View Full Version : N20rbit - Foilfreak Review

07-31-2010, 10:41 PM
7/31/2010 ... Hammerhead & UFO in the mail. Hammerhead bolted to the salt-water setup (LE38 with stock Foiltech Rear Wing)....

When I first saw pictures of the Hammerhead, I looked at the leading edge radius and realized... hey, this one looks interesting! At first, I figured this could be the next big thing, but there are probably 5 things that suck about it (you learn this type of attiude after testing new/prototype hydrofoil equipment over the years, lol). After the N2Orbit crowd started raving about the Hammerhead, I've been thinking that maybe this wing has more positives than negative...gotta check it out.

Why was I intrigued by the leading edge radius?

Because of cavitaion--the underwater air bubbles that cause instability for us foilers. Most people don't notice this, because it mainly affects our landings. The reason I say this is because most people go out and huck a trick... if they land the trick, that's a freaking great thing!!! Whoohoo ...but did you think about how clean the landing was? Did the ski bobble up and down...side-to-side... did the rope tug the rider forward with 3 board slaps? This is the stuff to pay attention to with all these great new wings! It is one of the big differentiators.

So what does the leading edge of the Hammerhead and cavitation have to do with each other?

In 2005, Garry from Australia (Foiltech) made this radical new wing... the B3F. It stood for, Big F'ing Front Foil. It was a game changer. It had a much larger leading edge radius than any other front foil (most foils at the time had pointy noses). It was made of 7075 aluminum and everything else at that time was either 6061 AL or cast 357a Aluminum. The B3F didn't have winglets, and everything else had downward-winglets since 1998! This B3F wing had a completely different top shape with razor sharp leading and trailing edges....this new wing went against all sit-down hydrofoil expert's opinions of how to make a front wing, at that time!! Garry's new wing changed the game!!!!

At that time, the design of the Foiltech B3F and how it greatly improved certain aspects of foiling made some people think... think about how this was good, but also it can be better... Sky Ski, Xtreme, & N2Orbit all challenged Foiltech's new design, and Foiltech wasn't standing still. Over the next 4 years, several upgrade designs were introduced in response, by all manufacturers.

One problem -- the new, larger leading edge radius design (B3F) had a flaw, and every wing manufacturer copied it...whether they knew it or not, the flaw was there in one way or another. This large leading edge radius design had a lot of benefits, but it also held onto cavitation. The cavitation seemed to grab onto the leading edge radius of the front wing near the 4th bolt hole. 4th bolt hole? Yeah, count the bolt holes from the t-bar/fuselage junction upward -- then draw a straight line from the 4th bolt hole--out to the edge of the wing (toward the wingtip). This spot boiled cavitation on some landings and wouldn't let go of it very easily. If you had a sharp leading edge, the cav would boil over the wing -- if it was a dull/rounded leading edge, it would go under the wing (generally speaking). It if the cav went over the wing, it kept trying to push the rider upward into a jump... if it went under the wing, it potholed, i.e. board slappps -- basically speaking. most people didn't recognize the problem (e.g. either because every flip was followed by a jump on the new wings or because the old Sky Ski/Air Chair wings cavitated so bad underneath the wing...boardslapppps---but hey, I landed it!!)!!

So after reading and comprehending the above statements...and looking at the leading edge radius of the Hammerhead in the picture below -- what comes to mind?

Yeah!!! If you have been paying attention, you should have answered... the leading edge radius doesn't drop below the 4th bolt hole, so therefore you should get the all the great benefits of having a LARGE radius front wing and eliminate/minimize landing cavitation!!!, so you can RELY on swoop combos and buttery-smooth landings on your most difficult tricks. Think about it!! What have the new front wing wings been trying to accomplish in order to eliminate landing cavitation over the last 5 years?? --different trailing edge designs, thick wingtips, upward winglets, vortex generators... AND now, the Hammerhead -- a completely, and totally different front wing design that really borrows from no-one. It has a leading edge radius that no one has ever tried -- a thick wingtip design that N2Orbit first brought to market with the XXX front wing -- and a trailing edge that no one has ever done before. This wing is so different, it looks friggen ugly, but I think it is ugly only because it is that much different, which might be the next cool looking...

