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North Rhino 09 Interview by Ken Winner

We have been testing the new 09 North Rhino in Boa Vista and really liked the kite. We feel that despite its image as a full on power house its actually a fantastic kite to fly with loads of depower and a really nice feel. Definitely a kite to consider in the bigger sizes of say 10m and upwards. Here is Ken winners interview on the kite:


Rhino 09 – maybe the most underestimated Kite of the range!

Interview with Ken Winner – Designer of the Rhino 09

Ken, the Rhino is meanwhile an often changing chameleon in the North range, but always had some special characteristics, which yearly kept the same. This year it looks again completely new. What are the main characteristics in your eyes and what was your main aim developing the Rhino 09?

I fear I must disagree with the notion that the new Rhino is completely new. It has the same number and type of ribs as last year. It still has a delta shape – though less exteme – and it still has a moderately flat arc – though, again, less extreme. The profiles are little different, though they are flatter near the tips. It still has a bridle – though an improved one – and it still flies on both four and five lines. The ’09 Rhino is a refinement of the ’08 version, so I don’t see it as anything like “completely new.”

The design plan for the 2009 Rhino called for taking the best qualities of the ’08 Rhino and blending them with some of the features and qualities of the ’09 Rebel. This meant refining the ’08 Rhino with the knowledge gained during the Rebel development process, thus making the Rhino ’09 the latest and most sophisticated model in the North ’09 line up.

Features of the ’08 Rhino that we wanted to keep were:
• Extreme power – the most power per unit area of any kite on the market
• Low drag within its wind range
• Light bar pressure – easy on the arms, elbows and shoulders,
• The ability to fly on either five lines or four
• Huge lift and hangtime for jumping

Qualities that we wanted to improve were:
• Turning ability
• Simplicity
• Depower
• Low drag at the high end of the wind range
• Lower weight
• No batten

We felt we could make the desired improvements by redistributing profile depth, tweaking the overall geometry, adjusting strut position and diameter, modifying the cloth mix, and refining the Attack Control Bridle.

Compared to the Rhino 08, what are the advantages?

The profile of the ’08 Rhino worked well, so we didn’t feel the need to make wholesale changes. However, we flattened the profile between the center struts and the tip struts, making the profile quite flat in the area of the inbetween struts on each side. This is the area that on the ’09 Rebel is unsupported by a strut and which is also quite flat on the Rebel.
The benefit of this change is that the ’09 Rhino has less drag in high-wind, high-power circumstances.

Overall Geometry
The ’08 Rhino has an extremely swept, tapered, flat Delta geometry. For the ’09 Rhino we went a bit less extreme with not only sweep, but also taper and the flatness of the arc (see notes on ’08 Rhino for the meaning of these terms). These changes contribute to better high-wind stability and quicker, smoother turning.
Another improvement stemming in large part from the refined geometry is better relaunch from the “nose down” or “leading edge down” position. Simply pull on one back line and the Rhino relaunches now better than ever.

Strut Position and Diameter, Tip Batten
The center struts of the ’09 Rhino are farther off center than those of the ’08 Rhino. They are positioned more like those of the ’09 Rebel, and thus give both greater size and excellent power-depower capability to the vitally important center section of the canopy.
The “S2” strut, the one between the S1 center strut and S3 tip strut on each side of the kite is thinner, lighter and more flexible than the others because it has less need to be stiff. It is there simply to flatten the canopy profile in that area of the canopy that lies between the main structural struts.
The stiff tip battens add considerable weight to the tip of the ’08 Rhino, so for ’09 we decided to replace the tip batten with a small “V” bridle for each back flying line. This “V” gives support to the kite tip without weighing it down. Since the Rhino is is not intended to be as super-precise in steering as the Vegas (which has a tip batten), this is a reasonable tradeoff.

Cloth Mix
In the ’09 Rebel we placed a large section of strong, tough, stable Dacron cloth between the center and tip struts. This cloth keeps the profile flat in that area and improves long-term performance as it holds its shape in an area where we don’t want the cloth to stretch.
On the ’09 Rhino we ran a thin inflatable strut through the area between the center and tip struts and so did not need extremely stable cloth in that area. To save weight and compensate for the extra weight of the extra rib on each side (as compared with the Rebel), we used more light ripstop in the canopy body and our well tested and proven Snakeskin in the trailing edge.
The net result in weight is that the ’09 Rhino is lighter than the ’08 Rhino, but a bit heavier than the ’09 Rebel.

