About the designer
Airush kite designer Mark Pattison began his career repairing windsurf sails. He started working with Airush in 2003 as a design assistant and product tester, and quickly became a key person within the design team. Today Mark and Design Director Clinton Filen are seen as the catalyst that made Airush the innovative company it is today.
Mark is unique as a kite designer with his hands on approach. He doesn’t purely rely on computers to formulate his designs, but is forever testing his latest iteration, tweaking, building and stitching in his quest to perfect the ultimate kite.
Why the Ultra kite?
A new challenge in kite design was emerging as foiling was taking hold and kites required a working wind range well below a traditional kite. One of Mark’s personal quests was also to develop a kite that drifts down the line when waveriding to allow him to sub plane.
Combining these needs with what Clinton calls “obvious evolution” in product design, lighter and stronger kites become constant objectives:
“If you can make a kite lighter, you immediately improve the overhead stability, drifting, turning speed and overall response. And of course we don’t need to discuss stronger!”
What happens when you get two minimalist innovators/design geeks debating the future of kiting?
“Mark is one of the most talented guys I have ever worked with but errs on the ‘extremely stubborn side’. He will spend days telling you how impossible something is to do, and then goes off and does it. The Ultra is such a good example of his genius.”
Solving the problem
Over the last few years, the development in the Load Frame radically increased the durability of Airush kites. As Mark points out:
“We started to see we had redundant materials in the kite, that were adding weight. It was essentially old technology. We could refine our load frame to replace the heavier cloth and reduce weight”
Through a better understanding of canopy tension and the additional stability provided by the Load Frame, the role of struts in stabilizing the kite has also changed significantly.
Despite Airush being the first to release the one strut kite to the market way back in 2011, we didn’t want to start with the same kite and force new aspects into the design. We wanted to start from scratch and make something so much better.
Clinton found the Ultra fit his desire to travel light throughout his extensive world schedule. As he points out, you can have 3 Ultra kites to test in any condition that fit into a single traditional kite bag. The weight saving is more than most boards weigh.
He worked on the ground closely with Mark reporting key ‘real world’ feedback. As a result we’ve learnt that the larger profiles of the first one strut kites didn’t perform as well as we had wanted. We’ve turned the large leading edge diameters and delta shapes into a much more refined profile with a higher aspect ratio.
The shape of the Ultra has a lot of sweep, and a concave trailing edge which really helps keep the angle of attack focused in the center. The resulting shape performs so much better, but the next step was to ensure the kite adhered to the unique “lasts twice as long” Airush mantra.
How is the Ultra different from any other kite?
The Ultra kite incorporates innovative elements to make it the strongest and lightest kite ever made, and it’s all down to the next generation of our unique Dyneema Load Frame layout now featuring WebTech.
The intensively tested solution has taken Technoforce D2, the best strength to weight ratio canopy cloth on the market, and developed an all new Load Frame technology to reinforce the cloth and disperse any stress away from the center.
Lightweight Dyneema yarns have been used in a strong triangular load frame to work as the perfect shock absorbers. Each yarn is capable of carrying a 40KG load and they’re also used in a new WebTech formation that reinforces the kite throughout the bridle and strut attachment points.
The strong spider web effect has enabled dacron to be removed from the design to keep the kite as light as possible. No other one strut kite has such highly specialized reinforcing meaning they might be lighter, but they’re at risk of being less durable.
The result means a 9m Ultra weighs in at around 1 KG less than a 9m Lithium kite, and is so compact that it fits into a shoe box.
Key designer feedback
Having given life to the Ultra, Mark Pattison knows the kite’s features inside out. The benefits he lists for the Ultra come from his own kitesurfing experiences.
When he’s kiting in waves Mark loves the ability of the kite to drift. Being able to dump almost all the power in the kite is a huge advantage for him especially when top turning on a wave, or trying to get the kite to drop him back on the board after a strapless air.
Not to mention when an unexpected gust hits him at the wrong time: the Ultra still shoots forward in the window enough so it doesn’t yank him around too much.
Mark rides the Ultra a size down as it has a lot of power for its size, and the light weight allows it to stay in the sky in lighter winds whereas a kite with more struts would struggle. He finds the huge sweep in the leading edge allows the Ultra to roll over very easily and it doesn’t stick to the water meaning he can relaunch without issue.
The extra luxuries that add to Mark’s experience kiting with the Ultra is the super quick inflation and being able to clip the reversible bag onto his harness giving everything he needs for those epic downwinder days.
As an active traveler and kiter, the Ultra has also become Clinton’s ‘kite of choice’. Now that really says a lot about the kite’s performance characteristics.
At Airush we are always chasing the dream to design lighter kites. The Ultra really focuses on light weight and we’ve learnt so much through the development process.
As our designs evolve we believe the unique technology we’ve developed in the Ultra will eventually trickle down throughout the Airush range. Our kites will keep on getting better one way or another.
See the Ultra in action: