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Single-skin kites have become an established platform in the last few years, and testament to that is the FLYSURFER PEAK, now in its fifth generation. These kites were primarily designed as tow-up snowkites for alpine simplicity, minimal packing size, and easy landing and recovery on dicey ridges. They were literally meant to be used as a personal backcountry ski lift for kite up and freeride down. Perhaps a little by accident, people started using them for freeride kite foiling, particularly in waves due to their drift characteristics. We want to stress that this review is very much from that perspective.
From receiving the kite, we were immediately surprised just how small it packs down. It’s supplied in a fairly spacious sleeve-shaped drawstring bag, not tightly packed in, large enough to also contain the bar system. It’s a comedically small and light package. Once the lines are pre-attached, setup is ultra-simple – weigh the kite down with a little sand and put the lines out crosswind. A quick bridle check and you’re ready to go. It’s without a doubt far less fiddly and sensitive to launch and land than a closed cell kite. Think of it as a grade or two up from a trainer kite.
Flying these single-skin kites is incomparable to an LEI or even a closed cell foil. It’s a very different beast handling-wise, and everything happens in a really short section of bar stroke. Dialing in will take a session or two, but once you’ve got the swing of it there are some major positives to be enjoyed. The 5m kite we tested has equivalent power to around an 8m LEI for reference. In the air it has genuinely stable and reassuring characteristics, sitting at Zenith well. Edging hard against the PEAK with a mid-size freeride hydrofoil, the kite doesn’t push forward in the gust and fly out of the window; it sits in the very edge of the power, firmly planted and provides a very constant power source. This is noticeable when you run around your maneuvers, and once you dial the handling-in, the kite provides decent support through tacks and jibes to the point where you’re not really conscious of how different a design it is. Towing into some waves, there’s a complete lack of pressure through the harness when running downwind; the kite is so light and sits so unflustered in the wind window. It’s got a truly passive and ghost-like drift capability. This allows you much better freedom of movement and far more of a surf foil level of freedom than with an LEI kite for instance.
That short bar stroke also unlocks some playful backstall turn abilities; keeping momentum on the foil you can reverse loop the PEAK like a windmill with ease and literally play stunt kite whilst gliding along on your foil. The supplied control system is an ultra-simple and minimal Connect bar, with 14m lines and 7m extensions included.
The main worry with a single skin is obviously the relaunch ability on water, which we tested from perilously submerged and managed a 25% success rate. The flip side is that it’s a genuinely difficult kite to crash, and testing relaunch took persuasion to get it to stay in the drink. If you’ve got levels of confidence with your kite handling skills the performance potential it unlocks with that enormous drift for waves is definitely worth the tradeoff.
The PEAK is well priced, packs down preposterously small giving it incredible travel potential, and has a great low end and a playful nature. If kite foiling has become a bit stale for you, it could definitely spice up the discipline for you again, particularly in waves.