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Time to fire the ‘New Kite’ klaxon! Liquid Force – whose range of kites has been pretty stable for the last few years – have an entirely new offering. The P1: a 5-strut freeride, hooked-in-freestyle and Big Air machine. Gary Siskar takes us through it…
Exciting times at LFK with the arrival of a whole new kite. Why did you feel the time was right and what was your brief with the kite?
Yes, it’s very exciting for us and our retailers with the introduction of the P1. We knew that we had had a void in our kite line up that we wanted to address that all started with the principal of how the kite responds to rider input. We were looking for an extremely stable, easy to use kite that would be the ultimate hooked-in freestyle and boosting machine.
And you had a fresh set of eyes working on the P1 in the form of designer Simone Vannucci. What can you tell us about Simone and how did he end up on the design team?
We felt that we really needed to step outside the box of our design parameters to achieve our goals of this kite. Julien Fillion, our kite designer, pushed the idea that we should try to find someone that could have a fresh approach to tackling the performance benchmarks that we set. After talking to numerous designers, nothing really came to fruition until Julien reached out to Simone and we had our first productive conversation that really gave us confidence in our decision to seek another designer’s help. Simone has a long and deep history in designing kites from the early days of the sport to now. He has brought to life many kites that influenced and shaped the industry as we know it today. What was most impressive, to us, was his very clear understanding of what we wanted to accomplish and his calculated explanation of how we would arrive at the P1. I feel that this comes from his proven ability to design great freestyle kites all the way to his custom race kites.
So let’s take a look at the kite itself. What are the key design characteristics?
There are the obvious characteristics that a 5-strut, high sweep leading edge kite offers such as stability in all wind conditions and easy relaunch. What is not so plain to the eye is what really sets the performance of the P1 apart from the pack of 5-strut kites out there. Each kite has been designed in the size that it is, not just scaled. What this means is the larger sizes have a bit higher aspect ratio that creates efficiency in the lighter wind velocities, while the smaller sizes become lower in aspect to create stability and predictability in the higher winds. Not only is the aspect ratio tweaked by size, but also the angle of attack is specific. All this is very unique in modern kite design as it ensures the same feel in the kite across all sizes in the range.
What can you tell us about the materials and construction?
We have been focused on reducing the weight of the kites for the past three years. What we have found is there are small weight savings in materials and in construction that have a great impact on the way the kite flies and reacts. What we have incorporated in the P1, material wise, is the use of Teijin triple Ripstop for the canopy and Teijin Dacron for the leading edge. We have found that this material combination is the lightest strength to weight and offers the performance in durability against the harsh use and exposure of the material in kiteboarding. We eliminated additional weight by the reduction of Dacron in the wingtips, reduced screen printing, and working with a .08mm bladder that is 20% lighter than previous bladders without sacrificing any durability. The P1 retains the proven construction of all the Liquid Force kites and is backed by our incredible warranty.
Is there a kite currently in the LFK range that you would compare it most closely to?
No, not at all! The P1 was to address a feel and performance that we were missing. We wanted to bring this feeling of immediate power upon sheeting in, with a wide power band into our range of kites. A kite that has easy jumping characteristics with loft and hang time. A kite that a new person to the sport or a seasoned rider can launch and on the first run feel confident and inspired. The P1 has accomplished all this.
What will be the key markets for the P1?
The kite is simply for the kiteboarder that wants an easy kite to go and jump and have a great time. We know that a big part of why people get addicted to the sport is the feeling you get when you harness the wind and you start to jump. It doesn’t matter if you’re jumping a foot off the water or 20 feet. We all know the feeling and that is who this kite is for. The rider looking for an easy riding, predictable, powerful kite.
You’ve worked super hard on your foil line up – is the P1 going to be the kite of choice for guys riding your foils?
For sure the kite works great for riding a hydrofoil. The kite’s shape promotes pointing upwind that matches the angles and the freeriding aspect of hydrofoiling. I believe the P1 is the choice for the kiteboarder that rides everything from a foil to a twintip and will capably cross over with confidence when they find themselves in the surf.
Which of your team riders have tested it and how has the feedback been?
We took a very different testing approach with the P1. It for sure started with our R&D staff and team riders. Jason Slezak and Brandon Scheid ran point with Simone Vannucci on the initial testing. But we pulled in many more people into the process. We were not really “quiet” about the kite when we were conducting the tests. We enlisted many riders who weren’t riding Liquid Force kites. During our test session we would ask random people to try the kite and give first impressions and feedback. This really helped shape the kite and make the changes to achieve the goals we set.
So, is Simone now going to be feeding in to the kite design program more generally?
I hope so! Simone is great to work with and having another very knowledgeable person to bounce ideas off is valuable. There is no doubt that he will be helping us in the future.
This article originally appeared in TheKiteMag #26. To subscribe, go here.
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