Review: 2014 Cabrinha Switchblade and Drifter

By Jason Watts

I had the great pleasure of flying the new Cabrinha Switchblades and Drifters over the past month on numerous occasions. Needless to say, I am stoked on the 2014 Cabrinha kite lineup on offer at Big Winds.

Switchblade

The Switchblade (SB) is all about free ride versatility. Want a lot of grunt? This kite has it! My first impression flying my SB 8 meter was that this kite has a lot of juice. The power found in previous generations of SB (which was reduced slightly in the 2013 model) is back, getting me out on the water when the conditions are marginal and letting me send it up high when the wind is strong. If the wind is way up, I simply sheet out a bit and the amount of depower instantly available makes this kite have one of the best overall wind ranges on the market.

I was really pleased with the increased turning speeds of the 2013 SB, and this has been further improved upon with the 2014 model. This year, Cabrinha has reduced the number of bridal pulleys in each kite from six to two, allowing for a more direct response from the bar to the kite, increasing turning speeds and providing a more direct feel to the kite as well. The new Overdrive 1X bar (see below) also has a lower V for the center lines, which also leads to a more direct response and increased turning speed.

Another huge perk for the entire 2014 Cabrinha kite line up is the new Overdrive 1X bar. The bar adjusts with ease from 49 cm to 57 cm, allowing you to fly all kite sizes (except the light wind Contra series) on a single bar. switchbladeI was a little hesitant about this at first, since I was used to flying a 42 cm bar on my smaller Cabrinha kites in the past. The past few days we got some very windy east wind days in the Gorge so I used my new SB 6 meter on the 49 cm setting and was pleasantly surprised how stable the kite was. The kite turned fast, but was smooth and did not over-steer. It is really nice to be able to use the same bar on my 6 meter that I use on my 11 meter.

All and all, the SB is the smoothest, easiest flying, and highest performance kite I have ever flown, period. The 2014 model builds upon the improvements in turning speed added last year, while also bringing back the grunt and power that made the SB so popular in the first place. This is the perfect kite for any intermediate to expert looking to ride all kinds of conditions and go big!

Drifter

As a strapless kiteboarder from a surfing background, I have been a big fan of the Drifter since its inception in 2012. The trademark of this kite is “Drift Stability” which means that if you ride down the line, or at the kite, it travels with you. This allows you to surf, slash, and generally tear things up without worrying about outrunning the kite. The 2014 Drifter maintains this tradition with gusto.

drifterThe biggest improvement in the 2014 Drifter from years past is increased turning speed. Like the SB, the 2014 Drifter has a reduced number of bridal pulleys and the new Overdrive 1X bar’s low center V, both leading to a more direct steering input from the bar to the kite. I have also found the Drifter to have more pop for surfboard freestyle maneuvers with the simplified bridal. The Drifter also re-launches very quickly, essential before the next set hits.

The Drifter has been a shop favorite for the past three seasons. It is an easy flying and forgiving kite that lets you ride waves or swell with ease. The improvements in turning speed make it even more of a pleasure to fly. Finally, the same characteristics that make the Drifter a great wave kite (bomber construction, lots of depower, drift stability, effortless re-launch) also make it a great kite for anyone looking for one of the easiest flying kites out there to take one’s own ability to the next level.