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Thursday, 1 March 2012

Kite Review - Ozone Flow 5m

In the past I have flown various kites including Blade, Samurai and a Flysurfer Rookie, I gave up the kites and moved to mountain-boarding (even became an instructor), as wasn’t as dependent on the weather. We then emigrated to Western Australia so I sold the mountain-boards and I started surfing (Dudes!).

Now I am back addicted to flying kites and after much research (Blade or Flow!) opted for the Flow as it was cheaper and less likely to bite me! I ordered a 5m Flow from Power Kite Shop in the UK and had it shipped over…

I had it delivered to work, so spent some time in the office rummaging through the bag, instructions and warranty form, stickers, key ring (bottle opener) now on keys, handles with strop and kite killers attached and the lines on a winder. Very impressed with the colour of the kite – I have a thing about red. Put it back in the bag, got it out again had a feel and a smell, put it away again – can I go home yet?

The first week after it was delivered it rained and rained, most West Aussies were happy, as it was the end of a very dry spell, but me I moped around and looked longingly at my red Ozone rucksack in the corner of the bedroom.

I did manage to get outside in between rain and attach the lines and handles, which is easy with the numbers on the lines, and packed it away ready to fly as soon as conditions were right.

I had an Ozone Samurai in a previous life and like the Sammi I was very impressed with the Flow, from the little Velcro tabs to secure the bridal when packing away, the Velcro sand outs at the tips, and the mesh covered air intakes and not a stray or loose thread anywhere. The handles and kite killers were as I remembered them, comfy and familiar.

Packing the kite was a doddle, I like to para-pack – have spent many an hour watching my wife untangle the twists and tangles in the lines and bridle when I have wound the lines! This way I just stake the brake lines walk down wind with the lines trailing out the bag, unpack the kite and I am ready to fly. The bag is plenty big enough and holds everything I needed from keys, phone drinks and chocolate.

First flight – took it to the footie (AFL) oval a minutes walk from home, not the ideal location as lots of trees surrounding the area, but had to grab the opportunity in between showers. The wind was pretty light so thought I would give it a go. As you have probably guessed not the best first flight but still left me wanting more. The wind was pretty gusty over/through the trees so the kite would go from powered-up to gently drifting to the ground and the wind direction was also un-predictable. But when it did power-up, out came the grin, and it did exactly as is says on the tin – smooth and predictable, definitely need more.

Then from nowhere somebody turned on the tap and it was like standing under a shower! Packed up as best I could and ran home – then laid the kite over the car in the garage to dry it out!

The next few opportunities I got to fly I took it to Lake Walyungup (part of Rockingham Lakes regional parks), which is a salt lake, big open space and nice clean winds. Slight problem with my original stake as it wouldn’t hold in the ground – but was soon resolved with a corkscrew style stake with a carabineer.

Quick to un-pack, and sat ready to fly fully inflated, slightly bouncing on the brake lines. I new this was going to be better. Kite killers on, let off the brakes and woohoo, started to put it through some figure eights gradually going wider across the wind window. Adding some brake into the turns, and keeping it in the power-zone.

This kites power delivery is smooth, I could predict where/when the power was going to kick in – and it is quick but doesn’t snatch; it just accelerates quickly through the zone and pulls hard. With the brake I could turn it practically in its own length and it held its shape and control at the edge of the window and it was a big window. Pump it across and then up and it does develop some lift, again no nasty surprises, so started to do some small jumps.

Started to get a sweat on and beginning to hurt, so applied the brakes and put it down where I wanted and again it just sat there primed, gently bobbing wanting to go again – it is a nice looking kite. I remember the Samurai whistling more as it flew, the Flow is quieter – but I know Ozone have reduced the bridle size and have put in internal cross bracing to help maintain the shape.

The more I have flown this kite the more I love it and push it; I have taken it out in increasingly strong winds and enjoyed every minute. That smooth (but quick) acceleration and power delivery never fails to thrill and increases the grin factor and that degree of predictability enhances the experience, rather than scares like some kites can.

But it can bite – last time I was out, having a great session, getting pulled around, trying some jumps and continuing to push it harder. I got hit by a couple of stronger gusts and it did snatch the kite from me – thankfully I have stuck with the kite killers, so the kite landed safely. Great opportunity to attempt my reverse launch though, and it is easily turned over and re-launched.

The control is impressive, I can place the kite exactly where I want it, maybe centimetres off the ground, turning hard and fast or powering up through the window and you have that sense of where it is and what it is doing without having to watch it all the time – kite proprioception! Would love to try it with a buggy, but that will have to wait, try getting a buggy in WA!
The Flow also has the option of a 54cm composite bar, with the Ozone Megatron chicken loop! And both the handles and bar come standard with 20m Dyneema colour coded lines.

I would definitely recommend this kite, smooth and predictable doesn’t mean boring, it means you don’t have to change your undies after flying it! It is quick, powerful and controllable and allows you to keep pushing the kite and your limits. Ozone’s exceptional build quality and value make the 5m Flow a great kite. I wanted a kite that would keep pushing me, my limits and I could continue to have fun with, not something that was going to scare the crap out of me then beat me to a pulp – the Flow ticks all those boxes.

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