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After a big revamp of the entire line in 2013, the 2014 product year sees more improvements from Cabrinha including the return of the light wind Contra kite and the introduction of a very unique adjustable control bar. Cabrinha’s Todd Greaux answered our questions about what riders can expect from Cabrinha in the coming year.
What are the biggest changes to the 2014 Cabrinha kite line?
We have three big changes that will give the consumer a ton of value in 2014. We added the Contra, a specialized light wind freeride ride. The Contra is a very successful product for Cabrinha and this will be the third iteration. Expect this Contra to be a combination of amazing light wind power mixed with light bar pressure and quick steering. Rather than going for just the ultra low end like we did on the Velocity, the Contra is way more fun to fly, relaunches easily, and still maintains insane low end power. Our new 1X Overdrive control system is also a big change for us.
For all kites from 3.5 to 14m, we have one simple control system that is adjustable between 49-57cm. The adjustment can be done easily on the fly and the bar is actually the shorter length and adjusts to be larger, the opposite of other systems on the market. Finally, we have removed all but two pulleys on each bridle, and all the pulleys on the Vector bridle. This makes the steering ultra crisp, responsive, and faster all while improving durability by eliminating moving parts.
Both the Switchblade and Vector are listed as performance freeride kites. How should a rider looking for a kite in this category decide between the two?
The best way to decide is to try the kites back to back. If you can’t do that, then it’s good to know the basic differences. The Switchblade is a higher aspect 5-strut kite that is more swept than the Vector. The Vector is a lower aspect 3-strut and is fairly upright with a more conservative arc. The Switchblade has a slightly larger overall wind range and has better jumping and hang time.
The Vector has a lighter feel and turns in more of a pivot than the Switchblade. Also, the Vector has no pulleys in the bridle and is very direct. The Switchblade flies through the turns with more power and is a bit more stable in gusty winds. The Switchblade is excellent for unhooked riding. The Vector will depower quickly using minimum amounts of bar throw. Both kites relaunch well. They look and feel quite different, so it really is best to try them.
Will the woman-specific Siren still be offered?
Not only will we continue to offer it, but we have expanded the Siren to include many new sizes. We did better than expected with this model even though popular sizes such as 9 and 7 were not offered in 2013. The smaller loop and easier-to-reach trim adjusters are a big hit with the ladies and this category of product continues to excite us going into 2014.
What makes the Drifter a wave-specific kite? Does it also work well for other types of riding?
The first is slack line drift. When fully sheeted out and using the power of the wave to surf, the kite drifts very nicely even as one surfs directly towards it. This is achieved by special profiles in the canopy as well as the arc of the kite flattening out greatly when depowered. The Drifter literally floats along with you as you rip up the surf. The second thing the Drifter does is sit back in the window. When you sheet the kite in hard, rather than stalling the kite sits back in the window and continues to pull which helps you get through sections.
If you need to get upwind, edge hard and the Drifter will still get forward in the window to help punch through onshore surf or to get you back upwind to the break. Lastly, the Drifter turns on a dime and doesn’t yank you around while it’s doing so. A lot of the pull is in the bar and not the harness. This gives ultimate control in hard steering and freedom of movement in the hips necessary in the surf. The Drifter relaunches great, turns fast, and is really hard to stall, so it also works very well as a general freeride kite, although other Cabrinha models will perform better upwind.
What would make a light wind rider choose between the Contra and Velocity?
The Velocity isn’t a dedicated light wind kite. We designed it to have a massive wind range that happens to include the best low end out there. The Contra is easier to use and relaunches in a snap. The Contra is faster turning, lighter in the bar, and has a bigger sweet spot. Most light wind riders would choose the Contra over the Velocity. The wind range isn’t as good as the Velocity, but it’s made for light winds and not for a full range of wind. The Velocity is a full range kite and I would put it more in the category of performance freeride/race. Many people have found it to have insane hang time, a huge wind range, and lots of power. So if you are riding a race board in light winds, the Velocity is the way to go, but most users will probably go with the Contra as it works well with a surfboard, directional, or twin tip for amazing and fun light wind performance.
It sounds like more advanced riders will have to decide between the Chaos and Switchblade. What advice do you have for riders deciding between these two kites?
These kites are so very different. The Chaos is really a kite for riders who already excel at unhooked tricks and want to take their riding in a pure freestyle or wakestyle direction. The Chaos flies easily to the edge of the window for unhooking. It loops with a ton of pull and generates its power by turning and cycling the kite. The Switchblade has a totally different wind range with a lot more low end. It also unhooks well and is much more forgiving in the loops. It doesn’t turn with as much power and isn’t as fast since it has a flatter arc and the wingtips are further apart.
