2020 Buyer’s Guide: Liquid ForceKrakenSailing
Like much of the industry, 2020 will prove to be an interesting year for Liquid Force with young guns Rich Sabo and Brandon Scheid stepping up into key roles while rolling out solid upgrades to existing kite products, new twin tips and new foilboarding products. The future is bright—LF fans better be wearing shades.
LIQUID FORCE HAS THREE WELL-ESTABLISHED LINES OF FREERIDE OPTIONS IN ITS 2020 KITE LINEUP. HOW DO YOU STEER RIDERS BETWEEN THE WOW, NV AND SOLO LINES OF KITES?
There are so many options when it comes to buying a kite and it’s no wonder that people get confused about what is best for them. Sometimes being a consumer in this current market with the multitude of choices can be paralyzing. It’s exactly for this reason that we try to make sure that you will always be able to have fun on the water, regardless of which kite you choose. Let’s call it a Liquid Force kite insurance policy. That said, there are a few characteristics of each kite that can help to point everyone in the right direction. The biggest factor to consider is what type of board you predominantly like to ride.
If you like to ride a hydrofoil most of the time, you should definitely grab the Solo. It’s a single strut, lightweight platform that is perfect for maximizing performance in lighter wind. As most people who hydrofoil are sizing down significantly, you really need to be conscious of weight and ensure that your kite size will fly in the lower wind speeds. For all those tech-focused people out there, this year we worked to reduce the Solo’s weight by decreasing the thickness of the bladder inside the kite and removing heavy material from the trailing edge. Overall, we reduced the weight by an average of 5% per size (which is quite significant in my humble opinion). That said, if you’re a beginner looking for an easy to use kite that has every wind range covered over the fewest amount of sizes, the Solo is an excellent option as well.
If you like to ride a surfboard, then we would point you towards the WOW. The WOW was designed hand in hand with our top surf rider, Luke McGillewie. Don’t panic, we didn’t make this kite so advanced that only a pro surfer can enjoy it. In a design brief, we took into account the feedback from both Luke and our WOW customers to create the perfect balance between the two. The latest version of the WOW comes right from Cape Town where strong winds and big waves are commonplace, so we had to make this kite incredibly strong to withstand the occasional (or frequent) tumble in the waves. We worked diligently to make sure that we made a kite that was suited for all levels of wave riders, checking off the typical list: down the line drift, super fast relaunch and quick, reactive turning. Whether you’re dealing with ankle-biters or skyscrapers, the WOW is perfect for those who want to ride a surfboard. A side effect of making a super reactive wave kite: we also found that advanced hydrofoilers who were looking for the fastest kite in the LFK range were magically drawn to the nimble nature of the WOW.
Every kiteboarding brand needs a kite that defines their lineup. Some call it a “jack-of-all-trades” or the “all-around kite,” but it’s a kite that demonstrates years of refinement and embodies the pursuit of perfection within that brand. For Liquid Force Kites, this is most certainly the NV. From beginners to advanced freestylers, we find the stable 3-strut platform of the NV to be our go-to kite for any style of riding. As we are in its 9th version of the design, we have really amplified what makes the kite the number one seller in the Liquid Force Kite lineup. For 2020, the NV keeps its stability, large wind range and multipurpose heritage so that once you’ve decided what size to ride on the water, you can rest easy knowing that the NV will be able to handle any conditions. While some people think we made this kite more for the advanced freestylers of the world (probably to do with Brandon Scheid being our primary rider who shreds it), we find that the characteristics that make a great freestyle kite are exactly the characteristics you are looking for in an entry-level kite too. Stability, smooth turning speed, lots of depower, a huge wind range—these all sound good for any level right? So don’t be turned away from the new “NV” name; the NV is still our number one choice for beginners and riders looking to progress their level one step higher.
LIQUID FORCE KITEBOARDING HAS HAD SOME MAJOR PERSONNEL CHANGES FOR 2020. WHAT DOES THE FUTURE OF LIQUID FORCE KITEBOARDING LOOK LIKE IN YOUR EYES?
Major changes indeed. Not only did we lose our Brand Manger this year, but we also lost our Kite Designer. From an outside perspective, I bet customers are wondering—what the heck is going on at LFK? The good news is Liquid Force Kiteboarding is bigger than any individual. Long story short, the future of Liquid Force Kiteboarding is bright, fun, and full of exciting things that no one sees coming. For starters, Liquid Force Kiteboarding is now completely composed of kiteboarders from head to toe. We’ve got a young, motivated and talented group of people running the show and I think people will see that in our products and marketing this year. Brandon Scheid has taken over our R&D, which means that our gear will now only go into production after one of the top riders in the world signs off on it. We’ve also brought on new blood in both the USA and Europe, where we are already seeing strong results. Without sharing too much, Liquid Force Kiteboarding is aiming to be different. While new brands are popping into the industry and playing the same old boring game that we’ve seen a million times, we are going to separate ourselves from the pack by focusing on the sport and the things that make it fun for everyone. I want everyone to look at the new Liquid Force Kiteboarding with an open mind because everything around here is going to change and I hope our competitors are ready to adapt.
