THIS CABRINHA SPECIAL AGENT AND X950 REVIEW CAN BE READ IN KITEWORLD #111, OUR NEW FREE DIGITAL PLATFORM, PUBLISHED IN JULY 2021
CABRINHA SPECIAL AGENT FOIL TEST
“The Cabrinha Special Agent and X950 carbon combination is an excellent, modern continuation of what we’ve seen in Cabrinha’s foils prior to this year: delivering on a focus to make riding a hydrofoil feel as intuitive and frustration free as possible, while still balancing the need for the realisation of good progression.”
TESTED BY JIM GAUNT & ROB CLAISSE
TEST TEAM NOTES:
It’s been quite a while since we’ve ridden a Cabrinha hydrofoil set-up, which in fact was back in 2015 on what became the ever so trusty (and sturdily built) Double Agent; a hydrofoil and surf skate cross-over. We knew of many people who sold these on after learning, having bought it themselves second hand! To us, Cabrinha foils represents strength, ease of use and, therefore, good value.
As riders progressed, they outgrew the original Double Agent foil set-up when it came to speed, manoeuvrability, performance dynamics and certainly the relatively heavy overall weight. While accessible and long lasting, it needed quite a bit of wind to get you up and riding, but crucially wouldn’t throw you off if you were inexperienced. That’s what many people liked about it; at a time when hydrofoiling was more difficult, the lift was relatively easy to manage.
Unboxing this newly revamped Secret Agent I recognised similarities when it came to the robust feel, but there is also a lot more refinement. It feels Like Cabrinha have properly switched their focus back on to foiling after a quiet few years on the foil development front.
The Fusion FX950 carbon front wing and carbon stabiliser can be matched with either a carbon or aluminium integrated fuselage. We used the carbon option. There’s evidence of considered thought throughout, with soft padding on top of the mast plate and contours in the mould that have been cut to still fit the older model Double Agent boards (where the bolts go down through the board rather than up into the nut track which features on the new Special Agent). That’s good care for Cabrinha’s legacy customers who may be looking to slowly upgrade in a modular method.
First thing to say is that although this still isn’t the lightest freeride set-up, the natural ride position you adopt on the board, the feel of the foil underwater and the smooth lift are all beautifully balanced. Even manoeuvring the board and foil around in the water to bring it into the waterstart position isn’t a difficult effort because the board sits obediently on its side without you needing to put too much effort into stopping the foil dropping down vertically. This is a real help.
As you’ll see in this video, my initial reactions from my first five minutes riding this set-up (which usually tell us a lot about the character of a product), show how user-friendly it immediately feels, including a demonstration of how the stable nature of the board continues, even if you dig the nose.
This video shows Kiteworld Editor Jim Gaunt taking the Special Agent and X950 for first runs and impressions
Cabrinha tell me that much of their focus has been on ensuring stiffness throughout the entire system, including at every bolt join. The Fusion-X mast connects with an integrated fuselage design, so that whether you’re kiting, winging or surf foiling, there’s a consistent, connected feel.
A lot of the ease-of-use, balanced ride and intuitive feel underfoot come from those super strong connections. The Special Agent board itself, at just 105cm, is remarkably easy to tune into despite its small size; something I certainly wasn’t expecting.
In the video I describe from my first reactions that the channel in the base must be somehow helping the board stabilise underwater as it offers such a balanced platform. Firsly, it’s not a channel designed in the sense of managing waterflow (but no doubt it does help channel water to a degree); it’s actually an indented stringer for stiffness that shows through in the deck as a handy central arch that also acts as a reference point / grip underfoot or for your toes.
The result is incredible stiffness in the board and even underwater there’s also no give or bending. The strong flex resistance remains as constant in feel underwater as it does when you’re in flight and pressurising the board hard when riding at full speed.
Essentially there are no extra complications through too much flex, or slight movements in the bolt connections when your body is trying to interpret communications from your equipment. This is as important for beginner and intermediate riders as it is for advanced riders. Feedback is everything and the Cabrinha ‘Fusion’ mast and fuselage ‘eco system’ connections feel as solid as we’ve experienced in a real freeride design.
Cabrinha are now invested in all surf oriented forms of foiling, from kite foiling, to wing foiling and surf foiling, so the Fusion X-Series of masts, fuselages and X-Wings allow riders to cross-over into those different genres on the same hydrofoil set-up if they wish. (Bigger wings are also available).
