THIS TEST FIRST APPEARED IN KITEWORLD #106 ON OUR NEW FREE DIGITAL PLATFORM IN SEPTEMBER 2020.
Crazyfly Chill Board & Cruz 690 Board Test
‘This is a design that can work for many kiters who are looking to ride comfortably in medium to stronger foiling conditions and less than perfect waters’
TESTED BY: JIM GAUNT AND ROB CLAISSE
TEST TEAM NOTES:
Let’s start with the first thing our eyes were drawn to, which is the brushed injected carbon wing / aluminium mast and foil set-up, which looks sleek but also feels super light. Crucially, it doesn’t give the impression that it’s very delicate. So, we immediately enjoyed the very light and compact design when carrying it to the beach along with a couple of kites, pump etc. Just 3.5kg for the foil set-up and the Chill board is very light too, at 2.9kg.
We used the 90cm aluminium mast (several lengths are available – see the list at the end of the review), which we chose from the packages because we ride off the south coast of the UK where you can get everything from flattish water to heavy ocean chop in one session.
The 115cm Chill board itself feels extremely compact in your hands. Our initial concerns from a twin-tip style construction like this is that it could feel a bit too flexible under Rob’s front foot (Rob is 100+ kilos, so quite an extreme tester!)
All in all – with the twin-tip construction in the board, plus the aluminium / injected carbon designs in the mast and wings – we were confident in the durability of the product which is a very confidence inspiring feeling in such a light weight design. Carrying the gear to the beach and then handling the board in shingle situations, the whole thing felt much less delicate than other designs might.
As ever, CrazyFly presentation and delivery is faultless with all products very well manufactured and complete in terms of tools and instructions with all the screws very neatly labelled in little bags. Plus there’s plenty of grease supplied for your inserts to stop the screw threads seizing up through the season.
We say it time and again; Crazy Fly’s build quality is absolutely first rate.
Billed as a wing fit for all riders from entry level and beyond, the Cruz 690 flies in the face of where most other brands are pitching wings that have anything to do with ‘entry level’.
In his first two sessions Jim (70 kilos) used it in strongish winds on an 8m Bandit, with winds between 15 and 22mph. The immediate realisation is that the 690 doesn’t rise up sharply, but also isn’t slow. A few runs confirmed just how smooth the 690 feels. The first carve was very constant; evenly paced throughout until pretty soon Jim said he could make what felt like relatively tightly linked turns along small waves in cross-onshore conditions.
Rob commented that although the Cruz is smooth, as one of the most experienced foil riders in the UK, he couldn’t get it to speed up as much as he’d have liked though, even when powered up.
Adding footstraps will also help you lock in and drive more speed from the wing, which advanced riders will be looking for. Generally, as the Cruz name suggests, it’s very cruisy and doesn’t have that 20% extra acceleration to be classed as ‘really quick’. That’s not what it’s designed for though, and if it did go that fast as a small wing, you’d for sure be losing some of the more controlled manoeuvrability in other areas.
Remember that Rob (100+ kilos) is on the extreme side of weight for a wing of just 690cm² and board of 115cm length. He may not be an averagely sized guy of 75 / 80 or even 90 kilos, but both riders concluded that the CrazyFly is easier than expected to get up and going on, even with that small board and Rob’s reservations about the lack of stiffness under his front foot had gone.
However, he does feel that his weight size is generally ruled out for the Cruz 690 and Chill 115. For medium or lighter weight riders or even juniors however, this combo is definitely a set-up to consider.
If you’re heavier and don’t have a lot of experience, the smaller board will be the challenge (though there is a 130cm model). The fact that the foil comes up and rides very predictably is a big advantage and does make this set-up workable for heavier riders, if not 100% ideal. Generally, more power is needed to get the Cruz / Chill going, but in that respect inexperienced foilers will feel the power transfer needed much more familiar to what they’re used to on a twin-tip or surfboard. We’ve seen this in other foils in the last couple of years and it can make the transition to foiling feel more natural than it otherwise might for some people.
If you are a rider much beyond that stage and looking to fill the light wind 8 – 12 knot performance gap in your life, however light you are, this isn’t really a foil set-up for pushing those conditions very easily. If you have a decent amount of technical light wind skill it would be possible with a big kite, but if you are at that level, it’s likely you’re already considering something more specialised.
A highlight sensation that we can’t overstate is that there’s absolutely zero vibration felt in the ride and total silence as you glide over the water – which really adds to the magical feeling of foiling. CF use clean, flat surface fittings, which they say removes product intolerances of pocket connections.
Although there were times in lower winds that Rob dropped off the foil coming out of slower, more extreme turns, such as 360s, we experienced no cavitation at any other time. The Cruz 690 is very easy to control for a small wing – and in fact most of the time feels automatically steady. Sure, it’s not as completely easy as some bigger wings (see below – two bigger wings have just launched), carving takes some commitment and your foot changes need to be made lightly and swiftly, but for a small wing the smooth, predictable feel can help with progression.
