2011 HQ Matrixx Power Foil Kite
- extremely thin bridle line for minimal drag
- effective depower profile
- three pulley speed-system
- massive depower
Do you get skunked riding because of light winds? Would you prefer to avoid the swim in when your kite falls out of the air at 8mph? This is the ticket. The new HQ Matrixx 15 meter foil kiteboarding kite. HQ kites has really nailed it with this kite. Imagine not worrying about your kite falling in the water on the big lulls. With a foil kitesurfing kite you have no extra weight of bladders and the sail to weight ratio drops to nothing. We had a new rider flying the Matrixx on land and the flag was hanging on the flag pole. John (the new kiteboarder at 230lbs) was actually getting small ground slides going in well less than 10mph.
The wind ramped up to about 10 and I "borrowed" the kite back from John straight away. With Jake's (now forever in my van) Super Phatty Aggression kiteboard I went out and started riding. I think it filled in to about 13-14 for about 20 minutes and I was boosting 10 foot airs and gliding downwind 25 yards. A foil is definitely a different beast than a Leading Edge Inflatable kiteboarding kite.
Power - it is "on" pretty much all the time. You do have nice depower in the bar, but not like an LEI. The Matrixx has a simple-to-use above-the-bar clam cleat for depower. Make sure to pull it in about 2 inches for light wind flying - your kite will be much happier. I found myself adjusting the depower strap much more than I would with the Cabrinha Switchblade. The 15 meter probably has the power of a 16-17 meter inflatable kiteboarding kite. The really big difference is that the kite feels much lighter in the sky. Not that "I am a big fat pig, just try to turn me" feeling of a really big inflatable. I just had a nice session with a North Rebel 14 meter last night and could just barely stay upwind. I know if I would have been on the Matrixx I would have been lit up and doing some nice jumps. The North Rebel is super solid as a light wind kite, but under 13 and the Matrixx 15 really shines. (The 14 Rebel is a pretty sweet light wind kite with its quickest turning ever for a 14).
Ease of use - Lay it downwind, stretch out the lines, pull twice and you are in the air. No pumping a 16 meter - YES! The bar is clean and simple. The safety systems are pretty standard and well designed. I do think you would have a hard time resetting the chicken loop if you released it in the water. On land it is pretty easy, but the release pin has to be reset through a small line hole and it could be a pretty good challenge in the water. The release works very well; a foil generally has a bit more power when the release has been used since the bridles seem to keep a bit more of the kite in the wind. Nothing major, but a 40 mph gust could make things interesting. Landing is simple, not much different than your LEI. Breakdown is a bit harder trying to squeeze the air out of the kite, but not bad. I do like the fact that you keep your bar attached to the lines from a time perspective. You should be careful to keep the bar outside of the bag if your lines and bar are quite wet. Another issue of not connecting your lines is checking things carefully before your next launch. I suspect it would be easier to make a launching mistake if you don't walk your lines prior to launch.
Durability - I have old foil kites from 1993. They still fly and function almost like new. When it comes to life expectancy and almost no change in performance over time, foil kites are far and away the best value in kiteboarding. I suspect you could fly an HQ Matrixx for 10 years and the kite would be fairly similar to when you bought it. Most inflatables are good for 100-300 sessions before a noticeable drop in performance happens.
Performance - I have spent many years flying foils, so I have a pretty good idea on how they handle. If the wind is over 15 I would still prefer my Cabrinha Switchblade. But compared to foils from even 3 or 4 years ago, the Matrixx has really stepped up the game. I love the long, long, super floaty jumps in no wind. Turn speed is pretty close to a bow kite and was not much of a factor in the light wind. You do always have a bit of an issue with wing tip tuck when turning too far at the edge of the window. Nothing major, but noticeable versus an inflatable which pretty much always stays rigid. The confidence of the kite not crashing in the water in light winds is also great.
All in all, for a first generation kite HQ kites has really hit the nail on the head with the Matrixx. At $1,499 for a 15 meter light wind machine, you will get your riding time fun return on investment in a season if you ride light wind areas. If you ride the Great Lakes, San Diego or Florida in the summer, this kite will knock your socks off. If you weigh less than 175lbs - go with the 12 and you will be doing really well.
I think it's time to go steal a 15 Matrixx from the store and keep Jake's Super Phatty Aggression for the next 6 weeks of light wind. Call me for a price on the demo 15 - I'll sell it to you in September :-)
Check out our current selection of HQ kites.