Haven't seen much here but the Aussie boys have been busy...
Got out today on the zephyr in the pond (Westoz), Won't double up on everything else that was said.
Started around 10 to 12 knots on my mako king only on a 50cm bar which I hadn't adjusted the knot under the floats. Still able to stay upwind easily enough, but lacked punch. Changed to shortest knot and different experience altogether.
First thought was this zephyr sits somewhere between the New 2013 Catalyst and the edge. Developed more apparent wind than the cat, but less than the edge. Very smooth, very consistent, very stable, very ozone!
To make this clearer, there wasn't enough to warrant any kind of jump, and yet (those who know the pond) one tack out to the weed bank and back I was hitting the shoulder of the point and having to bear downwind to get back inside the pond. This is testimony to the apparent wind build up and the edge DNA built into this kite.
Wind picked up to 12 to 13/14 and now I was nicely powered. Started to throw down a few of my gay ass style hooked in stuff. Forward roll transitions with a forward loop. Back roll with back loop transitions, some one foot board offs..I know I know I'm an old school tragic!
Nice floaty jumps and plenty of time in the air to adjust accordingly, but was a little slow on the loop.
Changed to a bigger bar ( the one it comes with) and the loops were noticeably easier to execute as you would expect.
While I didn't do any unhook ( too old, to gay and not good enough for that) tricks it is easy to see why the promotion video shows this. This is a very stable canopy and not unlike the new C4 you can feel where the kite is through out the loop.
Got on an axis vanguard TT (nice board hey, wish I had got on the smaller carbon board but got the call for the war office and has to go) which has excellent pop, and the back roll back loops were as easy as they are on a much smaller kite. The kite would drag you through the rotation just right.
A fella who has a quiver of edges and catalysts also demoed this kite and when I left him to it was relatively convinced that when he got his new 19m edge ( he weighs a fair bit more than me, must be near 90kg?) was convinced he would be changing his 17m edge over to the zephyr. When I left is was blowing probably 15 to 18 ? Plenty of whitecaps and he was still very comfortable.
It seems they have designed a much better bottom end in this kite and yet maintained that top end zephyr riders have always enjoyed.
So it seem this kite has enough apparent wind edge like built into it to respond to an efficient board ( didn't test this but easily predicted on what I experienced) and yet will still afford a degree of freeride and freestyle.
Guys they have done a good job with this kite hey. Worth a demo for sure.
Would I buy one at 75kg, yes, if my marriage wasn't important to me and I didn't have a 14m cat on order ( present from the wife for my 40th).
Don't know how many retailers have a demo on offer but I just cracked a brand new zephyr which is available across from the pond at Westoz. Love to hear your thoughts after you've ridden it.
Ps some clarification on the wind, it was not driven much by a thermal Seabreeze. Maybe driven more by the weather coming. For example tried to go out down Mandurah on a 10m edge on a skim board 4knots lighter and couldn't stay upwind even though there was some whitecapping. In short wind was gutless today.
Pss further thoughts, I have a gut feeling that ozone may one day make smaller size zephyrs, as an almost free ride edge. So REO, cat, free ride edge (zephyr) and an edge. I think the zephyr in smaller sizes would just slow the kite across the window enough to make an awesome free ride kite.
Rider: Weight 75kg, Level - 1 below pro
Weather: 13-18 knots
Build Quality: 10/10
Disclosure: Ozone Australia brand manager and store owner
My Comments: This is a new design, not a tweaked version of the last 2 versions of the Zephyr.
Out of the bag, typical Ozone quality and finish. Weight of the kite has been kept to a minimum. There are no read bridle or front bridle adjustments on this kite, so I just connected 4 lines to it from a proto bar I'm testing, which is 50cm long. Zephyr is normally shipped with a 54cm bar.
I was riding an Airush Sector 60 (one design) board. When I launched and began riding the wind was so light that 10/12M kites could not stay upwind, riders on those kites could get on the plane but would end up downwind after a 250m run and have to walk back up the beach 50-100m, so not much wind.
I had no trouble at all in getting on the plane as would be expected with such a large board and kite. The immediate thing I noticed though was how high I could point and plane upwind, this is very different to the previous versions of the Zephyr which required a bit of technique to get upwind.
Eventually I crashed a gybe and then got stuck in some sort of weird turbulence about 750m from shore. As I was trying to get back on my board I was getting hit by strong gusts up around 18-20 knots which were shifting to my right, all I could do was keep flying the kite, and it flew in a complete 360 at about 11oclock, as it completed the rotation I was lifted completely out of the water and so I let go of the bar and the kite crashed onto the water LE down.
Hmmm board is now 30M upwind of me, wind is now back to 12-15 knots but the kite was super easy to relaunch. I just pulled on my left leader line and held it, the kite drifted a bit, then the tip lifted and it rolled up on the other tip and relaunched, dragging me another 5m from my board.
Spotted my board behind me and started what I thought would be a long slog back to retrieve the board, but I was there in 3 tacks!
Later an experienced kite racer was on the water and although I could not match his speed, I could get close to his upwind angle.
