Yesterday in Tampa we had a nice light day (13 to 15 kts). My friend who works for a local shop was able to get his hands on the new Cabrhina Contra, 15m. Additionally, another friend of mine just purchased a 2013 Liquid Force NRG, 14m.
Here's my impression of each:
BTW - a few stats on me - I'm 160 lbs (72 kil), I was on a 138 Axis vanguard, and i've been riding 4 years.
• Power - By far one of the most powerful big kites I have ever been on. While riding it, I could tell its very efficient, grabbing onto every little puff of wind.
• Turning - It's a big kite so it does turn slow, although faster than other Cabrinha kites (e.g. Crossbow 16) but still a bit slow. This is no surprise; got to expect that with a big kite. I did set it to the "B" setting and noticed that it responded a bit faster. I think that Airstyle riders (like me) will enjoy this aspect of the kite since it's so stable in the sky.
• Looping - I executed loops without any issues. This is more technique based but to me, it loops pretty well. At one point I had it depowered about half way as well. The tricks I looped with included a few darkslides, inverted front roll riding out toeside, front roll to revert off toeside, and hand-drag transition.
• Bar pressure - Over the last year I have developed a chronic case of tendonitis in my left elbow (golfer's elbow). So as you might expect, bar pressure has become pretty important to me. The good news is that Cabrinha has significantly reduced their bar pressure and as a friend of mine put it, "its like walking of thick shag carpet." Kind of a funny description but pretty accurate. The bar pressure is there but I didn't feel like I was fighting the kite. Its still a bit more than I would prefer but its still pretty comfortable.
• Lift and Swing – Typical of a big kite, the boost is not a direct upward yank, rather an upwards arch. This being the case, it floats you down and offers solid hangtime. The swing on the kite is fantastic. One of the longest darkslides I have ever executed was on that kite. It gave me tons of time through the swing and will make slides a bit easier. I wish I had more time on the kite.
• Relaunch – I’ve hear that this kite relaunches easily in sub-ten knots. I put it in the water a few time and it relaunched fine but it was blowing at least 13. Regardless, I think this kite will definitely relauch better than a lot of the bigger kites, especially race kites given their aspect ratio.
Final thoughts – overall, I was pretty impressed to say the least. My only reservation is the price and the fact that the bar pressure is a bit heavier than I like and may agitate my condition. However, I could definitely see myself getting one given all its advantages…still pondering it over
• Power – Extremely powerful for a 14m. In fact, the power will sneak up on you a bit if you are not careful. I felt almost as much power as the Contra, but the Contra had a bit more lower end grunt. However, once I got the NRG into 2nd gear I was very well powered.
• Turning - Some have said that it’s turning speed is slow but I found it to be pretty agile and fast for a 14m. Apparently the 2014 NRG is even faster turning. Overall I was pretty impressed with its turning speed.
• Looping – Again, all loops were executed without issues. Now, one thing about the NRG is that it does not like to be de-powered. I had it fully powered the whole time.
• Bar pressure – One of the main reasons I am gravitating to this kite is that all the pressure is in your harness, not in the bar. This can be a bit unnerving for some and it was for me at first. Once I got used to it, I found it to be enjoyable. A few months ago rode another NRG for 2 hours one day (12m) and I was surprised that I didn’t have any pain in my elbow afterwards, this was a first. Regardless, the bar pressure on this kite is practically non-existent so it does take some getting used to.
• Lift and Swing – I actually found the lift and swing to be a little better on this kite in some ways. The key is that you have get your speed going. Whereas with the Contra, the bottom end makes you feel powered almost immediately. I think overall they are probably equal but there’s something unique about the NRG’s boost. It really surprised me at times with how high I was getting on a simple transition.
• Relaunch – I didn’t have any relauch issues but I would say that in really light wind the Contra would probably be easier to relaunch.
Final thoughts - The NRG is not for beginners. In winds that are gusty the kite can get a bit punchy and if you dont watch it, the kite can backstall...if you know what your doing though its not an issue. This is just my experience with the 2013 model and the 2014 may be different. Im still torn on which kite to buy but I will let you guys know. Both kites are exception and its going to be a tough decision.
Happy and safe riding,