Please realize that... I have never ridden this wing yet. I will let you know if it sucks. I just get hyped up in my own mind like this sometimes...maybe I shouldn't share it with everyone. I do hope this sucker performs! I been intrigued by this wing for a few months... I love the concept!! Dammit, just work...don't make me look like an idiot.

More reviews on the way -- I also have a N2Orbit UFO rear wing in hand....and hopefully the N20rbit Fuse T-bar on the way... I'm going to test them for a while -- I'm not going to give them the 10 minute test!!! Be patient -- more info on the way.

** Part 2 ... 1st N2Orbit Hammerhead Tests @ Firebird 8/1 **

I only tested the Hammerhead, so the setup was LE38 bar (stock, not tuned + Anodized with no tuning) and a stock '07 Foiltech rear with some minor edge tuning after anodizing. First, without going in great detail, Firebird has very unique water, but I've tested a ton of wings in this water and in fresh water... so over the years, I have a feel for switching between Firebird water and a "standard" fresh water lake.

The Hammerhead is a really good wing. It will fly/cut nicely through the water and the take-offs are very powerful and predictable. But, none of that really differentiates it from the Foiltech Upward Winglet or the Xtreme Raptor. It is really in the same class of as the other wings in terms of slow boat speed, big take-off power. But, this leads me to my first point...

A lot of people say "Try all of the new wings, they are all good (or maybe hard to tell which one is really "best"). I can see how people make this statement, because all of the wings take-off with good pop--they are going to get you high in the air without going 30mph! You can start to get into detail here and say which ones go steeper easier -- which can be good or bad, depending on what trick you are trying to throw... but I'm not going into this detail here. The point is ... these 3 newest wings I've tested from -- Foiltech, Extreme, N2Orbit -- get you high in the air at slower speeds (i.e. less than 26mph).

The 2nd point... Why are there a bunch of N2Orbit fanboys ranting about these wings on the forums?

Back to the 1st point... pop/take-off is really good. I can see how many people would like that. Once you are in the air, the wings don't matter (except for swing weight), so how do they land? I've read posts about N2Orbit wings being "forgiving." What does that really mean? Obviously, people think that the wings are helping them land tricks they don't think they should be landing... but how? You already know (from above) that I already believe that most people don't pay enough attention to how clean their landings are!!

Hammerhead landings: A couple years of ago, I would have categorized the Hammerhead landings as ...not optimal... But, with a lot of riders stating that they like the Hammerhead landings, it made me think twice. I would categorize the Hammerhead landings as a "boardslapper" -- which means, this wing requires at least a single board smack to clear the cavitation and regain flight (for most tricks). Versus what? Well, a "re-launcher"... sending you back up into the air to regain flight.

Every front wing is in complete failure mode when switching from air to water, i.e. landing a trick. How a wing reacts to this failure situation is a big differentiator in wings, in my opinion. When a wing is having trouble fixing this failure mode, you really have two major issues for the rider--boardslapping or re-launching -- Both of these are because the wing is trying to clear the air that is impeding the flow the water over the surface of the wing. Usually, this is because there is air (cavitation) engulfing an entire surface or both surfaces of the wing at once.

--Now, back to the first part of the review where I wrote about wingtip cavitaion -- Wingtip cav is bad because *ONLY PART* of the wing has cavitation (air bubbling), leaving the rest of the wing with water flow. This could send the rider left or right (especially scary during a swoop combo)...or it can develop into a full surface cavitation when the rider leans over to cut after landing -- then bam, they fall down. The 4th bolt hole cavitation I wrote about earlier is a partial wing surface cav that some people have been fighting to fix over the years. I was NOT able to reproduce the partial wing cavitation with the Hammerhead on this test. Most of the time, I can produce this problem quickly when testing wings, so I'm pretty confident that this leading edge profile has a lot of potential for future wings. Good job on this Marty/Greg....

OH I WENT OVER 10,000 characters and lost about 1500 characters of typing!!!! What a drag!!!!!! NEVER TO BE FOUND AGAIN.... it was the best part -- showing more gratitude to N20rbits work...

07-31-2010, 10:41 PM
So if there is no wingtip cav (at least in my initial tests), why is it a boardslapper?

