The Best HellFish is Best Kiteboarding's new flagship kite. Best Kiteboarding claims that the HellFish dramatically improves upon currently available kite designs in all aspects because of Best's exclusive use of Cuben Fiber.
Cuben Fiber is a cloth that has recently been used in sailing. It is a very light material that is made up of a combination of different Fibers. The exact combination of Fibers is not known.
The result is a very light, strong and waterproof cloth that has a shiny, wrinkly texture.
Cuben Fiber is not the only thing that makes the HellFish unique. All the struts and the Leading Edge on the kite are extremely thin. This reduces drag, and combined with the lightweight of Cuben Fiber, this leads to a very light kite.
The kite does feel notably lighter than the average 13, although I can't confirm if it is 70% lighter, as claimed by Best Kiteboarding.
I managed to test the HellFish 13 alongside a Yarga 13 at a lagoon. I was given a 45cm bar with the HellFish instead of the usual 55cm bar. The local kiteboarding shop said a 55cm bar would be too big.
On the water the kite flies with relatively light bar pressure, and it is really quick in the turns. I would say that you can compare the turning speed of the kite on a 45cm bar to that of a typical 9 or 10 square meter kite. A 55cm bar, the standard size bar for a 12 or a 13, would have turned the kite even quicker.
Kite loops was really fun and effortless on this kite. The HellFish flies similar to a Best Nemesis, but it turns a lot quicker and feels lighter on the bar. Lift and overall performance was good.
During the late afternoon the wind dropped and I was able to test the low end abilities. It felt like the HellFish had slightly less power on the low end than the 13 Yarga. Certain reports indicate that the HellFish kite has a huge low end advantage - I do not agree with this. The fast turning speed gave it a definite advantage over the Yarga even though The 13 Yarga is not a slow kite by 2005 standards. Switching between the two really showed how much quicker the HellFish was than the Yarga. Turning speed aside, you'll still struggle to stay upwind on both kites if the wind is light.
I managed to drop the kite on a few occasions - and on one occasion the kite pretzeled. (The leading edge folded in half while in the launch position)
Best Kiteboarding assured me that the pretzel problems has been sorted out in the production versions of the HellFish.
The kite also dropped out of the sky a few times in light wind by overflying me.
All this aside, I welcome the innovation and progress in kite design. I really liked the kite - the only thing I didn't like was the kite pretzeling. The HellFish is a well behaved kite. Its biggest assets are fast turning and Lift.
It must be noted that I was flying a prototype HellFish and not a production kite.
The HellFish can be flown on a 4 line or 5 line configuration.
What I liked about the kite :
Fast, quick, tight turning.
Lighter bar pressure.
What I didn't like about the kite :
The kite folded on one occasion. (Prototype only problem)
Pricey when compared to the rest of the Best kites.
Not sure if Silver will be a hit with everyone.
Had some stability problems in lighter wind.
The HellFish is a definite improvement over current kite design in terms of kite turning speed. The reduced drag and weight clearly contributes towards this.
If you like doing kiteloops and jumping this kite will make both effortless. Up until this stage not a lot has been done to improve kite turning speed. A big kite that turns fast is a good thing, and this 13 turns like a 9 or a 10 on a small bar.
I am concerned about the ability of the thin leading edge to hold up in surf. The kite managed to fold back and twist into itself in light wind and on flat water - things can only get worse if you put waves into the equasion.
Although the low end pull of the kite does not feel any different to that of most other kites, the turning speed of the kite will give you a edge.
All in all I was well impressed with the kite. Credit must be given to Best Kiteboarding for taking kite turning speed to the next level.
Credits : Thanks to Windsports in Cape Town and Best Kiteboarding for providing the demo kite