Kitesurfing Magazine - Fall 2021

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A new generation of wetsuits


VOLUME 7, ISSUE 2, #16




Duotone’s Craig Cunningham

WHO’S THAT Brochocka & B e n n e t t VLOG GING How to get HIGH



SIZES: 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 14 The Pivot is the perfect all-around kite for performance freeride and big air. This kite is famous for its incredible jumping ability, wave riding action, responsiveness, and tight, pivoting turns. Its versatility allows you to feel comfortable on your twin tip, surfboard, or foilboard in all weather conditions. Whether you’re casually cruising or boosting for adrenaline — the Pivot is the right choice. Pacific Boardsports LLC . . (509) 493-0043 Frankiebees • Ewan Jaspan: Pivot Kite, Motion Twin Tip















The Imperator symphony Rider Linus Erdmann Photo Lutz Englert

A STEP AHEAD A masterpiece twenty years in the making. Engineered on Fehmarn. And passionately handcrafted with state-of-the-art technology and materials. The all-new Cartan 2 powered Imperator 7 is our lightest and most responsive unibody twintip ever. Experience the ultimate twintip performance and join us on a journey beyond the ordinary.


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PHOTO: CRAIG KOLESKY RIDER: NICK JACOBSEN LOCATION: BRANDVLEEI DAM, CAPE TOWN "Shooting at the end of season was a tricky call. Tight deadlines. Bad weather, wrong wind directions and with COVID in the mix there was a lot of pressure to get the shot list checked. Luckily with the crew and a team effort we made some good calls for spots not usually thought of to kite and to shoot. I was telling Nick, 'if the kites not low it’s a no go'. He pushed himself hard to get insane shots like this." —Craig Kolesky

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PHOTO: THOMAS BURBLIES RIDER: WILLOW RIVER TONKIN LOCATION: CAPE ST. FRANCIS The Seal Point Lighthouse at Cape St. Francis, South Africa makes an ideal back drop for the 2022 Core photo shoot for the new Section 4 surf kite. Pro rider Willow River Tonkin tucks into a fun barrel.


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RIDER: GIEL VLUGT LOCATION: TATAJUBA, BRAZIL PHOTOGRAPHER: MICHAŁ JAGNIATKOWSKI Big Air superstar Giel Vlugt joins Ocean Rodeo becoming the highest profile member of their big air team. At only 26, Giel has already achieved first place at the Big Air Fly event in Egypt, second in the BAKL Full Power Tarifa Big Air contest and has secured his place at the premier event of the year: Red Bull’s King of the Air. We cannot wait to see him in action in Cape Town.

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Craig Cunningham is not only a team manager, but he rips as hard in the park as anyone on the team. Stiller photo.


VOLUME 7 // ISSUE 2 // NO.17

FEAT U R E S 46 STATE OF THE INDUSTRY Kitesurfing Magazine publisher John Bryja caught up with the leading CEO’s in kitesurfing to find out more about the impact of COVID on the industry. 64 SENSI AND SCHEID Sensi Graves and Brandon Scheid are the quintesential power couple in pro kiteboarding. Kitesurfing Magazine’s John Bryja caught up with Sensi and Brandon for the inside scoop on how they met and how they find and maintain the perfect work/life balance. 78 THE MASTER, HIS STUDENT AND THE WORLD CHAMPION A look behind the scenes of the Duotone design team and the D/LAB Juice. 88 AWSI: STUFF WE LIKE A look at the best new gear from the 2022 AWSI kitesurfing trade show in Hood River.

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UPFRO N T 10 OFF THE TOP 20 EDITOR’S INTRO 24 ON THE COVER 26 FIRST TIME Tim Walsh 28 REP 411: Sam Medysky 28 WHO’S THAT: Helena Brochocka 30 WHO’S THAT: Shaun Bennett

DEPART M E N T S 34 VLOGGING: Mike Mac Donald 38 TEAM MANAGER: Craig Cunningham 42 DEMO DAYS: Cape Hatteras 46 TRADE SECRETS: Ion Wetsuit Factory 54 PEER PRESSURE: Chris Bodryk 96 NEXT ISSUE Check out Mike Mac Donald's (AKA Get High With Mike) Vlogging interview on page 34. Photo courtesy CORE.


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View from above; the AWSI Trade Show in Hood River, Oregon, 2022 gear preview. Toby Bromwich photo.

FIELD NOTES Lighter, Stronger

The AWSI trade show in Hood River, OR is the first real trip I have taken since foiling on the sun drenched beaches of Cuba the last week of January, 2020. During that Caribbean trip, I had a chance to experience the performance of the brand new ultra light weight Aluula material in Ocean Rodeo’s Roam kite. While I was there, the global pandemic doubled from four to eight cases. I sold all my stock and added some more Aluula kites to my quiver. The 14.5 Aluula Ocean Rodeo Flight would prove to be a game changer for my kitesurfing over the next year-and-a-half. While stuck in a global travel lockdown, it allowed me to kitesurf almost whenever I wanted. My wind minimum for a fun day has been pushed all the way down to seven or eight knots. And six knots doesn’t mean I have to swim in. At this year’s AWSI show it became clear that almost every major brand is now showcasing lighter weight construction and materials in their kites. If you are cursed with an average windspeed in the 8 knot range (most of North America and Germany) you are going to love these new light weight models. Check out Kitesurfing Magazine’s report from the AWSI show on page 88, and interviews with all the brands on our YouTube channel. Kitesurfing Magazine’s test team will be doing head-to-head comparisons this fall of the best, new light weight kites, surf kites and big air kites. Be sure to follow our YouTube channel for the latest updates and we will have a full test report of the latest gear in our Spring 2022 issue. See you on the water, John Bryja









S IZ ES : 2 ,5 / 3 / 3 ,5 / 4 / 4,5 / 5 / 5,5 / 6 / 6,5 / 7
















Volume 5, Issue2, #12 Display Until: Sept, 31, 2019

Volume 5, Issue3, #14 Display Until: January 31, 2020 $8.99



Olivia Jenkins: Catching That Big Fish





Kitesurfing Magazine is an independent publication published three times per year. —Spring, Summer, and Gear Preview — by Kitesurfing Magazine Inc. 101 Rossmoyne, Leith, ON, N0H 1V0 Phone: (519)370-2334 Email: Website: SUBSCRIPTIONS 1 Year - 3 Issues $26.95 Phone: (519) 370-2334 Email: Change of Address ISSN 2369-3568


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Volume 3, Issue2, #7






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pros on foilboarding


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Disclaimer: The athletes and activities described andillustrated herein are performed by trained athletes and could result in serious bodily injury, including disability or death, do not attempt them without proper supervision,training and safety equipment. Kitesurfing Magazine Inc, and the publisher are not responsible for injuries sustained by readers or failure of equipment depicted or illustrated herein.










REAL WAT E R S P ORTS .COM | ( 2 52 ) 98 7. 6000 | CAP E HAT T E RAS, NC - 23


WRECKING SHIP “This photo was taken about a mile out from Miami’s Stiltsville; a large sandbar with narrow canals with many shallow spots provides kiters with crystal clear flat water that is only accessible by boat. But for this unfortunate sailor these shallow spots retired this boat’s sailing career and created a new hit for my own personal kite park. I found this sailboat stuck here while my girlfriend Sarah Dunick and I were teaching our kiteboarding students. My student decided to take an offshore tack about a mile out and head downwind. When I finally got to him I noticed this sailboat sat here just waiting for me. When Sarah and I finally got everyone rounded up and back to shore I called up my good friend and photographer Carlose Mesa to get some shots out there that evening. I set up my kite off our boat and Sarah captained while Carlose took shots on the way down to the sailboat. When we arrived to the half sunken vessel I couldn’t help but slide every angle of it. This shot was a Backside Lip Slide on the trim of the sailboat. I caught a couple of screws in the bottom of my board but that’s better than catching them elsewhere. Big thanks to Sarah for captaining the boat and getting the right angles for Carlos to get the shot at the right time with the sun peaking out at us between storms.”–Chris Bobryk

Rider: Chris Bobryk Photographer: Carlose Mesa Location: Miami, Florida


Rider-Eric Rienstra, Photo-Mike Phaneu

Keep your eyes on the prize. Keep your eyes on iKitesurf! Exclusive Content The best Weather Stations and Forecasts available anywhere!

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KB4C 2021 race action. Hallman photo

Kiteboard 4 Cancer was founded in 2007 by Garret Zallen, pediatric surgeon and Tonia Farman, whose brother passed away from leukemia. The two set out to convert their feelings of helplessness into good using a sport they loved: kiteboarding! The result was Kiteboarding 4 Cancer. What started as a fundraiser for cancer charities evolved into Project Koru, a nonprofit that supports young adult cancer survivors through community and the outdoors. What makes KB4C special is the community. Everyone is there to support the cause and KB4C continues to turn feelings of helplessness into good, through the sport we all love.


KEY PLAYERS Grom Gromley: Came all the way from La Ventana to emcee and compete and is the running champion of KB4C. Fred Hope: A Hood River local who just won Kiteboarder of the Year from AWSI. Fred came on his college break. Ewan Jaspan: The kiteboarding legend from Melbourne, Australia. Sensi Graves: Hood River’s very own force to be reckoned with. Cynbad (Cynthia) Brown: From the East Cape of Baja, California Sur she spends the summers in Hood River. With KB4C going global, the competition and stoke continues to grow. We had competitors come from all across North America! MAGIC MOMENTS Our top fundraising team, Team Laura, is composed of Kirk Zack and his family. They first got involved with KB4C in 2019 as fundraisers, in loving memory of Kirk’s sister, Laura, who lost her fight to ovarian cancer in May 2019. But last year, Kirk’s other sister Katharine was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). She is still undergoing treatments, but was strong enough to come to KB4C to cheer everyone on. The whole Zack family came out to participate, hang out and support each other and even had Team Laura banners hanging from their van. It was such a special moment.

