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A long established product line in the Cabrinha range, the Switchblade is pitched as a versatile five-strut freeride kite with a leaning towards Big Air and powered riding, and slots in alongside the three-strut Moto as its more aggressive cousin.
It’s a now classically modern hybrid platform with the characteristic wingtip sweep and the usual wealth of quality materials employed in the build we’ve come to expect from Cabrinha. Their proprietary Nano ripstop is utilized for the canopy, which is now several years in and well proven. The panel layout is well tailored and is comprised of more panels and well-placed seaming to create a very smooth and aerodynamic profile. In the Switchblade this is most noticeable across the central section of the kite above the first struts where most of the sail is in the wind. This stretches out the Switchblade’s sweet spot, which is perhaps most evident in the top end, where the kite remains extremely composed. An interesting tech feature not often mentioned is Cabrinha’s Dynamic Arc, which means the kite has a pre-loaded shape which alters when it’s flying. In a relaunch situation it means the kite spans out, enabling an easy release from the water. In the Switchblade this is quite a noticeable characteristic and extremely helpful when relaunching in lighter airs with a five-strut kite. From a sizing perspective, they’ve got it all covered in one-meter increments from 5m to 12m, with a 14m topping out the range.
In the air, the Switchblade retains many of the smooth and grunty flying characteristics of its substantial lineage, which is definitely a positive thing. Power delivery is extremely progressive and a true pull-and-go affair, in fact you could draw a perfect line graph of power delivery verses sheeting. It’s an immediately simplistic and intuitive feeling kite to fly and it’s really simple to feather the power round the turns, with the stiff five-strut airframe remaining composed even under aggressive steering inputs. It’s genuinely difficult to make the Switchblade in any way flustered. The medium bar pressure feeds back well, and the turning speed on the 10m we tested was quite moderate, and ideal for Big Air work. When it comes to pure accessible hangtime, it’s up there with the crest of the market and you regularly achieve higher jumps than you expect without much effort or technique required. Once your timing is dialed in and you’re in the top end of the wind range, it’s a lofty and controlled affair. Pulling the trigger and looping the Switchblade produces a smooth pulse of power with extensive downwind travel and a super smooth and reliable catch.
Five-strut kites seem to be getting rarer these days, but in this case that extra airframe rigidity provides one of the most stable and rewarding platforms for freeride twintip riding on the market. It thrives in its top end and brings an air of confidence to high wind situations with such generous hangtime and floaty characteristics, and the beautifully predictable landings.