Category Archives: Kites

2015 Cabrinha Switchblade Review

2015 Cabrina Switchblade

Big Winds just received the 2015 Cabrinha Switchblade kites and we love them! The 2015 Switchblade, now in its 10th edition, is a kite that has had a significant influence on the sport since 2005. Kite designer Pat Goodman has developed another polished product this year and coupled with the new Overdrive 1X control and security system with Quickloop, it stands out as one of the most versatile performance kites on the market to date. Whether your style is freeride, freestyle, surf, or foil the new Switchblade will not disappoint you.

2015 Cabrinha Switchblade

TJ foils up on the new Switchblade.

The 2015 Switchblade is offered in sizes 4-14m (except 13m) and we’ve now flown every size from 5m to 10m and are blown away by the park and ride stability and direct steering. Even though the bar pressure may have gotten a bit lighter than what the Switchblade has been known for, Cabrinha offers two settings for soft or heavy bar pressure. The new Switchblade retains its ultra low end power, yet turns faster than ever. The turning speed comes from a minor bridle refinement and the low “V” from the Overdrive Bar (adjustable from 44-56 cm). The bridle refinement adds to the stability of the kite which is important in our strong, gusty winds here in the Gorge. This new bridle also allows the kite to climb up through the power zone with zero stalling. Some minor improvements include the new strut to leading edge connection and new rounded leading edge end closure at the wing tip.

2015 Cabrina Switchblade

The biggest improvement in the 2015 Cabrinha line is the new Quickloop chicken loop on the Overdrive 1X control system. The Quickloop has been two years in the making and was worth the wait as it’s the fastest and easiest reload we’ve ever tested on any other bar. The main QR is a push away release with a catch that holds the QR in the released position until you are ready to reconnect. To reconnect, you simply push the open end of the loop into place and the latch automatically engages the loop. Dropping the QR body back down secures the loop back into place. Gone are the days of the IDS and Quicklink, however, you can use the new 2015 Overdrive bar on any Cabrinha kites dating back to 2009 (which will increase the performance of any older IDS kite).

The new bar comes complete with a short leash, although the pro leash can still be purchased separately.

Big Winds is arranging demos of the new Switchblade and Overdrive 1X control system, so come on by the shop to check one out!

– TJ

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Big Winds

207 Front Street

Hood River, OR 97031


Review: 2014 Cabrinha Contra

We had a nice light westerly wind here in Hood River last weekend allowing for a perfect time to test the 2014 Cabrinha Contra 17m kite. The average wind was right around 12 mph, gusting to 15, lulls below 10. The Contra is a 3 strut kite, available in two sizes, 15m and 17m. The 2014 Overdrive Bar it is flown with is a 57-65cm adjustable control system, and the 17m test was flown on the 65cm setting.

2014 Cabrinha Contra

TJ under the Contra at the Event Site.

After watching the only other guy on the water come in on a 13m, having difficulties staying up wind, I launched the 17m and felt the immediate power this canopy provides. Within the first down stroke, I was moving, reaching forward to pull depower in the trim strap. The Contra is fast turning for its size, playful, easy to maneuver and quick to down loop. It may fit the freeride/freestyle category best — not a race kite — but a playful park and ride kite. There is plenty of power in this 17m. For that size canopy, it has a feather light feel due to the reduced diameter struts and light weight bladders.

2014 Cabrinha Contra

2014 Cabrinha Contra

Here in Hood River, it’s not essential to have a kite this big. The 15m Contra would be about as big as we need to go. For those outside of the Gorge, though, the Contra 17m is a great choice to get off the beach and out on the water. Coupled with a directional board, or light wind twin-tip, the Contra 17m will get you up and moving in the least amount of wind providing a fun filled session. If you’re taking a vacation to a lighter wind area of the world, the Contra 17m packs down small and light (15 lbs w/ bar and bag), offering a great guarantee to be on the water when many may be watching from the beach. It’s like buying wind insurance! Feel free to give us a call any time with questions regarding the 2014 Cabrinha Contra: 888-509-4210.


2014 Cabrinha Overdrive 1X Control and Security System

overdrive4We’ve been receiving many questions regarding the new 2014 Cabrinha Control Bar, known as the Overdrive 1X. This 2014 bar is Cabrinha’s answer to the one-bar fits all question, simplifying and reducing the overall cost to your next quiver of various sized Cabrinha kites. The Overdrive has many new features and has brought up a number of questions regarding the use of it.