Petar Marshall photos

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KB4C: POWERED BY WIND VOYAGER The annual rider's meeting photo. Hallman photo.

PRESSURE By Tuesday before the event, news was already circulating: no wind on Saturday. Friday morning, we made the call to move the race to Sunday and crossed our fingers that the wind would show up. We moved all the fun and games to Saturday, which was a total blast. And then Sunday rolled around. The morning started, no wind. We all held our breath and at 12 p.m., we got news that the wind had changed directions and was on its way! Everyone started gearing up, and by 2 p.m., had hit the water to kiteboard (or foil, or wing) 4 cancer.


PARTY Our original party plans fell through, two weeks before the event, due to a staffing shortage at the venue. So instead, the KB4C after party was held at the event site. Since there was no wind Saturday, it turned into an all day, all night party on the beautiful Columbia Gorge River. Live music by the Cliffhangers lit up the evening and got everyone dancing, and Full Sail beer was served all night long. Everyone danced the night away until 10 p.m. We’re so grateful for everyone showing up and bringing the stoke, wind or no wind.

RESULTS WRAP UP Cynthia Brown: Cynthia was the only person who competed in both remote and in-person races, winning women’s wingfoiling in person and in the virtual competition. Grom Gromley: Grom took first in men’s kiteboarding and has consecutively won KB4C so many times the trophy has a spot on his mantle,

RESULTS LIST MEN’S KITEBOARD: 1st Place: Grom Gromley; 39.65 miles 2nd Place: Sam Medysky; 38.13 miles 3rd Place: Chris Myles; 34.51 miles

Charley Alonso: Our youngest competitor (7-years-old) from Spain, took second place in the virtual competition.

WOMEN’S KITEBOARD: 1st Place: Sensi Graves; 36.43 miles 2nd Place: Izzy Lira; 31.52 miles 3rd Place: Tonia Farman; 30.37 miles

This year we introduced foils and wingers to the competition and changed the course to an open zone. We used Strava to track mileage. Everyone was stoked! We look forward to running KB4C in the future.

KITEBOARD TEAM (based on average miles): 1st Place: Duotone Kite; 31.87 miles 2nd Place: Reedin Kite Sirens; 29.49 miles 3rd Place: Team Amigos 2; 27.94 miles MEN’S KITEFOIL: 1st Place: Fred Hope; 52.15 miles 2nd Place: Brandon Scheid; 47.85 miles 3rd Place: Robert Redman; 37.38 miles

Sleazy J. Hallman photo

WOMEN’S KITEFOIL: 1st Place: Phoebe Retzlaff; 11.31 miles KITEFOIL TEAM (based on average miles): 1st Place: Naish Sky Pirates; 38.64 miles 2nd Place: North Kiteboarding; 30.52 miles 3rd Place: Team Bigfoot; 28.86 miles MEN’S WINGFOIL: 1st Place: Nick Stuart, 31.26 miles 2nd Place: Lucas Arsenault; 30.59 miles 3rd Place: Jack Rieder; 22.9 miles WOMEN’S WINGFOIL: 1st Place: Cynthia Brown; 29.12 miles 2nd Place: Talia Toland; 16.73 miles WINGFOIL TEAM (based on average miles): 1st Place: Team Ozone Winger Dingers; 29.09 miles 2nd Place: Freedom Foil Boards; 26.84 miles 3rd Place: Pure Stoke-Wing OG; 26.06 miles

The Cliff Hangers.

GROM: 1st Place: Tim Walsh; 38.14 miles 2nd Place: Nicholas Schollard; 28.61 miles 3rd Place: Alessandro Barbieri; 11.48 miles 6 HOUR VIRTUAL RACE: 1st Place: Cynthia Brown, Wingfoiling; 85.75 miles 2nd Place: Charley Alonso, Kiteboarding; 48.13 miles 3rd Place: Dan T; Wingfoiling; 39.26 miles

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With Tim Walsh

Tim Walsh right at home on Maui's North Shore. Frankie Bees photos.


When Kite Beach is your local spot, you get good quick. Tim Walsh is one of those locals that benefited from being a local. He’s grown up shredding with some of the world’s best pro kiters. We asked him about his firsts... FIRST BOARD? The first board I had was a 130, 2013 Rascal. Then Naish made the Grom board. That was one of my favourite boards of all time. FIRST KITE? The first kite I had was the Ride 4, which was my only kite. FIRST KITEBOARD VIDEO YOU WATCHED? I don’t remember the first one, but I do remember loving the video where Nick Jacobsen climbed the crane in Cape Town and ate the sandwich on top. FIRST PRO YOU MET? The first pro I met was Jesse Richman, who also lives on Maui. FIRST TRICK? The first one I did was a Backroll, which I did by accident. FIRST TIME YOU THOUGHT YOU COULD BE A PRO? I do not remember having that thought, I just progressively got into it. FIRST CAR? I still don’t own a car.

FIRST KITEMARE? First kitemare I had was with my friend Oskar. We’ve had a lot more since. FIRST ROAD TRIP? My first road trip was not a kite one, it was through National Parks in California. I have not been on a kite road trip yet. FIRST AIRPLANE KITE TRIP? The first time I traveled to kite was to Oahu. FIRST PHOTO SHOOT? My first photo shoot was when Naish came out with the Grom board. FIRST YOUTUBE VIDEO? The first YouTube video I was in was a video we made during a hurricane on Maui. FIRST CONTEST? My first contest was 2016 Bridge of the Gods in the Gorge. FIRST TIME ON THE PODIUM? My first podium was during the first event I did. I got second place. FIRST VICTORY? The first contest I won was 2017 Bridge of the Gods, my second contest.

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REP 411

With Sam Medysky Sam Medysky is the North American sales manager for Airush and a six-time Canadian national kitesurfing champion. He makes his home in Squamish, British Columbia. feedback. They have always asked for feedback from not just me but our customers, retailers, schools and centres. At the end of the day to continue to innovate and design, feedback is required to progress forward.

Sam Medysky ready for action in Squamish, BC. Chris Rollett photo.

What trends in the sport excite you most? The wheel has come full circle. It’s crazy but the trends we experience in kiteboarding have come and gone and are back again. It’s funny to see aspects of kiteboarding from the early days resurfacing and gaining popularity. Great example? Foiling. In the early 2000s Rush Randle was kite foiling on Maui. Fast forward 20 years and foiling has exploded. Obviously the gear has improved and made it more accessible. I’m stoked to see kiteboarding continuing to evolve and under the power of a kite we have so many genres of kiteboarding. It’s really an endless sport. I love the variety and the ability to always find progression while using a kite to pull me around. What piece of kitesurfing gear excited you most for 2021? AK Durable Supply Company released the Ether Waist harness for 2021. It’s a minimalist approach to a waist harness. It’s super comfortable, light and very easy to travel with I know the hardshells are great, but for winging, foiling, wave riding and free riding they are way too overkill. The Ether is such a simple concept and approach to a harness. I’m stoked to see innovation in this space. There hasn’t been a ton of innovation in harnesses. What surprised you most about Airush when you started working for them? Many have known and seen Airush around since the early days of kiteboarding. Many people don’t know that Starboard Windsurf/SUP and Airush are actually the same company. Airush is the kiteboarding division of Starboard. What surprised me the most about Airush and the entire Starboard group is that we are a certified B Corp company and the only certified B Corp company in kiteboarding. For those who don’t know what a B Corp company is: certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. To summarize we care about the environment and are carbon neutral. Today there is a lot of green washing used in marketing. At Airush/


Starboard we practise what we preach, no B.S. We put the environment first and continue to make efforts to reduce our footprint and preserve our beautiful planet. How involved are you in giving product feedback throughout the life cycle of each kite? From a sales point of view, as an experienced pro rider and consumer feedback from demos? From my experience in the wind sports industry since 1998 I have worked in many aspects of the business. I started out as a kid with a dream to go pro but in order to make that happen I worked teaching kiteboarding and in a retail kite shop to pay for travel before getting on board as a paid athlete. Now at 31-years-old I’m the sales manager for Airush Americas. I think working all aspects of the industry has made me well-rounded and given me perspective and insight on all users and what their needs are in certain products. I’m very fortunate Airush and AK Durable Supply Company value and trust my

What is in you personal quiver? My personal quiver right now is as follows: Airush 12 meter LIFT Airush Union 9 meter Airush 6 meter Ultra V4 Airush Freewing Air V2 4 meter AK Phazer 5’8” 90 liter AK Surf Foil 1600 Also If the conditions line up right I usually steal Jack Rieder’s 11 or 13 meter Airush Razor for a freestyle session. What gear is in your dad’s school quiver? My Dad, Dano! At Sauble Beach Kitesurfing school. Well he’s got a mixture of Airush Lithium kites and Airush Session kites. He might even have a 12 meter LIFT for an old man, big-air, table top kinda day!

