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Ozone is the only company in the kiteboarding industry that produces paragliding foils in addition to a full line of kites. Technology from each sport has crossed over to the other, such as Ozone’s new high-aspect foil kite, the Chrono. For 2015, the company focused on improving the construction of their designs and refining the performance of their entire line. Ozone USA’s Lee Kidd talks to TKB about all the new changes.
Ozone introduced the Chrono, a high-aspect foil, in April 2014. How does this kite enhance the line up? The Chrono is a real leap forward in kite development – no pun intended. It really stands apart from the rest of the ozone lineup, and combines the best aspects of kite and paraglider technologies for the most cutting- edge light wind and race kite. Flexible and lightweight plastic battens in the leading edge maintain the shape of the wing while keeping a smooth shape for less drag during turbulent airflow and changes in the angle of attack. The bridles are made from thin Edelrid line that reduces drag and that distributes the load to attachment points that are connected to internal straps. These straps further spread the forces throughout the kite and help maintain an internal balance to control the high-aspect wing.
The Chrono was originally designed for snowkite racing. Our Foil R&D rider, Dom Zimmermann, traveled to many snowkite events to compete with the production samples and won every single race he entered except for one where teammate and World Champion Florian Gruber took the lead. The Red Bull Ragnarok in Norway this past year was a particularly telling result: With five guys riding the new Chronos, we took 1st, 2nd, and 3rd on skis and also 1st for the snowboard division. The Chrono’s debut showed that Ozone’s design is not just a competitor, but a champion. During testing, one of our guys decided he would give the Chrono a try on the water. Bam! The closed-cell design kept the water from flowing into the kite, and aided water relaunchability. This design makes the kite an excellent choice on water, in addition to land, ice, or snow.
Kite racers have really taken a shine to the new Chrono, and this kite has changed the racing game significantly in the short time since its release. At virtually every race, there’s a full field of Chrono riders. The high-aspect design delivers the fastest speeds and allows you to point a few degrees higher into the wind. You have the edge over people riding traditional inflatables! The upwind speed and angles are incredible and the Chrono is also great at holding very deep downwind angles with speed. The apparent wind-speed generation and lightweight design make the Chrono the superior choice for light winds. There are many calm days I’ve been the only one on the water thanks to the new Chrono. On those days I’m not just mowing the lawn, I’m out racing Carbon ACAT Catamarans. The high speed also translates to huge jumps and the high-aspect shape will keep you gliding forever. The light wind performance of the Chrono also perfectly complements the foil board riding that’s taking the market by storm. Chronos and foil boards are not only riding, but are ripping in as little as three knots of wind. As the perfect accompaniment to a foil board, the Chrono gives that right bit of lift during transitions and makes tacks and jibes so much easier. At launch, the Chrono was originally released in a 12m, 15m, and 18m sizes. Due to demand by foil boarders who wanted something smaller for medium wind speeds, a new 9m was recently released.
Why would you recommend a rider consider the Chrono over an inflatable kite? The Chrono is not for beginner flyers. I would highly recommend some previous foil kite-flying experience. Foils like the Chrono handle differently than inflatables, so technical flying know-how is a must. Because launching, landing, and self-rescue on the Chrono are not the same, knowing tricks and techniques to stay safe at these times is crucial. Some experiences are basic, like making sure the bridles are clear of any obstructions, but others, however, require knowledge and experience, like judging the wind speed for launch with the kite downwind. Compared to inflatables, the Chrono has several noticeable features. The Chrono is more powerful, compared to the same size inflatable kite. This is because there is less material and less weight, and the foils are more efficient in the air, which yield the extra power. The high-aspect design points a few degrees higher than most other types of kites, so gaining upwind ground is ridiculously easy. The upwind angle may help you edge out your competition during a race, and for freeride/freestyle folks the angle means more time for jumps, rather than grinding back upwind. My touring riding style means that I may get to explore some places that I normally couldn’t get to, and I can get there in fewer tacks. You may notice that the Chrono will turn a bit slower than most inflatables because of its high-aspect ratio and also because it doesn’t have the same structure of a leading edge and struts.
The Edge is Ozone’s high-aspect race kite. New race gear was submitted to the IKA in March 2014, which is required to be used in all IKA-sanctioned races beginning in September 2014. Were any changes made to the Edge? How do you make changes to a kite design that is already winning races across the globe, as well as winning hearts of big-boosting freeriders? The Edge retains its fast and powerful flying, effortless upwind ability, and mega-gliding characteristics, which have satisfied racers and freeriders alike. That said, there are a few refinements for this season.
