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The Contra has been in the Cabrinha range since the dawn of time. I remember vividly a friend’s 16.5m high aspect C-shape with a huge crossover bridle and many struts, in the early noughties, that was the forefront of light wind technology at the time, and that has been the model’s modus operandi ever since. Throughout its history, you’d usually find the Contra in larger sizes, however, with changing market trends, particularly the popularization of freeride hydrofoil riding both at home on Maui and globally, riders have been requiring more nimble light weight smaller sized kites for early flying, compact packing and ease of use. It makes perfect sense for Cabrinha to extend the range downwards, into smaller sized mono struts to meet this consumer demand, and they have not been shy in producing six sizes from 3m through to 11m.
Out of the bag, we’re presented with a 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 all good lightweight kites should be, and comprises of quality materials and detailed components, like the neat silicon covers for the one-pump hoses for instance. There is still a respectable amount of scuff protection present on the leading edge considering the low overall weight.
It flies early, as any decent mono strut should, and like all Cabrinha kites recently it is smooth, notably smooth. Power delivery seems to build gently on sheet, and rear line tension remains through the entire depower range. Bar pressure is probably best described as light to moderate and not too remote. Around the corners, it continues with the theme of fluid power delivery and isn’t going to pull you off the foil as the kite flies across the window on a transition. It is really simple to feather out the bar and make your turns at the speed you want to with a reassuringly creamy pulse of power available on demand. What it has inherited from the existing Contra DNA is an air of efficiency. It creeps upwind well, even without a hydrofoil and its straight-line speed you can generate is impressive. You might want to put it on shorter lines for freeride foiling as it punches upwind so well. Extra drift is generally a positive attribute of the mono strut platform due to their light weight, and the Contra is no exception. This drift capability will transfer well for lighter or more efficient riders in wave scenarios. It never really seems to overfly and balances well between its front and back lines.
As a first venture into the now competitive realm of mono strut kites, Cabrinha’s design nouse and lineage shines through in the Contra immediately. It is a platform that is well optimized for light wind with effortless and gentle flying characteristics that transfer well across freeride disciplines and makes it a practical and sportive choice.