Carving into the wind when tacking feels constant and allows you to steadily feather higher and higher into the turn. Although again the foot change takes some precision, the fact that the wing is constant means it’s quite easy to put the pieces together in your mind to achieve progress. The carving prowess helps your tacks come on while the toeside turns downwind are a fluid joy. The Cruz 690 likes to carve, but being a small wing you still need to go into your turns carrying a good amount of steady speed. Once again this illustrates that, although predictable in feel, we don’t think this is completely suitable for rank foil beginners.
HAVE YOU BEEN STRUGGLING WITH A SECOND HAND SET-UP?
Maybe you have a bit of foiling experience now, having dipped your toes into the foiling game and have struggled your way through the basics on a cheap second hand product. This is when a step onto something like the Cruz 690 will make sense. Reassuringly sturdy to handle knocks on the beach, very light and smooth enough to feel approachable, we definitely found the CrazyFly to be playful and fun overall. Jim rode several sessions in different conditions and notably reported that each session he felt like a good rider on it. So, although it’s small for an entry-level foiler, it can be a great product to progress onto, even if you’re still not a great foiler.
A board to consider in its own right if you have a foil that you’re happy with and are looking for a light weight pocket board to go with it…
Although the Chill is low in volume and has a thin twin-tip style appearance, the carbon central stringers and concave deck deliver a feeling of reassuring stiffness underfoot, even for Rob at 100+ kilos. For a board of just 115cm length, the Chill also helps you survive touchdowns reasonably well, with the low volume and scooped up nose shape meaning that, with a bit of skill, you can get away with riding it a short distance underwater while rocking your weight back to bring the foil up again. Something to note from our side is that we think any board under 120cm in length is for riders who have some foiling experience and who are well on their way to considering themselves quite advanced. (Look out for the 130cm size if you don’t consider that to be your riding level.)
Overall this is a really light set-up, especially considering that the mast is aluminium. Where the real saving is made is in the board. The mast and wing set-up itself is comparable with some other good aluminium / injected carbon combinations. As soon as you put a bigger / heavier board on a light mast / foil set-up, you lose all that weight advantage. CrazyFly have managed to keep the overall set-up really light, but with the added robust benefit of an aluminium mast and tough, injected carbon wings.
As the Chill board is so light, our recommendation would be that for most level of riders, the 130cm board will still feel nice and small, but add a bit more stability. Don’t worry – it will still have the light weight advantages!
CF are billing the Cruz 690 as a wing for everyone and, though we don’t think it’s quite as ideal for beginners as that, you could still successfully go through your early stages on it. Beyond that, if you’re looking for smooth ride in normal kitesurfing conditions, this is awesome and a lot of steady fun can be found in the smooth, even pace.
Heavier, inexperienced riders should note that this set-up is going to feel too small, especially through manoeuvres where you’ll want more prolonged glide to make it round. This is more suited to lighter / medium weight riders, unless the conditions are beautifully flat, in which case you can get away with riding smaller gear.
For everyone else, don’t misinterpret the small 690 size Cruz wing as exclusively being a fast, high performance shape. CrazyFly have developed a wing that doesn’t rise up sharply to leave you feeling unnerved. Instead it feels right at home and rides smoothly in regular 14+ knot conditions and, while it may need you to be quite precise to make it fully around moves like 360s, there’s nothing really that this wing can’t do. It is a real all-rounder, but just needs some attention for success in certain areas.
The board is small and super neat. Nice and compact but doesn’t feel tiny underfoot and, for a small board, is a good shape to handle touchdowns, seemingly able to hold speed while submerged, giving you chance to survive if you can adjust your weight. Though this submerging doesn’t happen very often as the foil rides on the plane very reliably, the Chill still isn’t as easy as bigger, more beginner-focussed boards.
Let’s judge this set-up for what it is: a light weight but strong overall product, featuring a small, compact feeling board with a relatively small front wing that’s actually quite easy to ride for its size. This is a design that can work for many kiters who are looking to ride comfortably in medium to stronger foiling conditions and less than perfect waters.
A medium to stronger wind foil that’s fun and delivers comfort, smoothness and is fantastic for carving, especially on downwinders.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
Riders over 85 kilos, especially with less experience, will find the Cruz 690 and 115cm board too small – so should look to the new release front wings and a larger board.
We are really excited to try the two new front wings that CrazyFly have just launched; the 1,200 and 1,000cm². CF told us that the 1,200 will really deliver to a broader and more beginner market, while the 1,000 rides faster than you might think, so will suit the improving rider looking to pair it with a nice, small board. We’re seeing more and more of these faster 1,000cm² size wings, so CrazyFly look to be expanding their range very accordingly for what most of the market are looking for.
CRUZ 690 SET INCLUDES:
Cruz Mast 90 or 70cm
Cruz 690 Front Wing (wingspan: 518mm)
Cruz 220 Rear Wing (wingspan: 376mm)
Cruz 69 Aluminium Fuselage
Cruz Base Plate 165 x 90 mm
Weight: 3.5 kg
50 / 60 / 70 / 80 / 90 cm
READ MORE TESTS FROM THE ISSUE HERE
Find out more: www.crazyflykites.com
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