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Can you explain what gives a kite its wind range?
We designed the Rhino with a deep, powerful profile shape that carries all the way out to the tip ribs. We were able to do this without suffering from the usual penalty, which is huge amounts of distortion and drag in high-wind, high-load situations because the Rhino has eight strategically placed stabilizing ribs.
The bar feeling is very direct, very C-like - much more direct than the Rebel. Why is that?
On a lot of non-traditional (C) shaped kites, the profile wanders when the wind speed increases and decreases. That is, the draft of the canopy tends to be pushed at as the wind increases and this makes the kite more draggy and more powerful and puts more load on the bar.
To counter the tendency toward high bar load in high winds, a designer might make the kite balance so that the bar load is too low in light wind, which keeps the increase in bar load in high wind manageable. He might also design the kite with a very draft-forward shape so that the draft can't so easily move back in the gusts. Resorting to these tactics is inevitable to some extent, of course, given the flexible materials we have to work with, but through the use of eight carefully shaped and positioned ribs on the Rhino we were able to confer great draft stability and therefore minimize the difference between high-wind and low-wind bar load. This gives more C kite-like consistent and linear change in bar pressure.
Of course, kites don't distort only by going draftback. They also can twist as they are sheeted in and out. This twisting can result in the tips operating a too high an angle of attack while the centre of the kite works at too low an angle-of-attack. This gives high drag and low power, a useless combination that is often signaled to the rider by a kite that wants to stall and fly backward even though the wind is strong enough that the kite should fly with no problem. The use of pullies can reduce the twisting, as can careful balancing of the kite's profile and planform shapes. We're not opposed to the use of pullies if they are used in the right way, but for the sake of simplicity we left them off the Rhino.
How did you inject lift and hangtime into the Rhino?
The Rhino jumps well in large part because of its big wind range and ability to go from minimum power to maximum power instantaneously. Here are some of the factors that go into that:
(1) We packed a lot of power into the Rhino by giving it a deep profile, essentially from tip-to-tip. A deep profile gives low-end power and good hang time, both of which can contribute to overall jumping ability. Of course, deep profiles can be unstable and draggy, so to avoid this we added ribs for stability.
(2) We made the LE fairly small for low drag. We find that reducing LE diameter can often reduce kite power and also make the LE prone to collapse and instability, so we were careful not to overdo the LE diameter reduction. Again, the extra ribs are helpful in permitting the use of a smallish LE while retaining the kind of LE stability that can handle big loads and high winds. A related benefit of the Rhino's stable, low-drag shape is that when you whip the kite for a jump, it is fast and gives a good pop.
(3) Through careful tuning of arc, profile and planform, we were able to balance the Rhino fairly precisely on the two front lines. This allows for very complete depower in high winds. When you make use of the Rhino's ability to offer extreme depower with it's ability to then instantaneously deliver extreme power, you're sure to get some pretty good air.
We've heard the Rhino races upwind. What makes it go upwind so easily?
Upwind performance hinges on range, efficiency and high-end drag. Range refers to a kite's ability to handle a wide range of wind strengths comfortably. Wind speed changes constantly and a kite that can deliver the power you need in the lulls while not being overpowered in the gusts will have the advantage.
Efficiency refers to a kite's lift-to-drag ratio and is a measure of both power and drag. A kite that can deliver the power you need without taking you downwind because of a draggy, distorted shape also has the advantage. Finally, high-end drag is the drag that a kite creates when it is sheeted out in depowered mode. This happens when you're going upwind and a big gust hits. A draggy kite will slow you down or drop back in the window and make you point lower. A kite that has low drag in the gust will allow you to continue at a good angle and speed. The Rhino does well in all these measures because of its powerful profile, smallish LE, the stability conferred by the eight ribs, and the precise balancing of power on the two front lines.
Big kites have always felt quite inefficient and sluggish. Have you managed to combat that with the Rhino?
This is clearly a subjective area and probably not everyone will find the Rhino to have exactly the feel they want. In fact, since the Rhino is so extremely stable, it is biased toward the more powerful medium- to heavy-weight riders who really need, and can take advantage of, the Rhino's stability. For this person, the Rhino will feel lively and crisp because it has very direct bar feel and power that comes on quickly as soon as the rider has some speed.
Trimming and setting up a kite for optimum performance can be confusing. Could you explain how kites should be trimmed and how the different pigtail positions affect the kite?
Firstly, for optimum trim, all riders should ensure that their flying lines are all the same length. This is something that should be checked every few sessions. It only takes a minute. Secondly, anyone who suspects their kite may be out of tune should check the nose line and front pigtail lengths against the factory specs from the user's manual. Make sure those lines are the correct lengths. Third, we tune North kites to have max power when the micro-hook is in the micro-loop. This works well for riders who use the micro-hook. Those who prefer to ride with the bar farther away from the body should use the back leader lines to shorten the back lines by the distance of one knot. Fourth, anyone who likes a more firm bar feel with more direct feedback from the kite should use the forward pigtail positions for their back pigtails. The rider who likes a softer bar feel should go with the back pigtail position. Turning speed is slightly affected by these back line positions, but we think the difference in bar feel predominates.
Someone who drops the Rhino frequently can try a few quick-relaunch approaches:
(1) Bridled kites lack a 5th line and are therefore often flown with a suicide leash attached to the chickenloop. The Rhino can also be flown with a suicide leash, but since the Rhino depowers so much this approach is very safe on this kite. It also makes for easier relaunch after a missed trick.
(2) It's possible to put a stopper on the 5th line at a position that will facilitate easy relaunch. The pitfall here is that you have to remember to put the stopper high enough that the 5th line still serves in its safety role.
High Performance Kite
SIZES: 7, 9, 10, 12, 14 and 16m
NORTH'S RHINO CHARACTER REFERENCES:
UNMATCHED UNWIND PERFORMANCE
5TH ELEMENT SAFETY
Kitesurfing Test - Boards 2013
Nomad 136-Team series
Kitesurfing Test - Kites 2013
Liquid Force Envy 7 and 9m
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