David Pilkington is a man of many talents; one of them is designing.
David’s background is very diverse, a doctor in aerodynamics with years of experience as a hands-on designer with real production management background.
David worked with British Aerospace as a project manager after his University years, and then moved onto a designer of a CAD design program that many designers use for paragliding design.
He was hired as CAD design manager at a previous leading paragliding/hang-gliding brand before co-founding Ozone in 1998 where he worked alongside Robbie Whittall on the paraglider designs and also day to day running of Ozone.
From there David met Ngan whilst in Vietnam visiting factories and love moved him there to be with Ngan and to start a factory for Ozone’s production. David’s meticulous approach to work is evident in the quality of our products; nothing leaves the factory without David’s approval of quality.
Paragliding in Vietnam is not one of the easier sports to practice and a long way from David’s base in Saigon so when Kitesurfing came along he jumped at it. David has a 4 hr drive to Mui Ne (his record is 3hrs10!) which has quickly become known as a reliable winter windy destination. David kite-surfed with the early Frenzy’s (depower open cell foil) and for ease of use over the years switched to using various brands LEI’s.
It was always Ozone’s intention to design an LEI and during 2005 we saw the opportunity to enter the market. The rest is history after a very successful 2006 season with our 1 st entry to the Kitesurfing market with the Instinct. David’s approach to design is a joy to witness, he never gives in and searches until he finds the correct solution to a problem. He has been involved in all forms of air-sports from windsurfing, sailing, paragliding and then onto kiting. He is a designer with a massive advantage >> He started his own factory 6 years ago and that real-hands-on experience working with materials, managing the whole process from material selection, to design, and actual finishing of a product is what helps give Ozone that performance advantage.
Read on for David’s designer notes and book a test ride soon on one of his Instincts for the ride of your life
Well, it has been a pretty busy time making sure all the new kites are finished, but we are now ready to start shipping the first ones – yippee!
As I have gone through the process of putting ticks in all the boxes for the designs, I have realized there are a few small things that I would like to tell you about as I think this information could help you and the customers enjoy the kites more.
So here goes. Since the dealer meeting in November, the kites have continued to be refined and the other sizes have been added. By testing back-to-back with last years kites and by jumping from say an Edge to a Sport or Light, we have been able to make sure we are truly happy with all the kites. On one special day last week, I actually tested on the water every single size and model – all 14 of them. Well, except the 3m Light, which I just flew on the beach like a depower foil! This particular kite is aimed at the day-one teaching situation if you want to start someone on a kite that feels and reacts like the bigger kites they will use later. Although it can be used with a normal Instinct bar, we are also going to make a very simple bar ( i.e. cheaper) as well so that the whole 3m kite package price is kept down. It’s actually quite a fun kite to fly. Can’t wait for the next 40 knot day to try it on the water!
Talking about the Instinct Light, I am really happy with this kite. For such a simple kite, the feel when you are flying it is great. All the sizes from the 5m (which I have used in 25-30 knots on my normal board, just for fun, and fun it was), up to the 12m just make me smile. So easy to use, but you do need to know that the sail will flap when you depower. This is for 2 reasons, first there are only 3 struts, and second because when depowered it really is depowered, if you see what I mean. This depower all happens in the bar so that it is suitable for beginners. Also, to help schools, the trimmers on the back leader lines on the new bar allow the kite to be trimmed to suit the level of student – let the back off to remove any chance of the kite stalling and pull on to give more power (without loosing depower).
The Light comes in a simple bag, again designed for the school – simple, easy to store the kite with struts inflated, and with thick waterproof cloth on the bottom for when it is dumped on the wet floor of the school store! No mesh in the bag as it just breaks and gets caught, but it comes with a separate mesh ’sock’ to put over the end of the sail to keep it together.
So on to the Sport. Yep, it has one-pump. And yes, I still prefer separate strut inflation ….. sorry! But we understand people ask for one-pump and so we have made a deal with Slingshot, the holder of the one-pump patent, to allow us to use it on the Sport, an important point as I am not sure everyone else is paying them. But there are a couple of things that it is worth knowing about using one-pump. First, it can take a little while for the struts to get to the same pressure as the leading edge, so leave the clips open for a while before closing them. BUT they must be closed before riding the kite. Two reasons for this, first so if a strut bladder bursts, you don’t loose pressure in the front tube ( i.e. the whole kite!), but also second because otherwise the kite will behave in a very, very strange way when you fly it! If you leave the clips open, then as the kite moves in the air and the stresses push on the front tube, then the air gets squeezed from the front in to the struts, making the front very soft. It is like an accordion flying through the air. What can happen (well, it happened to me anyway!) is that if you crash hard (ok, very hard!) then the clamps can pop open. In that situation, you need to get back to shore to close them again.
