KITE TEST

OCEAN RODEO CRAVE HL SERIES 10M

OCEAN RODEO

CRAVE HL SERIES 10M

TESTED & WORDS BY: Jim Gaunt

TESTER BIOS AND TEST PARAMETERS: Here

TEST TEAM NOTES: The Crave is a kite designed for full wave riding performance but also has enough powerful lift and speedy handling for big airs and kite loops. Ocean Rodeo primarily have strapless freestyle in mind when designing this kite as it’s the go-to model for team rider and GKA Kite Surf World Tour competitor, Reece Myerscough. The discipline demands the perfect handling from a kite to allow riders to do unimaginable things without footstraps. Imagine fun steering speeds with a softer injection of power than the more sharply biting freeride kites that are tuned for performance twin-tip riding. Sounds like a nice cuppa-T for many! It is...

WHAT IS HYBRID LIGHT? Ocean Rodeo are pitching their HL (Hybrid Light) series as the ‘world’s second lightest kites’ (second only to their all-Aluula airframe kites, the A-Series). 20% lighter than Ocean Rodeo’s standard Dacron airframe kites, the HL series feature Aluula strips used as reinforcement panels running the length of the struts, from the leading edge, and there’s also another Aluula shock-strip running from wingtip to wingtip, connecting the leading edge and the canopy. The 20% reduction over their standard Dacron kites sees this Crave Hybrid Light ten metre come in at 2.3 kilos. The ten metre Roam A-Series weighs a straight 2.0 kilos and it may surprise you to know that it feels a lot lighter, but that probably says more about the Roam’s own A-Series upgrades rather than belittling the Crave HL’s own improvement on the scales this year. We’ll take OR’s word for it, but I’ll come to the shared improvements in both kites at the end of this review. Ultimately, it’s not about how a kite feels in your hands; it’s about what it can do in the sky. OTHER TEST COMPARISONS We tested the Ocean Rodeo A-Series Roam kite earlier this year – read the review here. Also of note, we tested the 2020 Crave in standard construction too – read that review here.

CRAVE HL SERIES HANDLING We were pleased to be able to test the ten metre this time, rather than the 12 metre – which seems more applicable to us as a kite that’s designed to cross between surfboard and twin-tip riding. Further tweaked since we reviewed the 2020 Crave model, this Hybrid Light design for 2021 essentially delivers the same handling characteristics. This kite is all about offering a broad sheeting range with good power that’s delivered as softly as you like. Sheet in hard for immediate power, or feather the bar more gently for a gradual increase of pull. The steering is tuned for fast, tight turns and the Crave HL can also be steered with the kite well depowered – a bonus for foiling and wave riding, primarily. You can really rocket the kite around the window if you sheet in hard for an instinctive and immediate steering response to reposition the kite wherever it is in the window. As with the sheeting power, if you steer the kite more gently, you’ll also get a more sedate response. It’s like a well trained dog, but a naturally quick one! For freeriding it’s a lovely kite for sending up and sheeting hard for boosty, floaty airs, while also offering rapid manoeuvrability. This is of the same ilk as the Airush Session wave / freeride crossover kite. These kites are both very applicable machines for the large section of riders who like to ride a surfboard and a twin-tip for slashy, jumping, carving freeride fun. I do like the springy feeling that kites like this have at the bar. I can always feel there’s power to be had, but at the same time can sheet out and kill the power very quickly. Just sheeting in when riding along is fun and the Crave HL has more juice at the bar than the Session, but it’s not as immediately reactive. For inexperienced or improving riders, the Crave HL kites are a good choice because the kite whips round quickly and very reliably. It won’t set big kite loopers’ hearts racing (though can be steered more slowly because the forward drive is very constant), but that’s fine for everyone else. This is a kite that isn’t daunting to approach with a very effective sheeting range. As you get better you’ll enjoy further rewards the more wind you ride it in, while always having the sense of control from the excellent depower range. The Crave HL ten metre is like a bow kite for easy jumps and sheeting power, but has a far more driving, fun and fluid turn. In 25+ knots it’s a hooked-in fast freeriders machine on a twin-tip. Essentially the ten metre has a really big range and I was very happily switching between a twin-tip and surfboard, from 18 – 25 knots, sending the kite back and forth for turns, no problem and then jumping on the twin-tip.

