F-ONE STRIKE CWC 7 & 8M
7 & 8M
TESTED BY: Jim Gaunt & Rob Claisse - Progression
WORDS: Jim Gaunt
TEST TEAM NOTES: I’d had the 7 and 8 metre Strike CWCs a few weeks before anything near what I thought were suitable conditions arrived (after no wind, we then had lots of wind!). I can get going on an F-One Phantom 1280 FCT hydrofoil and a 5m wing in around 15 knots quite nicely, so for the 7m I thought I’m going to need 12 knots or less. I’ve also been testing the AK Phazer 65L and so on a light southerly morning decided to try to go for it as the Phazer seems forgiving for its small-ish size, and I wanted to test the big wing as a partner for my normal gear... without having to also drag out a specific light wind barge. When I got to the beach the sea was fairly awash with white caps though, so I rigged up a 4m wing, but by the time I’d returned to the water’s edge all rigged up, the wind had dropped right back again. Off I went to finally rig up the 7m in wind that was averaging 14-15 mph / 12 knots.
The bottom line here is that the Strike CWC 7m got me going in that tricky, light, onshore wind straight away, but it’s how it got me going that was so remarkable.
The CWC – Compact Wing Concept design that F-One have developed packs in a large square metre of canopy in such a way that the tip-to-tip height of the wing remains relatively short – particularly so in the six metre apparently - I'd love to try that next! The CWC is the first three strut design to hit the market, and it allows F-One to add surface area to the wing through canopy depth rather than tip-to-tip height, without compromising the Strike’s light weight and high performance characteristics. F-ONE SAY: ‘The two extra struts increase the wing’s surface without increasing the leading edge’s length and diameter. Once we were able to fit a 6m into a short 5m leading edge we were then able to build a 7m and 8m with the same concept. The control of the leading edge’s length offers more rigidity in the canopy and the trailing edge is completely controlled, adding performance.’ Wings always feel bigger on land and once on the water it’s really apparent that you don’t hold the wing in the same way. You’re in a more dynamic position as you get to your knees and then stand up and the Strike CWC 7m feels very natural above your head. Now that I’m thinking back, it also wasn’t heavy to lift overhead – something I thought it would be, but as it didn’t even cross my mind until now, it obviously isn’t. All the Strike wings I’ve used fly into wind very well indeed and this CWC is no different. It’s why their top end range and ability to be managed in strong conditions is so good. Like a dart through the air. I wouldn’t say that the 7m is as grunty as I thought it would be; the power development is quite subtle and smooth. It doesn’t come in with a bang, but instead builds up the power like the volume levels are being controlled by an experienced sound engineer. There are no sudden spikes. It’s not a horror movie soundtrack. The CWC 7m just powered me up beautifully, delivering plenty of smooth power to get going easily in those light winds on a 65L board with very little need for pumping.
Images: The 8m - read about that model further down in this review
DON’T PANIC – YOU CAN MANAGE The conditions picked up as forecast during my 90 minute session and by the time I came in the wind was a more solid 15 - 18 knots, but the Strike CWC 7m wasn’t unbearable and still wasn’t shuddering at all. My testing partner, Rob, experienced the same and in fact most of his first session ended up being more powered than it started, gusting around 18 – 20 knots, but there’s a big weight and height difference between us. Rob is 6’2’’ and weighs just north of 100 kilos. I’m 5’10’’ and slip onto the scales at just over 70 kilos. We were both impressed how the CWC 7m has the same Strike characteristic that we admire in the smaller models: the very locked in forward draft. Even when overpowered the Strike wings remain so stable. No flapping, the balance point of power feels so secure. You only need to sheet in a little with a Strike for the wing to stabilise and drive forward. In our experience Strike wings can operate at a much less heavily sheeted angle to the wind, which also helps with upwind performance. You can always sheet in and accelerate so smoothly on a Strike and that ability to pick up speed means you can control the power more too, because you're travelling faster. The CWC is the same – just look at the depth of the canopy curve in the images. There’s power there! While it doesn’t have the same upwind ability as the smaller sizes, particularly when the wind picks up, the balanced handling is still impressive in the seven metre.