I really like the Sport, it’s just a lot easier than last years kite, smoother. The speed range that it can be used over is also larger, but this means that people need to know that they will be using the trim line more than on last years kite. Basically, at slow setting (trimmer off) the kite has the maximum amount of power, perfect for starting in lighter winds, but less depower in the bar. Pull the trimmer on say 5cm as the wind increases and the kite will have slightly less power, but more speed, more depower in the bar and will suddenly go 10 degrees further upwind (15 degrees for the Edge!). I was not sure whether to adjust the lines to in effect always have the trimmer on a little, but in the end I felt it was worth keeping that low wind speed power. But as I say, it is important people understand (especially those who own the old Instinct) that the trimmer is there to be used.
Comparing the power of the Old Instinct and the Sport, I would say that a Sport 11m pulls more than last years 11m for sure. This is also helped by the better turning of the new one. Again something people who own the old one might need to know if they look to fill in there existing sizes.
And so to the Edge, wow that thing moves! Sorry getting too excited! I tried a 15m but was not happy with it (too heavy) so that size has been dropped. It isn’t really needed anyway to be honest, as the Sport 15m is really good, much better than last year’s bus! I never have liked big kites!
Instead of the 15m though, I added a 7m as the 9m was so sweet. The 7m is even better! Normally I don’t like 7m kites, just too small for me, but this one is the biz! No, there wont be a 5m (hey, hey), try the Light 5m and see if you manage to come off the water without a smile!
Things to note on the Edge – well, first it is fast, second it jumps high. The thing is, you need to understand this is not a Sport, it is an Edge, and so some things are a bit different. First the depower. What I find is that because you are going so fast, when you release the bar, it feels like nothing has changed, as though you still have the same power. Then you look at the kite and realizes it is flagged out, so there must be less power. Thing is, the faster you are moving, the longer it takes to slow down and to loose the energy. So on the Edge, you need to think and plan about a second earlier than on a Sport, so the kite, your board and you have time to slow down. I think some people will think the kite doesn’t depower enough, but it does, as along as you understand the speed issue!
As with the Sport, the Edge with trimmer off tend to pull more power, but with less depower, some people may even describe them as slow and stally in this setting. As the Edge is designed for more experienced riders, I have deliberately left the trim with this setting as I personally like being able to choose what setting to ride with. This is mainly the case on the 13m Edge where it can be better to pull on 4 or 5cm trim to get better speed, but for those really, really high jumps, let the trimmer off!!!!!
What else. Oh, the bars. Two sizes of bar, 60cm and 50cm. Why? Well, the smaller kites on big bars need more care in the turn otherwise they can stall with the longer bar (pulls the back lines too far). Fine for most riders as they can feel it, but especially on the Edge and Sport I am sure we would get complaints. But the good news is that the bars can be used on all 3 models, so only 2 different bars across the whole range. The bars have a small trim range on the back lines so that the rider can set to their preference. There is a sewing line in the middle of the range though so that the recommended setting can be seen.
This again is a difficult decision, whether to have these trims especially on all the 3 models. For the Light I decided it was good for the schools so they can choose to set the kites trim to suit the student’s ability, and for people using this kite as a general kite they can set the max power position (backs shorter).
For the Edge, as I say it is a kite for more advanced riders who may have a certain arm position they prefer or who can adjust the lines to suit their harness or riding style. The hardest one was the Sport. Should it have these back-line trims or not? My main concern is someone getting the kite, trying it and not liking it saying either it doesn’t have enough power (because they had the trims off) or that it kept stalling in the turns (because the trims were fully on). But the Sport will have such a wide range of riders on, some straight from school, some very experienced. So on balance, we have kept the back-line trimmers for the Sport as well, but it is worth reminding people to start with the trims on the sewing line we have added that marks the designed factory setting
Anything else, not really. There is nothing difficult or complicated on these kites. People ask me which is my favorite kite. An impossible question for me to answer, it seems to change every time I ride. Hell, I like them all, the Light 5m that left me with a huge smile, the Sport 15m that got me back on my short surfboard, the highest, most float jumps I’ve ever done on the Edge 13m. All are great, but then I would say that.
I have to say a big thanks to the gang in Muine for helping with the testing of these kites, everything from pumping them up, to riding them and giving honest, straight forward feedback, so thanks especially (but not only) to Paul, Twan, Skatoor, Marek and Steve, a great bunch of people.