A revolutionary, new lightweight kite material is being introduced by Ocean Rodeo in two kite models this fall. We caught up with Ocean Rodeo CEO Richard Myerscough to find out more about Aluula.
Kitesurfing Magazine: What is Aluula?
Richard Myerscough: A Canadian composites company, founded by a passionate team of outdoor enthusiasts who are also highly experienced chemists, mechanical engineers and entrepreneurs.
Both Ocean Rodeo and Aluula are based in British Columbia. We know each by crossing paths over the years at business functions and a few of the Aluula team also kite and are keen Ocean Rodeo fans.
Aluula was actually sparked into being by a simple question at a business meeting five years ago; can a lighter, stronger material be made for kites other than the current status quo? Five years, with many ups and downs. Here we are. Aluula!
How much lighter are the kites made with Aluula?
We have cut the weight in about half. A three-strut, ten meter classic fabric kite comes in at about seven-to-eight pounds. An Aluula three-strut ten meter can range from 3.5 to 4.5 pounds depending on the design and composites used.
How has the lighter weight influenced the design of the kites?
Like most brands, we have made and tested several variations of one-strut and no-strut kites. They do have their sweet spots in just the right wind and can be great to ride, but we found the loss of control in varied conditions not ideal or right for Ocean Rodeo. There is now no need to compromise performance by removing struts to achieve light wind bliss. You can now ride a three-strut in ultra light wind and continue to use this same kite with control as the wind ramps up.
The Aluula air frame works amazingly well on current kite designs. It puts them into hyper drive; more power, faster turning, immediate trim response. The biggest changes in design may be coming due to increased air frame stiffness and the option for smaller diameter leading edge tubes and struts, which reduces weight and increases efficiency yet again. Having said all the above, the stiff light Aluula frame would also deliver great improvement to the handling of one-and-no strut kites. Still to be explored.
Do the stretch characteristics of Aluula present any design challenges?
I don’t see design challenges as much as design opportunity. Think about the shift from wood frame tennis racquets to composites in the mid ‘70s; in five years wood was gone as the composites allowed for new easy-to-use racquets with giant sweet spots. I sense Aluula represents a similar shift.
We’ve been using materials developed in the 1950s for yachting. Refined yes, however adding a thread here or there is not changing much from the kites we made way back in 2001. Has Dacron, Ripstop and PU Film allowed us to find the true limits of our sport? No!
Most kite designers understand material properties well, and know the tricks of the trade when dissimilar materials are directly connected. We see this now on kites where you have a stiff Dacron sewn to a stretchy ripstop. You have to design for this.
Aluula works well as a direct Dacron replacement without major modifications to a current modern kite design.
KM: What models will be made in the material and where do you see the biggest advantages?
Ocean Rodeo is launching two kite models featuring Aluula air frame technology.
Roam Black is a freeride foil/surf kite. The ultra light weight and responsive Aluula frame delivers a new realm in kite drifting, precision handling and control in the lightest winds, right up to storm force.
The Flite Black is a freeride light wind kite. A light wind beast for all riding styles. The Aluula airframe drastically reduces weight pushing the light wind riding threshold into new territory. More power, faster turning, precise handling.