F-One has been around since the very beginning, but for most those years it has focused extensively on the development of a single kite model—the award winning Bandit. Having mastered the art of refinement, F-One is now branching out, applying its exceptional attention to detail and performance to a wide array of models in the kite, twin tip, surf and foil categories. Charles Bertrand, Head R&D for boards and foils answers our questions on the latest and greatest F-One products for 2018.
One of the biggest features we noticed while riding the Union vs. Exo is that the Exo has a slightly raised arc in the lumbar while the Union is more rounded. While the harness stays in place vertically, this allows for the harness to easily slide horizontally around your waist (think traveling spreader bar), making kite stance more comfortable when riding waves but also allowing you to keep your hook for strapless freestyle or unhooked riding.
This year’s LINX bar is a huge upgrade for F-One’s 2018 line of kites. The team at F-One has taken all the feedback and requests from previous years, and combined this with their existing bar technology to create a safe, versatile and sleek control experience for their kite gear.
The Bandit has nice medium bar pressure that gives the rider solid feedback on kite placement and in underpowered conditions, you will detect oversheeting fairly quickly. For lift and hangtime, the smaller sizes will deliver solidly in the explosive boost category and will give you some hangtime but the latter is not really what you expect from small kites. Overall, the Bandit is a very fast, responsive all arounder that our team found to work extremely well in high wind surf.
The 15th annual XBA Kitexpo formally known as The Pismo Beach Kite Expo was an enormous success last weekend, F-One & Manera brands along with 14 others attended forming the biggest kite expo style layout on the West Coast. This is a great hands-on event allowing customers to chat with industry professionals and try gear from multiple brands right there on the spot. Compare, test back to back, mix and match; there is no other way to find out if you like it or not until you try it on the water! This event is one of our favorites for that reason and of course the turnout has always been phenomenal.
The Acid features a fair amount of rocker with a short but wide template, which helps make this board feel both fast and controlled when powered up. When it comes to tracking on edge through the chop, the Acid is both efficient and user-friendly, perhaps because of the reverse rounded rails (F-One calls this Helical). Despite the 3.0 fins and simple bottom shape, the Acid has good grip on the water both when on edge and ridden flat, while also giving a fun carving feel off the waves or when laying into it from rail to rail.
With 5-struts and its higher-aspect canopy, the Furtive creates a solid airframe that sits farther forward in the window and accelerates quickly for blazing upwind performance. While the turning speed is not on par with the Bandit, this kite does generate a good amount of lift and hangtime which makes it a good choice for the progressive freerider that likes to cover distance and boost big air freestyle.
The Breeze doesn’t have huge amounts of low-end grunt, rather it’s medium pulling power and middle of the road steering pair with impressive amounts of depower on the high end which makes it a great option for riders in the beginner to intermediate stages of progression and those focusing on freeride foilboarding.
In its 10th year, the Bandit has been through a number of big and small changes that have made it one of the industry’s most successful examples of a kite that does-everything well. The Bandit’s classic medium aspect 3-strut Delta shape was the first of its kind back in the day and it has since evolved into one of the top leading delta-shaped kite that meets the needs of riders in the freestyle, freeride and surf category.
Sitting across from me as I cruise down Highway 1 is a hulking Mitu Monteiro filling out the bucket seat of my full size truck. My job today is part journalist/photographer, part tour guide and part unexpected concierge. I had planned on scoring an early session at Waddell, but Mitu had requested we stop off at a tackle shop outside of San Francisco’s city limits. Mitu talks in creoled-out broken English with a laid-back island style. English is just one of Mitu’s six languages, self-taught from years of running a destination kite school on his home island in Cabo Verde.
As we pull into the tackle shop, I glance at my dash clock and we’re already late, but Mitu has a relaxed sense of time, and it reminds me to stop hawkishly checking the iKitesurf numbers on my phone and chill myself out. We duck into the cavernous tackle shop, and Mitu becomes a young boy loose in a candy store. He schools me on shiny lures, vibrantly colored rubber squids, carbon rods and complicated windy reels. There’s pure passion in his words, which makes me think fishing sits somewhere even with kitesurfing in Mitu’s soul. His affinity for fishing feels like a great litmus test of a true waterman — Mitu is not just another shallow surf rat — he is perhaps more a vestige of a childhood surrounded by water and waves in a much simpler place.
Back in the truck and safely pointed down the coast, I probe Mitu for his life story. He tells me of a modest single parent upbringing and the early years of learning to surf, windsurf and kite, challenged not by a lack of talent but the ability to get his hands on equipment. I want to know about his kite school, his wife and his son and how he’s made a life out of kiteboarding. I’m often jaded by the impression that success in kitesurfing is hard to come by, but Mitu is both heavily traveled and speaks with the voice of someone whose found a simple and rewarding balance in the athleticism and commerce of kitesurfing.
If you haven’t tried a Manera wetsuit on just yet, you’re definitely missing out. To prove the warmth factor of its neoprene products, this year Julien Salles took the Manera team to Iceland to put their latest wetsuit tech through its paces in the glacial waters of the northern Atlantic. From the Exo harness to the Magma line of suits, comfort and session longevity have been the lead goals since the brand’s beginning. Julien Salles gives us the scoop on Manera’s 2017 lineup.