The layout of the panels and struts on the edge are optimized for a cleaner profile and better handling at high speeds and during loaded riding. The new edge just feels and flies smoother. The improved strut layout allows the wingtip to flex, which lets the edge turn quicker. Loops are easier because the kite doesn’t take up as much real estate in the turn. The bar pressure is lighter for less fatigue during long sessions, but it still has plenty of sensitivity so you know what the kite is doing at all times. The Edge is the first kite in the lineup to receive many of the updates new for 2015. This season we switched to Teijin Dacron for the leading edge and struts and Teijin D2 sailcloth for the canopy. We’re perpetually on a quest to find the highest quality materials for our kites, and the Teijin materials have proven their strength and durability both in our standard tests, as well as the field-tested prototype kites. Both the Teijin Dacron and D2 make the kite stronger and give it a crisper feel. If you’ve ever looked closely at a kite sail, you’ve probably noticed a small grid pattern. D2 is a double rip-stop, and you’ll see the small grid made from two lines instead of the single line characteristic in a single rip-stop material. This makes the new edge more durable and less prone to stretching for more reactive in-flight performance. In addition to the new materials, there are also numerous changes to the internal reinforcements of the kite, which can’t be seen from the outside.
Because of high demand from smaller riders and foil boarders, some new smaller sizes have been added to the lineup. The new sizes of 5m, 6m, and 8m round out the complete lineup from 5m to 11m (in one meter increments) and 11m up to 19m (in two meter increments). All-in-all, we have perfect kite quiver selection for any rider.
What are the differences between the Catalyst and C4 and what improvements are in store for both in 2015? The popularity of the Catalyst over the last few years has soared. Many riders are discovering both the performance and versatility of the kite, which handles just about any kind of riding you can throw at it – all in the same session. One minute you’ll be throwing huge jumps and tricks in the flat water at your local spot, racing your friends the next, and then topping off your session slashing a few waves. The Catalyst inspires confidence with smooth, consistent power delivery, fast speeds, huge boosts, great depower, fast turning, and easy relaunch. It is a great kite that grows with you from beginner all the way through advanced riding.
The go-to kite for the freestyler is the C4. this exciting kite provides fast turning, explosive pop, and great hang time. The C4’s signature is great power through turns and loops. The bridled-C design offers direct and intuitive feel with no pulleys as well as the safety of great depower with easy relaunch. The C4’s high-aspect arc is very stable that keeps you riding fast with control on the top end and grunt on the low end. An adjustable bridle allows you to change quickly from the freestyle to a more freeride-friendly kite with less bar pressure and more depower.
Both the Catalyst and C4 have quick turning, are super stable in the air, and have great depower. However, the Catalyst sports an “Open-C” shape with three struts for more versatility while the C4 has a more traditional “C” shape and five struts. The Catalyst likes to park and ride for maximum speed with great apparent wind speed generation and has light bar pressure. The C4 has a more grunty feeling with higher bar pressure and when actively flown you can squeeze every last ounce of power out of the kite. When purchased complete, the Catalyst comes with the standard contact Water Control System, but the C4 complete has its own dedicated bar that is a 45cm bar with 23m lines and 2m extensions, special logo floats, shorter depower throw, and larger chicken loop for easier unhooking and hooking back in.
As for changes for 2015 for both kites, in addition to the D2 sailcloth and internal reinforcements, external reinforcements on the wingtips and struts further increase the durability of the kite. The Catalyst also received some refinements to the sweep of the leading edge and a recalculated sail tension for even smoother handling and responsive turning.
Last year, Ozone did a major rehaul on its surf kite, the Reo. What design and performance changes were made? It’s hard to make improvements on a kite that’s already so well received. The 2014 improvements were major strides in improving the float, drift, and depower of the Reo for true wave riding. More power and low end also helped boost the profile of the Reo so that riders could catch their waves in the lighter winds. 2015 brought back the 4m Reo size for very windy days and for smaller riders. In addition, the D2 sailcloth and reinforcements are new for 2015.
Major changes were made to the Zephyr, Ozone’s light wind inflatable kite, in March 2013. Can we expect further modifications to the 2015 model? The 2013/2014 Zephyr was a huge step forward for light wind kiting compared to the older Zephyrs. Many of the performance-enhanced aspects of the edge kite design were used in the development of the Zephyr. For instance, compare the almost identical shapes of the wingtips of the edge and the Zephyr for great apparent wind speed and upwind ability. Unlike most large kites designed for light winds, the Zephyr is a nimble kite in the sky with turning speeds comparable to most 13m kites. Many freestylers use the Zephyr as a great training tool in light winds for kiteloop tricks. The 2015 Zephyr will still have its benchmark wide wind range and light bar pressure but with the new materials and reinforcements as are found on the rest of the ozone’s lineup for 2015.
In 2014, Ozone introduced a push away release system on its bar. Any changes for 2015? The new Megatron II push-away chicken loop became an instant classic upon release. Many riders rushed to purchase the new bars or upgrade their old bars with the Megatron II retrofit kits. Its simplicity, ease of use, and clean design make the push away bar one of the best on the market. Reloading the chicken loop in the water or on the snow with gloves is a piece of cake as is switching between the safety kite flagout option and the suicide option.
