The Park's three-strut design and Swept Compact C outline results in a very stable and responsive kite. The powerful profile and leading edge provide the rider with good low-end power and consistent pull over a wide range of wind speeds. The Park uses just enough sweep to maximise depower and allow for easy relaunch. The Swept Compact C platform remains very close to a real C-shape in order to provide an excellent crispness and feel in the bar. Designed with fun in mind, the Park provides the rider with the power to boost, the handling to hit the lip with style and the ability to feel good in any condition.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
You must feel pretty good when you walk out of the shop after a Naish purchase. It's all cool; from the graphics on the bag that run consistently through the kite and along the bar ? it's very Hawaii baby, yeah! It has the impression and feel of quality without being dull and boring. We like it.
The bar is very clean, plenty of grip on the bar that's worked into the graphics, it's comfortable, lightweight and looks good. The Park comes with an under-the-bar trimming system. We've had issues with other below-the-bar systems that can feel sticky in the cleats as it can be difficult to get enough purchase to trim the kite in windy conditions with your arm pinned in close to your waist. When sheeted you can also end up with the line and clutter dangling around your waist. Above-the-bar systems provide an easier position to actually operate a rope/cleat system, however the advantage with the below-the-bar system means that everyone can reach it and it keeps the above-the-bar area nice and clean with loads of throw for depower. The Naish system is relatively smooth and easy-to-use and there's also a good stopper so you can set the bar to stop it running too far up the line.
Having said all that about the below-the-bar trim system, what you should also know about the Park is that once set it really doesn't need much trimming at all, as there's so much depower at the throw. Should anything break, all the parts are really easy to replace in a Naish system, too.
On the kite itself there's enough beefy reinforcement and Naish use their unique 'Octopus' one pump system that has been toughened up this year. The chicken-loop release is also one of the best systems and all the fixtures, fittings and bits and pieces around the bar are nice, clean and simple.
Get the kite up in the sky and it feels like a Naish ? there's lots of depower, lots of range and no flapping, which is impressive considering those two qualities. There's a little bit of a gyration at the bar to get used to as the strong winds punch through, but rather then being weird, it's a bit more as if you're in direct contact with the kite, but you really do feel comfortable underneath the Park straight away. You're confident you won't get pulled about, especially with all that depower immediately on tap.
We expected a bit more bottom end from the seven metre (knowing that it's good in the bigger sizes), but this smaller model really comes into its own the more windy it gets. It's a really quick freeride kite that's very agile, pivotal through the turns and very smooth. For unhooked freestyle, like flat 3s, it's just too quick and needs too much trimming, so if you're looking for a small all-round freeride kite, leaning more towards this style of riding, you'll be better looking elsewhere. If you're also looking for a seven metre for some punchy, fun kite loops, then this is a bit quick and powerless for that (in this size ? the bigger sizes pack more).
However, for high wind twin-tippers looking for an exciting yet comfortable ride, or strapless wave riders looking for a weapon for a wide range of wave conditions then this is a real joy. In fact this was our favourite wave riding kite in the 'one kite does it all' category; it's fast, turny, has loads of depower and doesn't back stall at all. It's a real kite fliers kite and responds in an instant. There's loads of difference between pulling in and pushing out on the bar in terms of power, but it's always so smooth.
As the Park can handle so much power, it packs a nice, high boost, but it also brings you down quite quickly, so it's quite an up and down jump, unless you keep busy with the kite to keep yourself up there. At the end of the day though, it's nice to be able to go huge, but it's better to be comfortable. The more comfortable you are, the more performance you can get out of your gear in stronger winds anyway, so it's better to be this way around as you can hang to this for hours.
The Park seven metre is a fast weapon, there's no turbo lag, so for a beginner it's a bit quick and without the slower steadier grunt at the bar that they like.
SUMMARY: If you're heading out to face the Cape Doctor wind system there aren't many better kites for taking confidently into battle, knowing that you'll be able to hold whatever it can throw at you in relative comfort. Perhaps a bit gutless for the heavier riders when the winds are light, the Park seven metre just gets more electric the more wind that gets thrown at it.
KW LIKED: Sublime high-wind performance, high speed fun and phenomenal handling for wave riding, strapped or strapless. This suits a fast, dynamic all-round freerider looking for comfortable sports-car-like handling. Even in Cape Town I think we only got up to 80% of its top end.
KW WOULD CHANGE: Early intermediates will find it a bit quick, and if you're looking for a seven metre to practice lots of unhooked tricks, there are steadier models that will serve that style better. It will do it, it's just a bit lively in this size.
SIZES:14, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5m
KITE BALANCE POINTS:
Build quality ? 8
Full package ? 8.5
Low end ? 8
Top end ? 9
Steering speed ? 9
Turning circle ? 3
Bar pressure - 5
Water relaunch ? 6.5
Boost ? 8.5
Hang-time ? 6.5
Unhooked - 7
Easy of use ? 6.5