Ocean Rodeo Razor 2012 – best yet.
I’m taking a breather from the sea today – got a proper cold and running a nice temperature so I’m forsaking the shrieking winds and rain outside till tomorrow when I intend to be back on top form.
With this downtime, I thought I’d give my thoughts on the Ocean Rodeo Razor 2012. I’m going to run through this as if I were testing it in Kitesurf Magazine. Now, you may have a little alarm bell sounding a warning of ‘bias review up ahead!’, but let me put this to you: If anything, this review will be even more accurate than a review in KS Mag as I have no advertiser to please and keep sweet.
‘Sure’, you say, ‘but you’re not going to stiff your own sales are you ?’
Exactly. I’m going to tell you the truth about what’s new with the 2012 Razor, and my findings. There’s no point in me exaggerating since I’d be ‘found out’ when you test the kite for yourself and that would ruin my credibility and you won’t believe me in future. So here’s my take on the Razor, and here’s what you can expect:
About the Razor:
The Razor is a 4 strut SLE designed for hooked and unhooked powered freestyle, wave riding and all out blasting. It has the most power per square meter of all the Ocean Rodeo kites. This is the second version and features the ‘new for 2012′ FST ‘forward swept wingtips’. I prefer flying the Razor with the Fusion long throw bar to get the best out of the kite’s impressive range.
Straight out of the bag it’s hard to find fault with the Razor. The tubes are slender and the single point inflation rams them full of air for a rigid, crinkle free air-frame.
The canopy is made from a myriad of panels, more than the 2011 series. This is more expensive to manufacture, but it gives the kite a better look rather than just relying on printed graphics and the extra seams and stitching give a tighter, more stretch resistant canopy. There are some practical features unique to Ocean Rodeo on this kite:
First up, the kink in the leading edge, this is the FST. The FST (forward swept wingtips) are designed to increase the surface area of the wingtips for better weighted and more reactive steering, and to bring the front line tow point forward which allows the Razor to depower further than before. FST achieves all the benefits of bigger wingtips without altering the aspect ratio of the Razor, so you still get that fast flying, forward punching performance. The kinked FST leading edge is mega-reinforced and uses a regular shaped leading edge bladder so right away any durability concerns are voided.
And then there’s the Venturi technology. Venturi is simply a thin vent that runs across the lifting part of the canopy, a little way up from the trailing edge. It works by maintaining a fast low pressure flow over the outer surface of the kite even when you are ‘over sheeting’, so your stall point is reduced. In flying, you’ll feel this as more resistance to back stall and floatier jumps. Like the FST, the Venturi requires no adjustment in the way you fly to make it work – just crack on and let it do its thing.
Elsewhere the Razor is a beautifully made kite and will pass close scrutiny. One particularly reassuring thing I noticed was the rear pigtail attachment panel – check it for yourself, why doesn’t everyone do it like that?
There’s not too much to say here because the Razor flies great straight out of the bag with your rear lines attached one knot in on the kite’s pigtails, just as you would with any kite that flies straight from the factory. Leading edge bridles are short, unfussy. You’ve got a simple adjustment on the front bridles for more or less depower, and 3 faster / slower turning speeds on the rear pigtails.
The Fusion Bar
As said, I like the Fusion bar on the Razor. It packs in everything I’ve always felt necessary to make a top waveriding bar: Long bar throw – essential for hooked in waveriding where you need to control speed and not get yanked through turns. Really only possible with under-bar trim which the Fusion bar has, and happily it features a pulley so that it’s not the wrestling match it used to be.
Push away safety – at some stage, you will need to get rid of the kite fast, usually after wiping out and you and the kite are about to get sent down to Davey Jones’ locker thanks to an incoming sneaker set. Push away safety has always felt more natural and reliable to me. There’s no ambiguity – slide the release forward and you’re free. The OR one is non-mechanical so when you wash up on the beach it’s easy to reset without worrying about sand ingress in moving parts.
Single line flag out – OK so I know BKSA instructors would prefer this were on the front line, but having at least both rear lines able to flag the kite out is damn near essential when it comes to packing up in the water, such as when the kite is down for the count and you are being dragged into danger, or you are about to get picked up by a boat. Also comes in handy for emergency self landings. Basically I really need my kites to have a single line flag out function somewhere on the bar and the Fusion has it in two places – good work.
