I’ve been trying to test as many foils as possible over the last year (23 and counting), both to better understand the pro’s and cons of different hydrofoil designs but particularly focusing on beginner foils so I can give better advice to our foiling clients (I make a series of foiling instructional videos
and run foiling coaching camps
). So I got a demo Blaster from Zeeko at the end of summer and managed to spend quite a few days riding it in flat water and also a day with larger waves and lots of whitewater. I tested in winds from 12-25 knots. I will be making a video review early next year but for now I thought I’d give a few of my thoughts as there seems to be some interest in opinions on the Blaster.
Fit and Finish
Getting it out of the bag to start with it’s a solid bit of kit, well made, fits together really nicely. The fuselage is shorter than any foil I’ve used before so I was interested to see how that worked. And the front and rear wings are made out of a solid piece of G10 - this along with the full aluminium setup means the foils is a little heavier than most but that is reflective in the price and ultimately had little effect on the performance when up and riding. The fact they make the wing out of solid G10 means they can add the texture to the surface which they say helps with cavitation (more on this and the weight later).
I didn’t get a Zeeko board so I rode it on my Shinn Jackson 130 (ABS style board).
Overall I really enjoyed riding the Blaster. It was incredibly easy to get onto and quickly find the balance (there are definitely some foils that need some practice to tame, the Blaster is not one off them). It generates a decent amount of lift but understandably for a 750 sq cm front wing it needs a bit of kite power and speed to keep it foiling. This means it doesn’t offer too many surprises when it comes to lift, which is good for the beginner/intermediate crowd, as you won’t get caught off guard if you get your weight slightly out of place.
The short fuselage combined with the flat profile of the front wing means its very carvey and you can feel confident pushing pretty hard around a turn. So a great foil to learn carves and tacks. It’s also got good directly stability at low to medium speeds, so learning/practising foot changes is pretty stable but when you start to load it up at faster speeds that shorter fuselage may give you the odd speed wobble - kicking you off on a foot change or when canted over and charging upwind. It is probably something you would get more under control as you ride it more and ultimately there has to be some compromise between directional stability and carve-ability. I think they have the balance setup pretty nicely and the advantages of the shorter fuselage do give this foil some unique and fun characteristics that are part of who it is targeted at.
One small thing that is worth noting is that the weight of the foil means it's not ideally suited to the low volume style of boards (like the Shinn Jackson I was riding) as it weights down the tail slightly which can make water starting a little more tricky in lighter winds. Riding it on a volume style board would be the better option and you’d not notice any of these issues.
I did get a chance to ride it in some surf - reasonable powerful waves, shoulder high and quite a lot of whitewater. I’d been out on a large surf wing which handles those conditions quite easily so was not expecting the Zeeko, with its smaller surface area and thinner profile, to do so well but I was pleasantly surprised. It tackled disturbed, aerated water reasonably comfortably and I felt in control and confident to carve onto waves both with kite power or without. It’s definitely a great all-around foil which gives you lots of confidence to try new things.
The textured surface of the wings, which is supposed to let you pop a wing tip out of the water and not get any cavitation and ultimately loss of lift does work on the whole. I also found when I fully breached the front wing, it would obviously drop but you could catch it again before you touched down, so water does seem to reattach to the wings pretty quickly.
Who’s it best for?
It’s definitely a good beginner foil - the lift comes on gradually so it shouldn’t surprise a beginner allowing for easy water starts, off the foil riding and getting those all important first runs on the foil. It also has a good compromise between straight line stability and some loseness (yaw/roll) which can be helpful for new foilers who are used to twintips or surfboard which compared to foils will slide around all over the place
I do think that less experienced kiteboarders, whose kite and board skills are not so great could benefit from a slightly larger front wing so they can ride slower, stay on the foil and have more time to get those kite foiling skills refined. This is something I think is missing from most foiling brands (and a large surf style wing is normally not gonna be helpful for these type of beginner foiler). But the compromise of a slightly smaller wing does work for the better kiteboarder who can persevere through a slightly harder initial learning curve and then have a foil that will last them into their intermediate stage of foiling.
So yes, its a good intermediate foil for those people who are looking for a loose freeride foil, which will allow you to learn all the different gybe and tack tricks. You'll be able to get in tune with it quickly, start improving and general riding doesn't require a lot of thought so you can focus on the areas you want to improve. If you are looking to go fast then its probably not for you (don't get me wrong it's fast enough for most) but maybe a good stepping stone so you can get your transitions sorted first. Also not ideal if you regularly want to foil in very light winds, both the weight and medium-lift mean there are probably better options.
What I’m finding is the choice of foil is a very personal decision, it's amazing how different people can love/hate the same foil - your background and experience in kiteboarding along with the conditions you ride in have a huge impact on what will work best for you.