The Chaos pulls so hard in the loops that it has slack in the lines at the end of the loop while the Switchblade is efficient enough to fly through the loop. Also, the Switchblade is more stable and provides a really steady pull if you just park it and ride. The Chaos is a C-kite with a bridle so it has a very specific feel that certain riders love. The Switchblade has always been good for wakestyle, but it is more well rounded for all types of riding than the Chaos and in light winds it allows the freestyle rider to use a smaller kite because of its power.
Did anything else change on the bar other than the addition of the Overdrive system?
Yes, our front line V was moved way down to the top of the center line adjustment strap and all the kites turn faster as a result.
What type of rider is each of the 2014 twin tips designed for?
The XCaliber and XCaliber Signature are designed for freestyle. These track upwind well and have huge pop and fast rockers. The XO Siren is designed for female riders. It has a softer flex and offers a freestyle/freeride outline to handle a variety of rider levels and conditions. The Tronic is for choppy water, launching huge airs, and ripping up surf. It has pulled in tips and good sized fins along with a concave bottom. The Stylus is for light wind freeriding. It has a moderate rocker so that it’s still fun to ride even in the light stuff.
The Custom and Custom CBL are for wakestyle riding. Best ridden with boots, these boards have super forgiving rockers and smaller fins for stomping even the most intense moves. The Custom CBL rocks at the cable park. The Spectrum is our only 2D board, but we still pressed V shaping in the tips to give it a precise lively ride. It handles a wide range of freeride conditions with ease and provides for a soft ride with plenty of flex.
What’s the difference between the Xcaliber/XCaliber Signature and the Custom/Custom CBL?
The XCaliber Signature is a full carbon board. This provides a lower weight and an insane reflex from the board that translates into a better ride quality and a stronger layup. The XCaliber is a wood and glass layup. Wood is a great natural renewable material that has amazing impact resistance and flex characteristics. The Custom is also a wood and glass layup. For 2014, we lowered the rocker on the Custom and added a handle. This new Custom is an amazing board in really rough conditions and still has enough rocker to be a great wakestyle board.
The Custom CBL has the same high rocker as the 2013 model but employs a layup of carbon reinforcement with basalt fiber. We all know the benefits of carbon, but basalt fiber is relatively new. It has great rebound and flex characteristics as well as impact resistance. It’s a great mix with carbon reinforcements to make a modern board that has great rebound and tuned flex. The Custom CBL really must be ridden with boots, but the Custom still works very well with straps.
What’s the difference between the different foot strap models?
The Hydra is our base strap. It has a single mounting position and a single density pad. It is super easy to install and is adjustable on both sides of the foot. The H1 model is new for 2014. It bears resemblance to the Hydra, but offers three different duck mounting positions. Also, the pad is dual density and offers the best combination of softness for choppy conditions with firmness for hard impacts and compression when loading. The top also adjusts on both sides of the foot.
Our third model is the H2, a hybrid binding/strap. It is adjustable 5-ways including girth, duck, width, pad density, and fit from toe to ankle. The top section is adjustable by two Velcro straps that adjust separately on the sides of the foot as well as toe to ankle. Inserts control the heel density adjustment in the pad. The H2 provides the most snug and custom fit while the H1 provides the highest performance for freestyle.
Cabrinha has five surf shapes this year. What type of kite surfing is each meant for?
The Trigger is meant for big beefy surf. It’s a classic down-the-line shape and if you have the right conditions this board absolutely rocks. The Skillit is another thruster, but the wide tail and nose are best suited for small to medium sized waves and a more slashy freestyle type of surfing. The S-Quad is a quad fin board that likes to be powered up. It feels like you are riding on rails and it excels in small to even the biggest surf. This has a more locked in feel from the fins than the thruster boards and will hold a bottom turn in almost anything.
The Subwoofer is for light winds and small surf. It’s wide and turns off the tail giving it plenty of power for mushy small surf without a lot of power from your kite. If it gets too light, leave the kite on the beach and paddle out on the Subwoofer for a great small wave surf session. The PC Signature is the same shape as the 5’10” S-Quad, but in polyurethane construction. It has a real surfboard feel and soaks up bumpy surf with ease. You don’t feel the chop on this board, but it is for dedicated strapless riding in small to large surf. Expect the surf quality to be of the charts on the PC Signature board, but for sure the layup is less durable for the average user.