Attack Control Bridle
Though not a highly publicized point, the Attack Control Bridle of the ’08 Rhino permitted that kite to be flown in either four-line or five-line mode. The same is true for the ’09 version of this bridle.
The ’08 Attack Control Bridle is largely responsible for the huge low-end power of the 08 Rhino. It permits changes in angle of attack without undesirable twists to the kite geometry. The ’09 version of this bridle is shorter, thus lighter and more resistant to tangle, and has four rather than three attachment points per side, thus providing even more support to the leading edge.
The change in the overall geometry of the ’09 Bridle makes for easier setup, as any potential tangles that may have occurred from rolling or packing the Rhino are easier to see and sort out. Plus, the ’09 Bridle is 40% shorter than that of the ’08, so tangles are even less troublesome for that reason as well. Another contribution to simplicity is that tension on the nose line of the Rhino is not a critically important issue and will never be a point of trouble. The nose line should never be tight except when the Rhino is fully sheeted in. Otherwise the nose line should be slack.
The ’09 Bridle is engineered to be easier to maintain as well. For one, we have replaced the pulleys with super-strong nylon rings, so that performing routine maintenance on the bridle is easier. For another, we have placed Spectra line segments in the bridle lines at the points of greatest wear, so that when these Spectra segments finally wear thin, they can easily be replaced by new ones.
Think of replacing the Spectra segments of your bridle lines as similar to replacing the brake pads on your car every so many miles.

It’s a quite huge range of Kites NKB offers with Rhino, Rebel, Vegas and Evo.
For which customer is the Rhino 09 made for and where do you rank the Rhino regarding the complete range?

The Rhino is a cruising, jumping, racing kite. The reasons someone might choose it over the Rebel are:
– the Rhino has more power and overall range
– bar pressure is lighter on the Rhino
– Rhino steering pressure is lighter and steering is smoother
– the Rhino works on a four-line bar (for those who prefer four lines)

The reasons someone might choose the Rhino over the EVO are:
– similar power in the Rhino, but more depower
– the Rhino is faster
– the Rhino has lower bar pressure

The reason someone might choose the Rhino over the Vegas are:
– The Vegas is a freestyle kite and the Rhino rider is not a freestylist

The range of use of the Kites is overlapping in many cases. Which customers would you suggest to take the Rhino?

Cruisers who like light bar pressure and easy steering. Racers – especially in light wind. Riders who like to use four lines but want more speed and a lighter bar feel than they would get from the Evo in four-line mode.

Why is the Rhino offered as 5 and 4 line Kite? Which system do you consider as safer?

The Rhino is offered as both four- and five-line kite because some people prefer one and some prefer the other. As long as safety is good on four lines (a problem with some kites), I don’t mind offering the Rhino as a four-line kite.
The handling and feel of the Rhino on four lines is slightly softer and more forgiving than on five lines. I think some riders will like this.
Regarding safety, I think a five line system is the safest against kiteboarding’s greatest dangers. I know of people who are dead and would probably be alive today if they had been using a five-line kite. However, our refined Attack Control Bridle makes the ’09 Rhino reasonably safe on four lines.
The safety differences between four-line and five-line options are these:
-the advantage of four lines is that there is less chance of wrapping the kite in a line.
-the advantage of five lines is that the kite depowers more quickly on the leash in an emergency situation. With four lines the rider goes downwind a bit before the kite flags completely on the leash. This situation is similar to the safety of some new bridles from other brands.

It seems that the Rhino is a very powerful and fast racing kite, but still lots of people cruising around, swear on the Rhino. How does that go together?

Racing on kiteboards is not about going really, really fast like speed sailing at 50 knots. Instead it’s about having a high average speed when going in all different directions, upwind, downwind and reaching. Therefore, a kite that is fast for racing is the one that has huge range and low drag. It happens that such a kite is usually also good for cruising and jumping.
Is it true that the Rhino is the kite, which is influenced first, by most of the brand new ideas, technologies and materials?
We normally spend 12 months working on the new kites for the next year and the Rhino is the model that we finish working on last. Therefore, the Rhino always has the most development time and the latest thinking. This doesn’t make the Rhino the kite for every rider, or even the majority. But it does make the Rhino a very good kite for a discerning rider.