A stunt kite to go foiling with and the ally we didn’t know we were missing till it was gone!
THIS TEST FIRST APPEARED IN KITEWORLD #104 IN MARCH 2020
You may also want to read our Core Nexus 2 review, published September 2020 in issue #106 – read it here now!
TESTED BY: CHRIS BULL AND JIM GAUNT. FIND THEIR DETAILS AND TEST SCORE BREAKDOWNS HERE.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
The newest model of the three single strut kites this issue, but what an emphatic entrance from the XLITE. As with all single struts, you’ll be amazed how much lighter they feel in your hands having had two-thirds of their struts removed. The canopy feels light and Core’s unique Exotex dacron weave on their leading edge feels as strong as ever alongside the Coretex triple ripstop.
SENSOR 2 S BAR OPTIONS
Core have also released a lighter mid-sized (39/45cm) Pro Foil version of their Sensor 2S bar, with thinner lines to reduce drag and sag that also help relaunching in very light winds. The bar comes with 22 metre Tectanium Vario lines (made up of 16m + 2m + 4m – meaning you can add and take away to find your perfect line-length set-up, and for foiling people are going to be playing around with this more and more). The lines come set-up on 22s and we actually only used the regular Sensor 2S bar on this test that we were also riding the XR6 with. Core also give you a set of 3m line extensions so you can increase your overall line length to 25 metres, should you wish for extra swoop, forgiveness and power.
PURE FOILING LEI DESIGN
Unlike other one strut kites, Core have stuck their colours fully to the mast by saying this is a pure foiling LEI kite. They’re right. There’s less obvious drive at the bar and the XLITE does handle a bit differently to your three strut kite. It’s also lightning quick.
You may find yourself moving it around and trying to work out where the power is, but the trick is to steer the kite and then sheet out and then the XLITE will accelerate through the window, generating extremely smooth drive. If you’re a good kite flier, you’ll adapt very quickly and find this very intuitive – it’s not like getting used to a ram air foil kite – and once you’ve dialled into the kite there’s actually plenty of power on tap. This isn’t the sort of kite that intermediates are going to be able to tap into plenty of low wind power for twin-tipping, though. It’s a sky ninja; subtle but highly capable.
Jim and Rob tested this kite separately over several sessions, with Jim on a couple of occasions being one of only two riders out for a couple of hours along the whole of Blouberg seafront. Literally. The wind was very light, only averaging around nine knots and not gusting any higher than 12. Paired up with an 1150 North hydrofoil, these were great sessions. Jim is only light anyway at 70 kilos, but even though we were only testing a seven metre, was able to move the kite with such speed and then time sheeting out perfectly with the rise of the foil that often that was all it took to get up and planing. The rapid but light handling is incredible. Sure there were times when it was very light and the kite needed moving around more, but there was very little doubt that if there was enough wind to keep the kite up in the air, then we’d get foiling.
The other aspect of riding an LEI in such light winds is that you know they’re going to float if the kite does ever end up in the drink. Sure, ram air kites do relaunch well now, but there’s always that hesitation when they go in the water, watching how they sit and whether that’s a good position for relaunch. Whatever happens with a four line LEI, eventually it’s going to roll and be leading edge down with breeze filling its panels. The XLITE has a good regular relaunch, but its reverse launch (where you pull both back lines at the same time) sees it rise smoothly off the water and then you can just let go of one line and keep pulling on the other and the kite will spin and drive up through the window in very little wind at all. It’s a standout for reassurance in light winds.
What we still haven’t talked about is the XLITE’s best part: the drift! Wherever the kite is in the window you can feel it the whole time. If you need a bit more power, sheet the bar in a little to tweak the kite’s position and you can position it exactly where you want it to give you the power or movement any time. Come out of tacks, get things a bit wrong, pull hard, loop the kite to pull you round, or drop it into a certain spot and you really do have that pin point control to find the perfect amount of power. The XLITE completes its turns very automatically. When we switched back to using a three strut again we found that we were having to really instruct the kite a lot more to complete downloops as well as redirect it across the window. The XLITE is designed for those times when your lines are a bit slack and you’re relying more fully on your foil speed.
There are usually at least some small waves to play with off Kite Beach and on a foil that’s becoming more and more fun in light winds. The amount of times we carved down wind, downlooped the kite without really thinking and just found it sitting steady in the window, with very slack lines but still drifting forward as we completed our turns was just so helpful. Even when you’re heavily-sheeted out the X-Lite still turns more than other single struts. You have a range of turning speed and positions that the kite will adapt to.
The power delivery is always incredibly smooth, though there is always a time that a single strut’s side panels will rattle, either when moved very quickly and suddenly round a loop, or when the winds gusts up quite strongly and the kite tries to drive forward. The XLITE suffers from this too, but even when vibrating and sheeted out, continues to generate quite good lift and remains manoeuvrable while you ride out the shakes.
MORE ON THE SENSOR 2S BAR
Once again, a beautiful bar set-up and absolutely ideal for lots of one handed riding with your fingers either side of the thin plastic covered centre lines, that also cleverly remove any line twists when you sheet the bar in. The thin diameter bar is very comfortable and light feeling. The only thing to get used to is that Core use a twist quick release, rather than push away.
An outstanding kite for foiling and the most high-performance foiling kite here. Very quick, light bar handling but extremely stable anywhere in the window, you can always feel where the kite is and the drift performance is incredible.
This is a stunt kite to go foiling with and the ally we didn’t know we were missing till it was gone.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
First time foilers and those looking for a lighter wind twin-tip option will find this a bit quick and the drive of power a bit different to what they’re used to.
XLITE BALANCE POINTS:
Build quality: 9
Full package: 9
Low end: 7.5
Top end: 7
Steering speed: 8
Turning circle: 3
Bar pressure: 4.5
Water relaunch: 8.5
Crossover: 5 (Pure performance foiling)
Ease of use: 8 (For pure performance foiling)
SIZES: 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 and 4m
THE XLITE WAS TESTED IN ISSUE #104, ALONGSIDE THE OZONE ALPHA AND NAISH BOXER
Find out more: www.corekites.com
Core Nexus 2 review in issue #106 – click here