Ozone Chrono vs Flysurfer Speed 4 Lotus

Ozone Chrono vs Flysurfer Speed 4 Lotus

One of the most popular discussions for this season in the foil world is going to be which is best, the Ozone Chrono or the Flysurfer Speed 4 Lotus?

This year both Ozone and Flysurfer have gone for the same sizing options, with Flysurfer also offering a 21m version of the Speed 4 Lotus. Both the Lotus and the Chrono are available in 12m, 15m and 18m sizes which makes back to back testing and quiver building easy between the two. Although both options are relatively high aspect, closed cell depower foils that really is where the comparison ends. Flysurfer and Ozone have both managed to create equally great kites for their chosen markets but for us mere mortal end users the decision on which to buy should be quite easy when flying both together.

After watching other more experienced riders and riding with the Ozone Chrono for a week there is no doubt that the Chrono is one of the fastest kites out there. It dominated the races during the OSKM and Dom has been winning practically every race event he has entered using this kite. For very light wind performance and pure straight line speed the Chrono is going to be on the watch list of many riders. The Chrono is a very solid kite, but is definitely aimed more at the speed freaks rather than general freeride. The hangtime is extremely impressive but the kite seems to pivot more during the turn then keep a more solid power delivery. It will be interesting to see if the buggy market picks up on the Chrono for this season. The Chrono is available with two bar options, a freeride and a race setup. The racing setup is pictured below and gives the ability to depower the kite much easier without having to reach further up the bar.

The Speed 4 Lotus for me remains the freeride favourite. Although still being classed as a high aspect kite it is much lower aspect then the Chrono. It feels tamer and more user friendly whilst still maintaining an incredibly good performance. Because of the profile the Speed 4 seems to behave better on the ground and during inflation. For riders wanting to hit the snow, mountains and beach without needing to be the fastest in a straight line this could be a better option.

I would not be surprised to see a new kite model from either company as the current two offerings do not directly compete with each other. A new higher aspect Speed 4 purely for raw low end power and race kiters and perhaps a closed cell Frenzy/Chrono cross for the more freeride oriented kiters who want to use the same quiver on land and water.

All we can do at this time is recommend you try both out for yourself before handing over your card details. As more demo kites become available in the UK we will be doing some extensive back to back flying to expand on the real world differences in wind range and flight styles.

 Check out our review of the Speed 4 Lotus.

Flysurfer Speed 4 Lotus Kite Review

Flysurfer Speed 4 Lotus Kite Review

After waiting patently since 2009 the successor to the Flysurfer Speed 3 is finally available. New for the 2014 season Flysurfer introduce the Speed 4 Lotus kite. We headed out to Switzerland for a chance to put this new model through a week of freezing conditions and to demo the kites.

Flysurfer Speed 4 Lotus Kite

We have been flying Flysurfer kites since the Psycho 3 and Speed 2 so are always very excited when a new model comes to market. The Speed 3 has been the most successful kite Flysurfer have ever made and the 15m CE model is one of our favourite kites ever on test. Whether you are into land, water, snow or all of the above the Speed has proven its versatility across all terrains and many different riding styles. With all of this to contend with Flysurfer have had a real fight to create a successor worthy of the Speed name, fortunately the Speed 4 Lotus delivers the goods.

The Speed 4 Lotus range has had a slight change in the sizes since the Speed 3 CE. The 19m has been replaced with a new 18m size giving you the option of 12m, 15m, 18m and 21m kites. For the test we spent time on the new 18m size and the 12m and our initial thoughts are that these two sizes in the range are going to make a killer quiver with an almighty wind range.

Flysurfer Speed 4 Lotus Kite

Pulling the kite out of the bag the first obvious change is the new fabric on the kites. We first saw prototypes of the new Lotus fabric several years ago in Sardinia so it is extremely reassuring to know Flysurfer have spent a lot of time and development in the testing stages before using it in production. The fabric feels slightly rubbery to the touch and is unlike any other kite on the market. There is no printing on the Lotus material on the kites because the fabric is designed to repel other substances sticking to it; for example sand, water, dirt and ink. The lack of extra colour also saves extra weight on the kites. Flying the 18m Lotus in light winds it is very apparent that this new material has boosted efficiency. Not only do the kites drift and float above your head better in light winds but they also feel lighter on the bar to turn. In terms of technical properties the new Lotus fabric is 25% lighter than the old deluxe cloth from the Speed 3 kites and is also capable of much better air pressure inside the kite. Flysurfer have used a bright orange fabric on the  trailing edge to highlight the deflate valves to make it impossible to launch the kite and not notice if you have left them open. Besides the new fabric Flysurfer have also introduced new stiffer and thinner lines which create less resistance in flight.

