We were just checking through our test history and realized that the first S-Quad we tested was back in 2012. So this is the seventh year we’ve ridden Cabrinha’s ‘quality surf’ machine. And for us the 2018 S-Quad demonstrates just how much boards have evolved in that time – as soon as you pick it up you appreciate the reduced weight compared to most ‘kitesurf’ boards from a few years ago. It is definitely the case that most brands now have found the balance between “strength + durability” and “weight + performance”. The Cabrinha surfboard line up now utilizes a layup which includes bamboo and cork around an EPS blank – they have been evolving this layup over several years and now seem to have it dialed to keep the weight down and strength up. The S-Quad has Cabrinha’s unique ‘Parabolic Rail Ridge’ which keeps the rail relatively skinny but increases the deck thickness and gives your feet more to grip on to. Even with this though, the S-Quad is a high performance, low volume board, with the biggest board (the 5’9) coming in at 24 liters. The S-Quad is not a board for marginal days and if you spend most of your time in shoulder high onshore slop it is not the board for you. This is a board for serious days when you need something quick, nimble and responsive to get you around decent surf. Cabrinha have stuck with the quad set up where other brands have switched back to a thruster set up or put five fin boxes in. Although a quad set up is not to everyone’s taste – you know that the board has been built to perform purely with this faster performance in mind and that no compromises have been made.
On the water, and for cruising around you need some kite power to get going, although upwind performance is still good due to the quad set up. As you drop in to a wave, the S-Quad really accelerates and if the wave has enough power you can immediately switch from ‘kite’ to ‘board’ power. If the wave is weaker, then keep the kite powered to keep the speed up and keep the S-Quad in its ‘sweet spot’. For turning, the S-Quad gives you plenty of confidence: it locks in and the thin rails and the fin set up really let you commit to a turn. If the surf is ‘on’ then the S-Quad has been designed to ensure that you can head out with confidence. If it is not ‘best day of the year’ conditions then the S-Quad is still a fun board – the squash tail has some volume so you can still drive the board around and get some nice turns in, but if you are looking for an ‘all round’ board then you probably want to look elsewhere.
In a sentence: The S-Quad is unlikely to be your ‘go to’ board for everyday riding, but if you want something in your quiver for those special days then it is a great option to have.