Grip – All OR bars are shaped to give better turning leverage with your hand towards the end, and a more natural position for your wrists when you’re cruising with your hands toward the middle of the bar. The grip itself is mega-durable and the bar ends are soft and contoured; a good combo for when you’re unhooking and holding on through a kiteloop.
Elsewhere, the chicken loop is self-locating when unhooking, the donkey dick is bolted into place so won’t be lost but is easily moved out of the way, the bar floats stay firm and the front line swivel keeps twists out though sometimes it may need a little coercion from the rider to get it to spin. No biggy.
OK, this is what we’re here for!
(Typically, I’ve only tested the Razor in waves, not yet with a twin tip).
The 2012 Razor is appreciably a very large step forward from the 2011 Razor. Whether we can attribute all of this to the FST wingtips, or if its there is other magic at work I am not sure. What I can tell you are the differences in three key areas:
Stability. The 2011 Razor was adequately stable considering how much performance potential the kite has. Still, I noticed on a few runs at it in large waves that slack lines would upset it. Not in the same way that some Deltas are affected, but still I could notice it. Next, you needed a bit of thought with the trim. Too much and you could choke it up. By contrast, the 2012 Razor will handle the most unforgiving downwind run at it, in three days I’ve only upset it once and then it was easily caught, could it be the bigger FST tips giving more weight where needed? Whatever it is, his kite will love you for slacklining it on your big off the lip downwind turns. Nice! Next, the 2012 is far more impervious to back stall; granted ALL kites can choke up but if you’re choking the 2012 Razor, you really are doing something fundamentally wrong.
Turning. Turning speed is nothing without the right ‘weight’ and feedback at the bar. The 2012 Razor has a firmer, more positive feel when you steer it. The 2011 was stellar in this department, and the 2012 improves on it. Handling is snappy and quick; to me, the 10m flies like a very good 9m (but thankfully still pulls like a very powerful 10m!). Even when you’re way underpowered and kite should be gasping for air, the 2012 still maintains a tight, powered arc through turns. Loving it.
Range. No question, the 2012 Razor is a very powerful kite. Size for size, it’s got the best low end in the OR line up. I think along with the crisp well weighted handling, this is the first thing you will notice when you try it. At the other end of the scale, the Razor is simply excellent (remember, I’m not over-hyping this as hopefully you’ll be trying one soon) and you can haul in loads of that power line and still keep close control over the canopy. No heavy wild swinging around here, the Razor has got top-end extended range handling sorted.
So where’s the compromise in all of this then? Well it’s hard to say what the Razor doesn’t do exceptionally well until you compare it with other kites in the OR range: The Rise will beat it for upwind angles and will give a floatier, less aggressive boosting experience, and the Cypher will sit a little deeper for unhooked riding and pressing sliders, but for me the compromises are in sensible areas and the Razor will be my most used wave kite for 2012.
The 2011 Razor came screaming out of the gates and won firm fans with those that got under it thanks to the rapid handling and grin-expanding jumps. Naturally no one expected such a kite to come with ‘zombie-like’ handling characteristics, but the 2012 Razor not only retains the high performance of its forebear, but improves upon it and says ‘yep, I’m even easier to fly than ever before’. And that’s some statement, for the ’11 Razor has proven to be popular with instructors for teaching. So now, you’ve a got a kite with even more performance potential and it’s even easier to fly, or should I say, easier to control in the extreme situations that we like to put ourselves into.
The ’12 Razor benefits hugely from the Venturi and FST features. Richard and Ross (OR designers and founders) have been designing kites for 12 years now and their motto is ‘performance over hype’; basically, they only add a feature if they can determine that it brings a noticeable performance benefit.
Personally I am looking forward to exceeding my past waveriding efforts in all areas – only last night I managed to get three solid backhand hits in a SW at Watergate, famously a one-hit wonder wave! I’m totally confident this kite will take me into bigger, hollower and more critical situations than I have been in before.
If I had to use one word to sum up the 2012 Razor, it would be ‘electric’. I hope this review has thrown some light (pun!) onto what the Razor is all about, but more so I hope you can get out and try one for yourself.
I’ll be posting my thoughts on the Rise and Cypher kites after I get some more solid sessions in on them. I might also run a mini-review on the Razor’s freestyle potential too since that’s half of what this kite is all about. I’ll be drafting in a couple of other riders for these reviews, so get in touch if you want to get involved.