The Kahoona has great low end. A friend of mine rode the 13.5 all last summer. He is a bigger guy (>250lbs) and liked it. I am 200 lbs and used the 11.5 for teaching.
The kite pulls harder than most for its size. It relaunches easy enough and it is inexpensive.
No one pump
Not very durable.
The front lines can hook on the wing tips causing the kite to loop out of control.
Overall the kahoona is a great kite. It is not a high performance kite but the 13.5 works great for steady pull and easy relaunch.
Ocean Rodeo is a good company and I always had good service from them, and have great respect for the guys running the show there.
Fair enough to also say that BEST customer service is pretty hard to beat as well.
Both get high marks from me on that level.
I have not flown the OR kite you mentioned, but their kites have been good last few years from what I have seen and heard from other riders. The Kahoonas have incredible low end, super smooth and stable. Never stalls back or forward, even when almost no apparent wind. I've been using the 7.5 and 9.5 and they have great range.
A few things that I really like about the Kahoonas: very simple, 4 struts make kite super light and packs down small, extremely well behaved and stable, especially in waves, great for beginners and also for experienced riders if they want this style of kite (delta). Luke mentioned that they are not durable, but they have withstood everything I have thrown at them without disappointment. It is obvious that they are not "over-built" which is something I like - to keep weight and expense down.
As for no one-pump...I never saw that as a disadvantage - in fact I feel the opposite...more weight, more cost, more hassle to repair and in the end no convenience for me. Maybe of you are snowkiting OK, ? If I had a choice (and often you do not) I would always go with seperate struts/LE and plugs. Have pumped thousands of kites this way...no complaints.
The 2010 Kahoonas will have line deflectors on the win tips. And you could sew some onto the 2009 if you really want to. I've had a line catch a few times during self launch,, but sorted itself and not really out of control. But that is something to be aware of and a valid point, but would not turn me away from the other desirable features of the kite.
I would say medium bar pressure on these kites, no problem flying one handed for extended periods. I have used the Kahoona with the Waroo bar primarily, and now a CORE ESP bar which I am liking better for a few reasons. I have tried the Redline bar but like the CORE better to be honest. But that may be another topic.
Have to say, for my personal riding and instruction needs the Kahoonas work great. I have lots of other kites and I'm always reaching for these. I sold my first quiver while travelling and just replaced them with the same. Probably will get an 11.5 and a 5.5 when it comes out, maybe even a 13.5 - I just love the lightness of these kites.
I wish I had more time to test all the kites out there to compare - and if you do have that chance and KNOW how to evaluate...do it for sure. I even saw somewhere some company doing a "try before you buy" thing, but it looks like it would be an expensive ordeal...nice idea though.
PS..if you are anywhere near St. Pete, FL this winter you are welcome to come check them out. Feel free to give me a shout.
Here is a vid I took today of a Rise in action.
IMO both Best and OR kites are great designs.
Personally, I need the durability of the Rise for the cruddy beaches and gusty winds
we have in the NW...plus that venturi system is amazing for power and down the line riding!
Good luck on your quest dude!
In answer to your questions, the Rise is a " Cish " SLE/Hybrid shape, not a delta, These days it can be hard to put a label on a kite, and the bottom line is that you should try both kites and decide which you prefer. Flight characteristics are of course paramount, but so is build quality/warranty, value, and customer service/rider support for the long haul.
If you do not have an OR retailer with demos in your area and you think you want a Rise but are not fully convinced, you can't go wrong. We offer a 100% Customer Satisfaction Guarantee.
Well, i'm not a particularly big guy, ~185, and my experience is on the '09 rises (8,10,14) (not the XPD) but this might help. I've flown the 11.5 kahoona. I really like the rise, turns plenty fast when you want it to but is also a great park and ride kite. Very stable all over the wind range and has good grunt - easy to park and ride and seems to just sit where you leave it without much input when you want it to. Drifts back nicely when you are heading downwind (don't have waves here, but i guess that would behave the same). Jumps are huge with long glide. Relaunch is easy. Basically a do-it-all-well all around kite. I thought the kahoona had a bit more grunt at the low end and really stable at the low end. it was slow to initiate a turn, but once it came around, it seemed to cross the window pretty fast so you could still jump it pretty good, you just needed to give it a bit more lead time. It would probably make a great wave kite, but again, i don't ride waves often. Relaunch was also easy on the kahoona. For comparison, in case you've flown them, I also owned (breifly) '09 nemis (10,14) which i traded to the rise for. These were at the other end of the spectrum from the kahoona. I felt like you had to fly the crap out of those kites to generate power. For me, it just wasn't a park and ride kite. I actually loved the 10 when it was well powered. jumps were a bit higher on that than my 10 rise, but not outrageously so. Never liked the 14 as it was intended to be my lightwind kite and the parked grunt just wasn't there, and tough to fly it really fast in lower winds.