Rider: Florian Daubos Picture: Arthur Samzun

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Helena Brochocka


Name: Helena Brochocka Nickname: Hela Sponsors: Naish Kiteboarding & Prolimit Hometown: Warsaw, Poland Current home: Peniche, Portugal Off-water activities: Surfing, skiing, wakeboarding Favourite board and kite: 38 Naish Traverse Ewan Jaspan Pro, and Naish Torch kite. Last trick landed: 315 “Helena, or Hela as we call her most of the time, is a passionate rider who loves challenging herself. Her trick list might not be the longest one out there, but you can be sure that whatever trick she throws down it will look good! When it comes to kiteboarding she’s a perfectionist and simply wouldn’t be satisfied otherwise. Whenever she lands a new trick she immediately thinks of what could be improved, or how to make it look even better. It’s a double-edged knife; it forces you to be a better rider every session, but on some days it can also come at the cost of enjoyment of the present moment on the water. I see myself in her all the time, and totally understand her feelings when her trick execution isn’t up to her standard, even


when others compliment and cheer on. But when it all comes together, you really see her love for the sport shine through and that definitely shows in her riding! I love her style on the water, it looks natural, powerful and commited. The moment she started riding park I could see her previous skiing experience show, pressing with all the weight on the features, making any simple trick she does look good. Personally Helena is what we call ‘one of the boys.’ She’s up for good banter, can handle dirty jokes and is always keen to join an adventure. She’s pretty rad to live with, a great friend and an awesome teammate.”—Christophe Tack, 2014 Freestyle World Champion.

Favourite trick: Back Mobe First set up: Naish Cult and some very old school board of unknown origin. Favourite conditions: Flat, warm and windy. What other pros do you ride with most often: My favourite crew to ride with are definitely my Naish teammates; Christophe Tack, Katie Potter, Ewan Jaspan, Tom Seager, and others. It’s always fun with this bunch! Favourite place to ride: My top three would be Barra Nova, Brazil, Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka and Isla Blanca, Mexico.

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Shaun Bennett

Name: Shaun Bennett Sponsors: North Kiteboarding, Mystic Boarding Hometown: Naples, Florida USA Current home: Outer Banks, NC/ Naples, FL Off-water activities: Brazillian Jiu Jitsu, music “If you go to just about any beach in the US, it’s likely you’ll meet someone who knows Shaun Bennett. Everyone’s excited when Shaun arrives with the latest and greatest North Kiteboarding and Mystic gear to try out. But there’s a lot more to Shaun than just a van full of gear. Shaun engages with the kite community more than almost any brand rep you’ll meet. You can tell he’s doing what he loves. He’ll often go above and beyond to share the stoke and the kite beaches wouldn’t be as fun without him.”

Favourite board and kite: Atmos Carbon 138, North Orbit 8/9 meter Last trick landed: Backroll Megaloop One-Footer Favourite trick: Boogie Loop, Melon Grab, Barspin First set up: 2008 GK Kite, Cabrinha XCaliber Favourite conditions: Mild hurricane and tropical storms. 30+ knots Other pros you ride with most often: Eric Rienstra, Mike MacDonald, Chris Bobryk Favourite place to ride: Cape Town, Tarifa, Hood River





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Hey guys! My name is Mike Mac Donald, also known as Get High with Mike. You may have seen one of my YouTube videos. In any case, I've been invited to share a little piece of my career as a kite vlogger with you. I'm grateful for the opportunity to share with you. Big air kiting has become my life. I coach, run a kite shop (, I’m the founder of the Big Air Kite League (BAKL) and I'm a competing rider. I have a small team that helps me keep building on this career, but today's feature is focused on vlogging. So without further ado, let me tell you about my vlogging story.

Sunset boulevard


How did you get into kite vlogging? I'm on a mission to be the best big air kiter I can be. So over the past few years I've found myself doing these things that I could only ever have dreamt of, like traveling to exotic destinations looking for strong wind, such as Oman, or buying an old van to live out of whilst kiting in the US. I felt that this journey in life is too incredible to not share. So I started making YouTube videos. My first vlog was about my van trip in the US, followed soon after by my How to Darkslide video which kind of blew up. The success from that video was really motivating and put me on the trajectory I'm on today. Thank you to everyone who watched it. And thank you to Core for supporting me on this journey. What have been your most popular videos or topics that you covered? How to darkslide, how to take off like a pro, how to heli loop and my Woo record videos. The ones that do best seem to be topics that are relevant to a large audience and haven't been well-covered yet. Are you ever surprised by what goes viral? Yes for sure. My first how to video did relatively well despite it being on a fresh YouTube channel and being pretty average in terms of production quality. That was a shocker! I re-watched it the other day with fresh eyes and I'm proud to say I found it pretty informative. But the audio is terrible. Do you have a love or a hate relationship with the YouTube algorithm? Haha, I wouldn't say so. My bro Michal and I do our best to make great videos and get them to blow up, but we have no control over what happens once we go live and we're finished promoting them. So we just hope for the best and move on to the next project. Tell us about your filming set up. How often does it change? Well my cameraman/video editor has a pretty badass setup, with a Sony A7, A7 IIIS, Gimbal, FPV drone etc. You can see my camera gear below. It's constantly growing as we figure out what we need to get the content we want. Next on the list is a 360 camera. I recently used my bud's during a coaching session and it was awesome. What is your ratio of minutes filmed to minutes in the final project? Probably 1:10 filming to all the rest! The editing, back and forth, script-writing, marketing etc all adds up to quite a mass of work. But thankfully Michal and I make a great team. Do you have things planned out with a storyboard in advance, or is it more organic, chaos, or a bit of both? We used to be a bit more chaotic, but now I write out a script with an accompanying storyboard beforehand. The planning goes a long way in reducing time input and creating a better video at the end of the day.

MY SETUP Cameras: -Sony A6400 w/ 16-50mm or 55mm -GoPro hero 8 Black -Google Pixel 5 -DJI Mavic 2 pro -DJI OM 4 Gimbal Mic: Rode wireless Go (finally got my audio levels fixed so no more crappy audio) Hard drives: Internal SSDs Samsung T5 SSD Seagate 5tb for the mass storage Google Drive is essential! Editing software: Davinci Resolve 16 Computer hardware: Dell XPS 15 7590, i7-9750H 32GB RAM NVIDIA GTX 1650

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Mike Mac Donald goes big at the Big Air Kite League event. Kyle Cabano photo.

How do you manage your workflow? Get it edited right away, or file it and work on later? We typically film and get into the editing right away. We catalog all the footage from every session using Google Sheets. That way we have notes on which clips were sick, which were crashes, which were B roll etc. We mainly work in Google Drive and Google Sheets for all the collaboration. What was the best advice you heard that helped make your videos better? The camera may add ten pounds but it takes away all your energy so you've got to be more-than-psyched to keep your audience engaged.


What program do you use for editing? Any Editing tips? I use DaVinci Resolve, but Michal uses Premiere Pro with After Effects. Best tip for editing is to make rough drafts and show them to friends early on so you can get feedback and reiterate. Don't invest too much time into the small details before you're sure you're not going in the wrong direction. Where is your favourite local beach for riding and filming? Dolphin Beach (Cape Town, South Africa) is my favourite for riding, as we get the best big air conditions in the world there when it’s on! Balneario (Tarifa, Spain) is the best for filming! You're surrounded by rocks, beach and a road so there are so many

angles to film from. We're going to be live streaming Full Power Tarifa (big air comp) so you can see what I mean for yourself. What have been your favourite destinations to film? Brazil, Oman, Leucate, Tarifa, Cape Town and more. The list goes on! Any big projects in the works for 2021/22? Yeah I've started a new project called Just The Tip Tuesday. In each episode I give you just the tip! I'm making simpler videos and putting them out every week, as opposed to only doing bigger projects which typically take a month to launch from start to finish.


Giel V


- Pho to b

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Duotone’s Craig Cunningham INTERVIEW BY JOHN BRYJA

Craig Cunningham is one of kitesurfing’s first generation of riders that just missed the OG category. We first met Craig when, as a 19-year-old, Kitesurfing Magazine invited him to Cape Hatteras to be a part of our offical gear test team. He moved on from Kitesurfing Magazine and became a pro team rider for Duotone as one of their first dedicated park style riders. He has morphed into Duotone’s Team Manager. The famous lagoons of Fuerteventura where Craig was lucky enough to be “stuck” for a few months this winter!

