The Arawak's powerful profile gives the consistent pull of a C kite and the power control of a hybrid. This kite can work for any riding style, including wave riding, but where the kite's performance really stands out is in powerful unhooked freestyle, big floaty airs and kite loops. The canopy layout prevents any flutter even when fully depowered or in super tight turns. The relaunch is quick and simple ? just one pull on a steering line and the kite will do the rest. Close attention has been paid to the construction detail to keep the kite light, yet strong. The bridles have only three points of contact with the kite and no pulleys, giving a very rigid feel. It's always easy to know where the kite is without even looking at it and the bar pressure can be customised to fit your preference.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
The Arawak comes in a fairly standard rucksack that's easy to get the kite in and out of. The construction doesn't feel like the heaviest on the market, the bridles and connections are fairly thin, but it's generally well featured and well put together. We tested the S-Bow last year and were really impressed with its superb user-friendliness, so were excited to see what Starkite's more freestyle performance oriented kite could do. Moving on, there's one pump, the bar is neat and tidy and the strapped trimming system is a suitable distance away and doesn't flap as the straps are pinned down at the bottom. We did get one strap wrapped around the other to start with, but once we'd straightened it out, it didn't happen again. There's lots of adjustment available in the trimming; a good six to eight inches of play. The bar has plenty of grip and the set-up is simple and clean. The ridges on top of the bar are fairly hard and could be a bit softer, but the click plastic chicken-loop safety works well and self locates when unhooked. There's absolutely no stick as the safety line passes through the chicken-loop, which is good straight out of the bag and does a fantastic job of totally killing the kite. Once the kite has flagged it's a bit of a job getting all the lines fed back through, but it eventually all goes back, you're safe and sound and you don't have to swim back in as you might on fifth line systems. Once you get back to the bar though, the kite does reset itself very quickly, so be aware of that. You can choose to clip onto the safety line or onto the suicide, but still be on the safety line which is a good option that we saw a few manufacturers bringing in last year. The lines are very thin though, and they do sing a little bit in lots of wind; but thinner lines create less drag and the kite is very quick. There are options to speed the kite up or slow it down. There's only one knot you can actually attach your lines to on the bridle which makes things nice and easy, we like that, but there are three settings that you can move the back bridle to on the kite. We flew it on the fastest setting as it came out of the bag.
In the sky it's got a great shape. Not really swept back tips,
it's a nice, broad-looking C shape hybrid that sits rigidly in the sky. There isn't a lot of bridling, so the bar has a solid, sturdy and responsive feel. We expected a bit more bottom end, but we've got so used to flying hybrid C kites that are more swept back with that instant sheet in power. The low end isn't bad on this by any means though. In the air the kite is really quick through the sky, but doesn't outfly itself. The Arawak also has lots and lots of depower and very smooth, progressive uptake of power through the bar. Not on and off at all, just smooth,
which is what we really look for in the best kites. Even in the cold, windy gusts, we were always comfortable.
The Arawak isn't a boost machine, but it jumps well with a consistent amount of climb. You don't feel like you're on an express elevator, but you do go up steadily and the lift doesn't bottom out too early. This area of performance is definitely above average. Watching from the beach we could see the climb is very steady, even in big gusts there was no double lifting, just a nice, steady climb and float. It's a lot of fun and you feel very safe on this kite. Although not aggressive in its boost, the Arawak's kite loops were surprisingly pokey. For a bridled kite it loops well, with purpose and always makes it back to the top of the window. Unhook and the kite doesn't back stall at all and has loads of performance for riders looking to do plenty of unhooked moves. It's well behaved and never loses its temper. Aggressive riders will want the kite to show it's got a bad boy side too, though.
The Arawak is a really fun, fast flying kite producing good jumps and performs very well unhooked. A super-reliable kite for the masses looking to ride in all styles, but if you're used to a lot of punch, you may need a bit more under the bonnet to get that extra 10% to put that mad look in your eyes.
Anyone could get on this kite and have a good time. We haven't mentioned the relaunch yet actually, it's very good indeed. The Arawak proves you can have a rigid C shape with nice square tips for turning and still get really good relaunch.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
We'd want to hear it snarl a bit more when it gets angry.
12, 10, 9, and 7m
Starkites Arawak 9m (2012)
Kitesurfing Test - Boards 2013
Airush The Slayer
Kitesurfing Test - Kites 2013
F-One Bandit 6m
Kitesurfing travel directory