The Taina is for riders who demand performance over the broadest range of conditions. However, due to its incredible turning speed, grunt and depower, this kite is more specifically a dream for wave riders. The Taina reacts so well that you can steer it withone hand on the bar. While surfing the wave, the Taina has a great downwind drift with precise steering response and huge depower.
Due to its super easy relaunch and ease of steering, it's also perfect for kite schools and beginners. The profile makes back stalling the kite difficult, allowing riders to focus on riding instead of trimming. There are also heavy duty reinforcements where it matters so, all in all, the Taina is a fantastic all-terrain kite with special performance attributes in the waves.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
Starkites have made a ten fold increase in the quality of their products in the last couple of years, both in their manufacturing and the way they perform. While still not as robust as some of the big boys, its lighter weight probably adds to its performance as it flies incredibly cleanly and swiftly through the sky with no flapping anywhere. The material sections of the kite are pretty good quality, with fairly big bumpers and strips of Dacron, it's the inflatable sections, such as the leading edge where there maybe a long term question over lifetime as well as some more small glitches in the overall build quality, with things like the bladder valve falling inside the leading edge occasionally, which is a trait of kites from a few years ago. There's a neat and tidy one pump system, but overall we were pleased with the Taina's canopy. The bar is perfectly adequate with a comfortable mid-sized grip, a plastic chicken-loop system with push away collar release as well as an internal swivel system. There are a few internal parts in the chicken-loop safety so, as with all your safety systems, make sure you keep it clean and clear of sand. The pull-pull trimming system above the bar is standard and proven to work well, although is quite a reach away.
The low end grunt and speed of the Taina are immediately recognisable – we had plenty of power on this nine metre in 15 – 18 knots. The uptake of power in the kite is bang on the money, modern in feel and what we've started to appreciate in the latest freeride kite models. The power on tap means you can get up to speed quickly and with all that depower you can stop just as fast. Combine that with good air speed and it becomes a very fun freeriding kite. The Taina has very accessible jumping performance and hang-time and the kite stays with you the whole time with plenty of feeling through the bar. Jumping is easy with all that power on tap and forgives less than perfect technique in getting off the water. The relaunch couldn't be easier and when you trim it up it's well behaved unhooked, but we were most impressed with the kite's controllable agility. There's feeling throughout the turn, whether you're whipping it tightly round in a fast, pivotal way or sending it wider on a more drawn out arc. It's very controllable indeed and, although there's never very much power through the turn, the steady drive it gives you is excellent. We did manage a couple of genuinely good wave sessions on the Taina and it became our go-to wave kite when the wind was hovering around 18 knots and it was just a joy. On all sessions we barely needed to trim the kite at all and everything about it is just so easy, which is exactly what you want for waves. You're never left waiting for the kite to catch you up or sining it madly looking for power. Pull in on the bar and there's plenty of grunt and you can equally ditch it at the top of the wave when you want to. Add to that some very nimble, obedient handling and you've got an excellent nine metre that will see you out in lighter winds but still with the turning speed and handling of a kite one or two sizes smaller.
If Starkites can keep improving on their overall quality and attention to detail as they have over the last year or two, going on to add things like a proper deflate valve rather than two valves of the same size for example, bringing the kite itself up to the same standard as the performance, they could be on to a real winner. As it is it's still good and we know that you can't improve everything all in one year, but the improvements we've seen this year spell very promising things for Starkites' future.
Controllable agility and the power and depower on tap.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
There are a few areas in terms of overall quality that the kite can be improved.
14, 12, 10, 9 7 and 5.5m
This test is in issue #57