Flysurfer Speed 4 Lotus Kite

The bar and lines have remained the same for the Speed 4 Lotus. Although the reappearance of the Infinity 2.0 bar is not unwelcome we would have loved to see some design changes to the chicken loop on these kites. In the cold the smaller chickenloop and hard donkey dick can be quite fiddly to hook in and out whilst wearing thick gloves. The benefit of the smaller loop is that it allows the bar to be closer to you whilst riding, this is especially handy for smaller/shorter riders. The highlight features of the Infinity bar 2.0 are the smooth line untwisting function on the quick release and the clean, easy trim system. The ability to un-spin the lines is very important when you can easily bust out 4 rotations in the air underneath these kites!

The Speed 4 Lotus provides a big enough improvement for previous Speed 3 flyers and riders who have models that are 3 or 4 years old now to upgrade and will provide a mind blowing experience for riders new to this style of flying.  

Flysurfer Speed 4 Lotus Kite

If you are looking for a lightweight and durable travel companion to share many seasons of fun riding in the mountains or on the beach then the Speed 4 Lotus is an excellent choice. The kite has remained incredibly easy to fly and is forgiving for both novice kiters and for riders who are new to foils.  The Speed 4 Lotus manages to maintain its high performance characteristics for speed, hang time, light wind efficiency and most importantly huge smiles all around.

 

WeatherFlow Wind Meter Review

WeatherFlow Wind Meter Review

New on the shelf for 2014 the Weatherflow Wind Meter gives any Android or iOS smartphone user a portable and reliable anemometer in your pocket.

The idea behind the Weatherflow Wind Meter is to give avid weather watchers accurate wind readings without any hassle. This compact device simply plugs into the headphone jack of your iPhone, iPad or Android handset without the requirement for batteries or any other accessories.

WeatherFlow Wind Meter

Once the Wind Meter is plugged into your headphone jack launch the “Wind Meter” application (free on iTunes and the Play Store) from your homescreen and you are ready to go. The app is very basic but not in a bad way. Settings, history and readings are all easily accessible from the main menu. Inside the settings menu you can change your primary activity ie. kite, surf, windsurf.

You can also choose the type of speed unit to display. This list includes Mph, Knots, Beaufort Mps and Kph. When you hit the start button on the main app screen you get the wind speed and direction displaying in real time. In testing, around 30-60 seconds seemed reasonable to produce accurate results. The Wind Meter can read anything from 2 mph – 125 mph which seems pretty impressive.

When you hit stop the app calculates the average wind speed (accounting for lulls and gusts), wind direction and your location. The next cool feature is the ability to then save and share your readings with friends. Who doesn’t want to showcase the fact its pumping 30 knts whilst someone you know is stuck behind a desk?

Having not used an anemometer for several years due to not wanting to carry around a bulky or expensive device that needs a battery to be kept charged, I can happily say the Weatherflow Wind Meter will be living in the kite bag from this day.

If you’re in the market for a new gadget without breaking the bank then the Weatherflow Wind Meter could very quickly become your next purchase. Likewise I think this Wind Meter will make for great Birthday and Christmas presents for wind lovers around the world.

We tested the Weatherflow Wind Meter with an iPhone 5 and HTC One.

In the UK this unit retails for only £29.95.

WeatherFlow Wind Meter

 

Flysurfer announce freeride directional board called the Razor

Flysurfer announce freeride directional board called the Razor

Flysurfer have been working on their board line over the last few years applying their trademark innovative approach. The latest product to be released is the new Razor – a snowboard construction freeride directional. This style of board (north freerace, airush sector etc) are normally volume boards known for being a little fragile – easily dinged. The challenge in building a board this thin (2cm) with such large (25cm) fins is integrating the fin boxes. With the growing popularity of racing, some more user friendly freerace set ups are needed. Although it seems expensive at £999 – that is half the price of a North Race Ltd and £124 more than an Airush Sector 60 making it pretty competitive.

