I am dealer for Ocean Rodeo and a kite instructor. I post reviews on kites after fairly extensive use and I try my best to be objective and unbiased in my reviews. I have been flying the Prodigy for 2 months now and have lots of time with the 14m (see my review above). The wind has picked up somewhat and I have been using the 12m Prodigy and a little time with the 9.5m. This review is mainly on the 12m Prodigy.
Ocean Rodeo advertises the Prodigy as an all terrain kite for those looking for one kite for riding styles and pursuits. They also say the Prodigy is also their simplest easiest to fly kite. Is this really true? So how does she fly?
Being a kite instructor, I’m always on the look out for easy to fly kites for my students. I also rent kites, often to newbies so ease of use is really important to me. The kites also need to be bomb proof as school kites are crashed hard and often during lessons (like 20 times a day) and rental. But kiting is what I live to for, so the kites I choose to use also have to perform. I’d go crazy if I had to fly a crappy kite especially after watching students perform destructive testing on my gear.
My usual riding routine consists of wake style tricks, old school tricks and racing back up wind. I don’t ride waves much and have not taken the Prodigy out to a wave.
The Prodigy sits fairly back in the wind window and simply stays there. The pull is nice and constant no matter what you do to it. I’m almost inclined to call it a cable park kite. The pull is always constant, with good strong grunt but never sudden and over powering. It almost never back stalls. Carve right at her if you like and she’ll just float downwind with you. Apply some edge and she powers up nicely again. All this whilst staying resolutely in the same place. She doesn’t surge forward when you edge hard and doesn’t fall back when you ease the line tension.
The bar pressure is quite high on the 14m and reduces as you move to the smaller sizes. If you just must have a kite with light bar pressure, look else where. The bar feel is excellent though and you never need to look at the kite at all. At any rate you’ll get used to the heavier bar pressure and think nothing of it after just a couple of rides.
The wind range of the Prodigy is huge. This is because this kite can be ridden massively de-powered. I was out with the 14m in over 30 gusty knots pulling some insane jumps. She absorbs gusts easily and if need be, just stretching your arm out de-powers the kite almost instantly.
The Prodigy is a real unhooked wake style monster. Pick up some speed, unhook and let those raileys rip. The Prodigy is just so stable from the time you release your edge, load and pop, the Prodigy barely flinches. It's so resistant to stalling you could pretty much fly unhooked all day till your arms drop off. If you land hot, the Prodigy is still gentle enough so that you stay in control as you land rather than the kite screaming at full power and you ending up on the beach.
Jumps are high and very floaty so free style with the Prodigy is sheer fun. That extra time it stays in the air floating down gives you more time to put your foot back in the foot strap or put an extra tweak in your rolls or just a little more time to enjoy the scenery while you're up there with the seagulls. Landing’s are also feather soft with just a small pull on the control bar.
The Prodigy is also extremely stable needing a strong positive hand to make her move. So she stay nice and in control even on mega high jumps. The stability also makes practicing tricks much easier as she stay where you want her to stay. But again you need a larger bar input to get her to where you need her to be to catch you.
While the 14m Prodigy is very fast and agile for her size and a real stand out among other 14m kites. The 12m would be slow and the 9.5m even slower. Of course I’m comparing this to other kites in the same size. Don’t get me wrong, the Prodigy will go wherever you want her to go be wherever you need her to be. It’s just that there are faster kites.
The Prodigy is definately not an upwind racing machine. It rides upwind well enough. You will need to keep the bar out somewhat for her to pull you upwind. In my informal races with other kites, the straight line speed the Prodigy would be mid pack. Faster than some and slower than others. So if you're looking for a speed kite, the Prodigy is average. Personally I rather race past everybody but she just so good at so many other things, I’ll willing to compromise.
Relaunch is easy as most kites these days, so not much to comment here. I also haven't tried it in the surf so no comments other than the Prodigy drifts really well and stays up in the sky very well, so it should be good in the surf.
The construction is good and the details do seem more refined than last years kites. Unlike the Razor or the now obsolete Rise, there isn’t any Forward Swept Wing tips, or venturi, so she doesn’t boast any cutting edge new design. But she flies great and that’s what matters and no fancy acronyms needed, thanks a lot. Or maybe just one, PSADG, Plain Simple And Damn Good. A really good feature to have I think.
Note – The Cypher is actually simpler without even pulleys.
The bar is of a new design. Much simpler and cleaner looking. I really can’t say if I liked the old ergonomic curved bar or the newer simpler bar. The newer bar does feels slightly more comfortable with a larger diameter and covered with what seems to be very luxurious suede. However functionality is exactly the same. The kite bag hasn’t changed with its almost all round non corrodible zipper and practical side pouch for the bar.
I highly recommend the Prodigy for beginners learning to ride, advanced beginners learning to jump and advanced riders looking to learn new tricks. If wake style is your game, the Prodigy is a winner and you can also impress the crowds with some high floaty jumps afterwards.
This kite is not for those who just must have light as a feather bar pressure. Also not a kite that can scare you with explosive grunt and power. You’re also not going to win all the speed races with your buddies (you’ll need the Rise for that).
All in all, the Prodigy is a great kite that will allow most of us to progress faster, learn faster and is just so forgiving, you'll land more tricks. She’s really versatile too with good drift, very stall resistant with massive de-power and stability. Definitely my favorite kite of 2013.