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Armstrong HS850 - One wing to rule them all!

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Created by djdojo 8 months ago, 27 Jan 2021
djdojo
VIC, 1592 posts
27 Jan 2021 11:39PM
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Style: Freeride strapless kitefoiling
Conditions: 12 - 25 knots
Setup: 100cm mast, 50cm fuse, 212 tail, +1 shim.
Kites: BRM Clouds 6.2 - 3.5
Board: Homemade pocketboard (95x47cm)
Level: Advanced
Disclosure: Was a satisfied retail customer, now a satisfied team rider, and I'd be riding Armstrong (and bombarding them with feedback and wish-lists) either way.

I've had six sessions so far on the HS850 and whilst I'm still getting to know it I feel compelled to begin singing its praises, and will update details as I get more hours in. KIT33R has already reviewed this wing and I agree with all of his comments. I'll go into a bit more detail here, specifically comparing it with the 1050 and 625 that I've reviewed earlier.

Short review: If you're an intermediate or better kite-foiler, buy this wing now and thank me later.

Long review: First up - this wing is slippery fast. Its lift to drag ratio is the highest of any wing I've ever ridden. That is to say it goes very fast without needing loads of power, its usable speed range is very wide, and it smashes upwind. Off the wind in swell this thing carves with great precision and drive - the more so the faster you go. For flat water blasting it's the best wing in the Armstrong range. For on-wave performance It'll be easiest to compare with the adjacent wings in the range.

Compared to the HS1050. These two wings are like brothers who are the same height, but one's a light heavyweight (the 1050) and the other's a welterweight (850). There are recognisable similarities in feel and capability, significant overlaps in range, but different areas of strongest performance.
The 850 will get going with barely more power than the 1050 and will go faster even in light winds.
The 1050 will point a bit higher, especially when underpowered.
On small waves the 1050 excels at hacking and rapid changes of angle and speed, almost pivoting on the spot. I feel like I'm almost abusive with the 1050 in lining up every little lump, whacking it as hard as I can and relying on the wing's grunt to keep me going for the fraction of a second of lowest speed before dropping down and accelerating. The 1050 harvests usable power from small waves in a way that the 850 does not. Running on kite power, the 850's speed will outrun small waves anyway whereas the 1050 will let you pull back and play on the face for longer. I want to see if I can push hacking turns harder on the 850 but so far the 1050 is ahead on that front.

Once we get to a solid 20 knots + from the south at my local, the waves get bigger and faster, eventually getting to where I have to point the 1050 straight in order to keep up with the faster sections, and in those conditions the 850 really shines. At that point its speed enables big fast swooping top to bottom turns, as well as letting you rapidly position yourself for steeper sections where the 1050 may not get you there in time. Dropping down steeper swell in this wind range the 850's lift remains controllable, giving you more choice as to which lines to take in situations where the 1050's lines will be dictated by survival rather than aesthetics.

The 850 now brings the sort of options into the 20-26 knot range that I'd previously only have had available on the 625 in 25+. For me these are the consciousness-altering sessions. I ride 7 or 8km upwind, head out next to the shipping channel where the swell is bigger, faster and cleaner, and ride back down - about a half hour of pure downwinding and the endorphins are off the charts! The 850, having significantly more lift available than the 625, reduces reliance on kitepower significantly earlier, making medium swell feel bigger. Dropping down a steep 2m swell in 25 knots and banking into a high-g-force bottom turn whilst downlooping the kite to sustain line tension is where the 850 lets you bend reality to your will.

As brilliant as it is, the 850 must have a top end, and I feel I've only touched on it in one session, so I'll have more to learn but here are my initial thoughts. I don't think I ran out of speed, I just had more lift than I wanted. In these conditions (wind over 25knots, swell over 2m) I feel I can hold the 625 down more easily and just stomp it through the gnarliest lumps and side-chop and turbulence. The 625 requires more power than the 850 to drive it at a given speed, but the flipside of that, once you have enough power and speed, is that the 625 will offer more control when the water is trying to push you around.

In summary, if I could only have one wing for my style and conditions, the HS850 would be it. As it is, I have the luxury of three wings and I'll be using them all. Photos to come. Hit me up with any questions, cheers.

dafish
NSW, 1579 posts
28 Jan 2021 7:51AM
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Did you modify your 625? Shame the HS850 wing was not available when I went to buy a wing that size. I have the CF800 and though I like this wing, I think I might have preferred the HS850.

KIT33R
NSW, 1705 posts
28 Jan 2021 9:35AM
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A very comprehensive review. As an intermediary foiler I am nowhere near finding the limits of the hs850. All I can add is that after using the 0 shim on hs232 for a couple of weeks I put on the +1. It is faster and I can get my back feet further back to make turns looser. I still have a habit of breaking out a wing sharp turns, which I'm working on. I found that the 0 shim more forgiving and less prone to venting. As djdodo says, if you can only have 1 wing this is a good start.

djdojo
VIC, 1592 posts
28 Jan 2021 8:38PM
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dafish said..
Did you modify your 625? Shame the HS850 wing was not available when I went to buy a wing that size. I have the CF800 and though I like this wing, I think I might have preferred the HS850.



