By far, the most popular discipline in kiteboarding is freeriding which requires the widest range of use, so it's no surprise that the Crossbow is regarded as the world's leading freeride kite. The Crossbow's bow outline and highperformance profiles work together to provide the largest wind range in Cabrinha's kite line-up. The Crossbow's open arc delivers the highest power to size ratio of any kite in their range. This power comes in handy when looking for high hang-times or when flying across a wide stretch of water. When you combine these characteristics with easy handling, excellent relaunch and quality finish details, the 2011 Crossbow completes its dominance in the role of the ultimate performance freeride kite. The kite that started the bow kite revolution still leads the way, now in its sixth edition
TEST TEAM NOTES:
Cabrinha have been in the kite making game virtually as long as anyone and their bar is one of the cleanest in the industry and shows it. Sat on the beach it looks a bit clunky with the spring system on the trimming tabs, but once under tension with the kite in the sky it really is immaculate. The pull-pull trimming tabs have zero dangle as they retract back to their neat setting once you've let go, always staying in the same position. Very easy to use, just pull the red toggle to depower the kite, pull the black to power the kite up. It's all a metal cleat system, so obviously really strong as there's no plastic. The safety leash line comes down the through protective coating around the chicken-loop lines and through to just above the chicken-loop. Whether you're a freestyler wanting a suicide setting or a rookie rider looking for a flag-out leash attachment option, you clip onto the little metal loop on the outside of the chicken-loop. The push away system works really cleanly, leaving you attached to your chicken-loop, which is attached to the red safety line.
Overall it's very neat, tidy, safe and clever. The donkey dick is nice and manoeuvrable and long enough so that it's not going to come out, but bendy enough so it's easy to physically pull out or put back in again. There are big soft rubber ends on the Cabrinha bar and the grip is good but still comfortable to ride with all day. Out of the bag the kite itself oozes quality and the canopy looks fantastic with its sublimated graphics. Cabrinha have their own 'Sprint' inflation system which doesn't rely on fiddly nipples. Instead you have a screw in system - unscrew the whole thing in one go to make for a huge dump valve when packing up, or when inflating you unscrew just the top section revealing a smaller inlet valve that your pump nozzle wedges itself into. It's got a one way valve inside so no air escapes once you've finished pumping, making life easy. There are seven struts on the Crossbow, which is a huge amount compared to the currently increasing popularity of three strut models, but in the air the kite is super stable with lots of low end power and also relaunches very smartly, too. Sitting a little back in the wind window in the sky, the power delivery is steady, smooth and predictable. This isn't a fast forward flying kite, but it's not slow either, just very steady. The depower is good but the kite retains some power, especially at the top of the window – raise the kite anywhere high in the window and you can feel that the Crossbow just wants to lift you off the water. There is shed loads of lift on offer and the jumps are very floaty indeed.
The kite's incredibly steady predictability means that you can come in from huge jumps and land as softly as a ballet dancer with pin-point precision. The gust control is also excellent. We experienced some pretty up and down gusts and not once did the Crossbow threaten to pull us over the front. You can feel the gust as the power increases, but it comes in in such a smooth way that it's by no means aggressive or lumpy. Simply sheet-in and really go for it, or push the bar out a bit to spill some power. The riding position is quite typically bow, with the bar's sweet point a little way away from you but the steering has lots of feeling and is intuitive. The turning arc is actually quite wide compared to previous bow kites, which makes it a very demanding kite looper. The bar pressure is higher than we've seen in the past but very positive and feedback off the back of that is good. Downlooping out of transitions we found a good pull is needed to make sure the kite got round. Although the kite is more suited to freeriding, its super stable characteristics, slightly deeper canopy position in the window, great low end grunt and medium paced predictive turning make it great fun for practising the dark unhooked arts in steady winds. You get the feeling that the kite is never going to catch you out and rip your arms off, but you just have to make sure you're riding with the kite fairly low in the window, as anywhere high in the window the kite's lofty nature takes over and it becomes harder to hold on to out of the hook.
Free riders and boosters looking for a beautifully constructed kite are going to love this due to its insane hang-time and impressive lift. Very steady handling results in predictability and smoothness, which is just what you want when you’re throwing down some big airs and looking for lovely, soft landings. Wave riders and racers stay away; you want a kite with more speed, more pivotal turning and slightly less lift.
Boosting huge and landing like a pussy cat.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
Add a little more of a whippy speed to the turns for more advanced riders.
SIZES: 16, 13, 11, 10, 9 and 7m
This test is in issue #50