All puns aside, Cabrinha’s Fireball system exploded onto the scene this June with a massive bang. It’s innovative yet proprietary system created a ton of buzz. What was this new concept? How did it work? Was it safe? And should we all make the switch? We met up with Matt Elsasser in Hood River who gave us the lowdown and let us check out Cabrinha’s new system.
A purpose built product, Pete Cabrinha questioned why our industry was still using a hook and loop connection system from the early era of windsurfing. With all the innovating and tinkering we kiteboarders do, why hadn’t someone come out with something kiteboarding specific? Because kiting has a completely different set of forces and connection requirements than windsurfing, Cabrinha took into account the unique movements and forces created by a kite and set out to build a new, kite specific, connection system.
At first the system looks a bit simple in comparison to your standard chicken loop, but you will come to appreciate this paired-down functional minimalism. The friction free ball and socket connection system provides a quick and safe way to connect to your harness. Just hook the ball into Cabrinha’s purpose built spreader bar and flick the AutoLock into place. This system completely eliminates the “foul-hook” — when your chicken loop pops off the traditional hook sideways and ejects when you’re least expecting it. The Fireball’s 360 rotation also allows for unrestricted movement across the window. A traditional hook system isn’t smooth as the kite flies side to side and can be made even worse with the interference of the donkey dick, even the latest rope system sliding spreader bars don’t provide a frictionless experience and can often feel stiff and jolty. The Fireball rotates on it’s ball and socket connection for friction-free movement for a smoother connection that receives an immediate reaction from the kite.
The Fireball provides less than 50% g-forces against the rider’s core. Remember learning? Having the kite over your head most of the time with your spreader bar constantly riding up to your chest and digging into your core? The Fireball reduces the rotational torque on your spreader bar by 29.5nm. This means less digging and a more comfortable ride. With the goal of keeping the bar closer to your core, the Fireball’s “flexible tendon” is also available in a variety of sizes so you can position the bar exactly where you like it according to your arm’s length.
Most of the negative buzz surrounding the Fireball is that you can’t unhook with it. Boo-hoo, too bad freestylers, this isn’t for you (although Matt did reveal to us that Cabrinha is working on a modified system aimed at freestylers). The Fireball is designed for the other 80% of kiters out there who predominantly ride hooked-in (beginners, wave riders and everyone in between). However the Fireball is interchangeable with Cabrinha’s Quickloop system, so you could have both and swap between the two (as long as you’re willing to swap out spreader bars as well). That being said, do you need to buy an entirely new harness? No. Cabrinha’s purpose built spreader bar can be fitted to 95% of the harnesses on the market, so just swap out your traditional hook spreader bar for Cabrinha’s Fireball spreader bar and you’re all set. And while Cabrinha’s 2017 line offers the Fireball option for all of their bars, most preexisting Cabrinha bars can be fitted to the new system. Other questions arose, like swapping kites on the water, but Matt assured us that it was easily done.
After taking the new system for a spin, although we didn’t get the opportunity to ride it in the waves (which we’re jonesing to do), we concluded that the range of movement that the Fireball provides is extraordinary compared to that of a traditional hook system. Cabrinha’s new system allows you to twist and open up your body, considerably more so than you can with a chickenloop. Making those contorting movements more accessible than before and reducing the strain on your body, specifically your core, the Fireball makes carving as well as riding blind and toeside easier than ever. The connection truly does allow the kite to fly freely across the window for a smoother, friction-free experience. It’s almost surreal how seamless the system feels.
Census says: If you’re not into unhooking, you should defiantly consider this new system. Fireball is built and manufactured with the same quality you know and have come to expect from Cabrinha, so you know it’s reliable and built to last.
We’ve approached an age of innovation, so for anyone hating on or resisting Cabrinha’s Fireball system, take these wise words from Socrates into consideration: “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”