LIQUID FORCE HAS ALWAYS BEEN KNOWN FOR ITS INNOVATIVE TWIN TIP LINEUP. THIS YEAR LF IS INTRODUCING THE ABSOLUTE BOARD WITH THE ULTIMATE IN HIGH PERFORMANCE CONSTRUCTION. WHO IS THE IDEAL ABSOLUTE RIDER AND HOW DOES THE TECH AND DESIGN TRANSLATE TO PERFORMANCE?
I am so stoked to talk about the Absolute. It’s by far the most exciting twin tip to release this year and I can’t wait to get people riding this board. If Liquid Force is known for one thing, it’s board design. For the Absolute, we went with a concept that is every board designer’s dream. What if we had no R&D budget restrictions, no price target and no constraint on materials? What is the best design we can come up with? Liquid Force’s Peter Mehrof went to work on a completely new board, starting from complete scratch while given free rein to find whatever materials he thought would best do the job. If you take a look at the Absolute, the first thing you are going to notice is the checkered Textreme carbon. Textreme was chosen because of its superior strength to weight ratio. We aren’t the first company to use this material, but the weave we use is unique to Liquid Force. Making the board both light and strong was incredibly important as we knew the price tag on this board was going to be a little high, so after many different tests with many different materials, we ultimately settled on Textreme.
To answer your question a bit more directly, the Absolute is designed for the rider who wants to achieve maximum height on their jumps. To do this, you need a board that can ride fast and cut through the chop while being as light as is physically possible. You need some stiffness to your board as that is the component which will help you achieve maximum pop. The flexier the board, the more the board will eat up the energy of your load and pop.
The bottom shape of the board is a dual concave with a giant V-hull down the middle; this allows this design to smash upwind and eat up rough water in front of the board while also providing incredibly smooth landings. We’ve already discussed how the Textreme keeps the board as stiff and light as possible, while the 3D top molding increases the rigidity of the board in very particular zones. We also sanded down our liquid rail to make it as thin as possible and the result is the lightest twin tip board we’ve ever made. Hit up firstname.lastname@example.org if you have made it this far into the Buyer’s Guide. We will shoot you a sweet bit of swag for taking the time to get this far.
If you are that weekend warrior who doesn’t have a board budget in mind, you should make sure that you’ve got the Absolute. Partner it up with whatever jump monitoring device you own and you’ll see the impact that this high performance board can have. To top it off, we even made a set of limited edition pads that match the Absolute so you can have one complete package that will turn all your friends’ heads.
LIQUID FORCE WAS ONE OF THE FIRST KITE COMPANIES TO LAUNCH INTO THE FOILBOARD SPACE WITH ITS INNOVATIVE ALUMINUM MAST AND FUSELAGE DESIGNS. WHAT ARE THE MAJOR CHANGES TO THE LF LINEUP FOR 2020?
Our customers are going to be completely amped up on the foil range this year. We really put some effort into expanding this line and making it more complete. You are correct, Liquid Force started the aluminum foil mast revolution and we are going to keep it going for 2020—so don’t expect any high tech, super expensive carbon masts. The biggest change in our lineup is that we’ve teamed up with the Wake Team to combine our foil lineups into one cohesive line that spans multiple sports. Due to that, you will see that most of our foils are dual-purpose and most of our foil wings are good for many sports. Our philosophy with foiling (and everything in kiteboarding) is that we want to keep foiling fun. For this year, we’ve added a wide variety of foilboards to the lineup.
Those riders who enjoyed the Galaxy should look to our new 3’10” Orb for a bit smaller size and higher-performance. While last year the 4’2” Galaxy was the office favorite, it has certainly switched to the Orb. One of the most unique boards in the industry is our new Plank. A full CNC wood core foil board that has almost no floatation (don’t worry, the LF foil setup will still float) for easy sinking and waterstarts. It makes traveling with a foil incredibly easy, but starting in light wind might be a bit more difficult. For those who haven’t tried the super tiny foil boards, they are certainly a fun challenge and once you get it, you are hooked.
Keep your eye out for our new Glider wing. This 125 wing scales up our Thruster wing and delivers a setup that is suited for wake, surf and kite. You can achieve some pump while kiting, glide on the third wake back or paddle into some rollers in the ocean. Lastly, the biggest highlight for all of us this year is our new Quick Release Collar. Simply remove one screw from your collar and you can detach the entire foil from your board for a quick setup and getaway. The Quick Release Collar allows you to avoid tangling with all four of your track nuts before and after every session.