What’s your roll at Duotone? My job title says Team Manager, but I typically end up with a wide variety of tasks and projects on the go at all times! From youth development to planning photoshoots and everything in between. What projects are you working on? My biggest project is always the team. Trying to increase efficiency and effectiveness while supporting them in the right ways and make sure we are getting the best out of everyone. I’m super lucky that my boss Tommy Kaiser and his boss Till Eberle see the value of having someone like myself around Duotone. I’m really happy to pass along what I’ve learned


over the years and having such a strong and diverse set of skills on our marketing team gives Philipp Becker and myself the ability to really spend a lot time working with our athletes. Some need help with their communication, socials, actual riding, fitness, mental strength, life in general. I’m always there to help and I’m never trying to be the boss, more of a tool to help guide them along the way or get back on track. Most of them are still pretty young and forcing them to do things, although it can work is not how I feel like you get the best results. For sure they will fail and fall but as long as they are learning and becoming better people and athletes we are stoked. Right before the CORONA pandemic hit we were on fire with a number one in almost every discipline! Other

than the actual team stuff, for today I had a big focus on the De Havilland Beaver episode we just released and the upcoming 2022 Vegas photoshoot which is coming up in a few weeks in Sicily. Video wise there is another Out of the Box in the pipeline, a project on our new solar powered board factory and a new project with Lidewij Hartog for the new Duotone Slick that I’m pretty excited about conceptually. Plus of course all the projects the team riders have on the go that we are constantly brainstorming and consulting for. Other work at the moment is just standard operating I guess you could say, a billion WhatsApp’s, emails and inter office messaging applications! It can be a lot of time on the computer and a lot of calls at weird times but connecting the dots and seeing the team riders grow and flourish and long term projects being executed and exceeding expectations, it’s all worth the extra energy and hours. How did COVID-19 change team rider’s jobs and responsibilities? Immensely, everything changed. With no world tour on or events at all for that matter, the social media warriors definitely had a head start. If content wasn’t already king, it is now! Hopefully we see the events starting back up but for now it’s been pretty interesting to see who can be flexible, adapt and thrive in the new normal. You are originally from Port Dover, Canada. How did you end up based in Portugal? Well that’s a long story! Short version is, before moving to Portugal I had already been living in Hood River, Oregon for seven or eight years. I love Canada and am very grateful for my childhood there but I got spoiled as an athlete and kind of knew I wanted to be somewhere with a milder climate as I grew older. Fast forward to when North was rebranding to Duotone, we had already talked about me taking the job and then I really banged up my ankles that summer. I fractured my left ankle in five spots and had bone chips and cartilage clicking on the right. I needed surgery and something to keep me busy for the recovery time, so taking this Team Manager job was looking good! After a year or so of working remotely with some trips here and there to Munich I was started to get burned out a bit from the nine-hour time difference. I was passionate about everything I was doing and cared a lot about the people I was working with and in the end it was just too much time at odd times staring at the screen. So I knew I needed to move to a similar time zone. Tarifa, Cape Town? Wasn’t sure but at the last second I thought about Portugal since it wouldn’t be like a never-ending kite trip living there! It had waves and I had been surfing a lot through my ankle rehab, it had wind and some insane lagoons and it had some good mountain biking and skateboarding for the no wind, no waves days. Why not try it out for a year? Just over two years later it has been one of the best decisions of my life. I’ve never been so productive while at the same time spending so much time in the water!

This may be the first time the iconic Fuerte lighthouse has a foil in front on the lagoon.

These days Craig is staying pretty relaxed n the water, compared to a few years back!

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Have you had a chance to tour much of Europe? What have been the kiting ighlights for you so far? Yeah, I’ve been pretty lucky to get to see a good portion of the best spots on the continent over the past 15 years. If I had to pick a highlight it would probably be just wave riding around here lately. It’s not Cape Verde but right out my front door can be really fun sometimes. My body struggles to cop a heavy freestyle session these days and with no parks around I have been kitesurfing quite a bit and really enjoying progressing in a different discipline of our sport. I have so much respect for the top athletes in the waves, it’s pretty incredible to see what Pedro, James, Airton, Matchu, Keahi etc are doing. You originally hooked up with Duotone because of your park style riding. How do you see park style evolving now that the watersports world’s attention is focused on free ride wingsurfing? Trends come and go. First it was boots and wakeboard tricks, then big air. I think a lot of people forget that or just weren’t around to hear or see it. Then wakestyle got popular again. At that time you wouldn’t really see any pros in straps, then big air came back and now you hardly see pros in boots. Kiting is still such a young sport and it still has a lot of growing pains to go through. It will be interesting to see where it goes and especially with the whole wing thing taking a lot of the spotlight recently.

Buckle up and put on your seatbelts!

Executing the precarious body dragging shot in Sicily!

Do you think this will inspire the kite industry to do more park stuff? I mean for me it’s the one discipline that you see across almost all the boardsports and connects board riders in general. So it will never really die. The one thing about park riding is you need a crew. You need friends with a similar mentality and work ethic. I guess I was really lucky to ride the wakestyle trend all those years with some of my best friends. We built, shot, edited, budgeted, started from scratch and had the best time doing it. Good times that shaped us into who we are today! How does the wing fit into your world? So far it’s still in the plastic! I haven’t flown one but that isn’t to say I’m not interested. If I was still living in Hood River I would 100 per cent be winging or on the Great Lakes as well but here in Peniche, the town I’m living in, we have pretty good surf conditions almost all year round and when it’s windy I really prefer kiting. For sure I’ll give it a try at some point this summer though! What the top guys are doing is very difficult, don't get me wrong but I still think it has a long way to go before it looks good. We’re just at the start though and I guess it’s the same with hydro foil prone surfing. I do a lot of that, it is super fun but it sure looks dorky pumping around like you’re having a seizure! Doesn’t matter to me though, I am having so much fun out there and at the end of the day, just do what makes you smile and try not to take it too seriously!


MOON BUDDY 5’0” 80L / 6’0” 120L / 7’0” 150L The Moon Buddy has been fully optimized for all things SUP foiling. Drafting off the design of the Escape Pod’s drag-minimizing bottom contours and blended with a low swing weight and stubby nose design, the Moon Buddy carves rolling waves, connects open-ocean energy on downwind runs and provides a stable platform for wing surfing.

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COVID and the Kitesurfing Industry COMPILED BY JOHN BRYJA

COVID-19 has impacted all of us and our families. Kitesurfing Magazine publisher John Bryja caught up with some of the leading CEOs in the sport to find out more about the impact of COVID on the kitesurfing industry. Robby Naish sessioning Maui on the new 2022 Naish Pivot. Bees photo

ROBBY NAISH: OWNER/ATHLETE NAISH INTERNATIONAL In the beginning of this COVID mess it was very unclear how bad things would get and how long various restrictions would last. During the initial global lockdowns we had a GKA meeting with most of the major kitesurfing brands to discuss thoughts and plans with team riders etc. Plans were very mixed from brand to brand. For some it sounded like the sky was falling. I think that we were very lucky to have gone through all of this living on Maui compared to what most of the world had to deal with. Maybe because of that, for Naish, I decided to be optimistic, cross our fingers and hope for the best. I have kept all of our team riders at full commitment through the pandemic, as well as never laying off or cutting back any of our employees. In the end I think what goes around comes around, and although we had no idea where things would head in terms of demand from the market, availability from our suppliers or what our income stream would look like, we kept everything rolling as close to normal as possible.


At the end of the day it all worked out. We had finished off this season’s designs and gone into production earlier than most of our competitors, so we had at least a reasonable supply of product available when most others had nothing. Although global sales were pretty much dead in most countries during the full lockdowns last spring, once things began to open up people began to buy equipment. With extra time on their hands and not being able to travel, many people looked at getting new gear and riding near home. There have more recently been supply issues throughout the industry that have caused a shortage of available equipment. It has been a very long time since kite demand in our industry has outpaced supply, but we are certainly seeing that now. The inability to travel to factories and to personally implement designs into production has been difficult. Lead times and availability of raw materials have been challenging and COVID has greatly impacted most factories ability to keep things rolling in Asia. Once you do have product, finding containers, space on ships and eventually getting freight out of port are also new challenges. But again, we saw much of this coming early on and tried to set ourselves up as best we could for what looked like potentially choppy seas ahead. Both from a material supply chain standpoint and from a manufacturing standpoint, we made some critical decisions early on that have helped balance and stabilize our production of product. As a result, although I wish we had a bit more product on hand to sell than we currently do, we’re doing great and demand for our stuff has never been higher. That’s not a bad position to be in. Although COVID sucks and I hope things for everyone around the globe ‘get back to normal’ soon, I’m very thankful for how the Naish brand has weathered this storm and how things look for the foreseeable future. For now we will continue to sail ahead, cross our fingers and hope for the best. Especially in times like these with so much doom and gloom around, a bit of optimism can not hurt. And without question every day on the water is a good day!

Jeff Logosz, right, with designer Tony Logosz.

JEFF LOGOSZ: CEO 7-NATION / SLINGSHOT SPORTS / RIDE ENGINE When we went into COVID access to beaches stopped worldwide overnight. That was a show stopper. We quickly felt the demand crash, we knew it would come back strong, it was more of a matter of when. We felt riders for our sports had prohibition mindset. When you take something away that they love, they want more of it when they can get it. That happened, however we did not predict the demand surge from regular consumers looking to double down on outside socially distanced sports. Overall there was a ton of volatility. We had to manage the business through this spectrum of volatility, no demand on one side, too much demand the other side. The volatility manifested as chaos in the business, retailers, and customers. We learned there is bad chaos and good chaos. As an industry we fell on the lucky side of things with the pandemic. We’re all grateful for that. We have a great team with years of experience, so we just doubled down on the good chaos and cut out the bad chaos. This led to more investment in our product development teams to get our market assets organized earlier. That was important because the supply side was negatively affected in a lot of ways. We partnered with our factories to provide them with financial support to help them mitigate any risk they may have been fearful of due to material shortages, material hoarding (car companies) or labour shortages. I feel we have done a great job getting our products through manufacturing. Unfortunately the demand surge impacted most consumer goods categories worldwide. The demand wrecked the shipping industry. It has been a complicated mess for everyone. We are planning further out and with more precision than ever. We have our best line of products coming out ever, more people than ever are connecting with our sports, so it’s all good.

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RICHARD MYERSCOUGH: CEO OCEAN RODEO The single biggest challenge has been related to the supply chain. This includes raw materials, shipping delays, and then production capacity. During the first year many factories closed completely or ran at a reduced capacity.