…because the cavitation engulfs both the top and bottom surfaces of the front wing until the board smacks surface of the water. This clears the cavitation from the front wing, so water flows properly over the surfaces again.

What is wrong with the wing being a boardslapper?

This is the real question. I used to have “the answer”, but now it seems to be just another opinion… :smile: Is a boardslapper landing better than a re-launcher? When the B3F came out, it was the first re-launcher – it was different, the way of the future…boardslapping was bad! At least, that was the thought over the last few years. But now, I’m thinking…is it bad, or just a preference on how you want your foil to land?

I can give some examples of why I choose a re-launcher over a boardslapper:

I don’t need the extra time on the landing that a boardslapper gives…I’m ready to land and keep cutting, without worrying about getting a solid board tap.

I do a lot of line tension critical tricks in the flats, which can cause some line slack on landing and deceleration of the foil relative to the boat. In this situation, Boardslappers can take 2 or 3 smacks to regain flight, which kills a fair bit of time to cut into the wake for the next trick or makes the look look less smooth, less stylish.

Boardslappers can cause you to bury the tip too much on sketchy landing and not recover, i.e. I can recover from a relaunch easier than submerging the tip.
Boardslapper … Relauncher – Is it really that big of a deal? Now, I think it is more of a preference… I think people of any skill can learn to ride either equally well (assuming the wing isn’t too much of a boardslapper/relauncher.)

2 more points…but I’ll save them for later: Winglets (I like them), and Hammerhead with swoop combos.

The detail of their designs and nice CnC machine work really shows with the wings I have right now. They are definitely paying attention to detail in their work. I am really looking forward to testing the entire N2Orbit foil setup, rather than just bolting a front wing onto an existing setup. I am waiting on the N2Orbit Fuse t-bar to run the complete setup through the freshwater. Based on the testing of the Hammerhead, I am definitely excited about riding the entire foil assembly... N2Orbit definitely has something good going on.

8/13/2010 - N2Orbit Fuse T-bar arrived ... complete N2Orbit assembly is here ... see pics.

Check out the packing job on that t-bar!!!

8/23/2010 - Testing & Evaluation complete ...

Results - I bought the N2Orbit Fuse t-bar. It is really nice. It has replaced my LE38 t-bar for my salt water setup. I sent the Hammerhead and UFO back -- I'll be riding Foiltech wings on the N2Orbit bar in the great salt pit, Firebird Lake.

First, details on the N2Orbit Fuse t-bar ...


- Weight is nice...right under 10lbs. You can see it is nearly 1 pound lighter than the new '09 Foiltech t-bar (see attached pictures). Garry will need to mill out some weight on the top of the bar to keep up with the N20 bar.
- Fuselage...this bar is milled from 1 inch plate and the fuselage flares out toward the top to give a thicker platform for the wing to sit on. This helps stiffen the fuselage against breakage and twist/twang on takeoff/landing.
- Detail...there is a lot of attention to detail on this bar, like the nicely milled top to reduce weight. The strut thickness and width changes from top to bottom, along with the leading edge tuning...no real flat spots on the fuselage...which ALL seems to help give it a very smooth feel when flying through the water.


- Brand new ... it doesn't have 3 years of the top riders pounding away at it in various different waters like the Foiltech and LE38. There may not be any negative quirks, but if there are, we don't know about them yet. But with that said, I have confidence in this t-bar! I bought it!!
- 2 sets of rear bolt holes ... I am not a big fan of this, because it removes material in an area where we shouldn't be removing material due to the shear stresses on ANY fuselage. I don't think it is necessary to have two sets of bolt holes for rear wing adjustments. The reason for this has to do with rider/wing balance and wheel base. I'll explain this a bit more, below...

Why did I send the Hammerhead and UFO wings back?

These are nice riding wings, but the main reason for sending them back was how much material these wings put in front of the rider. I have not been a big fan of this since the '03 Batwing (remember the Terrible Todd mod trying to "fix" this), or when I was testing wings in the forward bolt holes of the B39.

What does all of the wing material in front of the rider do that is negative?

