Change is on its way, and Cabrinha are making their mark once again on the face of kitesurfing! Across the globe, kite manufacturers have been piling tons of research and effort into designing their new 2017 equipment. With some brands launching incredibly exciting new products in August.
IKSURFMAG team members Mary and Robin headed over to the Cabrinha meeting at Alby Rondina’s ProKite Centre in Sicily to check out the new gear. A combination of wind, sun and the 2017 Cabrinha range ensured a truly epic week.
Since 2000, Cabrinha have consistently delivered cutting edge products to the kite community, innovations such as the Recon relaunch system, the Bow Kite and many others been developed by the brand over the years. For 2017 they have developed what they are claiming is a complete game changer for us all. Kitesurfing incorporates various disciplines from other sports such as wakeboarding, surfing and windsurfing and in the past has taken various elements of equipment from those sports and applied them to kitesurfing.
The main one of these being the chicken loop and harness “hook” system taken from windsurfing, the sport that spawned kitesurfing as we know it. Cabrinha have been looking at how to improve this system and create something specifically intended for kitesurfing. Years of secret innovation and testing can finally be unveiled. Say hello to the new Cabrinha Fireball!
At A Glance
The Fireball is here, according to Cabrinha, to revolutionise the way we connect to our kite, and it is the only purpose-built complete kitesurfing connection system. The system moves away from the conventional hook and loop standard to a ball and socket design. Giving the rider a connection that is undoubtedly the closest to the body, with 360-degree rotation. The ball and socket system of the Fireball allows the rider a wider range of movement with 50% less force on the body.
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We travelled to Sicily to test the new system with some trepidation; we had heard rumours of a new chicken loop involving a ball and a specific hook. That was pretty much all we knew, but preconceptions were running high, as they always do. Thoughts ranged from, "if it ain't broke don't fix it", and "how do you unhook" to "how the hell will you swap kites with your mates on the beach". There was even the all out accusatory, "is this just Cabrinha and NP making everyone buy their new spreader bar". Mentions of Apple and the infamous Headphone Socket saga were made too. Let's just say we went to Sicily in need of being persuaded; we were definitely not on the programme from the get-go, while we're always open to innovation here at IKSURFMAG, perhaps this was a step too far! Once on the ground in Sicily though it was time to put misgivings aside and check out what the crew at Cabrinha had been cooking up for us.
The new Fireball comes with one of the easiest reconnection systems out there, whether it is simply connecting to your harness or reconnecting your safety system. Connecting to the harness couldn't be easier, just pop the Fireball into the purpose built spreader bar and flick the AutoLock into place. I’m sure many of us have had at least one "foul hook" during their kitesurfing days, when your loop pops out sideways and comes off when you were least expecting it. The risk of that occurring is entirely diminished with the Fireball - it simply can’t happen. The safety system can be reconnected in 2.9 seconds too; it is easy to put together both on the beach and in the water.
The Fireball comes with all 2017 Cabrinha Fireball bars, however, if you have a Quickloop bar or pre-2017 Cabrinha bar, then spare parts can be purchased to upgrade to the all-new Fireball. You will need to update your spreader bar, but don't fear, the Fireball Spreader Bar can be retrofitted to a whopping 95% of harnesses on the market. Fireball’s flexible tendon comes in a range of sizes to get the bar positioned exactly where you want it, no matter how long or short your arms are!
Holding it in your hands you can see and feel that the Fireball has the same robust build quality and extreme attention to detail that we are used to seeing on the other Cabrinha bar systems Cabrinha bar systems. It is clear that there have been endless hours, or rather years, of thought and design built into this new creation.
On The Water
After being given a full briefing on the new system, why Cabrinha had developed it and what it was for, we were extremely excited to get out and test the new setup. Let's smash some myths first though, before we get on the water.
Cabrinha have designed the Fireball with a particular type of rider in mind; it is not for unhooking or freestyle. So if that's the way you ride, move along now, it is aimed at the free riders, wave riders and kiters who never unhook. It is also great for beginners too, and when you look at this cross section of the kite community, it is an enormous segment of the people who make up our sport. In short, if you don't unhook, then this is for you.