That’s tough if you your moulds are in a facility that has closed its doors for months. Some unexpected non-COVID surprise events included the Texas ice storm and the Suez shipping blockage. A few key chemical ingredients critical in manufacture of Dacrons, ripstops, cloths for boards etc rely on a key chemical company in Texas, which was taken out in the ice storm. This has kicked off a back log in some raw materials. The canal blockage seems to have been like the COVID virus for freight; the back log and container mess is still ongoing. Ocean Rodeo is located on Vancouver Island (Canada) and we have been fortunate in terms of COVID impact. The government managed it well, and islanders behaved well. We are essentially back to “normal” here with the entire team back at the office. Raw materials impacts will continue into 2022. We work closely with our suppliers to forward plan and do our best to reduce the impact of these issues, however the occasional curve ball still comes at you no matter how well you plan. We are also working closely with Aluula who managed not to miss a beat thus far. They are delivering on time from their facility in Canada, so it’s up to us to make sure all other materials follow their lead. Timely sales forecasting, working closely with our global dealer network and taking into account these new delays has driven us to more advanced planning for raw materials, product production and freight planning. Despite all that has happed in the last two years Ocean Rodeo has enjoyed healthy growth and thanks to this we have been very fortunate to expand our team who focus on these operations. As a side note, to all our loyal customers who have been so patient during these strange times: thank you!



What was the biggest challenge for your company during the COVID-19 over the past year-and-a-half? Philip Schinnagel: First of all, we are relieved that our company and industry thrived during this pandemic. We didn’t lay any employees off. And our customers were allowed to kite throughout the pandemic, at least here in our home country, which resulted in overwhelming demand. And who would have expected that in April of last year? While many manufacturers immediately reduced their production at that time, we remained confident and produced as planned. Thanks to our long-term purchasing, planning, and deep partnerships in the value chain, we were able to deliver–albeit delayed–our products. However, the challenging business environment doesn’t end at the Fehmarn Bridge, and therefore we apologize for some product delays. When the pandemic started, a big challenge for our industry was that many production sites were shut down for several weeks to months and could not produce anything. That supply gap still hasn’t been filled. In addition, there were raw material bottlenecks, partly due to climate change, which no one could have foreseen. And finally, global logistics are still overloaded because everyone is trying to close the gaps left by the pandemic. As a result, the international transfer of goods is three-to-four times more expensive than before and more difficult to book due to the high demand. Incidents like the one in the Suez Canal do not make this development any better, of course.

What was the biggest challenge for your company during the COVID-19 over the past year-and-a-half? Mike Raper: At North, digitization was already well established when the pandemic hit. Because we are an international business crossing multiple time zones, we already had cloud-based systems in place for communicating and working remotely, so there was very little disruption to our day-to-day business. And thanks to technology, a lot of our development and testing could take place digitally. Supply chains were affected very early on, but we’ve since invested further to ensure supply chains can move faster and be more adaptable to change than they were before. We’ve employed more people and we’ve tapped into our wider North Technology Group network to find solutions to problems. We’ve also seen the introduction of some great new initiatives such as live town hall meetings across the North Actionsports Group. COVID has created some unique, more inclusive and unified ways of working as a wider organization that we may not have progressed as quickly if travel had remained open for senior level executives.

Are there any issues going forward, and what steps did you take to mitigate them? PS: Interestingly, we haven’t changed much. Our long-term purchasing plan, which is considered conservative elsewhere, and our 2-year product cycles, which we have always followed, are particularly beneficial to us now. We are deepening our partnerships, relying on trust rather than exchanging them. We communicate early and openly with our customers to adjust expectations. Of course, it helps that many of our products, such as twintips and surfboards, are produced in the EU, including our brand new Imperator 7, which are built at our sister company Elan. From a transportation perspective, our EU production facilities are practically on our doorstep. And together with our large raw material purchases, we’ve continued producing during these challenging times.

Are there any issues going forward, and what steps did you take to mitigate them? MR: We couldn’t have got through this tough period without an amazing team, who always remain calm under pressure. North continues to experience record monthly sales and has just successfully completed our fourth product launch during a level 4 lockdown in New Zealand. It’s incredible to see how quickly we’re able to bring campaigns to market. While this testifies to the combined skills of our team, we do keep a close eye on potential strains that working in this environment may have on our employees’ health. We want to ensure the speed we’ve unlocked remains sustainable in the future. How? By celebrating the culture we’ve established within the organization for by ensuring we’re not all work, and we have time for “board meetings” out in the wind and waves whenever we can. Across the company we’re all very supportive of each other and more aware of how stress can show up. Water days really help. The company has also doubled the number of paid sick days available, and we encourage staff to take mental health days when needed. Speed matters, but not at the cost of making mistakes or burning out.

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Ewan Jaspan in Mega Loop heaven at the REAL slick.



Cape Hatteras had been a part of our schedule for years. The crew would descend on the Outer Banks of North Carolina at the beginning of May like clockwork. It was the world’s premier kite competition for near 15 years, The Triple-S. It was a huge part of our year, with much of our time spent preparing for the event only for it to breeze by in a flash and onto the next one. We didn’t realize how much we loved it until the next year came around and it was gone. Not being able to catch up with the crew and celebrate good times was sorely missed in 2020.

Remote & Controlled JASPAN HITS HATTERAS Fast forward to 2021 and the time had finally come again to try and plan a mission to the banks, this time in a bit of a different situation, but again with the same goal in mind; progress our riding and have a good time. Without the Triple-S as a draw, travel from Europe banned and near impossible from the rest of the world, it was a bit of a logistical nightmare. However, with the help of Naish planning their photoshoot in Maui in April, it lined up too well to not go for it. We scheduled a ‘Naish week’ with REAL watersports to demo the new gear and show a strong presence on the Outer Banks. For a few weeks either side of that, it was all about riding, catching up with friends and filming. For all of us it had been nearly two years since we had ridden in the Kite Park and this was the main reason most of us wanted to return. Kite Park had been our life for many years, following the Kite Park League with our friends and competitors and dedicating our riding towards progressing the discipline and competing against each other.

The crew was solid. From Maui we travelled with the Naish team, Christophe Tack, Helena Brochocka, Katie Potter, Tom Seager and myelf. Twenty check in bags, all for free on the Seager gold card, two flights and a lengthy car drive later, we made it to our classic Hatteras house. Straight in the hot tub to destress from the journey. It felt surreal after two years away, but the day had come, and we were back. We managed to pick up Rami (Gallart) in Norfolk on our way through and were also joined by good friend Lucas Arsenault a few weeks and a border refusal later. Big air shredder Vetea Boersma from Hood River completed the team, ready for a month of epic riding. For anyone planning a trip to Hatteras in April, make sure you’re ready for a wide range of conditions and be prepared to chase them. We arrived to freezing cold water and frigid winds from the north. We had been warned that we may have been going a few weeks early, but we couldn’t believe the difference those few weeks could make. Double wetsuits (as we hadn’t brought winter suits) for the first two weeks and

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What's hiding behind this tubular feature and under Ewan Jaspan? A KOA kicker perhaps? Checkout the Remote & Controlled video on YouTube.

then all of a sudden, a SW wind cycle hit and the summer wetties came out. It’s an incredible part of the world where seasons change dramatically in the space of a few weeks, one strong SW cycle brings up all of that Florida heat and you’re on. To be honest, we didn’t really score with the conditions for the first weeks. The Outer Banks can be fickle, but it can also provide you with the best kiting in the world. We were lucky that we had some surfboards and were able to spend almost every day in the water, one of the major perks of the area. Chasing small swells and keeping fit paddling occupied us for much of the lay days, with games of Catan (a board game) and cooking pork shoulders throughout morning and night making sure we had a busy schedule. It was just like the good old days! Two weeks into the trip the ‘Naish week’ began and contrary to nearly every event ever planned, the wind


showed up for a week straight. We had been blessed by the wind gods, sent a SW cycle from the heavens and made use of every last minute. We kited in the surf, hit the park, foiled the sound, freestyled in the slick, Megalooped over swamps and did the most famous downwinder in the world the Planet of the Apes over and over again with the team at REAL. It could not have turned out much better. We were able to demo kites to locals, tourists and employees, with everyone stoked on the performance of the gear. It was mission complete on that front. We were completely kited out and needed a rest from the huge week on the water, which is exactly what the conditions gave us. The day after the week, we were handed a ten-day SW drought. Back to the pork and Catan. Hatteras was definitely a different place this year, still busy, but lacking tourists from many places (mainly the locked-out Canadians), who seemed to be replaced with

almost everyone from Michigan. It started to become a bit of a group joke that everyone who we met seemed to tell us they were from Michigan. Demos had to be kept slightly distanced and gatherings kept to a minimum, but luckily it was around peak vaccination time and we were able to cop our doses to minimize the risks. It really felt like the world was coming back to normal slowly and throughout the time we were there we really noticed a shift in everyone’s mentalities towards this pandemic. When it came time to leave we had almost forgotten anything had ever happened as we had been in the OBX bubble focusing on the water more than anything else. As a send-off gift, our last week was epic. We were greeted by SW winds and a big swell, the ultimate Hatteras combination. What makes this so special is the geography of the Outer Banks. As it is a string of thin islands situated in the Atlantic, the SW wind is light offshore on the ocean side in

the morning, making clean waves for surfing, and as it builds through the afternoon you go 200 meters to the sound side, where it is cross onshore and perfect wind for all types of windsports. That last week was what we travelled for. We surfed all morning and kited all afternoon for a week straight. We absolutely fried ourselves and we left the island with smiles on our faces as we had completed the mission. Reunited with friends, back in the park, kiting as a team, demoing our amazing equipment, surfing clean waves and living the complete Hatteras lifestyle was exactly how we remembered it. It felt like a sign that things were getting back to normal, with only a greater appreciation for the life we get to live. We hope that we can continue going back there for years to come as it is such a special place and holds so many fond memories for all of us. A huge thanks to REAL Watersports as well for everything they do for our sport and the riders. They have created the whole reason we get to experience the area thanks to the Triple-S, and even though the event is no longer, we still felt welcomed with open arms, letting us session the amazing park and use their facilities. We hope to be back in the not so distant future.


