Tuesday, 29 April 2008

North Rhino 2008 Kite Test

North Rhino 2008 9m

At a Glance

The North Rhino is one of the longest running kites in the history of kitesurfing. First appearing way back in 2001 the North Rhino Kite was, for a very long time, the flagship kite in the North Kiteboarding range. Much loved for its low-end grunt and renowned for its big air capabilities lots of riders had at least one size in their quiver! Last year though saw a big change for North kiteboarding and for the first time the North Rhino underwent a complete facelift. Instead of tweaking the usual design year on year the Rhino was sent back to the drawing board and a totally new North Rhino 07 was rolled out. Met with some surprise by the regular North Rhino fans the new 07 Rhino was a flat hybrid style kite utilising a 5th line rather than a bridle. For 2008 it has changed yet again with a flat delta shape that looks very different from last years kite. North Kiteboarding have used far less struts in the construction and interestingly there is no middle strut! Instead two struts straddle the centre section of the kite. The bar has also been tweaked a fair bit with a redesigned Iron Heart release, said to work much better in sandy conditions and also release under less load. Plus an innovative stopper ball system that works really well. We must also mention the new bridle set up, with 7 connection points on the kite the bridle at first does look pretty confusing. But once you get your head around all the lines then rigging up will become a breeze. The North Rhino Kite also comes standard with one pump.

In The Air

First up when you launch the Rhino 08 you will notice the distinctive delta shape the kite has, it looks totally different to last years model against the back drop of the sky. One thing you will want to familiarise yourself before you head out though is the new depower cleat which allows you total control and trim over the length of the depower and the distance that the rider can set the depower cleat from the bar. By adjusting this to your own arm length and personal riding style you can totally trim the kite in a manner that best suits you. Not for the novice out there but then this kite isn’t designed with the novice in mind. The tech heads will love the amount of choice this affords the rider in terms of set up. Once set how you want to ride the kite is impressive in its performance to say the least, a good low end grunt comes coupled with literally huge top end range, the delta shape really allowing the kite to pivot off its front axis and dump power. We were also surprised at the stability of the kite, especially in gusty and windy conditions. Last year the North Rhino relied on an obscene amount of struts to keep its shape. This year the kite is just as stable and North Kiteboarding have utilised different canopy materials and layout to achieve this. Even without the middle strut the kite is rock solid in the air. The North Rhino is also very very quick through the window, with a positive amount of pressure on the bar and a great amount of feedback for the rider you feel in total control in all conditions. Upwind is very impressive and the North Race team are using this kite to devastating effect on the current race tour. Lastly the North Rhino Kite has always been loved for its huge air and jumping capabilities. Will it disappoint this year? The answer is quite simply no, the Rhino has regained some of its glory days from the past, not the most impressive in terms of float, but if you are looking at sheer rocket factor off the water the North Rhino will not let you down, quite literally.

Super stable shape, fantastic build quality, huge air and great upwind ability

Against:Not a kite for the freestyle rider, feels much more comfortable hooked in and kiteloops aren’t as impressive as the more freestyle orientated kites in the line up.

In Short:
A great kite from North and one that many riders will enjoy, if you used to love the North Rhino’s of old because they boosted huge and had loads of power then perhaps now is the time to revisit the range. It definitely has its original qualities back!

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