Is it all what it’s Kraken up to be?
Admittedly, when I first saw the promotion of the new Sabfoil Kraken mast solution, I thought why change something that works perfectly good as it is. Eventually, curiosity got the better of me and I decided to try out the Kraken solution (firstly for wing foiling).
I chose a 73cm mast, when mounted to the base plate adds 3cm so it actually measures 76cm, which is perfect for the depth of West Kirby Lake (my local winging spot).
Compatibility: You cannot mix and match the 1 and 2 series with the Kraken. In other words, you have to buy a new Kraken fuselage to mate with the thicker M8 style mast head. However, you can use all of your existing front wings/foils and stabilisers, with the exception of the 670. Any front wings that have holes to suit M6 screws need to be drilled and countersunk to accept the M8 screws. The two front wings I use for winging (W945 and W799) already had the correct size holes to suit the M8 screws.
The first thing you notice with the Kraken fuselage is how solid the connection is with the mast. Unlike the previous systems, which have a tapered fitting between the mast and fuselage, the Kraken has a thicker parallel mating system and employs two M8 screws to fix the parts together. The new Kraken design prevents the front screw from becoming loose during a session (this was always a problem with the previous design). In addition, it is no longer necessary to hit the underside of the fuselage to release the tapered fitting between the mast and fuselage when dismantling. Instead, after removing the M8 screws, the two parts come apart smoothly with minimal force.
The vertical angle of the Kraken mast is similar to the 2-series, whereas the 1-series mast leans to the rear. Therefore, if replacing a 2-series mast with a Kraken one, the mast will be in the same position. However, if replacing a 1-series mast, the position of the Kraken needs to be moved approximately 35mm to the rear of the board tracks to achieve a similar center of lift from the foil. The Kraken mast plate has 4 additional mounting holes which allows the mast to be positioned 30mm further forward or to the rear compared to the series-1 and 2. This provides more adjustment to suit the riders weight and choice of foils.
The new baseplate is supplied with countersunk M8 screws. Pay attention to the length of the screws; I found that the screws were a few mm too long, and when tightened they were bottoming out in the board track. A second base plate which I purchased a few months later, came with the correct screw length for my board (perhaps this is now standard, but to be on the safe side, just check).north
Quick Release: Unfortunately, being one of the first UK users at the time of buying my Kraken setup, the quick release (QR) fixing pin wasn’t available. Instead I had to use the screws provided to fix the mast to the base plate. Some may think this is a good idea, and would save you from buying the QR pin, I on the other hand found it to be frustrating having to use the conventional mounting method of 4 screws and T-nuts into the board tracks (not benefiting from reduced assembly time).
When the QR pin arrived, I was a little disappointed to find out that a different allen key size was required compared to the one used for the M8 fuselage base plate screws. To overcome this disappointment, I have designed an alternative that uses the same 5mm allen key as the other screws. The alternative QR is available from Northernkites.
The initial setup of the QR system takes 10 mins, but from then on it’s such a nice system that not only saves you a lot of time in assembling/dismantling, but also ensures your mast is always in the correct position. This statement is assuming you are not using different foil setups that require the mast to be repositioned in the tracks.
If you intend to use the Kraken for both winging and kite foiling, then I recommend buying a base plate for each board. This ensures you fully benefit from the QR system and reduces the need to remove the mast track screws and T-nuts. Obviously, washing the base plate with fresh water will reduce the chance of any salt build up, but I would still recommend removing the baseplate every 8 weeks and giving it and the screws/T-nuts a good clean with fresh hot water.
On the water: At first you may not notice much of a difference between the older 1 and 2-series masts as most riders adapt to what they are using, and to be honest the former masts are still good. But after 2 to 3 sessions you will start to feel that your gybes and tacks are so much smoother. The main reason for this is because the Kraken profile is more streamline than the 2-series and much stiffer than the 1-series. As it’s stiffer, it allows you to feel the forces of the foil more and gives you confidence to go faster during the transitions. The improved profile also reduces drag and potential ventilation.
The Kraken system allows you to feel more in control, it’s as if the board, mast, fuselage and foil are all one component. I wouldn’t say the Kraken is any quicker than the 1-series, but it does give you more confidence to go faster for longer. I can confirm that when I am pushing things to the limit and get a twitch (breaching the foil) I more than often recover, whereas in the past it would be time to hit the eject button, or worse still, crash with no warning.
Before the release of the Kraken, I was never a big fan of the 2-series masts and even reverted back to the 1-series after trying them many times. The problem I had, both for wing and kite foiling, was that at high speeds >23kts and when leading up to a jump, the 2-series masts would ventilate. I never had this problem with the 1-series and confirm the Kraken mast does not suffer from this phenomenon.
Additional Masts: It wasn’t long before I decided to change my 91 mast for a 93 Kraken to use for kite foiling or when winging in deeper waters. As with the winging experience, I found the new Kraken allowed for faster transitions and provided a more solid feeling overall. Landing big jumps is more positive as you feel the forces applied to the foil through the Kraken fuselage, mast, base and into the board. This then allows you to precisely apply the correct amount of pitch, roll and yaw to ensure you are immediately back up on the foil and up to speed (if not already).
I personally find owning both a 73 mast and 93 mast fulfils all of my needs for freeride wing and kite foiling. However, some riders may prefer the longer 103 which provides more margin for error in choppy seas, but remember you will need to body drag further out before starting! I’ve always found that I can jump higher on 91 mast vs 101 or 93 vs 103 due to the reduction in overall weight and less swing weight.
Travel: is more practical with the Kraken setup than the previous 1 and 2-series. This is because the base plate is detachable so the mast can lie flat on the board (taking up less room). In addition, If you are travelling with a second mast, then the Kraken solution reduces the overall weight and saves on space as only one base plate is required.
Strength: although the kraken setup is a little heavier than the 2-series and possibly 25% heavier than the 1-series, each screw is twice as strong. Using M8 screws, especially with the bigger wing foil wings, provides 100% confidence that something isn’t going to break. Although the Kraken is heavier, most of the weight is in the base plate which doesn’t seem to affect the ability to jump high and carrying the board isn’t really a big difference. It is also worth noting that threaded inserts in the mast are replaceable (barrel nuts can be easily be replaced, unlike the older systems which were bonded into position).
- If you’re starting out and have a set budget then buying used 1-2 series is fine and you will have lots of fun with plenty of scope to progress to a very high level.
- If you intend to use your gear for both winging and kite foiling, then it is worth spending the extra and purchasing a Kraken system.
- If you travel and like to use two or more masts and want to save time at the beach setting up, then the kraken system is for you.
- If you’re after a little more control then the stiffer and improved profile will allow you to progress with more ease.
- If you like to jump then using the Kraken will not only eliminate possible breakages but it will also provide a better feel for the takeoff and landing.
- Overall I am very happy with the Kraken system and would recommend it to anyone who is trying to decide whether to buy one or not; just go for it, as I am quite sure you will experience the same benefits as I do.
One system three disciplines!
KITE FOIL / WING FOIL / PUMP FOIL