IDEAL FOR A HARNESS For the last 40 minutes of my session when I had easily enough power and other wingers were out on 5s, I decided to go and get my new harness and pop on the harness lines rather than change down wing size. What an immediate sense of calm you get in your arms. I was also using straps for the first time. Hooked in and strapped – I was windsurfing again! The CWC’s smooth power made focusing on other elements of riding so easy – as Rob also found in his switch stance tacks – more later. When using a big kite or when riding in stronger conditions, I have found that using a harness is a real game changer for making good angles back upwind - read more here. All Strike wings have knots already set up for the harness line on the strut and the balance point is ideal. You can either shorten or lengthen the line via several pigtails / knots to get the length that suits you. This really plays to the strength of the Strike CWC 7m (and 8m – see below), adding at least a few extra knots to the top end and generally relieving your arms on long runs. Once you’re planing, the Strike CWC needs very little attention. It’s cruises along like a Bentley. A harness just adds the touch of cruise control for the motorway.
USER-FRIENDLY I was worried that I’d get blown off the water very easily on this 7m, but it wasn’t the case at all. I wouldn’t want to ride it overpowered intentionally, but if you’re having a session and the wind picks up a bit, there’s no need to rush in and change down. For heavier riders, this CWC concept is fantastic with loads of power packed into a compact package. Apart from when I was pumping a couple of times, or lost my concentration, I never really had problematic wing tip touch downs. Rob thought the same too, and commented that the other benefit of the two extra inflated struts giving such rigidity to the tips means that, on the odd occasion that he did touch the tips down, he noticed that the tip has this ability to plane along in the water, rather than stick and bend.
POWER AND PERFORMANCE The smooth, constant drive to get going without much need for pumping is impressive, as is the light weight feel in your hands for what is a big piece of cloth and the biggest leading edge I’ve ever seen. Somehow the 7m still has elements of the svelte, sleek and smoothly penetrating feel of the smaller Strikes that I love. There is a bit of a push needed on the strut with your back hand to help the wing rotate when you gybe of course, but not too bad considering how light the wind was at times. As with the smaller Strikes, there’s a positive movement needed with the CWC to bring it overhead into the neutral position as you carve up through the wind during a tack. As the Strikes are so efficient and develop power so early in their sheeting range, you do need make sure you really sheet out and get the wing overhead before you start your carve into wind. Some other wings (like the Freewing Air V2 on test this issue) that have their drafts further back, depower much quicker and therefore let you be a bit more lazy with the way you time your wing movements. As we are finding with all our wing testing and experiences though, it all comes down to habit and developing slightly different techniques and timings with different wings. The Strike CWC cuts through the air very efficiently and has this stability in the canopy that helps keep its positive shape in the wind, but it does mean that you need to more precisely place the wing overhead for tacks. Once you’ve got the knack though, it’s like a dart...
INSTANT SUPPORT The other HUGE benefit once you’ve passed through the wind is the immediate support the Strike CWC provides as soon as you sheet in with your back hand on the wing. Rob and I both noticed how much more consistently we were riding away from tacks on the foil. Rob even managed to nail both toe-to-heel and heel-to-toe tacks on his switch stance; something he’s not managed before, thanks to the smooth power going into the move, the overhead agility and light weight handling of what is a big wing and the immediate, stable power he could find on the other side. You have so much confidence. OTHER POINTS Having a relatively short wing span for a 7m and good rigidity in the tips means it’s not as much of a struggle to flip the wing when it ends up on its back as it could be. Big points here for user friendliness. (The eight metre was more difficult). The centre strut is long, so it does feel like the second handle is a bit more of a stretch to get to as F-One only put two handles on their wings – though they are quite long on the Strike. So you can grab the front part of the rear handle okay, but there’s a bit more of a technique to pull with your front hand, lift the wing a little overhead and then stretch further with your back hand. On a big, floaty board it’s fine. On a smaller board, there’s just a bit more core technique needed. Not too difficult, just something to be aware of. The bigger handles are really good for easily being able to shuffle your hands back and forth, for getting the wing further forward or back in the window, depending on what sort of power you want. As ever, the F-One handles are firm but comfortable and narrow enough to not cause grip fatigue.
