Sizes Available: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13m
Sizes Tested: 9, 12m
Specifically designed for kitesurfing in waves and strapless surf freestyle, the Drifter has the ability to engage and disengage its power on command.
While catching a wave you want all the power you need but while surfing, you often want the kite to completely disappear while you surf on your own power. It’s in this moment of pure surfing where you want a kite that ‘drifts’ down the line with you in a stable and predictable way. We dubbed this phenomenon Drift Stability and it is the crucial ingredient in a performance surf kite. This is why the Drifter has no equal.
Visit for more info: www.cabrinhakites.com/collections/kites/products/drifter
Our Testers Say:
“Really good drift, pretty fast turning, no uncomfortable pull, was gentle but still had power. This is a great kite for strapless riding, less pull than other wave kites, great drift for turns on a surfboard.” // Kristin Vincenzo
“Super stable in the air, felt quick for its size, and stayed in the air even with slack in the lines. Always knew where the kite was in the sky – could even be a great kite for a beginner.” // Chris Myles
“Steady drift, clean power delivery, playful, lively even in the larger sizes. Stronger bar pressure but smooth power delivery, responsive turning and a consistent pull through turns. Fun nimble and easy to fly.” // Joe Chehock
The Drifter is Cabrinha’s dedicated surf kite sporting a medium aspect canopy and 3-strut airframe with sweptback square wingtips that testers praised for its easy all around handling, solid middle of the road pulling power and incredible drifting capabilities. The Drifter comes with Cabrinha’s large diameter bayonet style inflation valve that requires no nozzle on the end of your standard pump hose for a quick and easy pump up. The Drifter utilizes a single setting front bridle with a single pulley on each side to change the angle of attack and two wingtip settings to choose between “lighter steering impulse/increased depower travel” or with the farther forward setting B, “direct steering/shorter depower travel.” Testers indicated the Drifter has medium plus bar pressure, just a little bit more than the Moto, and a little less bar pressure than the Switchblade. With good direct steering response, the Drifter’s steering path feels like it has a little bit more of a wider steering arc than some of the other surf kites that utilize a very pivotal style turn, yet nonetheless is fast and easy to put in all the right places. Testers commented on the Drifter’s excellent depower, as you can noticeably feel complete depower when the bar reaches the outer end of the stroke. The Drifter wants to be flown through the window and doesn’t have quite the ‘sheet and go’ feel of the Moto, but power delivery is progressive and intuitive. The Drifter’s standout quality is its ability to drift downwind and absorb the excess line tension that often occurs while riding down the line. Aside from carving with the wind, one way to test this is to jump fairly high and leave your kite directly overhead as you plummet towards the water. The kite will overfly the window and the lines will slack when you hit the water. The Drifter floated back into the wind window every time; no matter how poorly we flew this kite it absorbed the overflying slack, reengaging line tension high up in the window. When you’re surfing down the line in side-on and onshore conditions you really want to maintain line tension and control at all times, and this drifting ability appears to be built into this kite’s DNA. The relaunch on the Drifter was nearly instant; with just a little bit of input into the bar, the kite rotated onto a wingtip and released from the water at the bottom of the window with a quick hot launch. This gave us the confidence that in a pinch the Drifter would be back in the air before the next big wave rolls through. Testers identified the Drifter as an excellent wave kite but also found it to be fun and dependable in freeride jumping. The direct steering and steady power were found to be user-friendly and capable of solid air when aggressively flown making this an excellent crossover option for surfers and foilboarders while also being great for those who still want to boost some air on their old twin tip now and again.This year we tested the Drifter with three bars, firstly the 1X with Trimlite (non-adjustable bar ends with above the bar cleat), secondly the Overdrive 1X with Trimlite (on-the-fly adjustable bar ends with above the bar cleat) and finally the Overdrive 1X with Recoil.
The Overdrive 1X with Trim Lite is a dual adjustable length bar (48cm/56cm) that riders can adjust on the water while riding. This bar features a streamlined single center-line safety depower system, low V, and a fixed length PU-coated sheeting/throw line which combines above the bar tuning via a cam cleat. The quick release is a clean system which integrates a below the bar hand swivel which doubles as a quick release travel guard and an easy to grab (white colored) push away quick release handle. With a little bit of practice, you can get the quick release handle to lock open with the gate in the open position when pointed down. When you insert the end of the loop back into the release you can just nudge the release handle and it closes. For most riders it is probably considered a two-handed proposition, but with practice and proper orientation it becomes a fluid and reliable process (some testers patted themselves on the back for proving the release can be opened and reset with a single hand…albeit with practice and not in the water and under fire). The Overdrive system is a fairly straightforward design for adjusting the bar length on the fly. It can be done on the water, but it does require two hands, one to hold the bar in place, a second hand to pull on the small pull tab that releases the lock. It then takes two hands to shift and lock the bar ends into the narrow or wide position.
When it comes to tuning the kite, the Overdrive 1X can come with either the Trimlite (above bar cleat) or the Recoil system (above bar power strap with extension handles). For those riders that prefer a simpler bar layout the Trimlite cleat system is probably the better option. Many testers commented on the extra weight and complexity of the Recoil system, but testers with shorter arms noted that it does deliver the tuning controls closer within reach.
For all the Cabrinha control bars, the center lines end in a knot, the outside lines end in loops and the bar ends are padded for those chaotic wipeouts. The floats are integrated and fairly unobtrusive and while the bar bungees are not retractable they do have a groove that stow away while riding to keep them from flapping about. Testers commented on the 1X’s slightly thicker grip diameter and liked the rubber texture of the hand grip. The adjustable Overdrive bar ends don’t feature adjustable length outside lines like the 1x Trimlitel this is mostly likely because the bar ends have the Overdrive mechanism taking up much of the bar end space.
1X with Trim Lite – We were also given the 1X with Trim Lite which is a fixed length bar (44cm, 52cm and 60cm) that features a streamlined single center-line safety depower system, low V and a fixed length durable plastic sheeting/throw line which combines above the bar tuning via a cam cleat (the alternative power control option to Cabrinha’s Recoil system). The center lines end in a knot and the outside lines end in loops. The outside lines are adjustable; simply pull the outside line through a small gap in the side of the integrated bar floats and you can adjust between three knots (stock is on shortest setting). Compared to the adjustable bar ends of the Overdrive, the 1X with Trim Lite is overall a lighter bar and requires smaller more streamlined floats. Testers commented on the 1X’s slightly thicker grip diameter, symmetrical in the hand, and liked the rubber texture of the hand grip. When it comes to bars, everyone is a critic, and Cabrinha has three great options to address just about everyone’s needs.
Visit for more info on the bar: www.cabrinhakites.com/products/overdrive-1x-with-recoil
With the help of 14 testers from all walks of kiteboarding, Tkb’s staff assembled detailed gear reviews with objective performance criteria of the latest 2019 kites, twin tips and foilboards all packed into one neat and tidy 180-page digital package. Get all the reviews in convenient digital guide here: https://www.thekiteboarder.com/product/2019-freeride-gear-review-guide/