Very keen to try this kite on a TT now and see how it boosts, especially after seeing the intro video with Andy Yates in New Cal.
While I was out another Zephyr appeared, a red white blue version, rider was on a Cab Chopstick and also had plenty of power and great upwind angles, spoke to him later on the beach and he was just frothing about how good the kite felt.
In light winds I'm sure this kite will be a ton of fun and will increase a kiters water time a lot, and if the wind picks up a bit during a session, no problem, the Zephyr still has that big wind range it always had.
Super stable, had no trouble when i often fell off trying to gybe, kite only ended up in the drink once and was a cinch to relaunch from dead downwind. Flew fine on the 50cm bar but I think the 54cm will work better in super light winds. My guess is this kite will work for me on the Sector from 8 knots through to 18 knots which is an impressive wind range for a 17M kite.
I gave it 9/10 on the satisfaction because its a big kite and I still prefer the performance of 9-12M kites.
I thought i'd found the best ever light wind kite when the original Zephyr came out back in 2010. Then I do recall us saying that the new Core XRLW was the best ever light wind kite in 2011. And 2012 saw the Core XR2 LW – which was the best ever light wind kite. Last week we had three 2013 Ozone Zephyrs rock up on the shop floor. You guessed it, BEST LIGHT WIND KITE EVER!!!!
This time, I'm not kidding. You can talk to the two lucky owners of those Zephyrs – Daryl and Dave. You can talk to the 11 individual (and independent) riders who had a demo of the new Zephyr last weekend at our demo day. All of them came back with huge smiles, nothing but praise and it wasn't even 15 knots!
But here's a proper review of the kite for those of you who are really keen to hear what it was REALLY like.
So a light wind kite is supposed to do a few things. It's meant to be powerful. It's meant to fly in light winds. To do that, you need to have a clean and efficient shape with no drag, flutter or silly things pulleys hanging in the air to hold it back. Check, check and check. A telltale sign of a great kite is the fact that it doesn't have much wingtip flutter in the turns (and CERTAINLY not in level flight).
The Zephyr is rock solid, and that positive turn is what really becomes apparent the moment you flick this kite into the window. It pulls steadily, recovers from the dive with a gentle pull on the bar, and then settles into straight line flight with no effort at all.
Like Steve said above - the old Zephyr “required a bit of technique to get upwind.” The new one doesn't. While it's no Edge in terms of upwind sorcery (we still don't know how that kite does it!) You'll be more than impressed with how simple it is to get back to where you started. That's what light wind riding is all about right? I won't get into how exactly to ride upwind on it, basically just stand there. It's as simple as that.
Relaunch? I didn't crash it, but out of 11 independent demo'ers – most of them did. And I never heard a single mention of it. Something tells me it wasn't a big deal. Either that or the jellyfish were a bigger problem than getting the kite out of the water. With such a clean design and top quality fabric that Ozone use, water just beads off it anyway so I'm sure it relaunches as well as a Catalyst.
Top end? This is a funny one actually… Those of you who know Daryl know he'll be the guy in 25 knots on his old Zephyr. So when a southerly buster loomed on the horizon we weren't at all surprised to see him with the new one pumped up on the beach. Around the time he came in (mostly in the air) the wind had hit 30 knots. Admittedly that was beyond ridiculous, but Daryl said he was comfortably until it got over 25 knots. Same as the old Zephyr. Perfect!
Low end? It's not any lower than the old ones, I mean – short of filling your kites with helium (no, not really… It doesn't work) you can't get any lower than 5 knots with a big board. The difference between the old Zephyr and the new one is the fact that you can ride upwind easily and be comfortable in those low winds. Threshold winds as Cabrinha would say…
As for jumping and freestyle… Hey, I wear Nitrous shorts now. I don't do rolly-polys anymore. But I did jump it and went about 3m high. What do you expect in 10 knots? I saw Daryl about 15m up though once the wind hit – he's still up there.
So I really enjoyed it. I thought it was a fantastic big kite and I'd love to have one in my personal quiver for the light days. I'd feel comfy handing it to a learner (I did!) and knowing they'd be able to handle it. I'd also hook up to it with a raceboard and feel pretty competitive in the light air.
Now I know there's no negatives here - and I tried... I really did... Because most of you guys like my reviews because I DO point out the bad bits. But i just can't find any.
.Had a go on an old Underground 1.52 x 44 with the 2013 Zephyr today, on the correct size bar and lines - 54cm x 27M lines.
Wind was 9-14 EAST to ESE, with tide working against me, so losing a knot or so (at Kurnell).
Bad wind in close as its slightly cross off in that wind, but was able to get going. Stayed out for about 30 mins, ended up downwind at the Cat Club, walked back up to knobheads place and went one groin up, had one run and came back in.
Verdict, bottom end on this board is around 10-11 knots, its was the holes and lulls that killed my ability to stay upwind.
Had my sector 60 there but was not confident enough in the wind or my ability to get back to it if I stuffed a gybe (likely).
Super stable kite, even in these flukey conditions it never felt like it would fall out of the sky.
Then it was beer o'clock.