We look forward to riding it and hearing some feedback.

The excitement of winter storm chasing

The excitement of winter storm chasing

The mainstream media has been banging on about storms for what seems like forever. We have been hit by storm after storm and it has been reshaping our coast lines causing all kinds of damage. For us windsports enthusiasts there has been plenty to get excited about. In the old days it was all about storm kites in winter and the harsh conditions and going big – however it hasnt materialised for most of us until this winter.

The kite media has been all over it too – the Red Bull King of the Air in South Africa got plenty of people excited seeing all the big names going huge. The UK was well represented in that event with Aaron Hadlow, Sam Light and Lewis Crathern all competing – Sam even got a podium spot last year. This year however it was an all dutch podium. Check out the highlights:

The latest episode of the Kite Show has shown the storm chaser himself Ruben Lenten going crazy in the Netherlands – they have been getting the same storms we have. So much for chasing when they just come to your door step. Irish Ozone wave rider Ryan Coote has released a few videos of himself riding enormous waves in Ireland and Portugal.

Earlier this month the Red Bull Storm Chasers series came to Cornwall. This is windsurfing which is not really our thing, but seeing anyone go out in seas so wild they look like they are boiling is awe inspiring.

It has got me all excited too! I have been out every weekend rarely riding anything bigger than a 6m (a short session on a 9m before being blown out of the water) and a surfboard. The excitement of riding in a storm takes the edge of the rest of the week, when the weather is nothing but a hindrance.

An interview with Ryan Coote

An interview with Ryan Coote

KSP MAUI WATERHey Ryan – would you mind introducing yourself to our readers?
I live in Kerry on the west coast of ireland. My interests are in Surfing diving and of course kitesurfing.

You have been a part of the Ozone international team for some time – tell us how that came about.
Not that exciting really. They were looking for people pushing it in the waves and pop an email arrived into my mail boxes. I start talking to Iain and really connected and decided I wanted to be part of the team. I am super stoked how the development has gone with their Reo wave kite. I was mainly wave riding with C kites but we were not really getting it but the new wave kites have changed everything.

You recently took a trip to Portugal with some Spanish Ozone team riders and put out a great video. Tell us about that trip and the new REO.
Portugal was just peachy. I really didn’t know what to expect when i arrived. Not having meet a lot of guys before it was a unknown. I love surfing in Portugal so i was excited to get a chance to kite it.

Waveriding is your thing and in most of your videos you seem to go out in really big waves. Do you love massive waves or do they just make the best videos?
Well its seems that a lot of people like seeing the big stuff alright. I ride in a lot of different conditions here in Brandon Bay where I live my bread and butter conditions are more like head high to just over head. Anything bigger it will max out and just closes out. I do travel up and down the west coast to other spots where the reefs can handle the bigger swell. We are so spoilt with the amount of locations here to ride in no matter what the size of the swell is and the wind direction.

What are your ideal conditions?
16 to 20 knots on my 9m Reo and 25 / 30 degrees off shore winds. As big as the location can handle.

Do you have any tips for riders looking to get out in bigger waves and take their waveriding to the next level?
You really need to be comfortable with your gear and know it inside out. It is down to the conditions that you get to ride in regularly. I try and surf waves before I kitesurf them as well, because its all about dealing with the wipe out. Some big wave spots need a lot of preparation. You need to be in the right head space and have the right gear. But it also takes a lot of luck to get everything to come together on the day.

I do a lot of mental preparation for riding big waves. I also train hard with kettle bells, yoga etc. I tend to just take any situation just step by step and when everything comes together and i find myself in the right head space on the right wave building underneath me then i just let go and flow and deal with what ever comes my way.

Ireland has a reputation as a big wave spot, with surfers from around the world traveling to ride there. How do you get received by these surfers and what is their reaction to you being a kitesurfer?
Most really really well. Its all about respecting one another. I am also a surfer and will surf when the conditions suit surfing so i am out in the line up with most of the big wave heads any way. If i am kitesurfing around surfers I will stop and sit on my board with them in the line up and chat and joke with them. Mostly i think that a lot of surfers would love to try kitesurfing but they are put off by the gear and starting for the beginning again.

