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Photo Jason Wolcott

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The Cabrinha line has received a major update for the 2013 model year, especially in the board department. The twin tip line has been completely redesigned and Cabrinha has also brought their production in-house. They are also introducing a female-specific version of the Switchblade and the Chaos, a competition-style kite for advanced riders. Cabrinha’s Todd Greaux answered our questions about all the 2013 changes for Cabrinha.

What are the major changes between the 2012 and 2013 Cabrinha product lines?

There have been many changes from 2012 to 2013. The first and most notable would be the fact we completely redesigned the Switchblade. We collected feedback from the consumers and increased the turning speed and reduced the bar pressure while still giving it the great range and power expected from the Switchblade without sacrificing the unhooked performance.

We saw a lot of these characteristics in the very well received Vector from last season and that gave us the motivation to really push the Switchblade to the next level. Also we now offer a female-friendly version of the Switchblade called the Switchblade Siren.

2013 Cabrinha Siren

We have attentively watched the percentage of women in kitesurfing grow over the last few years and it was time to make a product with features better suited for womens’ smaller stature. Although the Siren is a Switchblade, the control system uses special trim adjuster extensions and a smaller harness loop to make trimming and depowering the kite easier. There is the addition of the new C-shape kite to our range called the Chaos. It’s meant to bring a very specific feel and performance to the rider and is really discouraged for most customers.

We brought on a new board designer Dave Kay to completely overhaul our twin tip line and the production of the boards has also moved in house to guarantee the quality. All new shapes and construction techniques have really put Cabrinha’s board program on the map. The Surfboard range has also been completely redesigned and we added a new light wind surf shape the Subwoofer. We also streamlined the inflation system to make it even easier quicker to use with new airlock valves and new pumps.

Kite Name Sizes Stock Line Length Target Date Available
Vector 3.5, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 14m 22m Universal Ride Now
Crossbow LW 9, 11, 13, 16, 18m 22m +5m extensions for 16/18m Performance Freeride/Big Air/Hang Time/Racing Now
Chaos 5.5, 7, 9, 11, 13m 22m Pro Level Unhooked Freestyle/Megaloops Now
Drifter 5.5, 7, 9, 11, 13m 22m Surfing/Slackline Drift Now
Switchblade 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 16m 22m Performance Freeride/Wakestyle Now
Switchblade Siren 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 16m 22m Performance Freeride/Wakestyle – Bar Designed for Women Now

What is some of the rider input you used when developing the 2013 kites?

We used feedback from every one on our team for the development of the 2013 range. Andre Phillip and Susi Mai heavily influenced the Switchblade’s new design. Dre always has a say as this is the kite that has been pulling him across features and pushing the limits of wakestyle since 2007. Susi had input on the Switchblade Siren control system and in the graphic selection. Cabrinha’s freestyle superstar Alberto Rodina inspired the Chaos. As a top PKRA freestyle competitor, Alby dedicated plenty of time to assisting in the testing process of the Chaos, which one can truly say is a pro model kite. Alby needed a kite that looped harder, created more power in the turns, turned faster in the big sizes, and covered a larger wind range to ensure he could make it through every heat in competition.

Damien LeRoy worked closely with the development team to test the Crossbow LW. Not only did he test it for use in racing (where it speaks for itself), but also for use as a lightweight everyday performance freeride kite in a variety of wind conditions. The Drifter had to pass the test of Keahi De Aboitiz, Reo Stevens, and Pete Cabrinha in order make the cut. All had valuable input in its original design and subsequent production years. Most of all, our surf athletes demanded a kite with excellent slack line drift, the ability to depower quickly, turn on a time, and excel in offshore/side-shore/on-shore conditions.

Of course we can’t overlook Dave Hastilow. As part of our development and test team, Dave came to us originally as a pro athlete and is extremely valuable on giving us a head start on developing products that meet the team riders’ needs before we need to call them individually into action for testing.

Photo Jason Wolcott

Who are the target riders for each of the 2013 kites?

We have a kite to fit everyone’s style. The Switchblade is good or great at everything, so most customers that can’t decide will not go wrong with the Switchblade (or Siren). In addition to freeride, the Switchblade is a forgiving, steady, and predictable kite for unhooked wakestyle riding. The new Chaos is really targeted to professional athletes or expert level freestyle riders who want to throw mega loops and/or handle passes. It is not meant to be a freeride kite by any means. The Drifter is meant for surf. It has the amazing slack line drift necessary to rip apart surf without having to concentrate on the kite.

