I bought a Rhino V 16m on Saturday
My abilities = Been kiting for nearly 2 years and I'm just learning double front rolls (i.e. I'm pretty bad ;o) )
I'm 200-210lbs (90-95 kgs)
Over the last few weeks I've tried (all 2005 models and all loaners from various shops)
Cabrinha 16.5m Contra
Slingshot Fuel 17m
Naish Torch 16m
J & N Wild Thing 17m
North Rhino 16m
Each time I'd take out 2 or more kites at a time and try them one after another to try and eliminate the problem of different riding conditions affecting judgement.
For me the pick of the bunch was the Rhino V as it suited my style (fast and old school) down to the ground. I also love the 5th line idea, particularly as a workable and safe spinning leash.
I don't pretend to know about kite construction so I'll just write a comparison to each of the other kites I tried and why I preferred the Rhino.
vs Contra : Rhino turns far quicker and propels the rider faster through the water. Contra "feels" like a much bigger kite but generates nice jumps which are much more floaty.
vs Fuel : Rhino turns faster again and is much easier to depower in the gusts. Fuel rides quite fast but is definitely set up for "New School" which is just not what I'm doing.
vs Torch : About the only large kite to turn as fast as the Rhino. (It was on shorter lines though) Torch seems to generate power later in the power stroke so I had to move the Torch far more than the Rhino. (Problem because of short lines maybe?) Conditions were admittedly light, but Torch definitely didn't generate as much lift for jumping. Again, a new school kite that just didn't suit me.
vs Wild Thing : Wild Thing looked very high aspect and generated some power but seemed to have some sort of "kink" in the middle strut as soon as any pressure was put on it, this made the kite turn to the left. (I put it down, pumped up the strut so it was rock hard but still had the same problem) Kite obviously needed some tuning and I wasn't prepared to mess around with it. Sorry to J & N, I didn't give it a real go, probably a great kite when it's working.
To me the Rhino is just a sweet kite that fulfills nealry all of my expectations of a kite.
(Super fast, high jumps, quick turning, good depower)
My one wish would be to have a one-pump system though, I quite often ride with Slingshot riders and that means I'm the slowest to set up. Quite content without it though
Thanks to Steve at Kitepower, Andrius at Balmoral Boards and Andrew Reagen for the loans of the kites.