The 5'3" 2008 Cabrinha S-Quad or as we like to call it the 'Cabsquad' or for short the 'Squad' had a full run over a few weeks by the Southcentral directional board testing team Daz and Murf.
On riding this board I am coming from a surfing background and riding various directionals including the New North Freestyle Fish. The Squad is a very nice board and has specific characteristics.
the testing grounds includced onshore, side onshore and cross onshore from Middleton to Beachport including Robe. winds were from 15 knots to 26+ knots using a 10 North Rebel 2008 Kite.
down to business. The board is easy to get used to which for me is an important first impression on any equipment. It rode staight and smooth and held power really well. this is the shorter version of the two that Cabrinha offer the larger being the 5'9" and for me a 68 kg rider is was a good size for 18 knots and over with a preference to 20 - 30 and with a 7m kite I think it would take as much wind as you wanted any board. It is not likely to be over powered like other larger or floatier directionals, it held and edge and dumped speed with the rail and fins as you needed.
If you are coming from a twin tip into the directional scene this is a good transition as it feels like a smaller board which for me would be a higher wind option and I would feel comfortable going away without my twini and not worry about being over done. It's small size means that it is not a light wind option.
In jumping it feels light under foot and you can be confident that it hangs in the air and is not adversly affected by the wind whilst you are in the air. You can make good use of the wind whislt in the air by nosing the board up or down etc. and redirect it if your take off was not perfect and you need to balance before landing. At no point did I feel this board was causing me air time issues which can be a problem with some larger directionals.
Landing is soft if you come in tail first, however flat landings are slappy as expected with a full concave bottom.
Grip and line is really good. You can ride it lazy off the fins like a sailboard or edge hard and go upwind. When you ride it lazy with some edging its upwind is good but not staggering, as a smaller board you still need to work back to the start point but this is made up by the speed that you can take the board with a smooth line. It takes chop well and will bounce a little like any directional but less than most.
White water does not affect this board much and you can punch into it with confidence. Onshore wind white water is easy to get over and it will take a like through white water quite well. As a small board popping over white water is easy.
Turning. The board is very loose and you can turn it into any move you want by driving the tail. if you are used to a twin tip it will never dig in, if you are used to a longer board if you are underpowered in the turn the smaller nose might dig a bit but after you get used to this it is not so much of a problem you just need to keep that back foot pressure on. It is like a little whippy turning board and loves to have a rear heel jamed right is and it pops off the lip and down the wave.
I moved the front footstraps right to the rear and the back ones right to the front they seemed to work the best here for me. Remember to put the straps in the correct way as pictured here and are shown on the Cabrinha website or you might think it feels wierd to ride. the foot straps are a newer design allowing for skewed pads on both sides. They feel a little small but do work well and are adjusted by the screws. also the little clips on the pad ends are asymmetric and therefore you can turn them around to add to the variation in adjustment.
Toe side riding is very comfortable and easy, you can ride toeside upwind easilly and feels comfortable.
Gybing is really easy it is very steady under foot. I put a little wax on the deck to allow for foot movement and I found it a gem to gybe.
A moderate to strong wind board for a medium to light wieght rider, stong wind board for larger riders. A very fast and responsive board which allows for reactive turning and hard core wave riding. Good for a very busy white water surf where you need to be jumping a lot and navigating white water. (most of the surf we all get).
Great for Jumping and air time, great for lip moves and bottom turns where the surf demads constand activity as apposed to picking very long down the line arcing turns.
Not really for longer down the line riding especially where the extra speed toe side means you will feel its small size as it is waiting for you to throw it into a move.
Other board for this would likely be the 5'9" Squad but I have not tried it. Certainly the 5'9" Squad would be following the similar characteristics for the larger rider.
Construction is solid and this board has had many different riders as a demo and seems to be putting up with the abuse very well.
The best thing about this board is the grip in hard turns as it is designed by Pete Cabrinha from the toe surfing scene it will not slip or slide in the tail. For most guys best option is likely to be the 5'9" unless you are looking for a strong wind board. Light wieght riders will be very happy with their new Squad.