Historically you’d find the Contra in larger sizes in the Cabrinha range, quiver topping kites for when things get light. With the rise in demand for more nimble, lightweight, smaller sized kites for early flying, compact packing and ease of use, it made perfect sense for Cabrinha to extend the range downwards last season, introducing smaller sized mono-struts to meet this consumer demand, with a broad range of six sizes from 3m through to 11m. This year’s Contra continues on a similar platform to the very well-received previous generation, with some new seaming to make things even more robust, and the all-new ‘wildcard’ color way where Cabrinha are doing limited edition runs to avoid wastage and utilize their stock of proprietary materials.
We’re presented with a 9m mid-aspect, swept leading edge mono-strut weighing in at a competitive 2.44kg. All the usual high-end trimmings of a Cabrinha kite are present with their Nano Ripstop canopy and High Tenacity Dacron making up the frame. The leading edge is relatively narrow in diameter for a 9m, and once inflated to the specified 8 PSI it makes for a solid little airframe. There’s a simple pulley-less and short, low diameter bridle present, and the canopy is segmented frequently across the Contra’s span to maintain an accurate and smooth profile. The build is fairly minimal, as a decent lightweight kite should be, but comprises of intelligently placed hardwearing materials and detailed components, like the neat silicon covers for the one-pump hoses for instance. There’s still a respectable amount of scuff protection present on the leading edge considering the low overall weight. There’s a lot of taper to the leading edge tube diameter into the tips, minimizing drag and enhancing flex in this section.
Anyone familiar with last year’s model is going to feel immediately at home. The ridiculously smooth and progressive power delivery remain, coupled with some sporty and reactive handling making this a freeride kite to behold. With a hydrofoil, the Contra is going to fly early and park above you in low winds without any fuss, behaving itself through gusts and lulls. Its fore and aft balance is well designed and there’s no tendency to tip forwards. Almost foil-kite-like, it has an ever-resident but gentle background pull, and this is going to support you nicely through your maneuvers; it’s not the kind of LEI that completely dumps you if you sheet out aggressively. These tendencies are also not to be overlooked in a wave situation, where the inherent stability the Contra shows works great for down-the-line drift and manages to remain reactive enough particularly when climbing to make a more than decent job of getting you in the right position to make some aggressive turns. We loaded the Contra up on a twintip as well, and were impressed at how well the airframe held up with the minimal strut layout. It makes for an entertaining freeride kite that’s going to suit lighter riders and kids well. Its stability and easy relaunch in lighter wind is also going to lend itself well to a school situation.
The second version of the Contra shines as one of the more versatile mono-strut kites we tested, with some clever manufacturing improvements included this year. It’s without a doubt a practical and sportive choice as mono-struts go. If you want an easy life on your first steps with a hydrofoil, with enough playfulness to keep the more sportive rider entertained, and have the ability to branch out into waves, look no further.