LF’s performance setup for foiling progression
TEST TEAM NOTES:
Liquid Force were pretty much the first brand to release an aluminium mast and durable foil to the market, aimed at regular riders who wanted to get foiling without having to spend an arm and a leg on a super high-spec carbon race foil. At the time racer’s cast-offs were all that were available to the regular Joe, but look around now, and you’ll see all the major brands are in on the foil production game.
The Foil Fish came first for Liquid Force – which was really easy and quick to get going, but riders quickly reached its limit in terms of speed. But the initial experience was there and many riders appreciated that because they could get a taste for foiling, to see if they liked it. Although much heavier than carbon, the set-up was also super strong and all modular, so you could take it apart and fit it in your car and it didn’t matter if you bashed it around a bit, or dug it into sand banks when you were riding too shallow… or couldn’t stop!
The Happy Foil came pretty soon after and was a definite reflection on where the LF kitesurfing pro team had got to in their own riding. LF had fully bought into the foiling bug and their riders quickly needed something… well, quicker! And the Happy Foil is absolutely that.
The board itself is a wakesurf design, inspired by LF’s wakeboarding side, but the design nicely crosses over as a board for foiling with the adjustable mast track in the base. It also comes with three surf fins so you can ride it in wind swell for slashing a few waves. The foot strap inserts give you the option of an two strap inline set-up (easier for not switching feet and riding in toe-side), or a more conventional three strap set-up.
The construction is very robust. You’re not going to ding this in a hurry, but it’s not overly heavy… and is also surprisingly manageable to carry for distance at low tide when it’s loaded up with the full foil set-up. First impressions with all this are that it looks brilliant in blue, but also it’s a bit of a relief to have a foil set-up that we didn’t have to be super careful with so as not to scrape, ding or scratch it and then have to give it back with an explanation! Lots of people are going to appreciate that. The weight is saved a bit with brushed carbon wings combined with aluminium mast and fuselage.
After the cruisey freeride foils of last issue, the Happy is immediately an altogether different proposition, mainly because it needs more power and speed build up from the kite to get foiling, and then it foils at a much higher speed. Noticeably so for a freeride machine. The board and foil feel balanced together though, and the fact that the board offers plenty of buoyancy (without being too cumbersome at all) means that it helps you in your quest to build up speed to eventually get up on the foil. You can ride along as normal on top of the water and then kick it up once up to speed.
Where other freeride foils we’ve tried have almost instantly foiled and then felt quite locked in, the Happy Foil has a more fluid feel. One up and going it’s a rocket, but it takes some maintenance in your foot position and experience to hold it together. But that said, and once you’re up to it in terms of ability, the Happy Foil wants to be moved. It loves turning and carving and feels sporty. Crank it over hard against the power of the kite and you’ll shoot upwind, but equally it’s happy to be ridden with your weight directly over it and S-ing turns downwind. But you do need to keep momentum and power in the kite.
In many ways once you’re used to it the Happy Foil feels like more of an extension of your regular riding style than other foils, which often need you to find the power shut of switch for the kite-power once you’re up and going.
There’s lots of adjustment to be made too in the foil position in the mast track underneath the board for more or less manoeuvrability / stability and the Happy Foil comes with a set of shims to adjust the angle of attack of the rear wing to optimize the balance and feel.
That said, this medium aspect wing-set isn’t for beginners. There isn’t that automatic rise up and then easy stability here, but as we ride more and more gear, we realise that this foiling spectrum is so wide and riders are going to prefer a variety of mannerisms as they progress. It’s easy to see that the LF team have done a lot of development with this Happy Foil in Hood River, where the winds can be strong, and the waters, choppy.
Also note that LF have just launched a brand new foil and mast set-up, called the Thruster, which is aimed at the improving rider, and being modular will work well as a complimentary stepping stone towards this Happy Foil.
This isn’t a first time foil, but Liquid Force are cracking on with their foiling range and now have three different set-ups, for the rank beginner, to the fluid freerider, like this Happy Foil. Crucially, everything’s strong and – maybe more importantly for most who are looking at this side of the sport as an expensive luxury – well priced.
Quick ride and a set-up that encourages turning and carving.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
Less experienced riders are going to want a quick lift up and more stability, but they should look at the new Thruster. For a fast set-up, the board would benefit from some more specialised, thicker chined rails at times to bounce off heavy chop, but on the flip side, you wouldn’t then have a cross-over board.
HAPPY FOIL BALANCE POINTS:
Build quality: 8
Full package: 8
Weight: Robust weight, but very acceptable, considering strenth
Beginner friendly: No
Room to improve: Yes, lots
Speed: 7.5 It’s faster than average, but it’s not a race board
SIZES: BOARD: 4’10” x 20.5” Volume: 22.9L