Who inspires you and your riding and keeps you motivated?
Its really hard because I only have a few guys here in Ireland that are interested in hunting down heavier bigger waves. Manly its surfers who inspire me. Fergal Smith and Tom Doidge-Harrison are really good guys and so positive to be around they know heavy waves very well and I always enjoy being around them when its heavy. Between both of them they the best knowledge about waves in ireland.

As far as kitesurfing i really enjoy watching Keahi de aboitiz he is so relaxed in heavy waves and his barrel riding skills are insane. But there are not that many people pushing Kitesurfing into the unknown areas where I am going so its kind of trial and error for me. A lot of places I kitesurf here in Ireland are firsts.

What do you do when you are not riding?
I have a 2 year old kid Enough said.!!! But i surf a lot and free dive and do a lot of gardening. I run a kitesurfing school in Ireland during the summer and do kitesurfing tours.

You competed on the KSP tour – tell us about the experience of competing with the world’s best wave-riders and your feelings on the tour?
I was very excited about doing the KSP but when it actually happened it was really a bit of a let down. Its so hard to run a comp and keep everyone happy. The first event was here in ireland in Oct and we had a 10 day holding period and we only managed to get two OK days of riding which is really harsh because in Ireland in Oct its normally pumping.

The Maui Event was just as hard the conditions just didn’t play ball.The guys on tour are mostly nice guys, some are a bit too full of themselves and their attitude stunk. Kitesurfing is such a young sport still and we are still trying to work out what works. I dont think the heat format doesn’t work for wave riding.

Do you enjoy competition?
No not really. I much prefer competing with myself.

Do you have any big plans for 2014?
Yeah more big waves. Also i really want to try to kitesurf around coast Ireland.

Who are your sponsors?
Ozone Kites, Oneill, Aor Surfbaords, Jay Harness, Surf plugs, Manna Organic Store.

Flysurfer Peak 6m Colour Change

Flysurfer Peak 6m Colour Change

Flysurfer have just announced that their recently released Peak single skin depower kite has had a permanent colour change in the 6m size. From this week the Flysurfer Peak 6m will be shipping to customers in Neon Orange and not the pink it was released with in 2013.

“Go anywhere with the new Flysurfer Peak Depower Kite. Flysurfer have proven themselves once again to be pioneers in kite development. In late October 2013 the very first single skin kite with an effective working depower, will hit the market. The PEAK uses no bottom sail making it different to conventional ram air kites. The weight of the kite is reduced and the pack size is incredibly small.”

Flysurfer Peak 6m Colour now Oange

The Ozone Chrono Kite

The Ozone Chrono Kite

Ozone have just announced an exciting new member of their foil family. The Ozone Chrono is a closed cell kite suitable for riding on land, water and snow. Naturally this kite is going to be rapidly compared to Flysurfers offerings such as the Speed 3 and Speed 4 Lotus. We are hoping to get our hands on the new Chrono at the Ozone SKM at the end of the month. The idea of the Chrono is to provide a new high aspect foil for high speed and big hangtime and the sizes certainly make sense for this. The Chrono is due for release in March and will be arriving in 12m, 15m and 18m sizes. We definitely think there is space both in the general kite market, and the current Ozone kite range for a super high aspect foil.

Stay tuned for more news as it comes in.

What Ozone are saying:

“It’s a high performance, water re-launchable foil kite design that excels on Water, Land & Snow. You’ll be laughing while boosting huge and going into hyper speed on those light wind days with the Chrono! Sizes 12m, 15m, 18m. More Information & Pictures coming soon. Stay tuned and excited as we are about the all new Ozone Chrono!”

How to take photos on snow

How to take photos on snow

How to take the best photos for your upcoming snowboard trip.

You’ve been patiently waiting all year for the annual snowboard trip and it is just around the corner. You missed the best bails the year before or maybe your photos are too bright or not bright enough, the snow looks grey and everything is generally not right. If this sounds familiar then read on to discover our tips and tricks for taking photos on snow (snowboard & snowkite)

The right gear for the job.

Think carefully when choosing your camera equipment for your upcoming snowboard trip. You are always going to get better and more controlled shots from your DSLR over a point and shoot or action camera but the practicality is you need both to make the most of all situations.

