At A Glance
Since F-ONE introduced the first edition of the Strike, it has been a firm favourite amongst wingers worldwide. Whilst the Strike has always been marketed as 'the ultimate performance wing' (and it doesn't disappoint in that regard), thanks to its balanced flight characteristics, predictable performance and light feeling, its performance can still be exploited by less experienced riders also. As a result, the third iteration features significant construction changes, and the size range has expanded to include everything from 2.0m-5.5m^2 in 0.5 increments (larger sizes up to 9.0 are covered by the new dedicated Strike CWC V3, which we'll cover separately).
F-One have gone to great efforts to optimise the panel layout and orientation to improve performance, increase rider comfort in challenging conditions and prevent deterioration of the wing's performance over time. F-One have focused a lot of its marketing on introducing a number of new canopy and load frame material weights used in different locations throughout the wing to increase stiffness only where required so as not to increase the overall weight unnecessarily. Whilst this significant change isn't visually obvious when you first pump up the wing, many other design details implemented to control canopy tension distribution are. One of the first things you'll notice is the 'load diffuser' on the back of the strut at the leech of the wing. This reinforced mylar and dacron section ties nicely to the radially cut canopy sections in this area. These panels have been arranged to ensure the material fibres are oriented in the direction of maximum stress within the canopy. It is worth mentioning at this point that F-One's objective with all this was not to make the stiffest wing possible, but this so-called 'adaptive wing design' promises the perfect balance between performance and comfort. So, how did it stack up on the water?
On The Water
The F-One Strike V3 will not be unfamiliar to those who have tried its older siblings. It is still a very nimble wing that feels light in the arms, balanced on the depower handle and manoeuvrable during turns. In addition, compared to previous versions, the response to input is even more instantaneous. This is likely a result of both the V3 handles (which are still lightweight 'soft handles' but have been 'rigidified') and the new design resulting in constant canopy tension irrespective of the wing's angle of attack.
Getting up on foil is one of the areas where the Strike benefits from a more experienced rider. It is powerful but benefits greatly from good pumping technique and is less of a 'pull and go' style of start. Once up and riding on foil, the wing has plenty of power and accelerates quickly. The wing is still comfortable when ridden at high speeds and goes upwind well with little effort. It feels more predictable than previous versions when you push your riding angle upwind closer and closer to the no-wind zone. The reduction in power as you try to pinch the wind a little too much is progressive. This makes what was already an enjoyable experience feel more refined.
The Strike remains a stand-out wing in terms of flagging it out once riding waves. The V3 feels very light on the arm when flagging on the depower handle and even more stable in roll. So much so that I found myself ensuring that I set the wing up nicely upon entry into the wave, as it will pretty much stay at whatever angle it is currently at when you transition to the depower handle. So if you set it horizontal in the beginning, it almost always stays there! When you're in more powerful waves or riding in on-shore conditions, the wing will flag behind you easily, especially if you keep your hand low. It took a few waves to get used to slotting my fingers into the depower handle, as the rigid handle seemed a little tighter. Still, the benefit of this comes when you wish to make adjustments to the wing's position or re-engage it when riding out the wave, as the response is immediate.
The 3rd version of the Strike sees a pretty significant refinement of a proven design. Time will tell as to whether the load diffuser, panel layout and new materials will keep these wings performing at their best over time, but it certainly gives that impression. The attention to detail is there, and looks very well put together. Whilst it is not the most' sheet and go' wing on the market, it has bags and bags of potential for whatever discipline you want to pursue and remains controlled in powered or gusty conditions. I'm sure the 3rd version will cement the Strike as a favourite amongst its existing users, and the refinements make it a realistic choice for ambitious beginners.
This review was in Issue 16 of Tonic Mag.For more information visit F-One