The 2013 Cabrinha Switchblade has had some really great changes implemented. Cabrinha kites really paid attention to rider feedback and have done a fair amount of changes to the 2013 Switchblade. One of the major critiques Cabrinha received was that the 2012 Switchblade turned slower than some riders liked. Cabrinha had this designed into the kite to make it predictable and forgiving. This is a huge reason that newer and intermediate riders progress so much quicker on a Switchblade versus almost any other kiteboarding kites. It is a lot easier to land your first tricks if your kite is not tomahawking into the water and you know exactly where it is. This year Cabrinha added a nice amount of turning speed, but did not give up the amazing stability needed for parked kite performance. You will really enjoy this turning speed while riding waves, hitting kickers or learning your first backroll.
The next most common rider feedback was a bit too much bar pressure. Cabrinha has addressed this with a new canopy shape that allows more power to transfer into your center lines decreasing bar pressure and increasing turning speed.
The last big advantage is ease of re-launch. Even though the Cabrinha kites Switchblade has also been easy to re-launch, now it pops up even better. Ready to ride in the snow as well as the water, the Switchblade steps it up in 2013 as the world's best selling kite with even better performance.
Cabrinha has always concentrated on not only the performance of their kites but also the user friendly features that make Cabrinha kites that best kites on the market today. Our favorite tweak this year is the new pump and the new direct connect airlock pump system. Cabrinha has made it so their pump connects directly to the kite with a quarter twist of the hose. While this is a nice feature the really amazing feature is the new pump. This thing is smooooth. Pumping up a big kite has never been faster and easier.
Our next favorite new feature is the simple catch added to Cabrinha Kites Quick Release System. Simply push the QR out, it locks in place, pop the pin in and you are ready to go. I honesty never had to deploy my QR except while self-landing in high winds, but this is a nice upgrade and will be a great bonus for new riders.
Other nice features are the new line manager to make your next session a bit longer by saving you some time in the setup phase. Bridle guides have been refined to save a little weight and keep them cleaner on your bridles. The skeletal frame structure of all Cabrinha kites has been tweaked to reduce weight, while adding durability in key areas. Recoil trim adjusters have gone from a ball to an ergonomic shape for a more positive grip.
There are very few cases in the world of kite design where high performance and ease of us collide. The Cabrinha Switchblade is just one of those rare cases. The Switchblade is the world premier wakestyle kite. Powering the likes of Andre Phillip to legendary status in his pursuit of core wakestyle riding. One of the elements that make this kite so perfect for wakestyle riding and all around freestyle riding is its predictability. It has pitch perfect balance when riding unhooked and a light bar pressure when riding hooked in. the Switchblade has undergone a few strategic improvements in 2013 to enhance its efficiency and turning speed (especially in the larger sizes) without compromising the legendary "feel" that has made the Switchblade the world's best selling kite model.
Review by Jake Mitchell
Despite being released in early fall of 2012, I had somehow still managed to avoid riding Cabrinha’s newest Switchblade as 2013 rolled around. Naturally, this limited me to statements like “I’ve heard it’s faster” or “people say that it is not as powerful”, leaving me unable to comment from personal experience. Partially because of this, and moreso because I liked the 2012 Cabrinha Switchblade so much, I convinced myself that I wouldn’t, no, that I didn’t like the significant changes that Cabrinha had in store for the kiteboarding community with arguably their most popular kite. Still, I needed to try the new Switchblade for myself to confirm this conjecture. Finally, on an unseasonably balmy 55 degree day in January, I was given the opportunity.
Having not gone out since early November, I was uncertain of the temperatures I would be braving. Erring on the side of caution, I opted for a double-wetsuit, double glove, combined wetsuit sock and boot, and hood with a beanie overtop approach. Grabbing the 2013 Switchblade 12 meter and my board and harness, I began the slow march down to the beach, looking something like a grotesque Michelin Man.
One of the greatest improvements for 2013 Cabrinha kite products is without a doubt is the new Sprint inflation system. Gone are the days of screwing on the airlock assembly, and even worse unscrewing it after you’ve overtightened it, hoping you didn’t inadvertently unscrew the entire cap and let a bunch of air out. Rather, you attach the new cap system directly to the hose. The process is further expedited by a larger and more efficient pump, the reduction in inflation time very noticeable on the larger sizes. No longer am I winded pumping up a 16 or even 18 meter Crossbow, a behemoth of a kite.