FOILING AND LESS WIND In regular twin-tip conditions of 18 knots and upwards the bar feel on the Crave HL has enough feedback to let you know where the kite is without being fatiguing at all when set on the rear bridle attachment for the back lines. I’d recommend switching the back lines further forward on the leading edge for more feedback in lighter winds if you’re riding a foil, particularly for moves where you have your back to the kite, such as when tacking, when you need the extra sense of direction. However, this is a really low maintenance kite for general freeride foiling. Good power at the bar and effortlessly smooth sheeting – so much so that it’s not a problem to be more overpowered on this kite while you’re foiling. You can also adjust the stopper very easily to adapt the distance that your bar throws out to. While it’s honestly quite difficult to pinpoint some of the benefits of the Aluula strips in general when flying the Crave HL, what I can tell you is that, as on the Ocean Rodeo Roam A-Series, these new generation of kites continue to shine when it comes to climbing back up through the window. The Roam A-Series is top drawer, but the Crave HL also has its magnets directed at the sky. Coming out of a downloop when foiling, once again the Crave HL is excellent, and that really follows through on a twin-tip for downloops and kite loops. The fast response and tight turns with loads of on/off power on tap that can be softly administered is a real asset in a freeride kite when you don’t log hours-upon-hours of kitesurf experience each week. You want a kite that’s fun and easy. This is it.

BAR Ocean Rodeo are one of just two brands (Duotone being the other) to offer unique rear line trimming systems. There are two big advantages with these designs. Firstly, your trimming controls are positioned on one end of the bar, so are very easy to reach without having to lean forward. The second lovely advantage is that the centre line that runs up through the middle of your bar is very clean in front of your eye line, as there’s no cleat there with any flapping rope / webbing. Ocean Rodeo have a smooth plastic cover for the sheeting line, so there’s no chance of any abrasion against your skin as you sheet in and out. They also use an adjustable stopper, which means you can set the amount of throw you want to have. We didn’t need to touch this at all; the shut off of power on the stock setting was easily enough for all we were doing. If, however, you like to be able to immediately kill the power (some people like to do that in wave riding, or in tacking based foil manoeuvres), you could move the stopper a bit further away. On the other hand, if you’re not very tall, you can move the stopper closer so that the bar doesn’t sheet out beyond your reach if you let go of it (you won’t have as much depower if you move the stopper down, though). Overall the Shift V3 bar is similar to the V2, but is now (thankfully – it was quite chunky) thinner diameter and has a new rubber coating.

To power-up your kite you simply twist the knob at the end of the right hand side of the bar. To de-power the kite you just push that same knob outwards and keep clicking it until you’ve reached your desired level of depower. It takes a little bit of getting used to and learning to feel when the bar is fully powered / depowered, but it’s a good system. The gearing of the winder inside the bar has been tweaked to be a bit smoother and the working parts underneath the bar are still open, which means you can easily clean sand and water out. Available in just one size, 52cm (with 22m lines) this is quite a wide feeling bar for anything below a ten metre kite size, but not overly so. The Shift V2 is also lighter and we enjoyed using it, especially for kite loops. On a twin-tip it's really intuitive to slide your hand down to where the bar bends slightly for good grip when you decide last minute to do a loop. Also, when foiling there are a lot of situations where you need to loop your kite, and if you want a really tight spin of the kite then the floats at the end of the bar are chunky and effectively like an extension of the bar if you want to grab those for extra purchase. All in all a good set-up that we're now really dialled in to. If you prefer a standard cleat rope trim, Ocean Rodeo do still offer that option in the new Pilot 2.0 bar.

Find all the updates as well as more info on the new Punchout trim loop in this video:

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“This is a pretty awesome kite for hooked-in thrashing around in the ocean. It makes kitesurfing feel easy, fun and is equally at home on a twin-tip, surfboard or foil.”

SUMMARY: Once again, as a strapless freestyle / wave riding / freeride combo kite, the Crave HL is great. It has easy lift, superb depower, instant turn response to loop the kite as well as adept handling in waves, even when depowered. While the ten metre offers more than average power for a ten metre, you also don’t need to step down to a small size in a hurry because the kite moves efficiently and has plenty of sheeting control. This is a pretty awesome kite for hooked-in thrashing around in the ocean. It makes kitesurfing feel easy, fun and is equally at home on a twin-tip, surfboard or foil. KW LIKED:

Rewarding feel of power when you sheet the bar in, mixed with a responsive and tightly turning flying style, making for easy, fun sessions on a twin-tip and a surfboard. Did you see what Giel Vlugt was doing with it at the Cold Hawaii Big Air event? He reached the semis with absolutely some massive tricks, knocking Kevin Langeree out of the comp!

KW WOULD CHANGE: If you are specialising in freestyle twin-tip riding, you will want something with less sheeting power.

CRAVE HL BALANCE POINTS: Build quality: 9 Full package: 9 Low end: 8 Top end: 8 Steering speed: 7 Turning circle: 4.4 Bar pressure: 5 Water relaunch: 8.5 Drift: 7.5 Boost: 7.5 Hang-time: 7 Unhooked: 6 Crossover: 9 SIZES: 12, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 & 5m

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