First, it shifts the balance point of the foilers body out of center of control and puts power of the wings more toward the feet. Isn't this just increased lift? Sure, lift is increased, but at the sacrifice of pushing the balance point forward. There are better ways to increase lift that keeps the balance point under the core of the rider. With the wings far forward, it is easier for riders to get the foil steeper on exit...feel the pop...and I can see how people like that. When you land and the foil regains flight, it feels like it is popping a wheelie, i.e. climbing (but not relaunching). Sure you can get used to that, but I'm only describing that "wheeling popping" for another point I am going to make later.

The real negative point is on GAINER landings or SWOOP combo attempts. When you have too much material out front, the landings on a gainer or swoop attempt can instantly cleanup and push the foil/ski upward, while your body is still coming down for the landing. You experience a massive jarring of your body and it isn't very good on foil equipment either!! This is the biggest problem. If you do get a nice swoop entry (much greater margin of error with more material out in front of the rider), you really have to concentrate on getting the board to touch the water on the transition, otherwise you'll be heading back up with the strut halfway in the water.

Another point is really about take-off technique...I'll give it a try in writing, but I'm not sure if it will make sense. The concept is that you want the momentum of your upper body to push all of it's force on the front wing, in line with the strut, when you change direction on exit. It's like when people lay back too fast when learning to backflip, they kill their height -- They aren't using their upper body weight to push against the front wing during exit. It is a similar concept if you have too much wing out in front of the rider. To correct the balance point when you take-off, you have to get your shoulders forward of the strut to keep up with the wing exit. Not a major problem, but just not optimal (or balanced).

So take a look at the attached pictures. You'll see the N2Orbit Hammerhead and the Foiltech Fuselage Snapper front wings with their bolt holes lined up. You can see how much more wing material is pushed forward versus the Foiltech wing. Also, look at the difference in the Foiltech Snapper Rear wing on top of the N2Orbit UFO rear wing. With the leading edges aligned, you can see how the Foiltech rear wing swoops back to put more material behind the rider.

3 years ago, I started moving all of my seat plates on my towers forward 3/4 of an inch so I could sit further forward over the front wings...to help counter-act the large radius wings like the Foiltech B3F pushing all of this material out front -- I just wanted to mention that I tested the N2Orbit wings with this modification.

The Wheelbase

I mentioned the "wheelie popping" feeling on landings when the wings have a lot of material in front of the rider. When you land, the tip of the board climbs like you are popping a wheelie -- not a re-launch. I couldn't get rid of the wheelie pop with the Hammerhead/UFO combination, so I put the Foiltech front wing on, which brought some of the material back toward me. Then I took the UFO and put it in the back bolt holes with the #8 rear wing spacer (N2Orbit have 4 different wing spacers that are reversible, which gives you 8 different ajustments for your wheelbase.) This have about a 12" wheelbase (measured from trailing edge of the front wing, to the leading edge of the rear wing...along the fuselage). At the 12" wheelbase, I started to feel the wheelie popping go away, i.e. the balance point was moving back toward my core and away from my feet.

So the Xtreme Team has done a lot of experiementing with the optimum wheelbase for their wings -- there are a lot of variables to this like... board weight, seat height, rider weight, foot binding position, wing types. But even with all the variables, 10.5 inch wheelbase seemed to be a sweetspot for controlling steepness, quick exit, balanced exit... I started experimenting with measuring the wheelbase -- I ended up at 10 3/4 inch wheelbase with a completely different setup and Foiltech wings. When you start getting out to a 12 inch wheelbase, the take-off gets too slow, i.e. it starts to affect the balance point of the take-off exit. If you have wheelbase in the 9 inch range, again, it also starts to affect the balance in the opposite way.

So the point of this wheelbase discussion... for the UFO/Foiltech front wing combination to be more balanced, the front wing would need to be pulled back about an inch or so -- this would get rid of the "wheelie pop", i.e. too much material in front of the rider, and it would put the wheelbase closer to the 10.5 inch range, which is a range that would most likely balance the take-off quickness. I think attention to these balances will help foil designers and testers make wings that perform for a wider range of people.