Snowboarding with a GoPro

Advantages of action camera (such as GoPro)

  • Point and shoot – easy to pass around the group without the need to learn any of the modes or settings.

  • Wide angle – a big field of view means you can get closer to the action and step back to guarantee your subject will be in the frame.

  • Compact – small cameras are great for taking in and out of your pocket on the ski lifts without needing to worry about extra bags or gear.

  • Loads of mounting options – mount cameras on collapsible poles, helmet mount them or stick them on your board. You can stick a GoPro on anything and forget about it.

  • Crash proof – cameras such as the GoPro are basically destroy proof under normal use. Super tough external housing makes them both waterproof and protects the camera inside.

Disadvantages of action camera (such as GoPro)

  • Point and shoot – limited selection of settings and the ability to frame shots.

  • Wide angle – Although the wide angle lens is sometimes beneficial you don’t always want the warped images that a 270 degree lens gives you.

  • Framing your shot – Without optional accessories most small action cameras do not have screens for allowing you to check your field of view and see what you are actually filming / photographing.

GoPro Pole Mount Snowboarding

Advantages of a DSLR

  • Full manual control – with a reasonable understanding of your cameras settings and photography there is not a single situation your camera will be unable to handle.

  • Quality – most DSLR cameras feature much larger sensors than most point and shoot cameras. Combine the bigger sensor and large pixel count for brighter and sharper images.

  • Choice of lens – Want to shoot wide? put on and wide lens, want to shoot close ups? swap it out again.

Disadvantages of a DSLR

  • Durability – although higher end DSLR cameras feature weatherproofing on the lens and body you are never going to be in an ideal situation for carrying it around the mountain, on the lifts, riding with it and using it in cold/wet conditions.

  • Price – not everyone owns a DSLR and not everyone wants, or needs to either. They are more for the budding photographers among us and the cost of setting up a reasonable rig is easily 2.5 X the price of an action camera setup.

  • Size – The body and lens of a DSLR is quite large regardless of what lens you are going to be shooting with. You may also want to carry spare batteries, lens cloths, more lens’, tripod… before you know it you’re carrying around 15kg of equipment on your back.

Snowboarding in Powder

Top 5 tips for snowboarding camera equipment.

  1. Allow any of your electronic equipment to reach indoor / room temperature slowly before turning them on and checking your days footage. This will heavily combat the chances of condensation and something getting broken.

  2. Choose your lens for that particular day and stick with it. This will reduce the amount of gear you need to carry. Every time you are on the mountain swapping lens’ back and forth you are also putting your camera at risk (you will probably need to take your gloves off to which sucks!)

  3. Buy a telescopic pole for your GoPro. These poles come in loads of different sizes and models. Some come with a tripod adapter built in and some need one adding so make sure its all together and working before your holiday.

  4. Take your charger. Batteries do not like the cold, it is advisable to get an idea of how long your camera batteries work when you are at home as then you can adjust this time after your first day on the slopes and work out a rough percentage difference.

  5. Take a tripod. The mountains house some of the most scenic views you are going to see for the next year so make the most of it. Expect great sky’s littered with stars. Whether you are shooting on an action camera or DSLR you can capture time lapse scenes and star trails.

Tips for photographing snowboarding & landscapes

Landscape photos:

To make the most of your landscape and scenic shots whilst you are away I would suggest using a tripod or similar piece of equipment. If you do not have anything to hold your camera in place then improvise with your surroundings, a car roof, wall or bench will make a good start.

Things to remember:

Keep your horizons straight. Use something in your photo as a point of reference to frame your photo correctly before you press the shutter. If you find it difficult to frame the photo with the horizon accurate then shoot the photo slightly wider (zoomed out) to allow a margin to crop and rotate the photo later digitally.

Depending on your light conditions you will want to select the right settings on your camera. For landscape we tend to want to grab as much depth and detail as possible from the foreground all the way back to the horizon. To do this select a smaller aperture of F5.6 or less. You may be able to go up or down a few stops depending on the situation. The lower the aperture the more detail you will get into your final shot. Next up is to set your ISO and shutter speed. It is always best to use as low an ISO as possible. Most cameras start at 100 ISO and go over 1000. Depending on the quality of the body and lens you are using photographs shot over 400 ISO tend to generate a lot of noise on the image. If you are in bright light then shoot with a high shutter speed to reduce the amount of light which can enter the lens. If your photos are too dark then reduce the shutter speed. If your photo is blurry because you cannot keep the camera still enough for the selected shutter speed, increase the shutter speed and also increase the ISO to compensate.

