Here we go, time for another one of my rare reviews of the kit that I in fact responsible for marketing 🙂 But before you grow concerned that I might be spinning you a bit of a yarn, the fact that I represent Ocean Rodeo insulates you against any chance of me lying, for if I was to tell tall tales about the Prodigy kite, you would only need to fly it to rumble my ruse. Ergo, I am honour bound to be truthful and accurate in this report so as to maintain my integrity, which I hope I have some of.
About the Prodigy
In 2012, the Ocean Rodeo kite line up was pretty well fleshed out, but there was one thing missing: a kite that didn’t cost (cue Dr Evil voice) One Billion Dollars! OR’s legacy kites like the Razor and Rise are premium products, not cheap, feature packed and constructed with meticulous attention to detail. Very nice, but not competitive in the burgeoning accessible / affordable freeride kite market. Also, the Razor is a ballistic kite, and the Rise required quite a deft touch to fly. Neither really suited the catch-all demographic that three strut kites were appealing to.
So, the Prodigy has two clear aims to live up to: be competitive in price against the freeride offerings of other brands, and to be very easy to fly.
Here’s what the 9.5m Prodigy complete with Freeride bar costs the consumer: £950 all in. Whew! That is 2009 prices. Get on. Get in! Say no more. Maybe click here to buy (he said cheekily).
I’ll do this part first, then talk a bit about build. Now, I’ve flown the Prodigy more than anyone else on the planet, save Richard and Ross at OR who designed the kite. But then again, I did have three weeks in Brazil where I rode every single day for many hours, so probably it is me that’s flown it more than anyone else, finished version at least.
– General riding
I think that one of the best indicators that a kite is good is how long you want to stay on the water for. If you find yourself coming in because you are exhausted, aching, or getting bored, I think you’re not flying the right kite. The Prodigy is one of those kites that keeps you trucking till sundown. It takes little physical and mental effort to fly. This is because it has a nice rolling turning motion and stays rather central to the power zone, meaning it’s easy to keep a good board speed up. So despite not punching way forward in the window like the Razor, upwind is very easily attained because the power is constant as you navigate lulls and peaks in the wind, lumps and bumps in the ocean. Flightier kites are more affected by shifting winds and that can cause the rider to drift downwind as they have to work it for power again. A kite that sits deeper and provides more constant pull gets round this problem, and since I often kite in gusty frontal winds, I like this aspect of the Prodigy.
There is a stack of depower at the bar on this kite, and it has the usual Ocean Rodeo trick of remaining manoeuvrable with a load of slack in your rear lines, such as when you’ve sheeted in a lot because you’re flying a size to big. We all do it. I don’t mind this on the Prodigy, I can hold my 9.5m in a real blow; it doesn’t swing around and lurch you about when depowered, meaning you can still get your ripper top turns in!
This is what I primarily use the Prodigy for. I’ve caught some whopping great waves on it, slashed up shorebreaks on it, reefbreaks, points, the lot. In big waves, it is a very dependable tow source; I will admit that I used to drop the Razor a bit when coming off a big off the lip as it went a bit slack in the lines a bit too early. The Prodigy is different, I’ve made some horrendously ambitious lip bashes, sometimes being pitched out into the flats, and even if the wind’s onshore, the Prodg will stay skyward. Most people find themselves kiting waves when it’s onshore (beats paddling!) so for the kite to float like a balloon whilst you rush towards it is a massive asset.
Cross shore, you need to give the Prodigy a clear command at the bar to get it to turn tight – and it will. I know that the Prodigy allows for very tight turns of your board thanks to the compact turning radius which the kite will operate in. You should however know that the Prodigy’s steering is set to protect the rider from false moves at the bar; twitchy it is not. The Razor turns far quicker which really appeals to big hitting freestylers like Craig Smith, but these days I prefer a 4×4 truck to a turbocharged hot hatch. Very tight and fast turning kites tend so slow down through the air which in turn slows your board speed down and the effectiveness of your turn. The Prodigy is well paced to match a surfboard’s natural sweeps and carves as you go down the line and it’s plenty connected enough for a tight, compact smack of the lip.
I also think it’s a myth that kites need to be lightening quick. Progression does not come from having to constantly wonder about where your kite is; all modern tricks are rooted in edge and release which require no movement of the kite. Things need to be balanced.
– Jumping and stuff
I don’t do a lot of this (that’s not to say I haven’t hit the launch button a million times over the years), but in Brazil I rediscovered my love of the twin tip on a particularly delicious lagoon. Stupidly I left my JT-Pro 140 at home thinking I would only ride my Surf Series 5’11, but a client kindly lent me their twin tip for a few sessions.
I used the 12m every day till it got too dark to kite. The winds were light and fluffy in this lagoon, often there was only one or two riders out plus me. This is a good time to mention the low end potential of the Prodigy. I haven’t experimented with the 7m low wind ability and probably never will, but the 9.5m gets going like a good 10m or a crappy 11m (you know which ones I mean!). The 12m is as big as I’d need to go. After that, I’m going swimming, or playing outdoor table tennis.
The 12m hangtime is generous, generous enough for me to land my first board off attempt in about five or six years. That’s that covered. Unhooking, yep, you can get a pretty satisfying kiteloop out of it and the kite retains its composure when you don’t trim it properly and choke it up a bit; it resists the tendency to ‘fold’. Not a facet that experienced flyers will really notice but novices, instructors and first time unhookers will be glad of it.
When the freestyle mood takes me, the Prodigy will do all I require of it. If you want to go megalooping or boost skyscraping jumps, I’d suggest the Razor. If you want to throw low mobes, you could pick up a Cypher pretty cheaply from an OR dealer as that kite literally flies off the back lines.
That’s probably what the Prodigy promotes more than anything else. If I had to do a crossing this would be the kite I’d take. If I wanted to kitesurf the Cribbar again, I would use this kite. I’ve used the 12m in marginal winds at perfect, massive cross offshore Watergate (yes! I challenge you to try the 12m in waves and not like it, I challenge you!) – conditions I normally would have avoided; I put this down to the incredible drift characteristics, predictable turning pace, low wind grunt and high wind control. That’s quite a lot of pluses, but really that’s all I want from a kite.
My strapless riding has come on considerably since I took up arms with the Prodigy, and I would say that my love for kitesurfing has grown deeper. That’s really all I have to say about it, other than in my estimation, it’s one of the most practical and satisfying kites I’ve ever flown.
This is always a bit boring to write about, so can I just leave it at the fact that it’s built tough like everything else OR make? Cheers!