At a Glance
Starting in 1999 with their first product, the PYRO drysuit, Ocean Rodeo have been around since the beginning of kitesurfing time. Based in Vancouver Island, Canada, the company started off making drysuits before moving onto kites and now a range of equipment. Considering that the conditions they ride in are so cold, rugged and often hit by North Pacific storms, getting the design and, most importantly, the build quality of their products right is imperative.
For 2015 Ocean Rodeo updated their widely successful SLE kite the “Prodigy” and we were lucky enough to get our hands onto it. Updated with new graphics, available in a variety of colours and packed with some top features this wave/freeride orientated kite is well worth a gander. The Prodigy is a 3-strut designed kite built with FLITE technology making it lighter and a lot faster through the sky. For those of you who have used the 2014 Prodigy, don’t fear - it has not by any way altered its stability in the sky or how it feels on the bar. Aimed at giving the rider a forgiving feel throughout the turns meanwhile providing incredible amounts of power when boosting big and trying to get some hangtime. One thing you may notice on the Prodigy is that the leading edge bridles are shorter than on most kites, this design feature has been implemented to reduce the chance of a kite wrap if your kite happens to be tumbled by a wave or two. Ocean Rodeo have looked at the short bridle not only to prevent mishaps and deliver supremely direct steering input in highly depowered conditions, but also to incorporate their direct-depower technology. The direct-depower technology on the Prodigy ensures that when you hit your eject system the kite will fully roll over providing maximum possible depower. For those of you looking to dumb down the steering of your Prodigy there are multiple attachment points for your rear lines, giving you the option to trim the kite exactly as you would like it. One thing I’m always keen to see on a kite, most definitely a wave kite or a kite I'm going to use in strong winds, is the rescue handles on the ends of the leading edge. Being able to get yourself in on days when things just get too gnarly is important and these make it super easy.
Moving onto the construction of the Ocean Rodeo 2015 Prodigy it becomes very clear that the efforts put into making this kite robust and ready for everything you can throw at it has paid off. At a first glance it already looks bombproof, but as you work your way around this kite you tend to start noticing all the reinforcements and robustness. With ultra tough padding across parts on the leading edge, you shouldn't need to worry about leaving it flapping in the wind on the beach for a few hours.
Sizes: 5, 7, 9.5, 12
The 2015 Prodigy can be flown with either the “safety bar” or the “above the bar” control systems. We had the “above the bar” system for the test. Pretty much the first thing noticed when getting the bar out was the quality of the lines, they look incredibly strong. When you get your lines out you’ll be able to get your hands around the bar, with a medium sized diameter the bar is very comfortable to use and has the perfect combination of grip and softness.
Complete with bar floats and OSR releases on the back lines, there’s always a get out if for some reason your primary safety was jammed (we’ve all had that horrible moment when your bar has gone inside out and wont slide up the safety line), with OSR’s on your back lines it’s never a worry. The safety system is one of the simplest you will see, very easy to put back together in the water and works on demand without fail.
The depower system is a cleat system that seems to work perfectly every time. Even in the strongest of gusts it wouldn't slip at all. Effortless to pull down to depower and just as easy to crank that power back on. One of my favourite features (definitely made good use of it) was the centre line and its stopper, being able to change the distance of your maximum depower point means that changing between a wave set up or pulling it down and going for some oldskool deadmans is a doddle.
In the Air
At first, launching the kite in what was very powered conditions I shot off down the beach on my toes, just letting up on the bar and pushing out brought me to an immediate stop. The Prodigy has such a huge range of depower that you can go from fully overpowered to relaxed in an instant. With the bar right in it’s like being attached to a train, pulling consistently and with strength. However, you can choose to ride with the bar just that bit further out and it becomes the light, maneuverable wave kite it is designed to be.
When flying the Ocean Rodeo the bar pressure isn't too much and isn't too light, you have enough there to let you know exactly where your kite is without working those arms in the slightest. The feedback from the kite is very direct, this is also transferred into its turns, the kite is ultra fast to react. Perfect for smashing down the faces of waves or sending large jumps. As you travel down the waves the Prodigy drifts very well, just hovering around until you need its input again.
In light winds you will find that the Prodigy is incredibly stable and surprisingly strong. It became apparent just how much light wind performance this kite had when we got out on the 9.5m on days other kiters were using 12-14m kites. Who doesn't love that!
The Prodigy is most certainly a kite suited to those of you looking for an all-round light wind, strong wind, wave and even freeride and boosting kite. Not a lot of kites can provide such large amounts of power, but have such a range you can jump straight on a surfboard and ride off strapless when you’re done boosting. Not really made for those looking to progress onto a lot of wake style or freestyle riding, but there are other kites in the Ocean Rodeo range more geared towards this.
Constructed with harsh conditions in mind, huge depower range, simple safety system, rescue handles.
To be perfectly honest there weren't really any major downsides to the Prodigy, the only thing that was noticeable was that the bar was maybe not quite as refined in looks and feel as some of the 2015 bars on the market. But then, when it works as well as it does, does it matter?!
Robust, feature-packed kite that handles impeccably in a variety of conditions. Boosting big and floating for what seemed like minutes, the Prodigy is sure to put a smile on your face. Head out strapless and it wont fail to amaze you. All in all, the Prodigy is a brilliant piece of kit, high performance yet simple to fly. If you’re looking for a kite that suits one riding style and will excel to the maximum in that, then the Prodigy may not be for you. If you’re looking for a kite that will handle most things you throw at it then the Prodigy will suit you down to the ground.
This review was in Issue 51 of IKSURFMAG.For more information visit Ocean Rodeo