The Switchblade sets up just the same as years past, and is a breeze to self-launch. Immediately, the differences in this newest iteration became evident. The kite turns noticeably faster than the 2012 did, something to keep in mind if you’ve become accustomed to the earlier models. This lends itself to faster transition loops, better surfing, and enhanced freestyle. Initiating a front-roll transition, I found the kite to responsively guide me through the landing, both in terms of turning speed and bar pressure. The bar pressure has definitely been reduced, but still provides enough feedback to feel the kite in the sky.
With the wind roughly 18 to 20 knots at the beginning of the session, the 12 meter felt perfectly sized. This corroborated the comments I had heard regarding the Switchblade’s reduced gruntiness. As captured by Steve, “ The 2013 14 meter Switchblade has slighter more power than the 2012 12 meter Switchblade, but turns even faster!” This difference in power is especially important to consider if refreshing from a dated quiver of Switchblades. Whereas a previous quiver may have been a 9 and 12 meter, for 2013 something in the 10/11 and 14 meter size will deliver similar power. As the wind fell to 14 to 16 knots, the Switchblade continued to shine, the increased turning speed helping to compensate for the lessened power.
For those kiteboarders who feel comfortable unhooking, the kite is a large improvement over previous years. The kite loads up quickly and allows you to explode off the water, then parks long enough to allow for landing. Still, it is not perfect, and those kite surfers who gravitate towards a freestyle/wakestyle type of riding should consider the new 2013 Cabrinha Chaos or 2012 Cabrinha Nomad. One trick attempt did result in a frigid explosion, and I found the relaunch seemed more difficult. That may very well have been the product of the lack of wind at the water’s surface, and will require more sessions to appropriately comment on.
Needing to get to work, I easily self-landed the kite through the IDS system. As I walked back towards my car, I thought back on my assumptions on the 2013 Switchblade, and realized I had found myself pleasantly surprised. It is certainly a great kite, and will appeal to the kiteboarders who prefer an all-around kite. For kitesurfers who valued the Switchblades low end grunt and power, the Crossbow may be a better consideration. Personally, I know I’ll be back for more.
A Review from Hatteras by Jake Mitchell
While I'm definitely a proponent of big kites, I'm almost always leery when getting on a larger, scaled kite in light winds. The Liquid Force Envy 15 meter and Cabrinha Vector 14 meter are exemplary examples of this hesitance, as while they are both fabulously fun kites, their larger sizes are not designed to be light wind kitesurfing kites, but rather are aimed at heavier kiteboarders. You do get a little more power out of them in the larger sizes, but they are not intended for lightwind kitesurfing like the Best TS or Cabrinha Crossbow/Cabrinha Velocity. With the changes Cabrinha made to the Switchblade in 2013, speeding it up at the expense of power, I began pumping up the 16 meter (the only "light wind" kite we had brought to Hatteras) with a fair amount of suspicion.
The Cabrinha Sprint inflation system makes a surprising difference on the larger kites - it is still an arduous process, but can now be done without taking several breaks throughout. For those who value an eye-catchingly colorful kite, I recommend the color 3 scheme, a blue and green pattern that just lights up in the sky on a sunny day. As the kite sat perched above me, the Cabrinha Switchblade felt stable, despite the light winds. Scooping up the Slingshot Knee Swacker, I trudged out, unsure if the light bar pressure was the result of the light winds or a design tweak. Fortunately, driving the kite through the window, I found the latter to be true. While the Cabrinha Switchblade 16 meter wasn't obviously intended to be a light wind kite, the combination of the size and enhanced turning speed for 2013 allowed me to generate ample power, and I was soon riding upwind of the only other kitesurfing kite out on the water, a 22 meter Flysurfer foil kite. Admittedly, a fair amount of this success was directly attributable to the kite surfboard I was on, the added buoyancy, surface area, and fin leverage a huge boon in light wind. Still, the 16 meter Cabrinha Switchblade played its part, and as I found myself driving further and further upwind I figured I'd try a twintip.
Coming into shore to grab my kiteboard, I noticed the majority of the house that had been oh-so-skeptical before were now suiting up, looking hungrily at my kite. Leaving the safety of the water, I quickly raced for my board, dodging eye-contact lest anybody request a "demo". Jumping back in the water, I was off, now on a 137 cm kiteboard. With the wind up slightly, I decided to launch into a few tricks, both hooked and unhooked, and the Cabrinha Switchblade delivered flawlessly. Despite losing some ground, the Switchblade drove nicely back upwind, and within a few tacks I had recovered to well upwind of where I had started, despite the mediocre winds. Having had my fun, and verging on the edge of being a bad host by leaving everyone on the beach watching jealously as I scored the first session of the week, I passed off the kite to Aaron for instruction, left with a few takeaways.
