Hi there !
Been away for just one week in Shark Bay, conditions being 14-16 kts, first time experience on Fuel 17 04 and Rhino 04 12. Coming from Fuel 03, I just want to summarize my main impressions here, not providing a full scope review !
Starting with the Scepter Bar, I experienced the black nipple supposed to fix the chicken loop within the hook to be too short (DaKine Fusion). Lost my kite once, then fixed the problem by taping my hook. Fortunately kite wasnÃ‚Â´t damaged, nevertheless I lost it on the beach whilest checking the trim .. What I really miss on the bar are leader lines. Benchmark IMHO still is Takoon with its "integrated" leaders. First I didnÃ‚Â´t know if IÃ‚Â´d get used to the micro hook, but after changing bar with my girl friend after two days, I immediatley missed it ! So it works really well .. IÃ‚Â´d like to note that the depower strap works without any complains, me coming from the clamcleat not yet being decided if not prefering the cleaner cleat solution. Several times I had to search for the right strap to tear, nevertheless marked up black/red. Maybe ust a question of getting used to ..
Fuel 17 04: To be honest, I was quite sceptical about the one-pump. Practise waived all my concerns. To say it all clear: itÃ‚Â´s a HUGE difference just pumping one valve on the Fuel rather than pumping/closing all valves on the Rhino. Slingshot added a ball stopper even on the one remaining in-valve, so nothing of convienance can be added there ! Deflating the kite was easier than expected - I rolled the kite from both tips to center strut. In the air the kite has remained the same apart from the lower edge of the window, where the 03 one was significantly unstable in lower winds, 04 model now being very stable and providing power more constantly during sining. The kite has not become quicker to turn and I wonder how the 19 behaves with regards to some statements read, noting same speed as Fuel 17 03. Hang has improved slightly/incremental on the way down.
North Rhino 04: Quality, starting right from the nicely cut and designed bag, is absolute benchmark ! ItÃ‚Â´s not only looking good (Slingshot, who the hell advised these neon-stripes ?? had a kite with egg-yellow canopee mixed up with neon-yellow stripes on the struts - that uggly compared to my 03Ã‚Â´s !!) every single detail is well thought through and immediately paints a smile in your face. I was a bit concerned about the easy fitting valve plugs, but they held the high pressure, even over days ! As stated above, one pump might be a nice feature here as well, the deflating process on the back of the black sticks necessary to make the valves deflate being quite inconveniant. As I found ball stoppers in cabrinhas properly working, I wonder why to chose this complicated way .. In the air I found a nicely balanced kite, definitely not providing the low end and constant pull if my previous Fuel 13 03. Especially in waves IÃ‚Â´ve to "upgrade" to a 14 for similar low end. Talking to several North minded riders there, bottom line was that Rhino 04s increase in speed canÃ‚Â´t make up for itÃ‚Â´s loss in profile depth (Rhino 2), grunt being significantly lower effectively. IÃ‚Â´m convinced statements will vary a lot depending on the conditions found. In transitions, Rhino provides power more constantly than Fuel, where timing is absolutely crucial, to receive necessary pull after kite passing 1h. I had expected softer landings with Rhino 4. ThatÃ‚Â´s what I had always been jalous watching my fellows on Rhino 2. Maybe itÃ‚Â´s due to my Fuel-influenced technique, hope to further improve here ..
With regards to the overall conditions I found in Sal, I missed my good old Fuel 13, which provided exactly the right turning speed and pull I need in waves and which made my summer vacation in Mauritius such a great success. IÃ‚Â´m happy that I havenÃ‚Â´t yet bought a full quiver - due to suppliers delay - as I learnt that itÃ‚Â´s more the overall character of a kite that has to fit oneÃ‚Â´s style and prefered conditions, rather than a single benefits. Will continue testing ..