With the popularity of hydrofoiling soaring, the mono strut concept continues to spread through the kite industry like wildfire, and the XLITE from Fehmarn Island is a solid debut. It’s a kite dedicated to freeride hydrofoil use, which is 95% of the kite foil market. It’s for those who have no intention of racing and don’t want the hassle of a foil kite, but want the benefits of a lightweight kite where early flying, light handling and stability when drifting are the order of the day. Foil wings are getting larger, kites are getting smaller, and the light kite revolution is well and truly upon us. Presented in the traditional CORE kite colors, you’d be forgiven for mistaking this kite as a Nexus or Section from their product range, and the profile and span shape certainly look like a mixture between the two, but with two less struts. Weight reduction has been a clear design focus with the XLITE. The usual CoreTex three core ripstop canopy is in place and implemented almost everywhere but the inflatable sections of the kite. Where the kite has been on an obvious diet is evident in the Dacron used for the leading edge and struts. This is a special lightweight version of the ExoTex fabric used in their standard models, but still seems to remain extremely stiff. The bridle system is also slimmed down a touch to minimize drag and weight. The result is a well-built 8m kite weighing in at 2.12 kg on our scales, which is very impressive.
In the air the XLITE feels lively, but with a turning speed that is predictable and not twitchy. It flies early, is very stable and it’s difficult to make it behave badly. The CIT modes allow for trimming on the leading edge and we tested mainly in ‘All-round’ and ‘Wave’ mode, the latter giving a little more turning speed and depower, but the differences were quite subtle. One of the highlights in the XLITE handling is how much lift you can achieve on such a short bar stroke. This is extremely helpful when tacking and jibing on the wing, giving you that all important weightless few seconds delivered extremely smoothly and progressively. This is most likely down to the double pulley bridle enabling a large controlled angle of attack change. The turning speed and power delivery in the turns matches well with the rhythm of turning a larger freeride foil wing, and the radius of the kite and foil link seamlessly. The almost inherent mono strut trailing edge flap syndrome is present, but very minimal on sheeting out as the airframe shifts forward. The kite seems to be more comfortable flying with mid sheet anyway, so unless you get overpowered and really dump the bar out it’s unlikely to be particularly noticeable. The Sensor 2S Pro Foil bar is a light weight and very well-conceived bar. The thinner lines have minimal line drag and there are plenty of line length options. Supplied at 22m, they can be whittled down in increments and 3m extensions are supplied to achieve every conceivable line length you could ever require. The self-untangling system above the chicken loop is very smooth and minimizes effort, particularly after your fiftieth tack of the session. The twist quick release is a functional affair, but is a touch tricky to reload comparatively with other systems if you’re attaching to a sliding rope harness, which many people will be for this discipline. So for dedicated freeride foilers who also want to potentially take their foiling into waves, the XLITE is a powerful tool. It could also be really good for lighter riders as it flies early and doesn’t have a huge amount of ground pull and also has some straight wave riding crossover potential due to its drift characteristics. Overall, it’s a focused and well-honed product and is aimed very directly at a sector of the market that’s growing rapidly.
In a sentence: A lot of thought and care has gone into the development of the XLITE by people who know their disciplines, and the result is something very special to fly that will sit at the top of any reputable freeride foiler’s quiver.