- First, on top of the faster turning speed (at the expense of some of the power), the Cabrinha Switchblade also has lighter bar pressure for 2013.
- Second, the 16 meter Cabrinha Switchblade, while definitely not a light wind kite, still performs quite well in mediocre conditions, a function of its size, turning speed, and stability. For larger kiteboarders, the 16 meter is a must.
- Third, the Cabrinha Switchblade continues to be a premium kite aimed at progression, with easy relaunch, huge depower, and consistent pull. Take advantage of these features and push yourself.
- Finally, don't underestimate the importance of having a larger kiteboard for light winds, as they can extend your current quiver's range quite significantly.
Overall, I was very impressed with how the Cabrinha Switchblade performed, especially in the 16 meter size. Riding it several more times throughout the week, I found my initial results repeatedly replicated, and guests who demoed it revealed very similar sentiments. My advice to riders over 220 pounds would be to opt for the 16 meter, with riders 190-220 pounds to consider the 14 meter. We hope to see you on the water soon!
- Modernized design
- 5 Strut
- dynamic Arc
- Improved turning speed
- Stable and direct feel
- Park and Ride simplicity
- Light Bar Pressure
- High Hang Time
- Amazing wind range
- Skeletal Frame - reduced weight - increased durability
- Quarter Twist Airlock for Sprint
- Line Manager
You will not find a more ergonomic control system, with more built in features than the Quicklink control system with IDS. Quicklink is simply the cleanest control device on the market today. Quicklink is the first control system on the market to internalize all of the lines, swivels and quick releases so that the rider has an uncluttered and seamless device to control the kite. With over 14 important functions thoughtfully integrated into the control system, Quicklink works with your body's intuitive movements for easy and efficient operations. The Quicklink control system utilizes our exclusive IDS security system with three stages of depower.
- IDS (intelligent depower system) - Best safety system in kiteboarding today
- Ergonomic Design
- Internal Swivel
- Recoil - All the convenience without losing safety features
- Spinning Leash Connection
- Floating Bar Ends - No bulky line floats
- Flex Groves
- Multibore Tubing
- Removable Security Pin
- Line Manager Tool
As a general rule, kite manufacturers refine a product through incremental innovation year after year, making small changes aimed at bettering the kite without any radical alterations. In 2013 however, Cabrinha Kites took a more disruptive approach towards the Switchblade, the changes making the kite noticeably different. Thus, when preparing to update your quiver to the latest generation, deciding between the 2012 and 2013 Cabrinha Switchblade can be a difficult decision. Below are the major differences:
When comparing the wind ranges between the 2012 and 2013, the 2012 Cabrinha Switchblade is noticeably gruntier, or more powerful, due to a flatter canopy shape.
For the same reason the 2012 Cabrinha Switchblade generates more power for its size (e.g. the flatter canopy), it is also a slower kite than its successor. The 2013 Cabrinha Switchblade is a faster, more responsive kite.
From our experience at the shop, the 2013 Cabrinha Switchblade seems to have more difficulty relaunching in lighter winds than its predecessor, the 2012 Switchblade, did.
The depower on both kites seems very comparable, one of Cabrinha’s strongest assets.
The 2013 Cabrinha Switchblade has identifiably less bar pressure than the 2012, now having a light/medium feel.
The new Sprint inflation system, coupled with the elimination of the screw-on attachment, makes pumping up the 2013 Cabrinha Switchblade much easier. The 2013 pump also feels much more ergonomic.
The 2013 Cabrinha Quicklink bar has several modest improvements, including new “ergonomic” depower handles and a locking mechanism to make resetting the safety release easier.
So what does all this mean to you?
Well, the 2012 Cabrinha Switchblade was designed to be much more of an all-around kite, aimed especially at beginner to intermediate audiences who value safety (depower and relaunch) and versatility (marked by the huge wind range). In 2013, Cabrinha has sought to redefine the Switchblade as a kite for intermediate to more advanced riders. It now delivers more speed, less bar pressure, more distinct bridle customization (freestyle/wakestyle knot attachments), and better unhooked ability, attributes aimed at the freestyle, wakestyle, surf, and premium freeride populus. With that said, both are still excellent kites, guaranteed to provide an exceptional kiteboarding experience