Up until last weekend I figure I had ridden a foiling kiteboard twice in the last 8 months, not exactly the best training regimen going into an event. Despite my lack of preparation I wanted to go down to the St. Pete Kite Foiling Regatta and see where the development of Foiling Kiteboards had come and on top of that I wanted to go promote the 2015 Vineyard Cup which will include Foiling Kiteboards for the first time.
Walking around the parking lot the first morning and checking out all the gear it was humorous to hear one young guy look at a SPOTZ 1 Foil and remark "That's what they use to look like." Well that was only a year ago but yes the development of the equipment is constant and the designs have changed. One of the biggest developments over the last 8 months is not so much in the foils themselves but in the kites. All top 5 riders in St. Pete were riding RAM Air Foil Kites. Something we hadn't seen previously. The two leaders in this are the Ozone Chrono and the ELF Joker. The kites are significantly higher aspect ration to the LEI Kites. One surprise was not how much higher they pointed but how much faster they went upwind. On Race 5 and 6 I put my Velocitek Speedpuck and clocked myself doing an average 17 knots of boat speed upwind but in comparison the RAM Air Kites were doing more like 19 Knots upwind. They also seemed to be significantly quicker off the wind, although my technique was lacking going downwind I was regularly doing 22-24 knots to their 26-27 knots. Thats a pretty drastic difference over a 15 minute race.
Overall I was very happy with my performance especially upwind. The BEST TS Kite is definitely not a race kite but I regularly found myself matching speed and pointing slightly higher than most of the other LEI Kites. I would have to give a huge amount of the credit in this pointing ability to my DELTA Hydrofoil which was really exceptional. Interestingly enough the DELTA Hydrofoil is only a year in production but already 6 of the 17 riders were on them. George Hradil has done an excellent job of using the best materials and craftsmanship in making the foils and strut. For me it felt really comfortable and stable which was a pleasant surprise given my lack of preparation.
Huge thanks to my sponsors. BEST Kiteboarding, Delta Hydrofoils, The Dancing Turtle Coffee Shop, Gorilla Rigging, Atlantis Weather Gear, Jamestown Distributors, Velocitek and lastly Sail Martha's Vineyard for helping to get me there.