Can I use the new 2014 bar with my older Cabrinha kites? YES! The new 2014 Overdrive bar can not only be used to fly all IDS kites from 2009 to the current 2014 models, but also improves the overall characteristics and safety of the older models (we will dive into this at length).

Can I use my older IDS bars with the new kites? NO. The older bars may fly the new 2014 kites fine, but the security system will not work, so please do not use older model IDS bars to fly your new kite. It’s just not safe and you will be losing the overall benefits the new bar delivers to the new kites.

Here is an explanation of these benefits:

The newly improved 1X Bridle on the 2014 kites brings an upgrade in kite control and steering. There are fewer moving points on the bridle which equates to faster turning and better responsiveness. All bridles except for the Vector have only 2 pulleys in 2014.

Working in unison with the 1X bridle is the newly designed 1X Bar. Security is one of the biggest selling points for us at Big Winds, which is why we have felt so comfortable recommending the 5th Element bar for the North kites over the years, particularly the Rebel. The new 2014 1X security system is a complete shutdown system, the best we have seen yet for a 4 line system. Cabrinha OverdriveThis full blown shut down system relies on only one line to immediately shut down the power of the kite, in any condition. The 1X security line basically runs up one of the center lines, woven through a couple of loops and pulls way up that line close to the kite.

What if I have twists in my center lines, will the security system still engage? YES! The team at Cabrinha has tested the security system with up to 15 twists in the center lines, and the kite still shuts down when the quick release is pushed. So, if you are not reverting your kite loops, back rolls, or spins, my suggestion is to be a bit aware of your center line twists, and manually un-spin them when doing an upwind reach (located below the bar, same location as the Quicklink in years past).

Diving deeper into the new 2014 Overdrive bar technology, Cabrinha has lowered the front line connection to the CAS in order to provide a more direct and immediate response from your bar input. This “Low V” connection provides direct steering, increased responsiveness and faster turning, especially evident in the 2014 Switchblade and Drifter kites. The new Switchblade turns faster than the 2013, and retains the low end of the 2012 (best of both worlds!).

The adjustability of the new Overdrive 1X is slick, and can be adjusted from the shortest length (49cm) to the longest length (57cm) in a matter of seconds. We tested this on the water too, being able to adjust the bar on the fly in eight seconds. The 49cm length works great on the overdrive1smaller kites (4m-8m) and the 57cm length perfect for the larger sizes (9m-14m). These are only recommended settings as I personally love flying my new 8m Drifter in “Overdrive” mode for a faster turning, quicker responding feel. The Overdrive 49-57cm bar comes standard with 22m rear flying lines and 16m front flying lines. Note that the Overdrive 49-57cm bar should not be used with the Contra kites due to the length of the security line. The Contra must use the Overdrive 1XL to achieve the full function of the security system (57-65cm/24m line set). Cabrinha designed the Overdrive 1X Siren bar specifically for women riders, with a smaller loop and easy to reach Recoil trim adjusters. This bar comes when the Switchblade Siren is purchased kite complete, and has the same adjustability (49-57cm).

To sum it all up, the new 2014 Cabrinha Overdrive 1X control and security system is a huge improvement in safety, simplicity and performance. Upgrade your old kites with this control bar or upgrade your old kites with new ones and be sure to include the Overdrive control bar into your new quiver. Available from Big Winds: 888-509-4210, online or stop by!



Review: 2014 Cabrinha Vector

The 2014 Cabrinha Vector kite has been upgraded to fit into the same category as most performance freeride kites. The Vector has all of the features I look for in a good beginner kite and I really feel most riders will continue to love it throughout their kiteboarding progression. The new bridle has no pulleys which really makes for a nimble, direct feel between the kite and rider. It turns fast, with tuning options on the wingtip for a more or less bar pressure. I flew the kite set on “B” for a more direct feel and shorter depower stroke.