March to November, Locals ride year round


Norfolk International Airport is located one-and-a-half hours from Kitty Hawk.


Winds are primarily frontal so 7-to-12 meter kites are the norm, with SW 20-30 knot thermals in summer.


Renting a house with friends makes Hatteras very inexpensive.


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The elaborate production process of a new generation of wetsuits As a global market leader for wetsuits and harnesses in the wind and kitesurfing world, ION is always looking to push the limits and refine their products. ION’s latest masterpiece, the SEEK wetsuit range, barely resembles wetsuits as we knew them a few years ago. Kitesurfing Magazine takes a look behind the scenes of ION’s manufacturing process.

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Maui's Tim Walsh ready for action!

The Neoprene Production In the past, most conventional wetsuits were made from petroleum-based neoprene, meaning it is made from oil. Today many wetsuit brands use a different, more environmentally friendly material: limestone. Limestone is a naturally occurring sedimentary rock that is not extracted from fossil fuels, thus limiting the use of petrochemical materials. “As part of our efforts to minimize the ecological footprint of our production processes and to make our wetsuits as green as possible, we use limestone in our neoprene production,” explains Michi Schuster, ION product manager. “Besides that, the flexibility and insulation characteristics of limestone neoprene are far superior than its predecessor. This makes limestone neoprene one of the most flexible and warm neoprene types out there.” Chemically speaking, limestone neoprene has a high micro-cell structure. These are independent closed cells (bubbles basically) within the neoprene that are packed together at an extremely high den-


sity, considerably higher than with oil-based neoprene. Close-knit air bubbles provide more elasticity and better thermal insulation with less weight, and ensure the water runs off straight away, which in turn minimizes any wind chill effect. “Soon we will be replacing limestone with oyster shell powder,” Michi reveals. “In order for us to use this resource for our wetsuits, oyster shells are recycled and ground. This innovation will help to improve our ecological footprint making our wetsuit production even more eco-friendly.” After the vulcanization process, the neoprene is formed into sheets. Laminating An interlaced fabric made of nylon and PES (Polyethersulfone) is now laminated onto those sheets, resulting in materials with distinct properties. Depending on the ION wetsuit model, concept and its desired level of thermal insulation, different materials are glued onto the inside of the wetsuit. The premium line SELECT, combining high-tech materials for ultimate warmth and

stretch, is laminated with Graphene_Plush. Graphene has been considered a miracle material since its discovery and sounds more like science fiction than reality. Made up of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal pattern like honeycombs, it’s not only the thinnest material in the world, it’s also one of the strongest. Due to its physical structure, graphene has unique properties exceeding anything previously used in wetsuit technology. Graphene heats up faster and stores this heat much longer than other inner linings, offering optimal thermal properties. Another advantage of the two-dimensional construction is its high flexibility and stretch. The extremely strong carbon bonds make the material robust and hardwearing. Michi is excited and adds, “the new graphene lining will ramp up the fun factor in icy temperatures immensely and open up opportunities for more days on the water even in the cold season. Besides that, the wetsuit models with our Graphene_Plush lining dry even faster. To be precise, the drying time has been reduced by one third!”

How does the graphene get into ION’s Graphene_Plush? At the factory in Taiwan, the polyester yarn is dipped into a graphene solution and coated with it. “It’s important to note here ION’s Graphene_Plush consists of 100 percent graphene-coated polyester as opposed to the graphene wetsuits of most competitor brands, who only use 50 per cent graphene-coated polyester yarn,” explains Michi. ION’s wetsuit lines AMP, CORE and ELEMENT still make their mark with ION’s classic, high-quality inner linings Plasma-Plush 2.0 and Hot-Stuff 2.0, covering other ranges of use and budgets. Dispatch to Production Site “In order to keep our production cycle as streamlined as possible, our manufacturers are responsible for the entire manufacturing process, from the very beginning through to the output of the finished wetsuit,” explains Kerstin Geier, product manager for women’s wetsuits at ION. “That means that although the raw material is sourced in Taiwan, our manufacturer there also takes care of all the next steps such as the cutting, printing and sewing in Cambodia. That way, we can ensure to keep the quality of our wetsuits consistently at a very high level.” The neoprene sheets that have not yet been individually cut, have a thickness of 0.5 to 6mm and resemble stacked wooden panels or carpets rather than anything to do with a wetsuit. There are different surface finishes for the outside of a wetsuit. The skin finish is the inside of the wetsuit; the outside is heated and thereby melted in order to get a smooth surface where all the bubbles are sealed. The result is a thicker outer shell that makes an excellent surface seal against the body. In addition, only the top and bottom layers of the neoprene raw block have the so-called smooth skin neoprene, which is created when the neoprene block is baked, before it is cut into the respective thicknesses. As the name suggests, double lined wetsuits are laminated on the outside as well, making the double-lined neoprene a very hard wearing fabric on both sides and very durable. Plus, double-lined wetsuits offer more flexibility than skin suits.

"Only suits and designs that meet the highest demands in terms of quality and functionality end up in the shops. Our manufacturer regularly carries out quality checks so that only immaculately engineered wetsuits leave the production line."

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Cutting The laminated neoprene sheets are stacked on top of each other and cut to size by a machine. A computer calculates the specifications of the individual parts to be cut out down to an accuracy of a tenth of a millimeter and feeds this data to the cutting machine. Premium-quality wetsuits, like these from ION, consist of around 25 individual parts. How many different cuts does ION offer? The new wetsuit line SEEK is the ultimate design for all body sizes, weights and body shapes and replaces ION’s previous models Onyx (narrow cut) and Strike (wider cut for stronger arms, legs, stomach). ION also offers different wetsuit levels: SELECT, AMP, CORE and ELEMENT, which vary in terms of their thermal insulation, flexibility and price. “The new SEEK Select is our premium wetsuit, a quantum leap in terms of thermal insulation,” explains Kerstin proudly. Print Next, the neoprene parts that have not been joined together at this stage are individually printed. The majority is done using screen-printing, but there are also a number of varied printing methods depending on the finish desired. Gluing The specifically cut parts are now manually glued together with an eco-friendly adhesive. “We use a water-based adhesive, which means it’s an environmentally friendly formulation. Just like with our Save our Playgrounds initiative, we strive to minimize our company’s environmental footprint whenever that’s possible,” says Kerstin. Sewing In addition to that all glued seams are sewn by machine using the blind stitch technique. Blind stitch seams mean the stitching is done with a curved needle, which never fully penetrates the neoprene and thus no unwanted holes are created that could let water in. Finally, all sewn areas are checked manually. Now the wetsuit is finished. Concluding Work Last but not least, two velcros for the leg ends are attached to the suit, along with the care instructions. Then the suit is packed into a cardboard box. Quality Check “Only suits and designs that meet the highest demands in terms of quality and functionality end up in the shops. Our manufacturer regularly carries out quality checks so that only immaculately engineered wetsuits leave the production line. In addition to that, we employ a dedicated quality inspector who checks the wetsuits once more before they are dispatched to our suppliers,” Michi concludes. “We have been working with our producers since the birth of our brand, ION,” Kerstin adds. “I also visit our partners in Asia on a regular basis to check the production on site. It’s important to gain valuable insights into the production at the factory. Maintaining a good relationship with our manufacturers and thus ensuring a long-term, successful partnership, is just as important to us. That’s the foundation for securing and further expanding our competitive advantage. Last but not least, milestone innovations such as our Graphene_Plush also result from this close cooperation.”

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For more than a decade Chris Bobryk has been on the cutting edge of the US pro kiteboarding scene. His full-on powered style is fun to watch and now that he is repping Eleveight Kites you can catch his style at a kite demo near you. Christian Diaz and Colin Porter photos

Rygo: After ten years of professional riding what drives you? Chris Bobryk: Kiteboarding. I love kiteboarding, it couldn’t be more simple Rygo: With freestyle/park style going underground why haven’t you conformed to big air? Props for not BTW! Chris Bobryk: It’s easy for me to do what I like. There really is no other feeling like stomping a Mobe 5 or a Back Lipslide so there isn’t any reason to pretend like big air is my thing. Don’t get me wrong, I will still have a boosting session or compete in a big air contest but in the end I’ll push what I love first. Kevin Wade: You’re known for consistently putting out solid content over the years. Have you seen a shift in the content that is currently in demand? Chris Bobryk: I don’t put much thought into what’s in and what’s not. I enjoy doing what I do and sometimes other people do too. I like putting one or two tricks out on Instagram as I know I play back other riders’ tricks on repeat when I like them.