07-31-2010, 10:42 PM
Moving the Seat Plates Forward

One thing I just remembered... after my fresh water Sky Ski EVO tower broke for the 3rd or 4th time, I decided to build a carbon tower. When I built the carbon tower, I moved the bushing sockets about 3/4 inch further forward than where the EVO rail holes are drilled. So not only are my seat plates up 3/4 of an inch from stock, the carbon tower is another 3/4 inch further forward than the EVO. My fresh water setup is about an 1.5 inches further forward than a stock EVO setup. All of this customized seat setup is to help get to a nice balance point for the rider (in combination with the newer, bigger wings that keep pushing more material forward in front of the rider).

With that said, I have never ridden a more balanced setup (controllable setup) than the Foiltech Fuselage Snapper wings on my custom carbon ski (except for a lightweight 24-pound carbon fiber foil setup). So should wing builders pull the material back, or should the seat plates on the towers move forward? If seat plates move forward, then our body position might be in a better place to help counter-act some of the board swing weight in the air. I'm not sure what would be optimal, but I do know that I like moving the seat plates forward.

8/25/10 - Attached a clip of the N2Orbit fuse riding out in the Firebird salt-pit. The BnC is a trick that will bring out the worst in a t-bar at Firebird, because cutting into the flats while wrapped and getting a solid take-off is difficult (and very noticable) when a t-bar doesn't ride straight!!


07-31-2010, 10:42 PM
again, again, reserved...

08-01-2010, 08:01 AM
Thumbs Up!!!

08-01-2010, 02:56 PM
I have a XXX if you want to give it a review too. I'll be in CO for a while Working but if I make it home in time I would like to give the HH a shot too.

I'm looking forward to your review.

08-01-2010, 10:16 PM
Your garage is like the Bat Cave, full of neat toys.Good luck with the wings.

08-02-2010, 12:55 PM
What have the new front wing wings been trying to accomplish in order to eliminate landing cavitation over the last 5 years?? --different trailing edge designs, thick wingtips, upward winglets, vortex generators... AND now, the Hammerhead -- a completely, and totally different front wing design that really borrows from no-one.


You've exposed N 2 Orbit's fundamental secrets!! :cool2: However, you were too quick to assume we discovered them on the Hammerhead or even the xXx. Actually, the features you described in your review were refined in every front wing Marty and I have ever cnc machined. Our front wing designs have been a slow progression of varied broader and larger shapes. The leading edge concept has remained fairly constant in every design.

N2O has developed these ideas for almost three and a half years now. Our first prototypes (#1-Monster and #2-Switchblade) were machined in April 2007. We've always advocated on these forums that even though our shape might first appear similar to other wings on the market, the hydrodynamic principles of our wings are different (I wish foilfreaks was still up for reference). You explained exactly why we've been so adamant our products have always been unique. I'm preparing a detailed article showing just how close the xXx, C4, and Hammerhead are related to the original Switchblade. I have a lot of comparison drawing to make so it might be a week or so.

I hope you enjoy the hammerhead.

08-03-2010, 06:16 AM
Nice story and a nice retrospect on a part of the Hydrofoiling history.
There are really some truths in this report, few issues which haven’t discovered enough and there are points which I’m disagree.

You talking a lot about cavitation and it appears that the physical effects and backgrounds are fairly not fully clear.

One thing first: Beside all theory I am caring a lot how the stuff rides and feels in the water and how it comes out in real live.

In which way your assumption is proven that capitation appears on the bottom side of the wing?

„Cavitation is the formation of vapor bubbles of a flowing liquid in a region where the pressure of the liquid falls below its vapor pressure.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cavitation

On the bottom side of the wing you have high pressure and on the top side you have low pressure. So having cavitation on the bottom side may be hard to explain. Well I will not saying you can’t have air bubbles on the bottom side – but if there are and if those are cavitation they break up very very very quick because of the pressure. On the top side the bubbles stay way longer (because of the low pressure).

Physically cavitation bubbles are a water vapor phase and no 'air', and on the bottom side can not exist in higher pressure.

The bubbles on the top of the wing breaking up the flow over it and the low pressure which keeps you ‘flying’ and generating the up force against the gravity too.
The result is ‘board slappps’.
And not any mystic thing on the bottom side.

I’m agree that the leading edge of a front wing also plays a roll about cavitation. You have a local point with high pressure and a high pressure gradient to low pressure and the bubble just starts were the low gradient starts (top side).
The flow over the wing is the topic and not ‘stories’ about the bottom side.