The Crossbow LW target riders looking for maximum wind range and boosting that will take you into sub-orbit. Oh, did I mention the Crossbow LW is a rock star on the racecourse? The Vector is there to do anything. It’s simple three strut design that is light and nimble, has great relaunch, quick depower, and turns very well. It’s not as direct in the bar as the other kite models, so it better suits those riders that want performance in a very easy to use and forgiving package. The Vector’s large sweet spot makes is a top choice at consumer demos. Really it can handle anything you can throw at it from freestyle, to wakestyle, to surf, or just cruising back and forth.

What features of the Siren make it a girl-specific kite?

Great question! The kite itself is hard to make girl-specific since kites are really designed around a certain function or performance goal. The ladies ride just as hard as the guys, so that’s why the Switchblade was chosen to be in the Siren collection. The kite itself embodies a Susi Mai inspired graphic but is otherwise a Switchblade.

The control system on the other hand has a shorter harness loop and trim adjusters that are closer to the body through the clever use of t-handle extensions. The result is adjustment at a full 12cm (4 ¾”) closer than on the standard control system. Since the average woman is smaller in stature than a man, it is important to put the trim of the kite comfortably within reach.

Photo Jason Wolcott

The Crossbow LW a race-specific kite? Would it be suitable for riders who aren’t looking to race?

The Crossbow LW was designed as a performance freeride kite. It just so happens that the same characteristics one would look for in racing are also what one wants to rocket upwind, jump to the moon, stay in the air forever, and have a huge wind range. As a freeride kite, the Crossbow LW is easy to use and ultra stable thanks to the bow kite design.

For light wind riding, the 13/16/18m kites generate a ton of horsepower and they absolutely rock. They are park and ride style kites so they don’t require constant movement to generate power. If you leave them alone, they will reward you! They fly much larger than their sizes indicate, so a kite like the 18m is for winds where we previously couldn’t kite or for heavy riders that still want to boost.

What makes the Drifter a better kite in the surf than the other kites in the range?

So many things make the Drifter better in surf. When I think of what I want in surf, it’s good wind range, short depower travel, fast steering, power when punching through onshore surf, fast relaunch, and proper slack line drift when surfing towards the kite. The Drifter does all of this. It sits further back in the wind window and this does two things for you. It allows you to surf at the kite and the kite comfortable drifts downwind with amazing stability hooked or unhooked and it won’t scoot to the edge of the wind window and depower when you edge up and over onshore surf. This allows the power necessary to tackle the gnarliest onshore surf conditions without a beating.

Most of the drift stability comes from the fact that the arc opens up (becomes flatter) when the back lines are fully slack. This allows the kite stay aloft, flying mainly off the front lines, when the kite is fully depowered. When the bar is sheeted in again, the bridle closes the arc back into a more moderate shape that is better suited for faster turning and quick depower. The fast steering and quick depower make it easy to correct the position of the kite in a moments notice – great for outrunning a close out or positioning yourself in the pit. The fast relaunch keeps your kite from getting a beating when you screw up. The wind tends to be gusty in surf, so this is where the range of the kite comes into play. There are also some extra reinforcements on the Drifter that add to our already durable skeletal frame for the extra requirements of pounding surf.

2013 Drifter

How would a rider looking for an all-around kite decide between the Switchblade and the Vector?

Another great question! For 2013, we gave the Vector better low end. We also gave the Switchblade faster steering, lighter bar pressure, and quicker depower. The Switchblade has a larger wind range compared to the Vector as well as a more linear depower. The Vector has a more pivoty less-powerful turn than the Switchblade and the Switchblade tends to arc through turns with power.

The Switchblade has some major boosting power and that can never be overlooked for freeriding. The five-strut bow design of the Switchblade is more stable and naturally provides for more power per square meter, but the three-strut Vector is slightly lighter per size. The Switchblade is preferred for wakestyle unhooking. What it really comes down to for freeride on these two kites is personal feel. I would suggest taking both for a test ride.

Photo Stephen Whitesell

What are the major performance differences between the Chaos and rest of the kites? How do you respond to the purists who say it’s not a true C-Kite if it has a bridle?

First off, the Chaos is designed to do one thing – win freestyle contests. With that said, it flies forward when you check your edge, turns fast, generate lots of power through turns or loops, and has a little line slack after a kiteloop or big unhooked pop to make passing the bar easier. The kite itself it very upright, has a convex trailing edge, a conservative arc shape, and wide tips. The kite has a great wind range, but it’s shifted upward compared to the other kites in our line. Also, it isn’t park-n-ride. You move the kite to generate power and when you loop the kite it yanks really hard.