THE 8M The 8m is another step up again. I’ve only ridden it for one session so far and I went to the beach just to take pictures of it, but then once I’d inflated the thing and felt the power available, I had to have a go. The wind was honestly averaging just 10 -13 mph on the local weather station, not even ten knots. I got going on the first run with just a few pumps. Looking back through the footage I can see my smile and I absolutely remember why. I just couldn’t believe it. I was riding an 85 litre F-One Rocketwing V2 and once again with the Phantom 1280 FCT foil. Sure, the Rocketwing has to be one of the most efficient boards when it comes to channeling water quickly to help the foil come up, but even so, the eight metre is really impressive. The drive is phenomenal. Smooth and sure, every pump has a big effect, but the main issue I had is that riding this wing is quite tiring. It’s not so much the pumping, but once you’re planing the wing produces good apparent wind, so if I were to ride this regularly, I’d be doing so with a harness. Once again there are techniques to adjust to, most notably when gybing. As soon as you steer downwind the wing loses power and with such a lot of canopy the strut tends to drop vertically. So what you need to do is boss that wing! You power up as you go into the turn and then before the wing has chance to drop you push away with your bottom hand and then whip your front hand over. You basically keep the wing moving. It’s really light when you hold the front power handle into the wind in neutral, but when you travel downwind you reduce any effective wind speed running over the wing. So whip it round, get round your gybe tightly and then lift your new front hand again to get more power into the wing. All of this is of course easier the taller you are, too. Tacking is actually the better option, because by turning up through the wind, you’re increasing the apparent wind speed rather than reducing it. Like the 7m, the 8m behaves beautifully overhead and doesn’t feel as heavy as you might think when held in neutral. It flies like a bird. One thing that you can see in the image of me walking out of the water is how impressively stable and light the wing is even with just a bit of wind available. I could walk a long way with just my hand on that front handle. That characteristic is impressive and makes life less complicated getting in and out of the water, but successfully riding in very light winds, sub 12 knots, is still quite a technical challenge. I think if I’d had a more constant 14mph / 12 knots rather than 11 / 9.5 knots I’d have been constantly powered, absolutely no problem, but I'd want a harness because this wing is powerful, and holding that power for long periods was tiring on my arms. The 7m is far more user friendly in our opinion and still has an incredible bottom end power.
“Superb stability and incredibly smooth power generation. Sheet your back hand in and you’re super locked and secure.”
Wingmount images this issue were shot using the Flymount Aero GoPro Mount
SUMMARY: I really thought that kite foiling would be the only thing I’d do in 12 – 15 knots because, up to now in those conditions, kite foiling has been a much faster ride and more engaging experience for me. HOWEVER, if I can ride my regular quiver of hydrofoils - particularly with the 7m which I feel is more dynamic - and still enjoy a good amount of manoeuvrability, then it’s not so cut and dry anymore. We don’t get waves with light winds very often, but if we do, then pairing the 7m CWC up with my regular foils has suddenly become an option that could outshine my kite foil set-up. With a bit of thought and arm lift technique, especially if riding the wave upwind, I could use this in some small fun waves, for sure. We really thought we’d be testing these for people looking to just mow the lawn in light wind, but we’ve been seriously impressed. Yes, these are technical wings to use in some respects, but they offer really high performance and have a much bigger wind range than we’d ever given them credit for. There is a big difference between the seven and eight when it comes to nimbleness, and there will be another big difference again in the six metre. The eight really is the last hurrah, mostly for bigger riders with strong arms , desperate to get a session in. The seven is more dynamic and the correct choice for more people we’d say. WSW LIKED:
Superb stability and incredibly smooth power generation. Sheet your back hand in and you’re super locked and secure. The 7m has a big range, too. WSW WOULD CHANGE: It’s quite a reach to the back handle, but with a bit of technique adaptation, you’ll get there. Remember too, that in light winds the water state is usually not too bumpy, which makes it easier.
STRIKE CWC 7 & 8M BALANCE POINTS /10: Robust / build: 7 Power: 8 Depower stability: 7 Strong wind handling: 6.5 Light wind power generation: 8.5 Stability: 8.5 Upwind drive: 6.5 Manoeuvrability: 6.5 Ease of use: 8.5 (remembering it’s quite a big wing) SIZES: STRIKE CWC: 8, 7 & 6m STRIKE: 5, 4.2, 3.5 & 2.8m