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Takuma are not a brand who cause too much confusion with their line-up of foils. There are not hundreds of front wing, rear wing and stabilizer options to navigate, and you don’t need to spend three hours on the beach discussing your set up with fellow foilers before you get in the water. They are a brand with a “trust us on this one: go ride it” attitude to foil design. We’ve been with them on their Kujira journey since day one. The Kujira Helium was a revolutionary foil in this particular tester’s winging journey. Stepping from a ‘big’ learning wing down to the Helium 1500 was a Eureka moment and immediately sold the Kujira concept to me. The bumps on the leading edge (inspired by humpback whales) have gone from being a slightly kooky design feature to the core of Takuma’s design project and – if my winging exploits a couple of years back aren’t proof enough (!) – then you only have to check out what their team riders are up to in Tahiti to see that these wings definitely work… And they do provide an exceptionally smooth ride.
We enjoyed the Kujira 1 foils when they arrived and had moved in a more HA direction, and then enjoyed them more when the new carbon mast arrived so – to cut a long story short – we were pretty excited when the Kujira II foil set arrived… Marketing bumph aside, this is very much a ‘new’ approach to the foil rather than just a front wing evolution. The carbon mast is backward compatible with V1, but that’s it. The new system has been a few years in the making, and the The Kujira II has an all-new fuselage, and the rear wing has moved from sitting on the bottom of the fuse, to sitting on the top. The back wings are now all tailored to the front wings too, I guess you could switch them around but they’ve been designed to use paired up, with every size front wing having a specific back wing partner in crime. We had the 950 Front Wing and the 36 Back Wing on test. The last Takuma wing we tested was the 1095HA and, next to this, the 950 looks significantly more ‘mid aspect’ with a much carvier look. We tested the 950 both winging and prone foiling on the 85cm mast.
Assembly is straightforward with the front wing attaching with two M8 bolts and the stab with just one – the fuse having a cut out into which the back wing sits and is then secured with the one bolt. Initial thoughts were that this could result in some lateral movement but it is in fact very secure with no movement and is an impressive minimalist approach to attaching the stabilizer. The mast has two bolts and, once assembled, the set up feels very secure and looks super sleek.
Our first session with the Kujira was on the wing and the characteristics of the Kujira – and the evolution from V1 – is immediately evident: this is a much more lively foil! It comes up early, and it comes up quickly. The relatively small stabilizer provides minimum resistance and the acceleration and forward momentum is immediate. Where the Kurija II differs is that it doesn’t just keep on rising, it gets to a nice ride height and then requires minimum input to bring under control. Overall it ‘feels’ tuned in and very high performance, but is actually quite hard to go wrong with! Once you realize this then you can really begin to push the envelope in terms of rolling into turns and carving through transitions. For an advanced rider there is plenty of performance, but for an intermediate you will quickly feel like there is a lot more that you can do…
For prone foiling we were a little concerned that it was going to pop up too quickly on the take off but actually, as soon as you have both feet on the board, it provides a lovely injection of speed if you need to clear the whitewater and then it takes off like a rocket. For turns, you can bank it hard and it will keep going and push back intuitively at you allowing for critical maneuvers and giving some nice ‘surf style’ feedback. The pumpability is solid, with a relatively quick cadence producing a controllable and rapid return to the take-off zone leaving you with enough energy to go again…
Overall we found the Kurija II to be an excellent step forward, both in terms of the new direction with the set-up of the wings and the fuse, but also in terms of the relative ease of use coupled with impressive performance characteristics.
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