The first goal was to reduce the forces on the spreader bar by placing the hook and Fireball as close to the body as possible. The second goal was to offer unlimited freedom of movement as the ball and tendon can move in a 360-degree range of motion. Have you ever got sore ribs from the spreader bar rising up? Do you find riding toeside puts undue force on your body and harness as you fight against it? Have you ever found it hard to reach the depower on your kite as the bar is too far away? These are issues the Fireball sets out to solve.
Of course, there are issues it creates too; you have to have a Fireball Spreader Bar for it to work, so you can't swap kites easily with your buddy on the beach. The spreader bar has been designed to fit 95% of all harnesses on the market, so you should be able to retrofit it to your existing harness, however, there is a slim chance you'll need to upgrade if it isn't compatible. The question remained, was the Fireball to be an Apple Headphone Socket moment or something that benefits the sport of kitesurfing and us as riders too.
Let's say from the outset, once on the water we were not disappointed in the slightest, in fact quite the opposite! Kitesurfing on the new Fireball system was nothing short of incredible. Instantly, upon launching the kite and piloting it to 12, it became apparent just how little force there is on your body, even in very overpowered conditions. When it comes to riding, it’s safe to say that the Fireball system is going to enhance the overall kitesurfing experience and the future for those looking to stay hooked, or shall we say ‘Fireballed’, into the harness.
The range of movement you have while using this system is unbelievable, letting your body flow while delivering a very smooth and less restrictive feel. Blind moves and riding toeside have never been easier! We see the Fireball excelling when it comes to wave riding, although we couldn't test it in the waves we will do so soon. Slashing and carving on the twin tip was much looser and felt far closer to free surfing than when using a traditional hook and loop system. The pull on your body was reduced, and the Fireball allows you to really twist and open up your body when carving.
The comfort factor was a huge asset with the new Fireball. It doesn’t have the same ‘rising up into the ribs’ tendencies that come with traditional systems, and the direct connection to the body makes a noticeable improvement. Without realising we’d been bothered by these things before, it became apparent when testing the system back-to-back with a traditional chicken loop set up; we could certainly see the enormous benefits.
We've tested other sliding hook systems, and you would be forgiven for asking what's the difference, they all aim to give you more freedom of movement on the wave or on the water in general for toeside and blind riding. Having ridden various systems, the Fireball offers the freedom of movement, while still providing a very locked in direct feel at your waist. This allows more control in certain situations and will certainly make the Fireball a far better product for first time kitesurfers who want the freedom of movement but still need a direct connection from which to orientate themselves.
For those learning, right through to seasoned wave and freeride warriors, it’s clear that the Fireball is going to improve your kitesurfing sessions - and probably have you busting out toeside and blind moves you’d previously found tricky. From the safety aspect, through to the feeling on the water, Cabrinha have done a great job here.
“It’s safe to say the Fireball is going to enhance kitesurfing and the future for those looking to stay hooked or shall we say Fireballed into the harness” Robin IKSURF test team.
A simple concept, that’s been beautifully engineered and with a distinct amount of R&D having been thrown into it. The Fireball is simple, safe, and gives great fluid motion. It reduces the forces on the body and makes you want to throw yourself around on the water even more than normal!
Not the best for unhooking – but will there be a modified Fireball system aimed at the freestyle market in the future?? Only time will tell. Support for Ride Engine harnesses would be good to see, but we appreciate they use a unique spreader bar connection system.
If you’re not looking to unhook, the Cabrinha Fireball can definitely spice up your kitesurfing sessions! It made freeriding effortless and fun, with a lot less strain on your body as you ride. Less strain on your muscles while riding means longer sessions, but the freedom of movement the Fireball provides is the real bonus. 360 degrees of rotation will let you slash those waves even harder. Learning to kitesurf will be a breeze with less movement in your harness, none of the ’12 o’clock rib pains’ and a simple reconnection system complete the setup.
The Fireball is manufactured with the usual reliable Cabrinha build quality so you know you’re purchasing something that will last. When it comes to the crunch, unless you are an unhooking freestyle whippet, this is certainly something you should take a look at. The only thing you’ll be upset about is that you didn’t have one sooner!
Fireball will be available in August 2016, so get down to your local retailer and get one ordered! Visit http://www.cabrinhakites.com to find your nearest dealer.
For more information visit Cabrinha