Ok, you have all heard the gossip, perhaps listened to the lads at your kite beach talking about this revolutionary new material ALUULA Ocean Rodeo are using that is going to change kite design and performance permanently. Game changer they say, revolutionary like the bow kite as they say? Well, is it true? Yes. No B*llshit!
You can google what the ALUULA material is, but I can summarise this review, with its main point of focus in one sentence:
The 14.5m Flite weighs just 2.2 kgs.
There you go. Yes, that is lighter than your 9 metre.
I could end this review here, I mean, is not the main aim of every large kite designed for light wind to try and be as lightweight as possible, so it easily stays in the air?
Ok, so lightweight material is NOT everything. Yes, your old classic Slingshot 15m fuel still pulls like a truck on roids; but if you combine lightweight material, with something more robust and much stiffer than dacron used on the leading edge (the big blowy up bit for the newbies :D) how would that equate to better performance?
WELCOME TO THE NEW ERA OF KITE DESIGN:
‘THE MATERIALS RACE.’
JAJA DING DONG, Your leading edge is firm and strong…
The perfect C shape arc of the kite is what helps generate so much speed, and overall smoothness.
When it flattens out (or over sheets) in a gust, it might pull you onto your toes or stall, and then there is the opposite warp of the kite where the C shape deepens which can also make the pull of the kite inconsistent. So if you can minimise this warping, this creates a very smooth ride and consistent power pull throughout the whole wind window.
Brett from Windswell who also tried this kite out said something interesting “It feels like it’s got a dead spot in the middle of the power zone. That’s not a bad thing, just have to get used to it”
Brett had a good point. And yes it might take you a few rides to get used to it because it is different. The thing is, it’s not a dead spot – it just distributes power more evenly, over the whole wind window. Where your traditional kites might have the apex of power at 10-15% which is smack bang straight downwind, the Ocean Rodeo Aluula Flites increase this to something like 30% of the window. So for those that like the intense kick of this smaller power apex zone, it will take some adjustment to your riding.
Having a stiffer LE also means your relaunches are super easy. The kite does not warp easily, even in the water, meaning it will stand up without going soggy or collapsing even in the lightest of winds.
A stiffer LE means you can depower these kites to the maximum your bar allows, without the kite flapping and becoming unresponsive.
To begin with, we tested this kite in light winds (12-15 knots on a twin-tip) which it excels in as is to be expected; but then the winds picked up out of nowhere; with this improved performance when fully depowered, it handled high winds surprisingly very well.
Once we got used to it, it was a pleasure to use right up to 23-25 knots. So that is a MASSIVE range! We enjoyed riding this kite so much that even on these windy days, we would bypass the smaller kites and opt for a BIG AIR session on the 14.5 flite. Woooooo hang time PLUS!
TURNING SPEED AND PULL
The stiffness of the LE equates into a much quicker and far more responsive turning ability. This 14.5 metre turns like that of a traditional 12. And surprisingly when depowered outperforms a 12; I would say similar to a depowered 10m!
Pull wise it is similar to that of a 15m, but with an increased ability on the edge of the window means this will replace many peoples’ 17-18 metre kites.
THE TREE TEST
Yes, we did put this kite into the trees, twice actually! We don’t have photos to show this as we were freaking out as you do… But on both times the LE actually hit some sharp branches, and both the LE and sailcloth came out unscathed! THAT’S A DOUBLE PASS!
THE PLAYGROUND TEST
Yes, we also put it into a kids playground. BEWARE this kite is so light when you put it on the ground at the end of your session put something on top of it. Or it will blow away with a mere puff! And so that is how it ended up wrapped around a kids playground. Little Tommy wasn’t too happy, haha! But in the end, all were unscathed both Tommy and the kite.
For both foiling and surfing this kite is a pleasure to use. Personally, I found it a little too cumbersome for a foil (the 12m Flite would be better suited), although Jonno from the Sunshine Coast did send me videos of himself foiling in 5 knots on this. Ryan Parsons from Qld loves it also (pictured)… and he rips on the foil with it!
Surfing, I had a ball on this kite. I would never normally go surf kiting on something this size, as generally a 13m plus size kite is just too slow in the waves. But this is a whole new game! It is so lightweight in the air that in light wind and medium-sized swell days it will keep up with you as your slashing away at the face. Even with the kite dead high at 12 it keeps up with you! And being able to go out into waves when it is only 12-15 knots is a special thing because the waves are still clean.
We did snag the wingtip in the bridle twice, over the four weeks we tried it out. But to be fair, a kite this size with this much range in power and performance; it’s going to happen occasionally.
It’s just one of those things that you need to be careful of mostly if you’re self-launching off the beach in strong winds. To help avoid this pump your kite up super hard (like 9 PSI) – And don’t be in a rush to launch, take your time, position the bridle the right way. Also, know what to do if this tangle does ever happen. Every kiter should study and learn the steps into recovering from a tangled bridle mid-flight.
For this reason, we say this kite is not for beginners. But for any intermediate to advanced kiters, you will love every aspect of this kite.
This has quite quickly become my favourite kite in the quiver.
Getting this much power and pull, with such fast turning and high performance is a real treat.
With the huge range in de-power, a 2 kite quiver is very possible to suit most conditions, and for travelling that is a
Well done to Ocean Rodeo and Aluula on creating such a magnificent kite. We can’t wait to see the next round of advancements! ~ Ed