfect to test the low end range of all the kites and also really get the feel for the bigger kites. I had a few queries from you guys about range, and can certainly say that you wont find better anywhere. More precise detail to follow however I also want to introduce right now the F-one sup boards and paddles. Since a few years now Raphael has been quietly advancing the F-one sup program, along the same lines as the kites and boards. No compromise, ultimate quality, performance and style. And finally this year the range is complete. Madiero is the awesome new shortboard in 7’11 and 7’7 swallowtail with bevel rails and quad fins. Anakao the super fast thruster in 8’4 and 9’1 and Manawa the easy access super stable in 10’ and 10’6. Then there is the F-one Race, in 12’6 and 14’ beautifully crafted bamboo and carbon raceboards. F-one have not held back with their suprange, looking to leapfrog straight to the top of the game with shapes and concepts that are cutting edge. They certainly succeeded with the “country surf” concept where pictures of the 12’6 race carving up big offshore reefbreaks have gone viral around the globe. and this is the one I took this morning on an exploration of the coast and inner reef reforms. From the moment you lay eyes on these handcrafted beauties you know they are a labour of love. Oozing class and technical brilliance, I had been impressed with the background of the F-one race, shape designed by the famous paddler Ludovic Dulou with Raph drawing on incomparable experience in bamboo, carbon and epoxy construction to ensure the ultimate result. This board wins races, on its debut Alexandre Gregoire took out the prestigious Mahalo combined classic sup class. 65km in just over 10hrs non stop, all open water, a lot of it into headwinds. I put a sunset pic of the race winner at left, also one of his whitewater pics, stay tuned for more on this, yes F-one have an inflatable in the pipeline, if its half as well done as their hi-end boards it will rule the rapids too. Anyway the F-one raceboard is unique in its class because its fun and capable to surf ! Following the groundbreaking “country surf” concept from F-one, it was purposely designed to surf as well. Yes that’s right and I was straight onto that taking it into some little peelers and soon grinning ear to ear, getting some nice long turns, trimming super fast. Even snapping a few stall pivots in the little pockets. Then immediately afterward heading off for a fair few km paddle along the turquoise and emerald coastline, seeing the sights, almost effortlessly losing myself in a gliding trance, the feeling of flying over the reefs and seagrass, fast, straight and smooth. If you sup then you know the perspective, and the thrill of discovering our liquid terrain, but do you really know long distance speed like F-one race…. That’s it in a nutshell, fast. I can see why people rave about it, and I am already looking forward to more.
The next morning I tried out all the surfsups, surprised at how stable the Madeiro shortboards were, not surprised at how manouvreable they are. The Madeiro was named after a surfbreak in the wilds of Brazil, long and barreling but great for aerials. Anakao after a hollow dangerous reefbreak in remotest Madagaskar, where speed is everything. There was lots of water moving around out on the reef so I eventually settled in for a 2 hr session on the 9’1x29.5 Anakao thruster in the well overhead rights between chameaux and little reefs. It’s a fair paddle out there, again 9’1 making short work of it compared to 7’7 haha. The Anakao really charges, very aggressive rails and super fast outline with so much bite and drive you just want to go deeper everytime. Raph was on the Madeiro quad and as we traded waves I could see differences like the Anakao taking waves earlier and easier, but the Madeiro getting snappier turns of course. Both boards handled the fast and somewhat bumpy waves no problem, I know the Anakao thruster would generally be easier though. The bevel rails definitely are the go on sups, heaps better for surfing, so much less prone to catch, and keeping stability where its needed. I even made a few (little) floaters which I did not expect to, the boards just sticking to the line and staying steady under me despite lots of whitewater. These boards are going to ruffle a few feathers when they hit our aussie waters, they really step it up bigtime. The F-one paddles too are totally kickass, keeping it simple there is full carbon, or 70% and then adjustable glass all 3 available in either peak thinblade or battle fatblade all with abs edge. The abs edge technology is borrowed from F-one twintip kiteboard range, well proven. A subtle yet effective V in the top wards off any wobble, and transforms every bit of effort into drive. I don’t paddle much so I really appreciated the peak 70%, it was just right lightness, just the right stiffness and just the right blade for mixing it up. Typical of F-one they look top notch too. Using a unique blade to shaft flush connection gets a better weight and transfer of power, also less risk to rails. I got more sessions the next day and could not believe how featherlight the 100% carbon at 500grams felt in my hands, definitely getting one of those. Just got to make up my mind which F-one sup board…. Not easy when they are all so damn prime. Take a look at f-onesup.com Theres no eta date in Oz yet, but I am pushing and if you are keen firstname.lastname@example.org OK.
In between all this the kiting continued. Every day getting many hours under the belt with the new Bandit5, even if it meant as on the lightest day using the 7’7 Madeiro sup. Actually theres bugger all in it between this nippy little sup and getting on the plane with the legendary 5’6 fish. No whitecaps, no problem if you have a 14m Bandit5 and 5’6 F-one fish, I would confidently challenge any other 14m and 5’6 to try and come close to its upwind, early plane and most importantly fun factor. But the Madeiro does transform supkiting, actually so light and spontaneous compared to chunkier sups. I also was really enjoying the prototype skimsk8 strapless 5’0 I hope it makes it into the production lineup as it’s a really fun option for everyday riding in all sorts of situations. Full concave deckgrip, mini quad fins, and solid weight so it does not blow off your feet or get dinged up. Great fun, check out the spy pics at left. Other stuff in semi proto stage was the Manera harness. I got to ride one for a few hours and could see where they are headed. Like all F-one no compromise simplicity, class and pure unequalled function. If you ride F-one you know.
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