At A Glance
The highly-anticipated MA series sits right in the middle of Armstrong's HA & HS wings. Designed for the best of both worlds this wing is made for more of a surf feel, with a slower stall speed than the HA but with more glide & efficiency than the HS.
I was lucky enough to be sent a whole quiver of MA gear by Armstrong - the 800, 1000, & 1225 front wings, the 795 Performance mast, and the Flow 235 & Surf 205 tails. The above gear provides endless options for a whole host of conditions, which I’ll go into in detail below. I had a seriously fun Spring on this kit!
I often think that masts can get overlooked when it comes to the performance of a foil. With that in mind, I want to delve a little deeper into just how much effort Armstrong has put into the Performance masts. For a start, it has been developed in collaboration with a team of America's Cup foil engineers, that's not something to be overlooked if you have even the smallest understanding of how impressive those boats are.
The mast's design focuses on minimising drag and ventilation while providing exceptional stiffness and responsiveness. Through a combination of CFD analysis and expert insight, each section of the mast, from the baseplate to the fuselage connection, has been meticulously tuned by Armstrong for maximum efficiency.
To ensure strength and light weight, the mast utilises the latest premium composites. It underwent extensive testing with over 100 prototypes. The optimal fibre orientation was determined to achieve the desired strength and flex characteristics. Additionally, the mast top geometry was redesigned to eliminate any unnecessary weight.
They also spent a good deal of time getting the right balance between high-modulus & intermediate-modulus fibres. The result is a top-of-the-line mast constructed with high-quality materials, featuring a new mast section, refined baseplate, reduced drag fuselage connection, and a new construction method. The proprietary titanium M7 mast top hardware ensures a strong, lightweight, and drag-reducing connection to the board.
One notable feature of these masts is the incorporation of mast rake angle. This allows for fine-tuning of the board angle relative to the foil, enhancing comfort and providing a more forgiving ride. Importantly, the mast rake angle does not alter the lifting force or balance of the foil itself, nor does it affect the foil's "foot pressure" bias. By adjusting the board relative to the foil underwater, the 1-degree rake implemented in the top of the Performance Mast shape offers several benefits, including reduced drag for easier takeoffs, improved stability during landings or jumps, and enhanced speed without the risk of catching the nose at steep riding angles.
On The Water
Before I go into my on-water experiences, I want to share the tagline Armstrong has for each MA wing as I actually believe they are spot on: The 1225 - ‘The allrounder for endless glide and flow’, the 1000 - ‘The perfect blend of early lift, broad speed range, and limitless carvability’ and the 800 - ‘The highly rippable performance machine’.
So where did the size range fit for me and the disciplines I do? Although I only got one session, the 800 was my ultimate tow foil, the 1000 a winging machine, and the 1225 a perfect prone foil for the gutless waves we often get on the South Coast of the UK.
Back to that tow session, the video of which is linked to this article. We could see in the forecast that a magic spot we go to on the Jurassic Coast would be on fire, clean head high + waves. The MA800 was an easy choice, I paired it with the HA195 tail, 70 fuse, Performance 795 mast & Armstrong WKT 109 foil board. What resulted were some of the biggest waves I’ve ever foiled, and yet I felt in full control. The top-end speed of the MA800 is unbelievable, some of the waves were so big that I had to straight line it to make it through the sections and the foil never felt like it was going to breach or throw me over the falls. On the more medium-sized waves I was able to do big carving turns, and on the few occasions that I did accidentally breach I barely noticed and just rode on. This is due to the fine leading edge section and tuned wingtip inflection allowing for quick flow reattachment after a breach.
As you’ll see in the video, as long as I exited the wave with speed, I was able to pump back for another wave. It was a nice surprise on such a small foil, especially with all the turbulence in the water.
I found the MA1000 was my goto foil for winging, with a little more glide than the 800 it meant I could flag the wing more often and link bumps on the way downwind at speed. The build quality of the Armstrong setup is not to be overlooked, the shiny titanium hardware makes for solid connections throughout. Why do I mention this? It means you send it as absolutely high as possible without any fear of snapping, bending or damaging your foil on landing. Not something that can be said for all brands. The stiffness of the Performance Mast meant that loading up and popping for a jump felt super natural and the landings were smooth & controlled on the MA1000. Overall, a super fun foil to go winging on, it’s great to have a foil that will so easily cross disciplines.
Onto the MA1225, as I mentioned above, this was my weapon of choice for prone foiling and even doing shore runners. In fact, I set my shorerunner distance record with this foil in combination with the Flow 235 tail. I did find that the stall speed is slightly higher than some foils of this size, but as long as I kept it up to speed I could pump it for a fair distance. My favourite thing to do on this foil: connection turns. What a feeling to pump fast up to an oncoming wave and bank over hard for a frontside connection turn. The MA1225 does it really well, especially in combination with the 795 Performance Mast, that setup gave me a lot of confidence and I really felt I progressed in my turning capabilities on the wave riding this wing.
The MA foils deliver excellent glide, fluid carving, and fast ventilation recovery, making them a great choice for those looking to take their foiling skills to the next level. They’re versatile wings, with huge potential for downwinding without compromising on surf style. The stall speed is faster than some similar-sized wings but they make up for that in their aggressive turn capabilities and highly controllable top-end speed. The 795 Performance Mast is a next-level product that has to be ridden to be believed and with 3 new MA sizes just released: 625, 1475 & 1750, there are now even more options to suit your individual needs.
This review was in Issue 16 of Tonic Mag.For more information visit Armstrong Foils