Yes, 625 modified ages ago as per pics and description in this thread - www.seabreeze.com.au/forums/Kitesurfing/Review/Armstrong-Foil-100cm-mast-with-HS1050--HS625--CF800-Wings?page=1

You'll end up with an 850 at some point so you might as well make it sooner than later ;)
The CF800 isn't obsolete - in some ways it will give elements of the 1050's range. And if you want to pass it on I'd still recommend the CF800 as an excellent wing for beginners up to 85-90kg as well as a strong wind wave wing for riders who don't want the speed of the 850 or 625.

Steve Thomas 1
WA, 4 posts
30 Jan 2021 5:58AM
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Have you tried different shims? I've been riding mine on "0", but have just got the (-2) shim from WA Surf, and haven't tried it yet on the HS850. Loving this wing

ralphlong
WA, 26 posts
30 Jan 2021 1:02PM
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Thanks Djdojo for your review. It puts me in a bit of a dilemma. I have the 1050 HS wing and ride mostly in Perth ocean chop. I love it in most conditions but if powered the lift is a bit of a handful coming down a wave especially as I ride toeside coming in. I was planning to buy a smaller wing for higher wind and higher speed fun. What are your thoughts, if you already have the 1050 would you still buy the 850 for the windy days rather than the 625? I had planned the 625, but your review makes me wonder. I only want one more....

djdojo
VIC, 1592 posts
2 Feb 2021 10:15AM
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Steve Thomas 1 said..
Have you tried different shims? I've been riding mine on "0", but have just got the (-2) shim from WA Surf, and haven't tried it yet on the HS850. Loving this wing



Hi Steve, the shim equation is pretty straightforward - the more positive the shim angle, the faster and looser the ride will be. The more negative the shim angle, the more stability and lift you'll get, and the further forward you'll need to stand relative to the mast.

I ride the +1 with the 850 and add another plastic shim at the rear screw with the 1050 to take it to about +1.75. This is with the 50cm fuse and 212 tail, so I like my rig pretty loose. Intermediate kiters on the 850 will probably have the 60cm fuse and will find that the 0 shim will be good with the 212 or the +1 with the 232. Advanced kiters can get more looseness and speed by going to +1 with the 212 tail, and even looser with the 50cm fuselage.

If you're already a comfortable foiler the -2 will likely not be relevant for your 850. The only people I know of riding the -2 are heavier guys who are SUPing or winging on bigger front wings, or beginners who want maximum stability.

djdojo
VIC, 1592 posts
2 Feb 2021 10:34AM
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ralphlong said..
Thanks Djdojo for your review. It puts me in a bit of a dilemma. I have the 1050 HS wing and ride mostly in Perth ocean chop. I love it in most conditions but if powered the lift is a bit of a handful coming down a wave especially as I ride toeside coming in. I was planning to buy a smaller wing for higher wind and higher speed fun. What are your thoughts, if you already have the 1050 would you still buy the 850 for the windy days rather than the 625? I had planned the 625, but your review makes me wonder. I only want one more....


Yes, interesting choice. I'd consider the top end conditions you want to ride in. How many days per year is the 1050 becoming a handful, and by what margin?

Now that I have the 850, I'll generally only switch to the 625 once its a solid 25knots and I've switched down to my 2.8m kite. I ride the 625 up to 40 knots (2.2m kite) and I can't imagine the 850 being fun when it's that gnarly.

On the other hand, if it's only a few knots more wind and slightly bigger waves than are comfortable on the 1050, the 850 will definitely give you more control, less excess lift, and an ability to hang in there and choose your lines rather than ride straight to survive.

The 850 will feel more familiar coming from the 1050 and will still give you decent low end in the lulls. The low end of the 625 overlaps far less than the 850 with the range of the 1050, and it doesn't handle lulls nearly as well, but when conditions are giving me all the power I'll ever need, the 625 lets me charge with confidence.

There's no bad choice here, just a judgement on how many sessions per year will fall in the sweet spot for which wing.

windrider323
VIC, 36 posts
2 Feb 2021 9:46PM
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Dj
advice pls
I have the cf1200 and cf800
kite ocean swell & waves

i find the 1200 feels too big on swell but like the lift & glide
wondering if the HS1250 feels more controllable than the cf1200 on swell?Im thinking I might get the hs1050 or HS1250 as I am looking to change the cf1200
comments?
thx

djdojo
VIC, 1592 posts
2 Feb 2021 11:27PM
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windrider323 said..
Dj
advice pls
I have the cf1200 and cf800
kite ocean swell & waves

i find the 1200 feels too big on swell but like the lift & glide
wondering if the HS1250 feels more controllable than the cf1200 on swell?Im thinking I might get the hs1050 or HS1250 as I am looking to change the cf1200
comments?
thx


I've not ridden the 1200 or the 1250 but I've followed several threads in which they and the 1050 are discussed. I've gathered from these that the 1050 is nicer rail to rail than the 1250, with the 1200 somewhere in between, but the 1250 will have more glide than the 1200 and way more than the 1050. Many surfers still rate the 1200 very highly for all round blend of lift, control and turning responsiveness. The 1250 pumps the best, but that's hardly relevant for kiting.

