TEST TEAM NOTES
We’ve got a real affection for the Naish Park as one of the most truly versatile kites on the market. Now with altered ‘tough tips’ the 2016 model also has a higher aspect-ratio.
Bully has ridden every model since its release in 2010 and registered his longest ever hang-time on it (10.2 seconds) last year. He strongly believes it’s an absolutely standout freeride kite with a huge amount of performance on offer.
The kite is extremely stable but also extremely responsive, even when fully depowered, so as a rider you have this immense feeling of control, even at the upper end of the Park’s range. A huge benefit is the Park’s incredibly solid air frame, helping it behave so well in gusty conditions. The rideable wind range is enourmous, making the two kite quiver dream very real.
The depower is absolute and you can kill all the power in an instant, but what’s really great is that the handling is never too negatively effected, however much you trim the kite. The power delivery and control at the bar is also very progressive; seemingly with each centimetre of throw having a very gradual effect, and that finite control means that the delivery is smooth rather than snatchy. While this is very encouraging for less advanced riders, or those who love riding in stronger winds, it also adds a great deal of crossover potential. The ultra-responsive handling, combined with instant power shut-off when you want it, makes the Park very effective in the waves, too. Progressively power up through a bottom turn before steaming into a top turn and then totally shutting off the power. You can achieve very tight turns while retaining control at all times, even when steering one handed.
We’ve mentioned the very responsive steering, but the turns aren’t overly pivotal, which makes the Park a really exciting performance freeride kite to fly. Less experienced kiters may find themselves a little daunted by the Park’s rapid steering at first and, while it has impressive pop and does deliver an element of line-slack for handle-passes, some less experienced freestylers or wakestylers may be caught off guard by the responsiveness and end up over steering the kite initially. While we think this is a kite that anyone could enjoy riding, it’s quick enough to catch an early intermediate or beginner out at times, but at the same time the impressive depower and reliable relaunch mean that, should you make a mistake in your steering, it’s not hard to kill off the power or sort yourself out if you get it wrong.
The Park’s jumping potential is very high but it’s not a guaranteed ‘skyhook’, taking an experienced hand to get the absolute best out of the hang-time. The initial lift is good but it’s not just a ‘point and shoot’ kite, you have to handle it correctly. If you’ve got good kite know-how, the Park’s responsiveness means you can helicopter loop it on the way down rather than simply sheeting in at the bar to get a beautiful, floaty extension to your jumps. Less advanced riders will still get a lot out of their jumps, but the real rewards come when you get dialed in to what makes the Park tick mid-flight. If you like an athletic kite you’ll really get on well with the Park.
Although it offers an impressive looking loop, it doesn’t hammer you or take a great deal of effort to throw them. The ‘chug’ isn’t nearly as serious as what you’ll get from a Torch, but you can still get stretched out behind it, which is gratifying nonetheless. A broader range of riders will enjoy looping this and find it a lot less intimidating than a C-kite, but what’s also great about the Park is that it manages to combine the jumping performance of the Torch with the power, control, depower and range that you want from a freeride kite and delivers all that in a very manageable package.
The build quality provides the sort of finish and features that make you feel good about having bought a quality bit of kit. It’s quite unmistakable in the air thanks to Naish’s tribal canopy designs and our eyes are drawn to the Park whenever we saw one.
The Fusion 4-line control system matches the kite well and it’s a very polished looking product. The double density EVA is adequately grippy without being harsh and the bar is easily adjustable from 45 to 51cm. Trimming is easy to reach and, for a below-the-bar system, it’s relatively smooth (an above-the-bar option is available). Everything on this set-up is light weight, it’s one of the attractions of the design. The chicken-loop itself isn’t over-engineered, but is nice and simple, feels durable and releases really well. You can also replace the centre piece of the bar where the lines run through, meaning that you can use the same bar for longer without wearing away at your depower line. There’s also an optional attachment point on the depower cord that you can use for freestyle, if you don’t want to automatically flag your kite out every time you crash but still want immediate depower if you miss a pass and let go off the bar.
Simply put, there’s not much out there that can match the Park for the sheer amount of versatility and freeride / freestyle crossover performance potential. Year on year we become more and more impressed and if we had to pick one kite to take to an island for all high-performance freeriding, it would be hard to leave this behind. It’ll rip in the waves, provide all the kicks you could ask for when going big in strong winds and has enough freestyle capability to please advanced riders.
The very progressive powering and depowering are the essence of this kite’s handling.
KW WOULD CHANGE
Nothing really – the kite offers high levels of performance consistently across the board. We’d advise early intermediates to go easy with the Park at first as it’s lightning quick, though!
PARK BALANCE POINTS
Build quality: 8.5
Full package: 8.5
Low end: 7.5
Top end: 9
Steering speed: 8
Turning circle: 5
Power through the turn: 5
Bar pressure: 4
Water relaunch: 8
Ease-of-use: 9 (for accessing good performance if you’ve got skills. Intermediates: 6.5)
SIZES – 14, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5m
Here’s the official Park HD product video from Naish