First off, I've been kiting for three years using Cabrinha kites - particularly Black Tips - and boards. Secondly, I wanted to stress that the following statements refer to the 2003 BT 17 and 2002, 2001 BT 12.2.
The first version of the Black Tip had a huge lift but at the same time a quite limited range in the upper wind limit. With stronger winds - more than 18 knots - the 12.2 was simply unmanageable. The 2002 BT, had a very good range and a good lift. Unfortunately, the bigger sizes (12.2 and 16) were quite jellyfishy - sort of speak -, even in light winds. In addition, they were heavy. That required a little practice in order to avoid stalls in the lower wind limit. Nevertheless, aside from some durability issues affecting the 12.2, mainly the wing tips, I was quite satisfied with them: particularly the 9.4 was great! This year, I'll confess you, I was about to buy a North Rhino II 16, since I had tried it twice at the beginning of April and was impressed by its huge low end power and lift, even though the last time, as the wind picked up, controlling that beast was quite tricky. So I eventually ordered it since - thank God ... read on! - it was temporarily unavailable at my local shop! But a few days later, still waiting for the Rhino to be dispatched, a Neil Pryde-Cabrinha promoter gave me the chance to try the new BT 17 in very gusty conditions and I'll tell you, I was literally hit by its overall performance. Needless to say, I immediately rushed to the shop and cancelled the previous order for the Rhino II 16 replacing it in favour of the BT 17. A few days later I had my sssso nice yellow-grey-black BT and was indeed eagerly waiting to spend an entire session with my new toy. Since then I've used the BT 17 a lot of times, even in moderate to strong winds, as in the meanwhile my BT 9.4 was (and still is) in the ... sickbay, because of a main bladder issue.
The BT flies smoother than the Rhino II but at the same time as quick as the North. What really makes a Hell of a difference for a light weight sailor - I weigh some 62 Kilos - is the huge, impressive range of the new Black Tip. You fly it in light winds (7 - 10 knots), then it simply won't stall at all, providing at the same time a good low end power. The BT is certainly very, very close to the Rhino II for that matter! But if the traction of the Rhino II 16 in strong winds is devastating and requires a conservative sailing, the same cannot be said for the BT. Picture that, last week while I was flying the BT 17 with moderate to strong wind and rough water, managing to jump and do some tricks with my Spoiler 140, there were guys - a couple of them really good kitesailors and besides ... heavier than me - apparently overpowered with the Rhino II 12. Indeed, the BT was jellyfishing just a little but I guess that this is the key to its unthinkable range. That said, lift and upwind capabilities leave nothing to be desired as well as the waterrelauchability, easy as a pie for such a high aspect kite. As far as the durability is concerned, well, the kite seems bullet-proof but indeed, it's too early to tell so time will tell ... A particular mention to the optional Powerlock control bar that requires a couple of sessions to get accustomed to, but IMHO represents the Columbus' egg, soon to be imitated by other brands (well, Wipika already offers its own ...).
What more can I say? I'm so happy to have chosen the new BT and I'm going to replace the 2002 BT 9.4 with the 2003 ...