Producing a kite as versatile as the new Ozone Catalyst is no easy task as the kite feels and performs equally well in all sizes and aspects of kitesurfing. Although a complete redesign, Ozone have retained the essence of the previous model that made it a freeride favourite across the world. The smooth power delivery and refined handling make it very comfortable, although when you send it there's lots of pop and hang-time. If you're starting out in freestyle, the Catalyst is superb with its open C shape and square tips, offering a subtle C feel without being as aggressive as the C4. From your first unhooked moves through to handle-passes and kite loops, the Catalyst delivers confidence-inspiring performance allowing you to push your limits. Although higher aspect than the Reo, it's not as dedicated to wave riding but it's very predictable, has good handling, depower and float, allowing you to ride the wave rather than continually having to fly the kite. As an entry level kite the new Catalyst is very easy-to-use and the pulley-less, three strut design offers endless performance and satisfaction to a very wide variety of riders.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
We are big fans of Ozone's take on kitesurfing and that even comes down to the bag and what you get with their kites, including a really good rucksack, sandbag, inner bag and all sorts of repair bits and pieces. The current Ozone bar has been around for a few seasons now and, while it's really comfortable, keys in beautifully when unhooked, has a lovely, flexible chicken-finger and one of the smoothest, easiest trimming cleat systems on the market, it could do with a little updating to look super sleek and sexy. We've mentioned many times that Ozone's quick-release on the side of the chicken-loop is a pull-down operation which, is not only different to every other brand, but means there's a very small chance you might trigger it if you grab the chicken-loop a lot to hook back in after a trick. If you don't jump on lots of different kites like we do, then you'll get used to it and it's a very functional, safe system and very clean too. We like it a lot, apart from a couple of small points.
Build quality as usual is excellent, not too heavy and not too light, just inch perfect. Ozone also use a wide inflation system on their kite which makes it really quick to pump up, you do need a wide nozzle on your pump though, but does make deflation very quick.
The steering on the Catalyst is slightly less reactive this year, which makes more sense as the 2013 ten metre also has more power, so you don't need to move it around so much to get you going. This is of course super for the freestylers as well as the kite doesn't drift around too much. However, the nice surprise is that when you do want to send it there's plenty under the bonnet at the top of the window for boosting. Although it's not a whippy sort of kite, you can send it fairly hard for some good, solid predictable air-time and the kite doesn't run around above your head while in the air either. It's got good in-flight handling for the rookies.
The Catalyst features that typical quality that Ozone pack into all their kites, and that's that they really look after the pilot in terms of power delivery. There's always something very comfortable about picking up an Ozone and taking it for a spin. There's a consistent user-friendliness across their range and the Catalyst certainly does most things well.
Although easy and safe, the Catalyst isn't the light, soft kite that it has been; it feels very solid and sits just forward of a mid-window position. This makes it stable, stops it from trying to fly too far forward all the time and provides that nice mix of enough cruisy upwind performance but without being really difficult to fly and trim. It also looks very C kite in the air; from the beach it really looks like you're rockin' a C kite and the air frame, as usual, is very solid and doesn't get beaten up by the gusts at all.
The Catalyst has clearly spent the last year going down the gym and beefing itself up. It's still easy to use, but is just way more solid. What it retain is lots of all-round ease-of-use but with much more freestyle credibility. Good boosting, steering and relaunch.
Incredibly solid air frame and true all-round ability, situated at the freestyle end of the freeride market.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
If you're looking for that quick, spinny, whippy feel in your freeride kite, this isn't for you. This is for those looking for an uncomplicated, easy ride with plenty of power.
SIZES: 14, 12, 10, 8, 6 and 4m
KITE BALANCE POINTS:
Build quality ? 8.5
Full package ? 9.5
Low end ? 8
Top end ? 8.5
Steering speed ? 6
Turning circle ? 5
Bar pressure - 7
Water relaunch ? 7.5
Boost ? 7
Hang-time - 8
Unhooked - 8
Easy of use ? 8.5