Another note to bubbles and cavitation. When the wing enters the water a lot of unstationary highly complex physics going on. To solve it fully and answer it will cost a lot $$$. I did some CFD of wings, also with full cavitation modeling (water – water vapor –air) and been spending a lot of man power + compute time on this topic, only by working on a few questions on the carve and wingtip design.

The Foiltech B3F was a real game changer for sure and it is not on the market any more since long time. So I think it is ok to show that this wing had problems on the top contour. Garry been solving this in later versions of his wings and it was solved. Yes Garry is on of the best foil-shaper today whit a lot of practice experience.

I think everyone has to thank N2O that they trying something ‘new’. And for me the wing shape is also very interesting. The Wing shape puts the wing-center more forward. The same concept been used by Geno’s G38 having additional bold holes more forward. This more forward wing-center makes the setup way quicker.

I really like to test ride the new wing too. A friend of mine is riding N2O wings since more than a year and he had this wing, but unfortunately he has been sending it back before I have been riding it. Hmm, I may have to order one myself too.

So after all the theory it is getting time go out on the water an enjoying all the nice stuff and the physical forces of it, let’s ride today.

08-03-2010, 04:46 PM
FYI - I did test the N2Orbit Hammerhead... I've got some stuff to type up, but have been a bit busy lately. Heinrich, I'll reply to your cavitation questions in a different thread, if you want to start one, so we don't clutter up this thread.

08-03-2010, 11:35 PM
I updated the review, but I lost about half of it, because I went over the 10,000 character limit -- dammit. I guess that will teach me to use Word instead of the forum editor and cut/paste!

08-04-2010, 01:41 AM
It was only 1am! You should have re-typed it and then went to bed.

08-04-2010, 06:06 AM
I updated the review, but I lost about half of it, because I went over the 10,000 character limit -- dammit. I guess that will teach me to use Word instead of the forum editor and cut/paste!

Looking forward to seeing the other half.

08-04-2010, 07:19 AM
I updated the review, but I lost about half of it, because I went over the 10,000 character limit -- dammit. I guess that will teach me to use Word instead of the forum editor and cut/paste!

I would just like to say thanks for taking the time to produce a real meat and potato's review of this product! While "pop" and "forgiving" are generic terms that can be likened to a movie review i.e. "two thumbs up" your comprehensive review provides much more to work with.

Always save your word doc and make sure it posts before deleting! I wrote a story for a friend of mines daughter who has Leukemia and posted it to her caring bridge website and did the same thing! That feeling of dismay when you see the message you exceeded the character limit and subsequent attempts at salvage is near and dear to me...

08-04-2010, 10:22 AM
Bryan - thanks for taking the time to do the testing and post your results (partially :-) )

A few questions:

Will you be trying the HH with any of the N2O rear wings?
Are you planning on purchasing a setup based on your experience?

08-13-2010, 03:02 PM
N2Orbit Fuse T-bar just arrived ... couple of pics up the the second message here:


08-13-2010, 03:15 PM
That's quite a packing job!!!

08-13-2010, 07:29 PM
Wow, I didn't even know the lighter version of the FUSE-39 was under ten pounds! I have been estimating the Fuse's weight to be: 10 pounds 4 ounces! Thanks for posting this for us Bryan!

08-13-2010, 08:34 PM
Got to see the Fuse T-bar last weekend at the ILL Flyin.
Looks like a awesome bar and I could not believe how light it felt.

08-16-2010, 10:23 PM
Wow, I didn't even know the lighter version of the FUSE-39 was under ten pounds! I have been estimating the Fuse's weight to be: 10 pounds 4 ounces! Thanks for posting this for us Bryan!
I weighed mine on a digital scale....it came out 9.6 pounds, or 9 pounds 9.6 ounces. Im sure thats not as accurate as the scale in the pic...but I think its clear the fuse is under 10 pounds. Also according to the skyski website an LE is 9.75 pounds, so sounds like the fuse is equal in weight to the LE.

08-24-2010, 10:16 AM
I added some more pictures and described the results of my N2Orbit Fuse/Hammerhead/UFO tests...


I added a small note about moving the seat plates forward in message following ^^^ that one...