TheKiteMag were recently Media Partners for the B2B Kite Summit held in Dakhla last month. Also flying the flag for the world of kitesurfing down there was F-ONE founder and boss man, Raphaël Salles. TheKiteMag’s Anja Fuchs found a few minutes to catch up with him about the recently released 2019 collection.
So which products are the main highlights for 2019 with F-ONE kites?
Well, there’s one product that of course has to be first to mention: The 2019 Bandit! It’s the 12th edition of this kite – it’s incredible, that we kept it for so long. And still it’s our main model: 80 percent of the kites we sell are Bandits. Then in the rest of the kite lineup we also have the second generation of the Breeze which has already been very successful. The Breeze V2 is absolutely foil-oriented and is so intuitive to fly. The size range goes from 3 to 17m, and the larger sizes are more responsive while the smaller sizes have been optimized to handle stronger winds and still offer perfect speed control and stability for foiling. When depowered, the canopy is more stable and the overall range of the kite has been widened. The WTF is our specific kite for freestyle pro-riders. It’s a pure C-shape design with five struts and a 5-line setup, making it a true freestyle machine for advanced freestylers. On the R&D side we worked closely with Liam Whaley and of course we are already looking forward to when he will be back on the water!
So what is the main difference between the 2018 and 2019 Bandit?
Generally we are working on improving the same things every year, which is finding the perfect balance between power and lateral pull, maneuverability and connection to the kite. And also we want to have the biggest wind range on the kite! The rider should feel comfortable in every wind. Compared to the previous model, we have improved this aspect a lot on the new model… We also worked on the turning speed. So the big kites feel way smaller than they are – for example when you’re on a 12 it feels like a 9. Also the connection between rider and kite is super important. With the Bandit XII you feel really connected to your kite and you will feel comfortable from the first moment on it. The kite is an extension to your body that works in harmony with you. One reason for this is also a change on our bar: the new lines are 20-30% stiffer which significantly improves the connection with the kite. The smaller sizes of the Bandit XII have been designed more with regard to kiting in waves and strapless riding, and the bigger sizes excel in lighter winds. It’s been a few weeks since we delivered the Bandit XII and the feedback from the riders is simply amazing. The Bandit is still our kite for everything – many schools use it for teaching and rentals, Mitu is performing his strapless tricks with it, our team riders use it for Big Air and they win contests with it… So I’d say it’s a kite that excels from school up to podium.
What are the main highlights with the boards for 2019?
In the board range I’d mention the Mitu Series, developed with strapless legend Mitu himself as a definite highlight. He invests all of his experience in the tests for his pro models – the Mitu Pro Carbon, Mitu Pro Flex and Pro Flex Convertible and the Mitu ESL. All of these boards are 100% dedicated to strapless riding. On the twintip side, the Trax is our most popular model which also has a long heritage. It excels in freeriding and freestyling, and the HRD Rails which are shaped in a unique 3D-Technology consist of different areas which offer smooth gliding through chop without spray, great carving ability, superior grip, bite where it is needed, and excellent pop. The Trax works for a wide variety of riders, from freestyle experts to beginners and we are very pleased with how this is this year.
Foils have become a big part of the kitesurfing world and beyond – are they now a major part of your business?
Yes, we also spend a lot of time and effort working on our foil range. Five years ago we started with foiling, and since then it has become a big part of the kite world, but it has expanded beyond this, now even into the surf world. Producing all those pieces is of course a huge challenge of technology, but as the discipline is growing, you have to keep up. So we don’t only have products for kite foiling, but now also for surf, SUP and windsurf foiling and we are pushing these disciplines. We also have windsurf pro riders in our team now!
Which model would you recommend for someone just starting out?
Since spring this year we have the IC-6 850 V2. It’s the perfect foil for learning, very accessible and offers so much potential for progression. It is predictable and intuitive, the takeoff is really progressive and it offers a super smooth ride. We couldn’t improve the stability and really the board makes it pretty easy to step on the foil game! But also if you get better it’s still a versatile setup for great fun on the water. Made in our Injected Carbon technology our wings are way more resistant than conventional carbon wings. Then the fuselage and mast are made of aluminum, and a 4-bolt plate can be plugged in to make the foil compatible with any board fitted with tracks.
And it has been a good few months for your team riders.
Yes! We are really proud of them, the freestyle team is doing pretty well. Maxime Chabloz went on the podium more than once this year, also Paul Serin did a very good job. I like the combination of the disciplines in the GKA Air Games, it’s pretty spectacular to watch. In terms of waveriding and strapless there is Mitu who is and remains a legend, and Camille Delannoy. Then Aurélien Pétreau – who is always creative when it’s about new tricks and pushes his limits in Big Air – wants to compete in the KOTA 2019 and also in the Air Games.
This article originally appeared in TheKiteMag #28. To subscribe, go here.