2014 Cabrinha VectorThe new Overdrive “1x” bar is the same bar used on all 2014 Cabrinha models and has a complete kill switch once the quick release is hit. I put this to the test on three different occasions. After the first time hitting the quick release, I was amazed at how fast the kite depowered and fell into the water (comparable to any 5th line kite I’ve flown). It’s a complete shutdown system in all wind ranges. Each time, I managed to climb up the flag line, retrieve my bar and assemble the chicken loop with no problems or tangles. With the kite dead downwind of me, the relaunch was effortless by simply pulling on one outside line with the bar all the way forward. All of these features make the Vector a winner for beginners who may be dropping their kites often or for advanced riders practicing new tricks.

2014 Cabrinha VectorIt boosts big, too! I pulled the trigger behind a Core of Engineer’s boat that was hauling a$$ up the Columbia and felt a very smooth lift and soft, forgiving descent. The Vector even kite loops. It has little to no flutter in the trailing edge which was a big annoyance in the years past for me and this kite. The Vector has the same double rip-stop nylon canopy, the same skeletal frame tech and utilizes the same Overdrive control system as the high performance Switchblade and Drifter. Welcome to the big leagues 2014 Cabrinha Vector! Check out the video on the 2014 Vector here.


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.


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!


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.

North Kite Advantages

Big Winds offers customers the very best in selection and pricing on all closeout and in-line North Kite products. With the North Kiteboarding distributor just five minutes from our retail shop, Big Winds has the best access to any North kite, board, harness, travel bag in North America! Not only do we have access to all of this incredible gear, but we can get it immediately with choice of color, no sales tax, and FREE SHIPPING!

Currently, we have all 2013 North products on close-out. Customers are saving well over 20% off the retail price and are now being offered free shipping on any of these products (within the lower 48 States). With no sales tax, there isn’t another shop on the planet that can offer North products as low as Big Winds.

2014 North Dice

2014 North Dice

With the highly anticipated release of the new North Dice next week, Big Winds will be the first retail shop to have access to them — all colorways and all sizes. This may well become another best seller in the North kite line-up for us, as we have all flown the Dice, and cannot say enough great things about this kite!

We are your North Kite experts! We test all the models in a variety of sizes and conditions so we can give you the real story on their performance.

Call us for the best service, best selection, and the best price on some of the world’s best kiteboarding gear: 1-888-509-4210.

2014 North Dice

2014 North Dice

2014 North Kites

rebel2014 North Rebel: We’ve had the opportunity to get to know the new 2014 Rebel this late summer and absolutely love it! The Rebel has all the power it has had in the years past, and again an enormous depower ability. This is huge for us here in the Gorge with our gusty conditions. It is a kite that maintains through the lulls with its super low end, yet feels stable and solid when the wind starts firing. One characteristic that stands out for 2014 Rebel is that it has good drift, where the kite doesn’t fly so fast to the edge of the window, permitting it to drift downwind. To summarize, this diverse kite can be described as a 5-line, high performance Freeride/Wave kite.


2014 North Evo

2014 North Evo: After a couple of chances to fly the 2014 North Evo 9m, we’ve found that the kite has been completely redesigned to be a full-on 4 line freeride kite. The 2014 Evo is going to be best for the individual who stays hooked in, likes to boost big air and feel direct, yet gentle bar pressure. Having been given less of a delta-C shape, the new Evo is higher aspect in the center giving it wonderful lift for huge hangtime. There are two bridle guides on both front line bridles, giving the new Evo a smooth predictable nature instead of a jerky/yanking feel when accelerating through the window. Maintaining the 5-strut platform, the new 2014 Evo feels stable and solid in gusty wind. The 2014 Evo is a new kite that fits in the 4-line Freeride/Freestyle kite category in the North line-up.

2014 North Dice

2014 North Dice

2014 North Dice: We are fired up for the new 2014 North Dice here at Big Winds! We’ve now had the opportunity to fly every size from 8-12m, at one point, all 4 sizes were on the water at once. The North Dice is being marketed well right now, and if you haven’t seen the wave/freestyle footage yet, be prepared to be amazed.

Pair of Dice

Pair of Dice: Directional and Twintip.

The Dice is a one-kite-does-all option for the rider who looks for a quick turning, good drifting kite for wave riding, and also wants a good freestyle kite for hooked in or un-hooked tricks. The Dice seems to fit the category of last year’s Evo: super versatile, fun in the flats, and fun in the waves.

