This test was featured in Issue #67 - SUBSCRIBE TO KITEWORLD MAG HERE
RRD OBSESSION 9M
The sixth Obsession features a new leading edge arch, slightly more closed than previous models, more C shaped but with an aspect-ratio much higher than a C kite, so maintains the boosting power. New vertically shaped struts with a new leading edge attachment greatly improve foil stability, allowing a flattened out body shape towards the trailing edge, increasing stability by 20%. Featuring a new bridle design, the Obsession is even more powerful, yet with more range at the upper end and with a softer, more progressive depower feel. The turning speed particularly in the big sizes, down to the 10.5, have been vastly improved and kite loops are easier with a more constant, neutral feel. As with all RRD kites, the graphics are part of the body of the kite, rather than being printed on top, ensuring a longer life and lighter weight.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
We've tested each model of the Obsession, it has a reputation for large performance and we always look forward to getting on it. Starting with the build quality, it's good; reinforced in all the right places, with bumpers, strut protection and a nice inflation valve. It's all very neat and the one pump is nicely tucked away. There are a couple of knots on the trailing edge attachment to choose from, so it's all kept very simple and you're not left cautiously wondering how to set the kite up. The other huge bonus is that if you ever get lost at sea on this kite, you'll be the first one found as it's typically loud and brash in its styling.
The Global V5 bar is covered nicely, won't wear easily, the centre piece is machined well for least resistance and the push-away plastic release operates very simply. The safety system has two balls with rings below the chicken-loop, one is for the suicide ring, and the other for the safety mini-fifth run through. Unclip your leash from one to the other while riding on the water as your mood dictates is very easy. RRD's was one of the first trimming cleats on the market and certainly works well with more of an elastic pull and recoil than most so there's less dangle. This isn't the most bling bar system you'll come across, but it's well made, strong and is rewarded for functionality over aesthetics.
The kite, however, looks and feels very exciting. There was no mistaking that it was an Obsession with lots of obvious lift at the top of the window and ready to go!
The low end is a real standout. The power delivery at the bar happens in an area of throw focused around a sweet spot of six or seven inches, rather than being progressive all the way up and down the throw. In terms of jumping performance this is very rewarding, especially combined with the low end performance giving you 20% more boost than other kites in the same wind conditions.
Although classed as an all-round kite, the Obsession has always leaned more towards the specialist freerider and the 2014 is more trim sensitive than you might be used to. Yes, it flies forward very quickly through the window, and it's an upwind dream, but you do have to keep an eye on the trimming as you can over sheet it. It's a bit more 'tippy' feeling in its handling, but that is why riders that know how to handle something with more attitude, and crave something more rewarding, opt for the Obsession. In strong winds this is more of a handful than the other kites and really ramps up its power, but also in its normal operating conditions it's easy to find the magic boost button. An exhilarating ride, it allows you to perform to a higher level in less wind than you'd think. The Obsession is actually very forgiving in terms of where exactly you put it above your head - it just wants to take you up, but that said you can do wrong things with it. It's like a racing car in that it rewards the skilled driver and wraps a grin right across their face. One obstacle for high performing riders also very used to unhooking, is that the Obsession requires a lot of trimming before you come out of the loop, but you can make passes on it, though you need to hook back in fairly promptly after your trick.
The Obsession spins quickly on its axis. Kite loops can be rewarding in strong wind as there's a lot of power in this kite, but you know that it will always make it back to the top of the window. The kite speed is very impressive, it's super quick (the quickest here) but also requires fairly solid input at the bar, meaning you're less likely to accidentally steer it, but that said it's a little too technical in waves to be comfortable. The trimming sensitivity means that you have to be sensitive in your handling in return; pulling too carelessly on the bar during a top turn can cause it to stall if you're not careful. However, for strapless airs and transitions the Obsession is a joy. Edge into wind, gently pull in on the bar and you get loads of time for your tricks with its inherently good float.
For the aggressive freerider looking to tear up their home spot, unhook a bit but mainly go huge as often as possible, kites don't come much more rewarding than the Obsession. The speed, its flatter than C profile and great power mean it really is an incredible jumping kite, keeping you way up there for days. A shorter usable throw that's more aggressive in its power delivery are why it suits a better rider, but what a joy to get on a kite that remembers what kitesurfing is really all about: having fun and going to the moon.
The fast, energetic ride and built in thrusters that take you to the heavens.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
Some intermediates used to clumsily pulling in on the bar will find the required trimming skills a bit beyond them.
KITE BALANCE POINTS X/10:
Build quality: 8
Full package: 8
Low end: 9
Top end: 8
Steering speed: 8
Turning circle: 4.5
Bar pressure: 7
Water relaunch: 7
SIZES: 15, 13.5, 12, 10.5, 9, 7, 6 and 5m