This kite requires advanced technique. A good kite flier and expert to pro level freestyle rider will get the benefits out of it’s performance, otherwise our other kites would be more suitable. I have two words for the purists: evolution and revolution. Try the kite and you won’t be disappointed.

Any changes for the bar for 2013?

There are many changes to Quicklink, but I will focus on the big ones that really impact the user experience. The quick release has been redesigned to make reconnection after a safety or landing deployment much easier. We still don’t recommend resetting the system on the water after activating the QR, but that isn’t necessary as the IDS landing line (the line that keeps you attached to the bar after deployment) can easily handle the load of kiting back to the launch where a proper reset can be performed in seconds. We are using new lines that are super crisp and stiff, thus they tangle way less and continue to have super low stretch.

When the bars are assembled, the loop-to-loop connections are all tightened to a high load to allow precise tuning of the system and require much less adjustment through long term use. T-handles have been added to the trim adjusters to provide for a very positive grip and much simpler adjustment. A line manager has been added that can be stored in a wingtip pocket on the kite. This tool keeps your lines perfectly straight between your kite sessions and reduces setup time. Lastly, we have adjusted the swivel to move more smoothly.

How has the twin tip range been updated for 2013?

The twin tip range has been reworked from top to bottom. We brought in a new designer and production consultant to not only redesign every board in the range, but to bring the board production in-house. We added two new models to the range. The Tronic is a designed to bridge the gap between the XCaliber and the Custom. It has a moderate rocker line and multiple channels to give it a butter smooth ride in choppy conditions, but maintains enough of an aggressive outline to be the weekend warrior’s freestyle board. The Stylus is our new light wind twin tip. At 145x45cm, it’s made to handle the lightest of conditions but has enough energy and pop to make light wind fun. Our own production has allowed us to remove a lot of excess resin in the board layups. Extra resin adds weight, but not strength.

The end result is a lighter product with the same strength. We have gone away from ABS rails and switched to urethane. Urethane holds better in the laminating process and reduces the instances of delamination. It’s also much easier to work with and can be shaped easily. All the twin tip rails for 2013 have some shaping. The boards with 3D shaping match the bottom shaping on the deck. This provides for a uniform thickness along the tips. The most prevalent example of this is on the Custom. We also went after the little details that make life easier. For example, the fins, foot straps, and grab handle all use the same exact screw. It’s a common size, M6x16mm, that can be purchased at most hardware stores. If one is traveling and loses a fin or foot strap screw, one could borrow a screw from the handle until a replacement could be found.

Another big feature in the boards is P-Tex. We have the Custom, Tronic, and Stylus all with P-Tex bottom, and the Spectrum has P-Tex top and bottom. P-Tex is a material used in the snow industry and is ultra durable and repairable. It’s ideal for durability. The XO Siren and the XCaliber don’t have P-Tex in order to save weight, as pure performance is the goal. Lastly, although not a board, the Hydra foot strap system was designed to be super easy to install and adjust and super comfy. The strap can be adjusted laterally across the foot for a custom fit and the installation is cake using the new tower system.

2012 Cabrinha Chaos

What type of rider is each of the twin tip boards designed for?

The XO Siren is specifically tuned for the ladies. Size for size, the XO Siren is slightly softer than our regular shapes as women tend to be less aggressive on the edge. The availability in smaller sizes work for a women’s naturally smaller stature. The Spectrum is our universal ride twin tip. We have P-Tex on the top and bottom so it’s indestructible. It doesn’t use 3D shaping, so it’s the easiest of the boards to tune (it rides like an absolute dream) and it keeps the cost to a reasonable level. Budget minded kiters, newbies, and those looking for a board that crosses into many disciplines will enjoy the Spectrum.

The XCaliber is our pro level freestyle board. It’s much more aggressive than the past Caliber design. This board provides big pop and rockets upwind. It’s complete with 3D shaping on the deck and bottom and is definitely for the skilled freestyle rider. The Custom has a revision to the bottom shaping that makes it even more wakestyle oriented. How much more? Enough to double as your cable park board.

Although it comes with fins, it’s designed to be ridden finless with boots. It has the highest amount of rocker in our range of twin tips and aggressive channels to provide grip. It’s taking wakestyle to the next level with the crossover ability in the cable park.