2014 North Neo

2014 North Neo

2014 North Neo: After just now getting off of the water with the 2014 North Neo 9m, I can say that if I lived and kited in the waves every day this would be my choice. The new Neo has been completely redesigned by Ken Winner, with the help of Sky Solbach, in their Maui back yard testing grounds, the perfect place to design a true wave riding kite. The Neo has a super low aspect center strut, for really smooth down wind pull and drift. One thing that I noticed, similar to that of the Rebel, is that the Neo has a good steering response when depowered; again a super important feature for wave riding. For 2014, the ultimate wave machine in the North line-up is the Neo.

North Evo and Dice

North Evo and Dice

Review: Naish Draft and DUB

The conditions were set for a test drive on the recently released Naish Draft kite. With winds gusting to 39 mph on the Event Site sensor, the 7m Draft was going to be a heavy one to hold down, but this test was to push its air time abilities.


Having just recently mounted the Naish dub with boots, I thought this might be the perfect board to hold down the power of the Draft 7 in these conditions. Up near the White Salmon Bridge on the Washington side, the wind was a bit more tame, and the riding conditions were great for boosting big air.

Draft - DUB

Shawn and Jessy Richman both have this kite dialed. It’s a timing thing, but once you figure it out, it has no limits for hang time. I saw Jessy jumping the length of football fields at Kitebeach in Maui last month, which immediately made me a believer in this kite.


Shawn was seen in a different orbit by Naish designer Damian Girardin, claiming Shawn may have hit the 100 ft. mark. Recently, the Richman brothers have been putting on a show at both Huck Fest and KB4C the past couple of weeks here in Hood River, and the Draft seems to be the kite of choice for both its light wind / race capabilities, and boost abilities.


The Draft 7m is a kite that you may never outgrow, one with hidden talents that may take time to unlock. If you are a kiter looking for a free ride kite that screams up wind, and boosts huge, look no further then the Naish Draft. Come by Big Winds to check one out for yourself!



2013 Naish Ride, 2nd Edition

The Ride caught us all by surprise here at Big Winds last summer. We all expected a 2 strut kite to be unstable in our gusty Gorge winds. We have now had the opportunity to fly the Ride in all conditions from 6m nuking winds to 12m light days on the Coast and stability has never been an issue.

TJ takes the Naish Ride for a ride.

TJ takes the Naish Ride for a ride.

The Ride 2nd Edition comes to us now with an even more simple bridle, with guides and no pulleys. I had the opportunity to fly the 9m here off the the Event Site in Hood River in rather stormy conditions: average winds of around 20 mph, gusting to 27, lulls to 12 mph. I was immediately attracted to the sheet-in and go feel of the kite. It accelerates upwind efficiently, which is a key characteristic for a good entry level kite. It drifts well downwind, something we are all attracted to for wave riding.

The Ride is able to punch out the gusts effectively, and certainly maintains its position in the lulls. All in all, it is a kite that can handle pretty much anything thrown at it.

If entering the sport as a newbie, you’re in luck! The kites are getting easier to use, more durable, and simpler. Simplification also means less money at the register. The 9m Ride retails for only $1050! Give us a call about ordering yours today at 1-888-509-4210.

2013 Cabrinha Switchblade Review

Location:  Harbour Island, Bahamas
Wind:  25-35mph (NE)
Board:  2013 Cabrinha X-Caliber 136cm

I recently had the opportunity to do some kiteboarding off of Harbour Island, in the Bahamas. The 9m Switchblade became my go-to kite as a tropical storm blew through for a few days.  I’ve been always setting up the bridles on the steering lines on the second knot up.  But, after reviewing the Cabrinha Kite Tuning Tech Tip, I thought the 3rd knot up sounded more like the traditional feel of the Switchblade.  You can review this Tech Tip HERE:

As I had imagined, the tighter rear lines on the steering bridle made for a bit more responsiveness and heavier bar pressure.  3rd knot for big boosts too!  If unhooking, the 2nd knot might be best suited for ultimate predictability and perfect balance, but for the traditional “bow-kite” feel, bump up to the 3rd knot.

I really liked how much faster the new 2013 Switchblade turns, which had always been the limiting factor on the design in the years past.  For ultimate versatility, range, and user friendliness look no further then the 2013 Cabrinha Switchblade!

2013 cabrinha switchblade