Andy from Bellingham Kiteboarding loaned me a demo Liquid Force Kite Fish to try out. Here is what he has to say about the board:
“I am very very excited about the New Liquid Force Kite Fish, and was excited the first time I saw a preproduction version at the LaVentana Kite Expo early this year.
This kite specific wake surfer comes complete with fins, footstraps, and a deckpad for just $349.99. This is about half the cost of all other directional boards on the market, and will work better in most applications. Here is why….
The Kitefish is the perfect board for anyone thinking about getting into a directional because it is easy to ride, and easy to learn to jibe on. The width of this board is ample, and so learning how to get in and out of the footsraps is easier than almost any other board I have tried.
Another cool thing about this board, is that it can be ridden BACKWARDS. As the ideal beginner directional, being able to chicken jibe and get out of the way of a crashing wave is going to be something that almost all other directionals can not do. Sure, it doesn’t ride as well going backwards as forwards, but it is able to get you out of a situation quickly without having to jibe or switch toe side. Actually, it goes upwind quite well while riding it backwards, which was a pleasant surprise.
For those you want to work on strapless riding, the straps come off in about 1 min with a screwdriver and you now have a fun toy to play with. This board ollies and spins like a skimboard. Even I have been working on shove-its, and I have only been riding it for a week. The deckpad is great with or without booties, and offers padding if you happen to come down on your board after a missed strapless landing. Super fun, and super versatile. If skim is your style, be sure to checkout the LF Twinskim as well.
The other great characteristic of this board is its lightwind ability. I know many people who have bought a surfboard because of the perceived light wind ability, just to be disappointed to find their twintip has the same or better light wind performance. This is because lightwind ability is totally dependent on the rocker line. Too much rocker kills light wind performance. The KiteFish is made with a minimal amount of rocker with a flip in the nose to help deal with chop. This gives the board a very good low end that will rival some of the traditional lightwind boards for light wind performance. As a plus, the fins are small and efficient, which means that you can ride this board in water only inches deep. Try that with a normal directional and you’ll end up breaking your fin, or possibly your face:).
At this price, I think this board is going to be revolutionary. In our first week having this board, just about everyone who tried it, bought one. People who had bought normal surf boards or surf style directional kiteboards are selling their used boards for more than this board costs, and switching over because it suits their style more.
Unless you are frequently riding huge waves in a surf environment, and are already skilled at using a directional board, this is the board for you.”
I loaned the Kite Fish out to a bunch of riders at Nihtnat and chatted with a couple of Kite Fish owners I crossed paths with. Here is the general consensus:
- great low wind board
- very floaty and forgiving ride
- very loose with stock fins
- lots of fun for all skill levels
- great board to learn to ride strapless and learn to gibe on
- tough durable construction
- excellent value
- foot straps are set really far apart
Two issues with this board that almost everyone noted were that the foot straps were quite far apart and that the board was very loose. I think Liquid Force should provide more inserts so that you can mount the straps closer together. Having said that a lot of riders didn’t care because they wanted to ride this board strapless. If I bought a Kite Fish removing the straps is the first thing I’d do. As for the board being very loose – it is. That’s a good thing and a bad thing depending on what you want to do with it, but the solution is really simple and cheap – just dig around the parts pin at your local kiteboarding or surf shop and find some cheapo fins to ride [see photo below]. That way you can swap in whichever fins make the most sense for the mission you are on that day.
- Fuller rail shape with added volume providing more float and drive along waves
- Variable beveled rail through mid-body to nose keeps the nose from catching outside edge, more forgiving off the lip and free styling in flat water
- Sharp rail edge throughout back third of board giving quicker water release for improved speed and glide
- Single to double concave hull allowing for smooth, efficient water flow with lift
- Tri-fin setup for maximum versatility allowing you to adapt to your own riding style
- EVA deck pad with arch bar, foot stop and proven Liquid Force Surf straps for a sure-footed control and comfort
- Length = 5’3″
- Weight = 7.9lbs
I can relate to what Andy has said above about riders who want to try a directional realistically assessing their need for a surfboard. I bought a surfboard last year thinking it was the logical move and tried to ride it strapless as well as with straps. I didn’t have fun. Looking back now it’s clear that I haven’t kited anywhere that had any waves worthy of a real surfboard and that as a light wind board there were better choices for sure. I wish I had known about the Kite Fish. It’s much easier to learn to ride strapless and gibe with. It’s a better choice for the typical swell and wind driven waves that I generally ride. The Kite Fish is also a better light wind board than the surfboard I had.
Besides being easier to learn on and a better fit for my typical conditions I like the fact that the Kite Fish:
- is not expensive at ~$350 so adding it to the quiver doesn’t hurt.
- is very tough – unlike a surfboard so you don’t have to baby it and when you lend it out there is no worry that it will come back with a ding or worse.
- nice quality and finish plus the graphics/styling looks pretty sweet for a board that isn’t expensive.
Having just bought an Ocean Rodeo Mako King from Bellingham Kiteboarding I don’t have the budget to add any more boards to the quiver at the moment so I’ll cunningly try and hold on to this demo Kite Fish as long as possible! I think I’d definitely like to have one for the 2011 season and keep it strapless. It will be a super fun board to ride and a board I won’t mind lending out to anyone riding with me. I’ll post a longer term review when I’ve had the chance to ride the Kite Fish more.