The Tronic is an all new concept. It’s a freestyle/freeride board with multiple channels and moderate rocker, sitting between the Custom and the XCaliber. It also has a moderate outline, again sitting between the Custom and XCaliber. It handles chop with ease and is the everyday or weekend warrior freestyle board. Unlike the XCaliber that can at times provide a punishing ride, the Tronic’s softer layup delivers freestyle performance with a forgiving ride. Lastly, the Stylus handles the light wind category.

The stylus will double or triple your riding days in areas notorious for light winds, such as Florida and San Diego. It has a square outline to get up and go, but has enough flex to make the riding as interesting as you are willing to push it. The 3D top and bottom help to reduce weight in areas where you don’t need it providing for lower swing weight.

Board Name Sizes Type Target Date Available
Xcaliber 130, 133, 136, 139cm Twin Hardcore Freestyle Now
XO Siren 129, 133cm Twin Women Freestyle/Freeride Now
Tronic 133, 136, 140, 144cm Twin Freeride/Freestyle/Chop Now
Custom 133, 136, 140, 144cm Twin Wakestyle Now
Stylus 145cm Twin Lightwind Freeride Now
Spectrum 133, 136, 140, 144cm Twin Universal Ride Now
S-Quad + PC Signature Series 5’7″, 5’10”, 6’2″ Quad Surfboard Powered Medium to Big Surf Now
S-Killit 5’6″, 5’10” Thruster Surfboard Small Surf and strapless freestyle Now
Trigger 5’8″, 5’11” Thruster Surfboard Big Surf and strong wind Now
Subwoofer 5’8″ Quad Surfboard Light Wind in Small/Medium Surf Now
Wakeskate 115cm Wakeskate Wakeskate Now

The 2013 range of surfboards also looks like it received a major update. What type of riding is each of the surfboards designed for?

The Subwoofer is a new quad fin design for light wind in small to medium surf. It’s large enough to double as a surfboard, so it is a must-have on long trips in the event that you get skunked. It’s also a very stable platform to tackle new freestyle moves in light wind. The S-Killit is designed to destroy small surf. It’s a thruster configuration and is the choice for strapless surf freestyle pros like Keahi de Aboitiz and Jon Modica. It has a lively slashy ride.

The S-Quad (quad fin) is best ridden in medium to large waves powered up. It’s fast and is locked on a rail. The fins provide a greater percentage of the grip in the turns on this board. The Pete Cabrinha Signature model is the same shape as the S-Quad. Lastly, there is the Trigger. The Trigger excels in big surf and without being ridden powered. The thruster design has more rail bite up front and turns best off the front foot. It’s the most traditional surf shape in the range and is the board of choice for Reo Stevens.

2013 Switchblade

Some of the 2013 surfboards are offered in two different constructions. What are the differences between the EPS and PU boards on the water?

First off, I think it’s important to differentiate our type of EPS construction from what else is out there. The Cabrinha EPS boards feature an EPS foam core, cork laminated on the top and bottom, and a bamboo patch in the standing area (of course with layers of glass in between). Although a complex layup, here is why. Cork is an amazing renewable material that adds strength without compromising flex. Resin doesn’t soak into cork, so it stays light in the layup. It has fantastic rebound, but needs some reinforcement to prevent the outer glass layer against dings and dents.

We use a thin layer of bamboo in the standing area to increase the durability of the cork/glass and to help prevent against dings and dents. Consider this layup versus a full wood sandwich. When laminating with full wood on EPS core, like we see in some of our older models or in lots of other surfboards in the market, the wood covers the entire deck and the entire bottom. The wood is bent into a saddle shape then laminated into the board. This saddle shape of the laminated wood is ultra stiff and translates into a very rough ride – not what you want on a surfboard.

With so many high-end surfers involved in our brand, we needed a product that could be shared by both pro athletes and everyday consumers. The EPS Cork and Bamboo gives us the best of both worlds – strength and durability along with performance and feel. We also make surfboards in PU (polyurethane) core with a stringer. This is a traditional surfboard layup. These PU models (available in all models) are manufactured without foot strap inserts for dedicated strapless riding. The core is wrapped in light weight polyester glass and polyester resin.

The result is a lightweight, lively board with a generous amount of flex and response. Since these boards have a light build, the rider needs to be responsible for all dings, dents, and beyond. Only the most finicky riders should choose the PU construction.

Want 185 pages of 2013 kiteboarding gear info on 28 brands? Check out the TKB 2013 Buyer’s Guide.