Kevin Wade: You’ve recently been spotted doing demos for the greatest distribution company known to man. How has your experience as a pro rider aided you in this new venture? Chris Bobryk: This season has been one of the most exciting having the opportunity to constantly be on the road spreading the stoke running demos at virtually every beach in Florida. My first time at many of these places was with you over eight years ago and I’ve essentially been able to become a local at each kite spot around Florida. Traveling where it’s windy, getting kiters to try the new gear? Who wouldn’t be stoked to have a kite already pumped up for them! I can’t wait to head north and meet more riders and see those I’ve met in the past. Alexander Hughes: What’s your take on the industry? Do you think it’s realistic for a good rider to try and make a living off being a pro rider? Chris Bobryk: It was definitely a more direct route when I started; do well in a few contests while making quality videos. Now it seems to be based more on clicks than tricks. I also think these days brands are looking for someone that can ride well and hold down a job within the company. I believe they have found they can give kites to Insta famous

people and that will be enough. They can then invest the money on the rider that will also be the sales rep or on the R&D team. For example when I started I got paid to travel full time to compete and ride. Nowadays I’m involved in R&D and sales and the competing and riding is just one more thing that I do for the companies. There are still a few riders at the top level of competition that are sent around the world to compete but most brands want someone to do more than just ride. Alexander Hughes: How do you think we could help improve kiteboarding? Chris Bobryk: I think if all riders did what they really want to do instead of what they think people want to see, there would be more diversity in the sport. I feel that would entice more riders into it. Alexander Hughes: What’s your take on social media? How much gear is social media actually selling? Chris Bobryk: It’s tough to measure the return on social media. You can see someone that rides around and does a hair flick with 100 thousand followers get a bunch of engagement on a post but how does that compare to someone doing a technical double grab with a fraction of the followers? The consumer watching the actual athlete is there for the performance whereas the hair flick consumer is hoping for a nip-slip, so I’m not so sure who’s buying kites based on hopes of a nip-slip. Adam Super: What’s your secret for the continual progression over the years? Chris Bobryk: I ride a lot. Usually the progression happens when I’m having the most fun so I go for that. Adam Super: What advice would you give your past self knowing what you know now? Chris Bobryk: I would probably just go ride with myself. We’d have a good session.

HOW DO YOU THINK WE COULD HELP IMPROVE KITEBOARDING? Chris Bobryk: I think if all riders did what they really want to do instead of what they think people want to see there would be more diversity in the sport, which I feel would incise more riders into it.

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Oliver Umpierre: What would you be if not a kiteboarder? Chris Bobryk: Tough one. Probably fighting MMA or teaching wrestling, that’s the last thing I remember being anywhere as passionate about. I reckon this was a good path and wouldn’t have it any other way. Oliver Umpierre: How would you describe the feeling of kiting in one word? Chris Bobryk: Like busting a nut standing up, flowing. Drew Christianson: Where do you see yourself in five years? Chris Bobryk: Hopefully still having some sessions with you at Best Pro Kite in St. Pete every now and again just like we do now. Christophe Tack: If you had to choose one (air tricks/kicker, waves or park), what would it be and why? Chris Bobryk: There are too many reasons why wave kickers are the most rewarding. It is the hardest to line up a good take-off, you can launch a trick with no tension, and did I mention it’s also just so hard? But I love it. There’s something about the added element of the ocean that gets me going. Christophe Tack: Opinion on strapless freestylers who put their board between their legs. Chris Bobryk: Looks like they’re having some fun just like when you see someone rolling around on roller skates with a boombox; it looks like they’re having a good time. You know how we all progress from doing freestyle in footstraps then to freestyle in boots because we realized we could hold down more power and ride harder? Maybe those strapless freestylers will realize they can ride harder with straps one day and then eventually realize boots would help too. Just a theory. It’s science. Christophe Tack: Goals in kiteboarding? New tricks you wanna land that are stuck in your head? Chris Bobryk: I have a few tricks stuck in my head. I’ve been searching on Google Maps lately and I have a few obstacles I wanna jibe. I mostly want to keep having fun with it and see where it goes. I might just go do some strapless freestyle.

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ADAM SUPER What’s your secret for the continual progression over the years? Chris Bobryk: I ride, a lot. Usually the progression happens when I’m having the most fun so I go for that. What advice would you give your past self knowing what you know now? Chris Bobryk: I would probably just go ride withmyself. We’d have a good session.



Chris Bobryk: Hopefully still having some sessions with you at Best Pro Kite in St. Pete every now and again just like we do now.

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Subscribe online Chris Ward photo

Eric Duran photo



Sensi Graves and Brandon Scheid are kiteboarding’s quintessential power couple. Kitesurfing Magazine’s John Bryja caught up with Sensi and Brandon for the inside scoop on how they met and how they find and maintain the perfect work/life balance.

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Arlin Ladue photo.

How did the two of you first meet? Sensi: Brandon and I met when we were both coaching at Real Watersports in North Carolina. I moved out there for the summer and we developed a relationship during those summer months. We dated long distance while I completed my senior year in college and then once I moved back to North Carolina we’ve pretty much inseparable. First Impressions? Sensi: My first impression of Brandon was that he was a chatty Cathy! We went hot tubbing together as a sort of first date and he was telling me story after story. I really couldn’t get a good read on him at that point.


Brandon: Sensi always seemed to be at the centre of the fun, so at first she seemed a little intimidating. It was always interesting to see how the new coaches would alter the socal dynamic at Real each season. Sensi seemed to bring a ton of positive energy and fun vibes to the group. I was pretty intrigued right off the bat and I found reasons to insert myself into the fun. By the end of the summer we were spending a fair amount of time each day together and the rest is history. You have both created very separate career paths. What’s the secret to maintaining your individual identities when you are one of kiteboarding’s top “power couples?”

Sensi: We each have activities that we do independently from one another. Brandon is definitely the adventure camp captain in our family and is constantly getting us outside doing something whether that be on the water or in the mountains. We rely on one another for strength and support but I think we’ve been able to maintain our individuality due to simply being ourselves. We’re each driven in our own ways; Brandon more so in competitions and myself in business. By staying authentic to who we are and what our individual goals are, we’ve been able to thrive in our careers. It’s funny though, when I was looking for a new sponsorship after LF went out of business last year, Brandon had already started doing some work for Slingshot.

At first I thought I wanted a different sponsor than him, simply to show I was an independent woman. But it makes so much sense for us to be on the same team. We can travel together, shoot photos together and share a quiver. I’m thankful that in the end, Slingshot offered me a deal! What do you each think about the current state of pro kiting? Are you optimistic as it rebuilds after COVID? Sensi: I think the role of a pro kiteboarder has definitely morphed over the last few years. COVID reduced budgets across the board and brands started evaluating spending on pro athletes. I think this re-evaluation has really made brands think about the character of the athlete they have representing them and not just their ability on the water. Today, athletes are expected to not only perform on the water but also be awesome ambassadors, be great communicators and generate their own media. I’m optimistic that pro kiteboarders will continue to have jobs after COVID. I believe that it’s important to inspire and encourage upcoming athletes and I also believe that brands need athletes for media collateral. It’s a two-way street and a mutually beneficial relationship. Brandon: Over my long career in kiteboarding I have seen the role of the team rider shift quite drastically. From the early days of big contracts off the heels of the windsurfing boom, to the shift to rider personalities, to now the rapid growth of vloggers, influencers, beach stars and stuntmen. It sure has undergone a massive change, as have all action sports and their participating media/athletes. Luckily, there will always be a need for the team rider as brands will need reliable athletes to endorse, validate, test, and help market these expensive toys. You may not buy a kite because it's the one five-time world champ Aaron Hadlow rides. However, thanks to his involvement at his brand and his working relationship with the designer they are able to rapidly test, tweak and improve new kites. This is an arduous and meticulous process and without this rider/designer feedback the gear improvements would quickly stagnate. So it will be essential for a brand to have this validator as well as a way to shoot the marketing collateral needed to release these products each cycle. During most events the men and women often compete separately, do you act as each other’s pit crew? Give each other support or keep out of the way? Sensi: That’s a great question because stress levels are high during competitions. It can be a fine line between offering support and feeling like you’re a punching bag. We most certainly act as each other’s kite caddies. One time, during the men’s final for the Triple-S Invitational I rode a 17 meter kite downwind to Brandon just in case. He ended up not wanting it and therefore I had to edge as hard as I could, completely depowered, just to make it back upwind to land. My back was killing me! We’ve learned how to be more patient and not take things as personally over the years and I’m thankful to always have Brandon there launching and landing for me.

Sensi in cruise mode. Brandon Scheid photo.

Eric Duran photo

Couples that shred together stay together. Eric Duran photo

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Brandon: It is definitely hard to straddle the line of boyfriend, coach, caddy. I will say it is not always flowers and hearts, but Sensi and I have had a lot of practice over the years. I feel now we know when to intervene, when to offer support and when to just shut up and pump up the 12 meter. Tell us a little about wing foiling and how it fits into your action sports world right now. Sensi: We’re obsessed with wing foiling! We both learned last year and it’s super rewarding to learn a new sport. Wing foiling is challenging enough that when you finally get it you feel super proud of yourself (and also super exhausted!). We love chasing down the rolling swell that flows along the Columbia River. I prefer to go wing when it’s super windy as opposed to kiteboarding. Or if you don’t feel like riding a surfboard, wing foiling is a great option for a fun wave riding session Brandon: I agree with Sensi on this one, we have been winging a ton the past year.