Why did Ozone stop production on most of their fixed bridle kite offerings? Fixed bridle kites heralded the start of power kiting. Over the years there have been various technology and safety advancements in kites, and as a result, most people these days are flying depowerable kites. Up until last year, the design team was splitting their time among 18 different models of kites. If you count optimizing each of the sizes of each model, then that is pretty close to 100 kites a year that need attention and updating. That is a pretty daunting task even before you consider stepping outside the box to conceptualize and then implement new projects. The release and reception of the Chrono this year really showed us that there are great opportunities to push kite design further. We really want to concentrate on innovations for depowerable foil and inflatable kites, so we made the decision to cut the design workload of the fixed bridle kites to accomplish this goal. The only fixed bridle kite that survived the cut is the Ignition trainer. The Ignition is a three-line kite flown on a bar. Two lines are for steering and the third is a safety flag out line connected to a wrist leash. If you, a friend, or family member are thinking about getting into kiting, the Ignition is the trainer to have. The Ignition is made in the same factory and with the same high-quality materials and attention-to-detail construction as the rest of ozone’s kites. It’s responsive, fun, and easy to fly. The Ignition is stable in the air and includes a third line and wrist leash for let-go-of-the-bar safety flagout, as well as convenient self launching, landing, and reverse relaunch.
What about the new foil kite safety system? The 2015 snow foils took a huge step forward in safety and relaunchability this season with the new internal Re-Ride Safety System. We wanted a system that was both safe and that allowed the depowered kite to be relaunched without having to untangle lines. This new system achieves that goal.
The 5th safety/flagout line connects to a bridle line that splits and then runs internally into both wingtips. When the Megatron II Chickenloop safety is released, the 5th line pulls both wingtips inward, and the kite folds horizontally between the “B” and “C” bridle attachment points. If you’re familiar with paragliding this is similar to a B-Line stall. The point is to take all the power out of the sail and let the kite fall to the ground with no relaunching or fluttering around on the ground. Relaunching is as easy as climbing up the 5th line to the bar, feeding the 5th line back through the bar, and then gently pulling the front flying lines to capture air in the sail for launch. This flag out method can be used to set the kite down when taking a break. Alternatively, while remaining hooked in you can manually pull the 5th line through the bar to stall the kite in the same way you would be hitting the release. About two meters up the 5th line there is a splice in the line called the Secure Loop. This loop can be clipped to your leash hook during a break so that the rider can effortlessly keep the kite flagged out while resting. The Secure Loop can also be hooked onto the bar end to keep the kite flagged out while winding the lines and packing at the end of the session. The new internal Re-Ride Safety System makes packing the kites on mountain tops or in very windy conditions much safer, easier, and quicker for the kiter. This new system is only available for 2015 kites with 2015 bars, and it is not compatible with or retro-fittable to previous models.
The Frenzy, Ozone’s high performance freestyle/ freeride foil kite underwent a major redesign. What changed and how has performance been affected? Over the years the Frenzy has been ozone’s most popular snowkite. The Frenzy has delivered solid performance across all disciplines of snowkiting from freeride to freestyle, jumping, and back-country riding. The 2015 Frenzy improvements are the most significant since the model launched in 2003. This new design incorporates many lessons learned from the production of the Chrono and also from the latest state-of-the-art paraglider technology. Stiffeners have been added to the leading edge to improve airflow over the wing and to give increased stability. The new reflex profile contributes stability and peace-of-mind in gusty conditions and when riding depowered. Open cells on the leading edge increase inflation speeds and also can be used to clear any snow that blows into the wing. In 2015, the 13m size has been replaced by a 14m.
Why would you recommend the Frenzy to a snow rider instead of their inflatable kite? Ah the age old question – inflatable or foil for the snow? For me it’s a very simple answer: Foil! the ease of use and the utility of foils in the snow give you more independence and freedom than an inflatable kite. While pumping up a kite is a great warm-up and get-warm activity, there’s very little setup time with a foil. That means more time on the snow, less time getting ready, plus no frozen hands, valves, or bladders. If you’re still missing your warm-up, some jumping jacks will get the heart going and make your hands nice and toasty!
When riding solo, foils can be easily launched, landed, and relaunched if the kite goes down. In comparison, an inflatable either needs another person, tool, or developed technique to do the same. Inflatable kites rely on their leading edges and struts to maintain the shape of the wing and the kite in the air. But if you crash on any ice, sharp sticks, or frozen crop stubs you run the risk of ending your session early with a punctured bladder. Small cuts or tears will not stop a foil kite from flying. Also it’s easy to pack several foils and supplies in your backpack for any excursions off the beaten path to cover any kitemares or changes in wind conditions. The new internal Re-Ride Safety System further advantages foils by giving riders a safe, easy, and simple way to take a break or pack your kite, even in the most extreme conditions.
How does the Frenzy differ from the Chrono? The Frenzy and the Chrono are both excellent kites for the snow and have similar stiffeners in the leading edge to aid with kite stability. Compared to the Chrono, the Frenzy is a lower-aspect design, which will hang back in the wind window and provide a more grunty feeling than the Chrono. The Frenzy will give a tight and powerful turn, great for loops and freestyle, while the Chrono will provide better straight speeds and longer, gliding jumps. The Frenzy’s open cell design will inflate and deflate quicker than the Chrono’s closed-cell design, but will not relaunch on the water as the Chrono will.
Is there anything you’d like to add? If you haven’t tried an Ozone kite yet, get in touch with your local dealer. Hope to see you out there kiting!