Photograph stars snowboarding

Action Photos:

Time for the fun stuff. Due to the fact this is what most riders want to achieve I will keep this section as easy to follow as possible. If you are struggling to capture the action then try shooting on burst mode or interval mode. For a GoPro shoot a photo every 0.5 seconds for the best chance to capture something interesting, the joys of digital allow us to delete excess photos easily. Most DSLR cameras have options of 3+ photos a second when holding down the shutter button in the correct mode.

How to use a GoPro

Sunny conditions:

- high shutter speeds (1000+) The faster the shutter speed, the crisper the photo.

- mid range aperture (F3-5.6)
– low ISO – lower the better, should be 100 in bright light.

- generally it is best to shoot with the sun on your back with a well lit subject but by using the right mix of exposure, aperture and iso you can get some great results.

Flat light:

- mid / high shutter speed (800+)

- shoot at a higher aperture, the subject should remain in full focus but the background detail will be less. Due to flat light the background is probably not very exciting anyway. F3.3 >.

- If your subject is blurry then the shutter speed is to low. Make it higher and compensate using the ISO.

- fill flash, use your flash on a low setting to bring your subject to the front of the image and separate them from the dull background behind.

Dark:

Shooting in falling light with action shots is never going to be a great situation to be in without a flash.

- use a flash to light your subject or the area around them. using a flash to capture an exact moment will also allow you to shoot at a lower shutter speed (more light) to capture more of the surrounding.

- maximise the use of artificial light coming from lights or buildings in the area to give your photos an extra glow.

Snowboarding in the dark

Top 5 tips for photographing snowboard conditions.

  1. Wear thin gloves. If you are going to be spending a lot of time behind the camera you will be in a much better situation leaving on a pair of thin gloves all day and being able to navigate menus and buttons rather than taking on and off a thicker pair which in turn will just end up as soaking wet dead weights.

  2. Shoot in RAW. If you are lucky enough to be shooting a DSLR or prosumer camera you should be able to shoot in RAW instead of Jpg. This will allow you much more control on losslessly altering your photos meaning you won’t loose any quality when you export your image. ie. correcting your white balance from blue/orange tint to white.

  3. Set exposure on neutral objects. Use the sky or something other than the snow to set your correct exposure.

  4. Test and charge all your kit before you leave. This is very important for cameras such as the GoPro. The more you understand the focal length and what is is in your frame the better. This will allow you to effectively shoot your GoPro blind. Point it in the right direction and at the right distance without seeing anything through an LCD screen or viewfinder.

  5. Shoot video. If after reading this guide you are still not getting the photos then maybe just video the action instead. It is not ideal but you can always grab still frames on your computer later.

Snowkiting in France

The Loose ends.

Composition – When taking your photos try to diversify the shots from just being super white. Shoot low to close to see more of the board or skis to brighten up your image. Shooting across from your subject and capturing mountains or trees off the piste is another good example.

Freezer bags – If you want to keep your equipment dry and don’t have the budget for specialist bags wrap your camera and spares inside re-sealable sandwich or freezer bags.

The natural reflector – Remember that snow reflects a super amount of light. This allows for some photos which would otherwise require extra hardware or a flash to make.

If you have anything you want to add or have some more specific questions then drop us a line on the contact form or post a comment below.

Happy shooting.

Massive thanks to ATBShop.co.uk for supplying us with the GoPro camera, Never Summer snowboards and Flysurfer kites.

Snowboarding Boots

Ozone SKM 2014

Ozone SKM 2014

We are excited to be heading out to the Ozone SKM next month. This is the first time that Ozone have held their own competition since 2008. We expect to see some great riding and mix with some of the best riders, and snowkite conditions available.

For more information check out the website:

http://www.ozonesnowkitemasters.com/2014/

The event is running from Feb 27th – March 2nd. We hope to get our hands on the new Ozone foils and any other new products they might have available.