At 80kg I can't imagine wanting to kite anything bigger than the 1050, but some people do. Dafish kites the 1250 so he may have more specific insight.

If you're heavier I'd say keep your 1200 for the smaller days and add an 850 for when it's bigger. The 850 has more lift and glide than your 800, and depending on your riding style and how much speed you like, the 800 may still have a place on the really big days when you want to slow things down.

If you're lighter, then the 850 and 625 would cover a huge range.

dafish
NSW, 1579 posts
3 Feb 2021 8:15AM
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My take on the HS1250...I have the 50 fuse and the 212 stab with +1 shim. I use this wing primarily when the wind is light and to pump from swell to swell. I bought this size so I could use it to wingding and prone surf foil, but it's super handy for really light days. The stall speed on this is almost a standstill. I am at 82 kilos using a 1 meter strapless pocket board when I kite . I have the cf 800 and the HS 650 (which I recently cut down the front wing and still haven't tried yet but did so after several sessions and a bit of strange vortexing I was getting). I purchased the cf800 because the HS850 was still not out for public yet. I have one on the way now and will more than likely sell the cf800. The CF is a great wing but a tad slow for what I want. I have ridden it in fun waves up to the 3 foot range, and on larger open ocean swells. Once I jump aboard the HS 850 I will have a better understanding between the two wings performance and can report back again. The real beauty of these Armstrong setups is the ease to swap out the wings between sessions or as the wind increases (or decreases). Most people that foil at my local only have one setup and aren't really interested in the vast variables you can attain with different wings. I like to swap things around, like using different tools for different jobs. Sure I could use a circular saw to cut an architrave and the results would be adequate, but it would be way more precise to use a drop saw. In saying that though, the wings are not cheap, and I do have. the luxury to purchase those things that are important to me. Any decent foiler would be happy with the cf 800.
WIndrider, I think if you find you are getting too much lift on the CF1200 then look at the HS1050. Most riders around here are pretty happy on a front wing in the 1000 cm2 range. It really will depend on whether or not you plan to use the foils for other disciplines.

djdojo
VIC, 1592 posts
8 Feb 2021 9:21AM
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Some pics for comparison - 1050, 850 and chopped 625.




ralphlong
WA, 26 posts
8 Feb 2021 3:07PM
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Really interesting to see the very different front on profiles. Can see why the 850 is way faster than the 1050.

djdojo
VIC, 1592 posts
9 Feb 2021 3:08PM
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The camera is centred on the 850 so the slight angle to the top and bottom wings probably makes them look a little thicker than they are, but yes, the 850 is a fair bit thinner than the 1050.

dafish
NSW, 1579 posts
13 Feb 2021 8:12AM
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Well damn, the HS850 is VERY nice. I have had a few runs on it now and it is silky smooth. Carves super well, nice and loose with the 212 and 50cm fuse. I was actually surprised how well this wing pumped. I have a CF800 that will be up for sale at a great price if anyone is looking for an intermediate/cruising wing. The HS series (without any winglets) is what I am sticking with.

live2play
4 posts
13 Feb 2021 12:12PM
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Has anyone ridden the Moses 695 and can compare it to the Armstrong HS850?

djdojo
VIC, 1592 posts
14 Mar 2021 12:55PM
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live2play said..
Has anyone ridden the Moses 695 and can compare it to the Armstrong HS850?




I've not ridden any Moses foils (allergic to Aluminium) but a mate demoed the 695. He's a good foiler with a fluid, carvy style. His report was that the 695 felt clunky and awkward rail-to-rail and he was sticking with his Axis rig. Hardly an in-depth report but it's all I got.
Rail-to-rail the 850 is pure joy across a big speed range.

live2play
4 posts
26 Mar 2021 11:32AM
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djdojo said..

live2play said..
Has anyone ridden the Moses 695 and can compare it to the Armstrong HS850?





I've not ridden any Moses foils (allergic to Aluminium) but a mate demoed the 695. He's a good foiler with a fluid, carvy style. His report was that the 695 felt clunky and awkward rail-to-rail and he was sticking with his Axis rig. Hardly an in-depth report but it's all I got.
Rail-to-rail the 850 is pure joy across a big speed range.


Thanks for the feedback... took the plunge and went for the HS850. Just coming off the Moses 695 so I should have a report as soon as the ice is off the water here in Canada!

djdojo
VIC, 1592 posts
27 Mar 2021 4:10PM
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You won't be disappointed. You'll want to mount it a couple of inches forward from where your Moses was, or stand a couple inches further back. Any shim and other tuning questions, here's a good place to ask. Enjoy!



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"Armstrong HS850 - One wing to rule them all!" started by djdojo