WHEN OR HOW DID YOUR WING DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM START, WHO WAS THE LEAD INSTIGATOR IN YOUR BRAND AND DESCRIBE YOUR EARLY EXPERIENCES WITH WINGSURFING DEVELOPMENT?
Sometime in 2018, Kai Lenny found our Reo model to be his preferred kite for wave riding and got in touch with us and our design team. He had witnessed some of the wings being developed on Maui and was very excited about the idea and its potential. Kai asked if we would develop one and Rob Whittall, our head kite designer, was onboard right away. After speaking with other members of the management team, it was a go and we started prototyping in March of 2019. Everyone involved in the development was stoked from the start and really enjoyed the creative process of this exciting new product.
WHAT ARE THE KEY DESIGN FEATURES THAT YOU HAVE INTEGRATED INTO YOUR WINGSURFING PRODUCT AND WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF THIS MIX OF DESIGN AND FUNCTION?
One of the key design features of the WASP is the rigidity of its air frame. Kai was very interested in using the wing not only for propulsion but also for jumping and flight. Early protos were not rigid enough to handle jumping and would distort when overpowered, thus wasting power. As a result, we starting increasing the stiffness of the LE and strut until we found the combination of rigidity and ease of use desired. As one of, if not the stiffest wing currently on the market, it allows you to develop power at low speeds and translates into a more efficient airfoil. Because it is such a young sport, we are not sure yet where we will need to hold or grab the wing. Our multiple handle options allow for experimentation using different positions. While this does add some weight, we felt it was the right thing to do and we are already seeing its benefits as new tricks are emerging from Austin Kalama, Kai Lenny, and others. While being stout and robust, the WASP is still one of the lightest wings on the market which makes it much easier to learn on and easier to handle in lighter winds.
HOW DOES YOUR DESIGN HANDLE THE STANDARD ASPECTS OF WINGSURFING PERFORMANCE: RELAUNCH, STABILITY, UPWIND ABILITY AND HOVER-ABILITY?
Relaunch is brainless. The large diameter of the LE and strut keeps the canopy elevated from the water and allows the wing to be flipped from the center of the wing very easily. Stability wise, the WASP feels very balanced and does not wander while on a tack. On the upwind, you have a great benefit using a hydrofoil meaning riding upwind on the WASP is very natural and smooth. The multiple handle options allow users to easily find a sweet spot for upwind riding depending on the angle of their tack to point as high as possible in a comfortable position. Using the power handles, you will notice that the WASP has a lot of lift. When depowered and hovering, the WASP is predictable and well behaved. Some wings are not as stable and want to wander off, making it more demanding to keep the wing in check.
WHAT APPROACH HAVE YOU TAKEN TO WING SIZING, AND HOW DO YOU RECOMMEND THE VARIOUS SIZED WINGS TO YOUR POTENTIAL BUYERS?
It is safe to say, the smaller the wing, the better, so we are looking to create wings with great low-end grunt while still maintaining a high level of depower. We are offering the WASP in 3m, 4m, 5m and 6m. Our initial development began on the 4m as this was a good size for learning on and could handle the higher wind ranges as well as be used for the lower ranges too. Clearly, with all windsports, you want to match your wing size relative to the wind strength, board, rider ability, hydrofoil size, etc. For potential WASP customers, think about where you will be riding mostly and the wind speeds that are most common there. For many places in North America, the 5m and 6m will be the bread and butter sizes but speak with an Ozone dealer as our dealer network is filled with passionate riders that have first-hand experience with the WASP sizes and will best be able to steer you to the most appropriate size for you to enjoy.
HOW DOES THE WING INTERMIX WITH YOUR CURRENT OFFERING OF FOIL WING AND FOILBOARD DESIGNS AND WHAT WILL BE YOUR FUTURE APPROACH TO BOARD SIZING, VOLUME AND FEATURES?
We do not currently manufacture hydrofoils or foilboards, but we are already seeing wing-specific boards from different shapers and we’re sure that production boards are not far behind. There is plenty of crossover from prone foilsurf, SUP foilboards and kite foilboards for the moment. Who knows—maybe we will see wing-specific directional planing hulls or twin tip boards soon? Interesting times are ahead for sure. As with everything we do, our approach will always be to create high-performance products that embody our true passion for sport, life, and nature.
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