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Jul 3, 2009

Author: SBC Test Team / Shane Thompson Photos by Dave Marshall, David Tran

Test Team: John Bryja, Craig Cunningham, Dave Marshall, Daniel Steiner, Shane Thompson, David Tran

With near flawless weather and wind conditions the SBC Kite Test Team logged session after session on ton of new gear that proved why there has never been a better time to learn to kiteboard or to advance your arsenal of kiteboarding skills. The kites and boards tested in this round delivered performance that can turn a good sessions into epic ones and can make learning new tricks and skills easier and safer than ever before. It’s exciting to be a kiteboarder in 2009, as no other sport on earth has equipment that has so rapidly developed and improved so as to broaden the range of performance for all skill levels and kite disciplines. During the testing, many interested kiteboarders ask us: “What’s the best kite of the test?” or “Which kite and board was the best?” Simply put, this is difficult question to answer as it begs a series other question such as: Best for what and best for whom?” In this round of Tests there were four kite models (GK Sonic 11m , Vari Condor 9m , Ocean Rodeo Diablo 10m , GK Trix 9m ) which target the intermediate to advanced riders of differing needs, disciplines and riding styles. Some of these more advanced models had performance that suits the more all-round freeriding crowd, while others had their focus on the freestyle and wakestyle minded rider. There were six other models in the test which cater to the needs of the progressing rider (Best Kahoona 11.5 m , North Evo 9m , Airush DNA 9m , Cabrinha Convert 9mNobile N62 11,. 9m , LF Session 9, 11 m ). This versatile category of kites shows solid improvements as many of models improved in the areas stability, wind range, water relaunch, range of use and overall high end performance.

Performance for Developed Skill Levels
Big Air, Waves, Unhooked, Versatility
GK Sonic 11m , Vari Condor 9m , Ocean Rodeo Diablo 10m , GK Trix 9m
More advance riders can look to several models in the test that cater to distinct styles and performance characteristics that ultimately appeal to this diverse group. For the intermediate to advanced freeriders that want to cruise at higher speeds with ease, book smoothly upwind, and boost big floaty jumps, the GK Sonic shines as the stable and high powered jump master with excellent range. The new Vari Condor also soars onto the scene with big jumping capability, in addition to some well rounded handling for those with an appetite for casual freestyle and wave riding. The Vari was the most versatile and multi displined performer of the advanced kite group in this round. For the core freestyle/wakestyle crowd that care less about range or depower and more about smooth pull and powered turns, the 4 line C-kite performance of the Ocean Rodeo Diablo , proves that this category of kite still commands respect. The GK Trix arises as the 4 line SLE hybrid that deals up smooth unhooked pull with access to pivotal steering and excellent non stall, good drift capability which equips this kite for coveted sessions of unhooked wave riding. The North Evo and Cabrinha Convert shine as a outstanding four line designs for both progressing and expert riders looking for versatility with ease of use.

Performance for Skill Progression:
Ease of use, Depower and Safety, Water Relaunch, Versatility, Advanced Discipline Performance.
Best Kahoona 11.5 m , North Evo 9m , Airush DNA 9m , Cabrinha Convert 9mNobile N62 11,. 9m , LF Session 9, 11 m

All of the kites in this group showed good levels of improvements in handling, range and water relaunch.. The good stability, easy to access depower, and comfortable ease of use of all of these designs can reduce the struggle of learning basic riding skills. Having a good progression kite means the rider can think less about the kite and more about what to do with the board. The other element noted about these progression kites is how well they worked for the more advanced riders of the test. Designers are building a good blend of ease of use and higher level performance into their new progression models. Unlike many beginner models of the past all these kites are capable of advanced freestyle and wave riding.  Different designs were better for more specific disciplines. For example the Airush DNA and the Nobile N62 are better for wave riding than freestyle. The Cabrinha Convert shines in the big air and smooth powered, long hang time jumps, while the LF Session was the smoothest and most comfortable to unhook and find some good pop for wakestyle.  The North Evo , and The Best Kahoona   also show us why Delta shaped kites are dominating the category of all round versatility. Both these kites had great all round performance across disciplines.

New to kiteboarding? Be sure to check out our Kiteboarding 101 section with advice on choosing the right school, gear tips, and some progression tips for after your first lessons.

Head to Head: Progression Kites Category and their rankings for different categories. 

Ease of Use
1. Airush DNA
2. Cabrinha Convert
3. North Evo

The DNA gets top marks for simply sheet in and go kiting performance followed closely by the Cab Convert and the North EVO . Hook em up and go ride, no fuss, no worries just pure fun.

Depower and Safety
1.Nobile N62
2. Cabrinha Convert
3. Best Kahoona

Water Relaunch

1. Cabrinha Convert
2. LF Session
3. Airush DNA

Versatility across disciplines and Skill levels

1. North Evo
2. Cabrinha Convert
2. LF Session

Advanced Performance
1. LF Session
2. Cabrinha Convert
3. North Evo

Low End Power/Range
1. Best Kahoona
2. Cabrinha Convert
3. North Evo

Be sure to also check out a few of the great progression kites tested in our 2009 Buyer's Guide Issue. The Naish Cult is a real standout from that round of testing. Also highly recommended for the first time buyer is the North Rebel.

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