In The Pipeline
Ozone really do seem to have a top-of-class kite in every category: Wave = Reo, Lightwind = Zephyr, Freestyle = C4. Not bad going. Here Ozone’s Matt Taggart takes us through their recent releases and what they have lined up for the next few months…
You guys have staggered releases of your kites – can you maybe kick off by running us through your recent releases?
The all new Reo V4 has landed at our global dealer network and the feedback has been incredible. The most positive feedback I personally feel we’ve ever received for a new design. Rob, Dom, Torrin and Stuart on the design team, and our team of riders and ambassadors have really excelled themselves with this latest version.
Following just after that was the release of the Zephyr V5, the legendary V4 design had been pretty unchanged for a few years apart from construction improvements, so V5 was a real battle for Rob and the team to find the magic they weave to improve on the previous version as it really was sooooo good – the original lightwind design in the industry. Keeping to our philosophy of only releasing a new V model when it’s a truly new design, we can truly say that the V5 is a serious performance step. Not just a fluff and tickle that some brands pump out of their conveyor belts every 12 months!
We’re also very excited with the release of two all new snow kite designs. The Access V7, our entry level design had remained unchanged yet loved for many years but is now an entirely new and exciting design. Then the Summit V4 is our high performance snow kite and is also a completely new design. This is the kite for the snow kiters climbing mountains and enjoying the backcountry, or for the freestylers out there boosting huge. All our snow kites come ready to fly with our industry leading re-ride safety landing system. Strong wind’s not an issue as it is easy to land your kite and pack down ready to enjoy fresh tracks.
Then you had the R1 V2 released earlier in the year. Can you take us through the main developments here?
That would take a long time as there are so many changes! The R1 V2 is an entirely new machine and we are so stoked with it. It’s been such an exciting development for all of us involved in its ongoing maturity. The guys really pulled the stops out with the V2, both with the design itself and all that we’ve learnt over the past four years of performance closed cell design, but also just as important has been the mind blowing development in the materials that has gone into the R1 V2. Personally I’m an addicted foiler, especially racing, so it’s been an amazing year. We love it when new protos arrive and we get to go and test Rob’s latest beauties. For me ‘mind blowing innovation’ pretty much sums up the R1 V2!
And it has had the chance to pit itself against the competition around the racetrack. How has this gone?
Yes, it’s charged out of the gate at full speed and was immediately on the podium. The consistent feedback we are happy to receive is that the R1 V2 is very easy to fly, with incredible performance, seeing upwind and downwind angles we’ve never seen before in the industry. The V2 is very easy to launch, tack and gybe and has rock solid stability, so those easy characteristics combined with its high performance make it unbeatable as an overall design.
Riki Leccese, Johnny Heineken, Nico Parlier, Nico Landauer, Olly and Steph Bridge and Florian Trittel are all riding it, as well as our young youth stars, Daniella Moroz, Jacob Olivier and Toni Vodisek who have all taken podiums at events.
The ease of use combined with the incredible performance has given all the riders a real advantage. I know this is true in my own personal comp results where the R1 V2 gave me wings for sure! Also the true test is when riders still under contract to other brands suddenly start competing with our design even though we did not supply them the kites. For me that speaks volumes and shows the impact the R1 V2 is having in the race scene. It’s also proving to be popular with some riders looking to break the WOO record, its high performance is translating to height and hangtime. I predict that the 8m in 45 knots with the right rider will set a 30m WOO record!
Then the Reo V4 was released. What are the key design developments there?
Rob and the guys have created an entirely new planform and profile, and the V4 features our entirely new profiled, two piece strut design which delivers our cleanest overall design yet. The V4 has improved speed and power through its entire window, plus its relaunch is dramatically improved, making it a higher performance kite but also smoother and easier to fly. I’ve just returned from a trip to Indo with team riders Ryland Blakeney and Marc Ramseier and it was great to see them so happy with the latest design…
Which kites has Paulino generally been riding in the GKA events?
Paulino rides our do-it-all kite and best seller the Enduro V1 in the GKA events when the flat water freestyle discipline is on; the Enduro has way more boost and looping abilities for Paulino’s needs – he needs serious power for these tricks. Then in Mauritius he rode the REO V4 as that was a pure wave event. It is also worth noting that Torrin, our Product Manager, also entered into the Mauritius competition with the Reo V4 and came in a very respectable 9th position amongst the locals and pros!
And what are the main differences we’re going to see on the Zephyr V5?
Well you are going to love how much faster and tighter the turn is. The Zephyr V4 had been very hard to improve upon, but the V5 is a serious step forward. It’s far smoother with a super sweet feeling of constant power throughout its turn. It’s certainly ‘next level’ in our opinion and the initial feedback confirms that. Like the Reo V4, it puts into practice all that Rob and the guys have learnt over the past seasons, and also launches with all our new construction features to improve the strength of all seams.
Obviously foil kites have become more popular in the last couple of years, have you seen sales of the Zephyr drop off a little or is there still a place for ‘big’ LEI kites?
The Zephyr still has its place as it’s such a fun, performance, easy kite to fly with a twin tip and our customers love its incredible wind range. It’s not only performing in the super light 10 knot range but handles winds up to 20+ knots. The feedback is that’s what our customers are really happy with and it’s why we keep it as a five strut design. The issue with three strut lightwind designs is that you lose too much control of the sail too early and that directly relates to poor feeling from the kite, a flappy/baggy feel, and a loss of drive through the air. We always prototype and test three and four strut designs, but always come back to five as it works so well to deliver an overall beautifully balanced, controlled design. It’s also loved by larger riders that can use it as a one kite quiver!
What’s with the new Stealth option?!
Well, we love to listen and react to our customer and distributor network feedback. The Stealth Black was requested, so Andy, our amazing graphic designer, came up with the designs and everyone we showed them to loved them. So here we are. That is the beauty of having our own factory with our amazing team making every Ozone product from paragliders, to speedwings, to paramotor wings, to foil kites and then LEI kites. Plus, many of you may not know but we also design and manufacture the finest wingsuit in the world, the Squirrel Suit. This is our point of difference to the other brands, we design all these amazing products that are “wings” and are all produced at our state-of-the-art production facility. Our background is aeronautical design so with the help of our own precision factory, our kite designs incorporate an incredible depth of design experience and technology.
And any other news from Ozone HQ?
Yes! 2016 is the tenth anniversary for Ozone Kitesurf Ltd (Inflatables) and 15 years since we formed Ozone Kites (snow kites/foils), and 17 years since Ozone Paragliding was formed. It’s been one hell of an exciting and passionate ride, and we all feel blessed to be doing what we do…