THE X950 RIDE:
We’ve talked about the very balanced feel already and that sensation means that this Cabrinha set-up feels like a lighter weight package than it really is.
Although currently the smallest front wing in Cabrinha’s Fusion X-Series of wings, the X950 is a foil that sits right in the middle of the size spectrum that most kiteboarders are using. It’s a design that allows you to just get on and have fun straight away, mixing sensations of speed and manoeuvrability with stability. Right from your first moments you’ll be at a good starting point to build on.
In terms of how easy we found it to adapt to, Rob landed a fully foiling strapless jump on his first session, something he’s never done on anything else. Despite it being heavier than his own full carbon set up, he said, “Although it’s heavier than my own gear, it was really balanced and when I grabbed the board it didn’t feel like it wanted to fall away. Perfectly balanced in my hand while in the air, the landing was also then very stable and I was really impressed!”
Moderately paced, the X950 meets the average pace of most wings in this size range, sacrificing some absolute top end speed to something like the F-One Mirage 1000. The speed is however perfectly adequate for most people feeling their way into their first foiling seasons, especially combined with the very smooth but engaging lift to help you come up in control from your board start and the impressive natural glide.
The glide is really a standout point, offering good allowance for foot changes and when you need to rely on some extra ongoing metres of lift when transitioning your feet during a tack. The lift characteristics are so predictable and the X950 carbon does a fantastic job of not changing its glide trajectory too much as you speed up or slow down. Often just the directional control of your big toe as you pivot under your kite can be enough to manage the continued movement of the board as you tack.
The X950 also pumps nicely for what is a relatively small foil for wave play, but it’s certainly keen to help you out in everything you’ll want to try.
Carves are also stable and generally easy, but with the X950 being quite flat this isn’t a design that’s really suited to an advanced rider who is looking to make lots of sharp changes of direction. The X950 is intuitive so of course you can influence quicker turns, but it’s more naturally set to feel stable and constant, which will suit all but the top 10 or 15% of riders that have a lot of foiling experience.
BOARD: POCKET POWER:
We have to comment on the fact that the Special Agent is one of the easiest and most forgiving boards of around just one metre in length that we’ve ridden. Considering the submerged stability combined with the very well bevelled rails that deflect water contact and the stiffness throughout; the Special Agent is all about promoting foil flight, rather than water fight. It may be very compact, but is surprisingly easy to control. The 105cm is certainly still only for advancing intermediates and beyond, though.
BOARD: SPECIAL AGENT SIZES:
The Special Agent is available in two sizes, the 105 x 39.5cm model that we tested and a bigger 125 x 42.5cm. Going off our experience of the remarkable ease of use we found in the 105cm, surely the 125cm is going to be a great option for averagely weighted, dedicated beginner and improving intermediate riders. 125cm certainly doesn’t look like a beginner size, but will have the benefits of riding like a bigger board than it is, which is great for your cred.
The Special Agent and X950 carbon combination is an excellent, modern continuation of what we’ve seen in Cabrinha’s foils prior to this year: delivering on a focus to make riding a hydrofoil feel as intuitive and frustration free as possible, while still balancing the need for the realisation of good progression.
Excellent predictability in ride feel and very robust build and connection points should make this a real contender for anyone who is either serious about getting into foiling, or who is looking for a new set-up to help aid their general every day riding skills and manoeuvres.
Advanced riders will love the small board feel of the Special Agent 105 and will appreciate how it does all it can to stop your touchdowns being terminal. However, they may find the X950 doesn’t allow them to unlock a further level of top speed gearing that they crave. Tapping our nose and giving you the wink; the lowdown is to watch the Cabrinha space around September for some smaller, faster, front wing offerings.
The predictable lift and excellent glide in the X950 wing as well as how surprisingly forgiving the Special Agent board is in such a small size.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
Advanced riders could want a greater top end speed and more rapid directional change performance than the X950.
SPECIAL AGENT: 125 x 42.5cm & 105 x 39.5cm
FUSION-X SERIES WINGS: X1950, X1600, X1300 & X950cm
Watch the Cabrinha Special Agent product video here:
Watch the Cabrinha Fusion Hydrofoil System product video here:
THIS Cabrinha Special Agent Foilboard and Fusion-X Series wing TEST REVIEW WAS FIRST PUBLISHED HERE IN ISSUE #111
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