So after my Arawak review Mr Starkites asked if I would like to the try the 2015 Taina and promptly sent me down a 2015 model to have a quick go on! He was very keen to mention that this as the free ride kite and set my expectations accordingly. So here are a few of my thoughts!
The bag is usual Star kites affair and very good at that, the material seems hard wearing and it is decent sized stuff sack style. It has all the features you want from extendable section, shoulder clips to stop you extended bag wobbling round like a giant member and straps to secure your board too. Overall it is a solid bag with none of the bullshit that comes some kite bags, like being overly small or just being stupid design that make it hard to put kite way.
The bar is nearly a complete rework for 2015, with some good features but also some omissions. It is standard 4 line equal length bar with some good quality looking 24m lines on it. It has integrated floats with line winders but no option to change the bar length, in fact I think it comes in one size. Not sure how bigger deal that is. I tend to never adjust mine. But if you want too the option isn’t there. The bar grip is comfortable but it has the lumps on it to show you where you put your hands, I am not a fan of this either. I like to put my hands where ever I want! Within the confines of the law and common decency obviously! Now the depower line is two lines both PU covered to reduce wear, as is the safety line and these run through a very effective stopper ball. I didn’t really have to use the stopper ball since the bar throw was perfect for an average height male such as myself. The depower is now a super smooth cleat design. Much much better than the previous pull pull straps and gives the whole bar a much cleaner feel. The QR hasn’t changed and it still feels slightly clunky in operation. It is not the easiest to reset but still doable. I fired the QR off twice as a test, it fired both times without issue and flagging out onto a single front line. I was able to reload the QR and relaunch from the shallows, so it works as reride system & the single front line is the preferred system these days. It also as the “suicide” ring option if you want ride unhooked, which works but is slightly fiddly. The bar basically does everything you would want from bar but a little like the Epic bar it does quite have the finished super quality feel of the top line bars. It is priced at £320 which is on the cheaper end of bars these days but still a fair old wack.
Pump up the Taina and the first thing that you notice is the new large valve, it comes with a neoprene cover to stop any sand getting in which is nice touch. You can fit any pump to it you just need the large adapter and it makes pumping up a total breeze. My Vegas has the tiniest inflate valve and you can feel the resistance but this a few easy pumps and it is up like a good-ern. A great new feature! The build itself is good with all the normal scuff pad reinforcements and it has double stitching on the struts with a super reinforced LE seam. The kite build itself looks similar to Epic and Blade and makes we wonder if they are from the same factory? The panel layout looks slightly complicated though but there is a nice bit framing going on with a good chunk of dracon on the TE. I do think the fixtures let the kite down slightly though, the pullies don’t look the best and bridle material could be beefed up. These bit’s just need a touch more polish to be up with the big boys.
In the air:
The Taina came in a slightly girly teal, yellow and orange colour, which prompted comments like “why are you on a girls kite” from other riders less comfortable with their sexuality. Luckily for them it comes in more manly colours also! Basically it’s a four line kite with a fairly long pullied bridle, lowish aspect ratio, deep cord, powerful looking profile, 3 struts and it has some delta influence about it. The first thing that hits you when you sheet in standing on the beach is the lift. It has bags of sheet lift, sheet in and up you. Just standing on the beach, you know this kite will jump well. Bar pressure is medium to slightly high, not an arm bleeder but still it’s got a bit of back line pressure. The feel through the bar is very good though you can’t feel the pullies at all. And the kite feeds back exactly where it is in the window. A quick dive on the beach and kite gives you good pull and it seems really power up as you sheet it.
When you get to the water a dive from the Taina and nice surge of smooth power comes on with plenty of grunt and on the upturn there is only the slightest loss of power. Sheet out and the kite climbs willingly up the window. This kite is grunty and has slight sheet n ride feel to it, as expected it is free ride kite, sheeting out doesn’t fully dump all the power of the kite, now I guess being aimed at beginners, this may not be a desirable feature but it dumps enough to stop any dragging and means it wont luff when sheeted out fully. Something also positive for beginners. I had the kite out in around 20kts and it performed very well indeed. You could dump the power very easily and with not much slack in the rear lines so you could steer depowered, a plus for wave riders. I understand that kite is a free ride\wave orientated kite so I thought I would test this by doing a very rudimentary drift test. This consisted of charging down a wave directly at the kite. The kite passed this test no problems, it drifted on slack lines nicely. The only thing I would say is that I had the kite on the lightest bar settings at it still had some bar pressure, I imagine wave riding might want something lighter?? It is pretty spritely on the turn also. My girlfriend tried it and described it as “twitchy”, personally I liked the fast turning and the kite was on the fast settings so can be slowed down if so desired, with 3 speed options on the rear pig tails. Although I wasn’t out in low winds I can imagine the low end to be decent on this kite. It has plenty of power on tap but without being a complete grunt monster.
The kite goes upwind nicely, just a case of looking upwind and the kite takes you there.
Boosting is where this kite excels, there is loads of sheet in lift and it is super easy to get a nice lofty boost of the kite. You quite laterally fling it over head, sheet in and you are almost guaranteed good height. The hang time is also impressive, with considerably more then my current Vegas. The fact that all that lift is available on the bar makes for easy floatly transitions.
The relaunch was no problem, just tug a rear line and would come up. The curved LE made it very easy of the wind to catch a tip and bring the kite up.
The chicken loop is a good size to hook back in on and the kite was surprisingly good in this dept. It did require some trimming but kite sits back in the window nicely allowing you to load up. I can imagine the kite getting quite gnarly to unhook on as the wind speed increases and there was little sign of any slack post popping. But to learn railys etc on this kite would be absolutely fine.
For a kite that is not marketed for the kite loops, the Taina was surprisingly good. The turning is slightly pivotal but still generates some power. Not enough to total spank you but enough to give some impression of pull. The power is in fact much better than 2012 Arawak I tried, which was decidedly limp wristed. The kite loops around well to with good drive and little sign of stalling. Again it is quite confidence building and it would be super kite to start your first loops on. Backloop kites are blast on this kite, easy, lofty and floatly with plenty confidence you will be caught. Unhooked loops do need some more power with kite being a bit fast when fishpoleing the bar. This was nice surprise after flying some delta style kites with absolutely no power in the loop.
Overall I found the Taina super to fly, it was confidence inspiring and had definitely a more aggressive feel then I was expecting. Maybe aggressive is the wrong word since you could happily learn on this kite and then you wouldn’t out grow it in a hurry. There is definite sheet n ride element to the kite with a bit of grunt on tap but there is also a big element of fun about the kite. It will do so much then just drag you around the water mowing then lawn. It begs to be jumped, as soon as you sheet in you feel it wanting to go! Whilst the kite itself is very nice and wish I had had a bit longer on it, I still think some areas of the build need a bit of polish. Particularly around the bridling and pullies. The new bar is an improvement but again the chicken loop could be better. The new cleat is great though. Price wise these come in at RRP £1150 complete. Which is similar to Slingy RPM. Personally I preferred the Taina to RPM in the air but I do feel build isn’t quite there yet.