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There has been some serious buzz around the Eleveight brand recently, with Nuno ‘Stru’ Figueiredo towing bravely into a ridiculous Nazaré and more recently, and relevantly, some impressive viral videos circulating the internet featuring the all new XS model, with some impressively high boost and loop antics on flat water somewhere secret in Europe. We were eager to get our hands on an XS during the depths of a brutal UK winter storm period and see what the all the fuss was about.
So the XS is a five-strut affair with a full arc and medium amount of wingtip sweep; it probably sits among the higher aspect kites on the market today, and has a subtle delta to the leading edge tube. All the usual trimmings of a well-conceived build are there – the canopy comprising of Technoforce X4 cloth from Teijin, a short bridle system with a single slider, and a smattering of soft battens adorning the trailing edge to keep things nice and taut. The inflation system is of a sensible diameter, and the tried and tested bayonet fitting for the inflate gets you up to pressure quickly. Tucked neatly in the wingtips, lurks a single rigid batten per side, which improves the steering response. There’s a generous presence of bump stops between the leading edge segments. It’s not a build focused on weight saving perhaps, but it’s certainly a sturdy one.
As soon as you fly the XS, you can feel the ground pull. This kite pulls sternly through the front lines and adamantly refuses to be forced into the dead zone at the edge of the wind window. Edging hard against the XS, it almost feels like a wake boat. You can load your board until it’s visibly bending, and the air frame seems to handle really heavy loading at all angles of attack with little deformation. It just sits there and pulls consistently.
The steering response from the XS is swift enough for a five-strut kite with such a rigid and grunty bar presence. There’s enough agility there to throw the kite around, but keep in mind it will respond with force, particularly when powered. The XS will pivot around its wingtip without much persuasion so initiating airtime is very simple, which is a critical element of the kite’s character. The turning speed and travel across the window as you load up seems to be pre-set for exceptionally consistent and lofty jumps. It’s certainly not on the twitchy end of kite handling, but feels like it’s pre-set for big boosting with confidence and predictable results. The hang time is long, and the steering is set to give you no overcorrection and unwanted results. Looping the XS requires commitment, as the forward pull leaves your breakfast about thirty meters behind you, but the climb and recovery is again very predictable and confidence inspiring. With all that boost and loft potential, it is critical that a kite like this goes well upwind as well as down, which luckily is the case with the XS.
The XS is far from a blunt instrument; it meets its boost brief bang on target, and is honed extremely well for Big Air focused performance riding. There’s an air of nostalgia about the kite that is hard to pinpoint; perhaps it harks from the now almost extinct big boosting grunty C-shapes of yesteryear, but the XS seems to bring all the engaging, positive aspects of that style of kite with some welcome modern refinement. There’s a real pleasure in using a kite that necessitates holding a decent edge with your board, pulling on your back hand and enjoying that raw torque, lift and response.