The newly improved Kahoona blends exceptional performance and handling with advanced safety features that make it the perfect kite for advancing your riding level, regardless of your preferred riding style. Experienced freestyle riders who love the Kahoona's astonishing hang-time and great low-end power will be blown away by the improved highwind ability and enhanced stability. Revisions to the wing-tip design and canopy geometry along with the introduction of a new 5.5m size help make it the perfect freestyle kite. In the waves, responsive unhooked handling, great downwind drift, and auto-relaunch all combine to make the Kahoona the most evolved big-wave surf kite Best have ever made. For improvers, the Kahoona provides a very stable platform for progression, helping any rider make the most of their water time.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
Most of this second generation Kahoona is new. The bar is completely new. The chicken-loop safety is now all plastic with no moving metal parts. Operating with a one click push-away release it seems incredibly robust and is very simple to put back together. You can also choose to upgrade your chicken-loop size from a range including 24, 28 and 32 centimetre sizes. A really great option and good attention to detail as different people like different sized loops to suit their style of riding. The chicken-loop has a self-locking fitting that lines up the chicken-loop in the bar slot when unhooking, making it easy to hook back into without it flapping around. There's a nice, long throw to the bar and all the trimming systems are well located above-the-bar so they're easy to operate. Everything has been thought about and the result is a really functional, tidy and unfussy bar system.
The fact that Best's top-of-the-range bar comes with what was their budget/beginner kite last year already bodes well for what comes next, although the Kahoona still isn't the most pimp looking kite. Understated might be a good way of describing it, but it has been designed for a much wider range of rider. This year's Kahoona is no longer just for beginners or wave riders. Although it may seem lighter than last year, it's actually been beefed up in manufacture and is now much stronger. Some of the basic principles of last year's Kahoona remain though, such as a no-nonsense, uncomplicated ease-of-use, maintaining its good application for lower level riders. You can just smile at it and it will relaunch, it has a beautifully constant power delivery and bags of bottom end. Well balanced and 'well perched' in the sky it isn't super sensitive to over trimming, flying itself quite happily. You're allowed a certain amount of movement on the bar back and forth and the power doesn't jerk you about like it can on some deltas and it's powerful enough that beginners aren't going to have to stroke it about the sky a lot to generate power. It's got that cultured, modern feel about it and there's nothing difficult to its nature. We tested this in Dakhla, Morocco at the Best dealer meeting in March and there were loads of people out there learning on these. Fun and easy, it would be a great kite for your first couple of years, generating lots of power and getting you up and going in relatively light winds. What really surprised us with this year's model is the Kahoona's suitability for wake-style tricks, though. In just 12 knots it was no problem to keep getting upwind and practice our unhooked tricks. For unhooking and popping, only a slight trimming is necessary before you come out of the loop and it just sits there, doesn't stray too much unless you really tell it to and pulls really steadily and constantly. In waves it was also a lot of fun. The stability that it offers for freestyle, it also offers in the waves as well. That progressive depower and the way it follows you deeper into the window makes it great for parked wave riding. We were on big-ish sizes, like 11.5 and 13.5 metres, which are never going to be whippy in waves, but given enough input they are nimble.
The only area we were slightly surprised about was its performance up in the sky. The sent boost performance was fine, but just won't set your world alight if you're a boosting monster as it doesn't have that rally car feel of a high-performance kite. But let's not forget this kite was a very beginner/early intermediate kite last year and perhaps the good performance it has in other areas this year made us think we were on an advanced kite.
Easy to use and lots of fun are the main things you need to know about this kite. Getting you out in a wide wind range with minimum fuss, this is a well made, tough kite and definitely fits that first kite sector, but won't leave you wishing you had something else in a year's time. What was really surprising was also how good it would be for wake-style riders wanting to ride in bindings. Super stable with a lovely constant pull it sits solid while you do your tricks. Other deltas may be more racy, but with the step-up in performance and simple usability this kite is perfect for a huge portion of the kite market looking to ride different terrain and with enough flexibility for wave riding, freestyle as well as cruising.
KW LIKED: Beautiful, smooth pull and wicked bottom end.
KW WOULD CHANGE: Bring the boost up to the level of the rest of the kite's performance.
SIZES: 13.5, 11.5, 9.5, 7.5 and 5.5m
This test is in issue #45