OCEAN RODEO JESTER
TESTED BY: Jim Gaunt and Michelle Blaydon
WORDS BY: Jim Gaunt
TESTER BIOS AND TEST PARAMETERS: Here
TEST TEAM NOTES: Ocean Rodeo’s Jester 2.0 may only be suited to a small section of kite society who are specifically looking for strapless freestyle performance, but it does have a number of interesting performance traits to highlight because they are so unique. Firstly, this board is super trim – it’s been on a serious diet. The OR website states just 2.8 kilos and it really does feel uncannily light, whether bobbing under your feet, keen for air, or when you’re gripping the rail in your hands. That sensation is further enhanced by the fact that the rails are thin and easy to grip, so from the first moment you pick it up it’s natural to start imagining flicking it round on the water.
Key features that standout in the Jester’s appearance are the straight rails, the similarly wide and rounded shape in both the nose and tail and the large single concave in the base. All of these features are designed to help you get grip, load, pop, have control in the air and enjoy greater forgiveness on landing. I tested the Jester with Michelle, a friend who has just learnt to tack her foil and regular surfboard, but who is also really keen to land some strapless airs. I sent her out on the Jester which she swapped for her F-One Shadow and I was surprised that she stayed out on it for so long. The two boards couldn’t be further apart in terms of fluid turning performance. The wind was around 20 knots, choppy and there were no real waves to speak of.
Michelle used to test skis in a previous life. “It reminds me of a freestyle ski!” she said with a smile as she handed me the board back on the beach. “I enjoyed it – it absolutely shoots upwind and I made some of my biggest strapless airs yet, which is what I’m really focused on trying at the moment.” The freestyle ski reference comes from the long, straight edge and good grip that’s immediately apparent when you ride the Jester on the rail, which it’s naturally inclined to do. The deep single concave develops grip and helps you engage the Jester’s narrower rail more effectively, but doesn’t allow for such smooth rail-to-rail performance that you may be used to. The Jester wants to be ridden on its rail, or flat – there’s not really an in-between like on a normal surfboard that offers a smoother transition as you come off one rail and put pressure on the opposite rail to carve up and down a wave. To ride a wave with the Jester the technique is more similar to a skimboard, in that you need to stay connected to the wave face, ride slower and perform a more sliding style of turn with your weight centred over the board, rather than pushing off the fins.
But let’s focus on the positives, because they’re definitely here if you’re looking to improve your chances of strapless freestyle trick success, especially in very average, choppy conditions. Firstly, there’s no denying the upwind performance, a particular advantage in light winds. Ocean Rodeo’s team rider and surfboard designer, Reece Myerscough, broke into the GKA Kite-Surf World Tour’s top five over the last few seasons using a stock Jester for strapless freestyle and it’s very obvious that he has an advantage when it comes to planing speed and pop when other riders might find themselves bogging and underpowered. Secondly, the light weight of the board combined with the deck being quite evenly shaped under your front and back foot absolutely helps the board stick more easily to your feet when you jump. Just present the deck of the board to the wind and within a few attempts we found the feedback under out feet far more easy to dial into, soon enjoying longer, floating sensations without feeling like the board is about to drop away.
Finally, the Jester’s more skimboard style performance that allows it to not trip a rail when ridden flat means that you have a far greater chance of successfully riding away from a trick - as long as you can land with your body pressure directly over the deck. Strapless freestyle is very difficult to make progress at, but we’re in no doubt that the Jester immediately helps you get the basic fundamentals under your belt much quicker. The Jester’s increased ability to slide when flat also really helps you pivot the board underneath your body when tacking. You can become far less reliant on such an accurately timed arcing carve up into wind, instead just edging against the kite and then sliding the board around once your kite reaches 12. It’s really fun to play with new and sometimes easier techniques once you’re dialled in. The Jester’s deck pad is available separately but we’d highly recommend getting it and running the full deck coverage because it really does help with grip. As the Jester lets you get away with landing with more foot pressure towards the nose, why not even further increase your chances of success with more grip? The Jester features inserts for five fins allowing you to run either a three-fin thruster or quad fin set up and come with a full set of fins so you can play with both options.
“Amazing upwind performance, even in marginal conditions... and how the Jester more automatically sticks to your feet in the air.”
SUMMARY: You’ll need to adapt your technique to ride the Jester with much more of a rail-edging stance if you’re already really dialled in to a traditional surfboard. You’ll also sacrifice a feel of fluidity and smooth speed, however you’re gaining a really focused set of performance characteristics that are specifically designed to help you pop more effectively, keep the board connected to your feet more easily and then land with much more forgiveness. It you’re serious about upping your strapless freestyle game, the Jester 2.0 will absolutely do that. Just recognise that it’s very specialised towards that and if you’re looking to combine some wave performance with more intermitted attempts at strapless freestyle, the Jester will often feel overly stiff and slidey for your regular surfboard riding technique. So just go for a lot of tricks! KW LIKED:
Amazing upwind performance, even in marginal conditions... and how the Jester more automatically sticks to your feet in the air.
KW WOULD CHANGE: Make the carving feel more natural.