Hood River is such a perfect place to get your wing on. We have tons of wind, deep water, rolling river swell and abundant easy launches. I usually only go winging when its 25 plus, for me it’s just easier to get up on faster foils and smaller boards. It’s also way more fun to ride a 3 meter wing than struggle on a 6 meter wing. Did you build a couples wing foil quiver? Has it changed as you both progress? Brandon: Because we are vastly different weights we are never on the same sized wings. I am usually one size up from Sensi, so we can split a quiver. As we usually only wing on the stronger days our current quiver is 2.5, 3.5, 4.5. We each have our own boards and foils so we can both get on the water and enjoy the pump. Do you travel a lot together? Sensi: Thankfully, we do! At least we try to. Often I’ll plan a trip with Colleen and then Brandon will want to hop on board. Or he’s got Slingshot work to do and I’ll finagle my

way into joining. It’s super fun to travel the world together and I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity. However it’s really great to have breaks from one another as well. I feel that time apart is crucial for the long-term success of a relationship. It makes you miss your significant other and I believe creates more respect and admiration when you’re together. Is traveling as a kiting couple easier or more challenging? Sensi: I believe that it’s easier! One of Brandon’s favorite sayings is “couples that shred together, stay together.” We love being adventure buddies and a lot of our relationship is based on spending time on the water together. It’s easier to travel when we both want the same things: good wind and amazing conditions.

What’s the biggest excess baggage experience? Brandon: When we traveled to South East Asia we brought a ton of gear and one connection in particular had me running full speed with all four bags in tow. Sensi took the lead to get to the counter and try to get on the plane and I lumbered behind. I sweat through my full shirt, I think we just threw it away, but we made it by literally one minute. Do you two share a lot of gear when traveling? Sensi: Being team riders for Liquid Force and now Slingshot, we’re thankful that we can share gear. However, we’ve also learned that it’s important to have our own stuff. I like to be organized and know right where my gear is. If we’re sharing too much then one of us is bound to get frustrated. Boundaries people. Any packing tips? Sensi: Remove your shoulder straps from your surfboard or big gear bags. The airlines will break those off. Brandon: Luckily, some airlines these days have gotten a lot better with board bags, so do some research. Even though the fare may be $100 more, if you get dinged for oversized it’s usually $100 per bag. We found Alaska Airlines to be the best for traveling with equipment. Make sure your stuff is dry that can save a few pounds. Also attitude goes a long way with the airline staff; walk up to the counter smiling, ask about their day, make jokes. Anything to distract them from the huge bags you’re trying to get on the plane. What is the best undiscovered place you have traveled to? Sensi: Patagonia, Argentina. We drove 20 hours across Argentina and kited some pretty amazing lakes and lagoons. The scenery was breath taking, the water uber-blue and the people incredibly nice. Brandon: I did an amazing road trip up the east coast of Oz from Melbourne to Brisbane. We went to a ton of nooks and crannies and found some amazing locations I will not soon forget. The very north of the island of Palawan was also pretty breath taking. Sensi and I scootered for an hour through the jungle to a pristine beach with swimming pool water; certainly still some untouched beauty in our fragile world.

All Smiles. Eric Duran photo

As we are allowed to travel more, what is on your bucket lists? Sensi: I always have a top five list running in my mind. Currently it’s Japan, Iceland, Cuba, Greece and Indo. Brandon: South Pacific, Japan, New Zealand, Alps; there are so many I would like to get to. R&D for kite brands and Sensi Bikini? Lots of fun, hard work, funny stories? Sensi: Running your own brand is always a lot of work. This past year, I’ve launched an additional business doing 1-to-1 consulting and group workshops around business start-ups, mindset and building up confidence. All areas in which I’ve grown immensely.

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At home in the Gorge. Debbie Jean Hollomon photo

"We each have activities that we do independently from one another. Brandon is definitely the adventure camp captain in our family and is constantly getting us outside doing something whether that be on the water or in the mountains." Who’s the better cook? Best dishes? Sensi: I’m better at cooking with what’s on hand and also one-pot dishes. I grew up 20-minutes out a dirt road and often we couldn’t just run to the store. Therefore, I’m really good with working with what’s on hand. I’m also the planner in the family and tend to cook for us more. Finally, I’m the family’s saucier and make us tons of great sauces. Brandon is better at bigger, more complex dishes. He tends to take his time and make really next level dishes. He’s also the breakfast king and makes the best eggs. What do your current, complete sports quivers look like? Brandon: Oh my gosh we have so much gear. I will just list all the sports and you can assume we have two of each thing if not more. More toys equals more fun right? Snowboards, split boards, paragliding equipmint, kites, foils, wings, bikes, surfboards, wakeboards, fishing equip-


ment, tennis racquets, yoga supplies. Is your storage space like a gear museum or are you good at moving used gear? Sensi: I am great at selling things on the internet. Swimsuits, kite lessons and gear! I hate having extra things and too much stuff stresses me out. Therefore I’m constantly trying to sell stuff. Because Brandon works in R&D he often has gear that can’t be sold, which I hate. Brandon: I’m sentimental and I tend to hold onto old stuff for longer than I should. I alway feel the value of the equipment is higher than the couple hundred bucks we would get for old gear. I like to be able to help people out and get them into the sports without a huge barrier to entry. So, having a good used gear quiver is important. Sensi is the opposite so she often helps me clear out the absolutely unnecessary gear. What does your off-water time look like? Design work, home renovations, side projects, GKA writing? Sensi: I typically get up, do my morning routine

which typically includes hot water with lemon, journaling and maybe a workout. Then I’m at my desk at 9 a.m. to work on my swimwear business, or Strut Kiteboarding or my speaking and educator practice or my GKA writing. I’m the content editor for the GKA and GWA. I wear a lot of hats! But by keeping organized and having clear outcomes in my work, I’m able to dive into things and be efficient with my time. This past year, I’ve spent a lot less time on the water, partly due to a lack of competitions, partly due to COVID and partly due to a broken wrist incurred while winging. It allowed me to have more fun with my own water time, less pressure allowed for more creativity and I found myself riding a surfboard, foiling or learning to wing instead of spending all my days riding the Hood River Slider Park. I definitely miss park riding but am stoked to be rounding out my kiteboarding in all sorts of directions.

COMING SOON But in the mean time check us out here. kitesurfing_mag

Cam Ward photo

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The Master, his Student and the World Champion WORDS BY ARNE SCHUBER PHOTOS BY ARNE SCHUBER / MARIAN HUND


Behind the Scenes with the Duotone Design Team How do professionals actually develop new kites and how are they tested? And how is a design goal drafted on the computer and translated into a finished product? With travel around the globe limited, Kitesuring Magazine turned to German KITE Magazine editor-in-chief Arne Schuber to find out. He was allowed to look over the shoulder of Duotone designer Ralf Grösel, trainee Marian Hund and old master Aaron Hadlow. Portrait of one of the most exciting jobs in the kite industry.

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If you talk to Ralf Grösel, you should be on point. Otherwise he’ll run over you. Information shoots out of him with impressive eloquence like machine gun salvos. Ralf is constantly on the accelerator: verbally as well as with everything else he tackles. As a passionate hobby racing driver, he not only tries to go to the limit on the racetrack. Everything he does follows a plan. The top priority of his actions: not only to develop the best possible product, but also to find the fastest way to achieve your goal. Everything else is too banal for him. Ralf likes to talk, especially about himself, his work, his plans, his successes. Modesty is not one of his characteristics. A real self-made man; that’s what he stands for. “I like people who think highly of themselves. I got that from myself too.” And his success proves him right. Ralf designs kites for the market leader Duotone. Cash cow models such as Evo, Dice, Vegas and Juice come from his pen. It was he who significantly advanced and developed the SLS concept presented last year. To take things as they are is not his business. On the contrary: he constructs it exactly the way he wants it. He taught himself industrial design. While other boys turned 16–drinking, mopeds, girls–Ralf sat at home in front of the computer and learned how to use CAD software. Today he can use it to design anything. He designed lamp parts for his house, air inlets for his racing car, and even the ring for Isabel, his girlfriend. It seems like the 3-D printer is his favourite toy. But it’s not about doing things for their own sake, but about perfecting them. And maybe also about proving to himself and the world that he can do things a little better than everyone else. Perfection, that is his aim. As a full-time job however, that wouldn’t keep him busy. He needs a lot of challenges, preferably all at the same time. Almost casually he talks about his other projects: he develops paragliders, inflatable tents, high-tech yacht sails and automation software. Most of the companies belong to him. “If the software thing goes through the roof, I won’t have that much time for kite design.” The ex-professional kiteboarder Marian Hund apprentices himself to the master. Training objective: kite designer from the bottom up. PERFECT TEST LAB We are sitting in a chic wooden house just a stone’s throw away from Wieker Bodden on Rügen; an island in the Baltic sea, Germany. Ralf mixes gin, his


favourite drink. Of course, it’s about perfecting the mix. He discovered a regional gin from the island and we are discussing whether it works better with cucumber or pear. The cucumber round is far from perfection, so a new start with pear. Marian and girlfriend Leni join them. Since the turn of the year he has been Ralf’s trainee so to speak. The two know each other well, after all, Marian was part of the Duotone test team before that. Team riders are regularly involved in the test and validation processes during kite development provided they have the right tools. And those tools are not only a good rider’s technique, but a keen sense and understanding of the entire kite system. Old master Aaron Hadlow, who is still on his way from the Netherlands to us, has that too. In the next two weeks, the three new prototypes will be rigorously tested. To do this, they are out and about together every few weeks. Most recently in Cape Town and Namibia. The Rügen trip is an integral part of the test calendar every year. Although there is almost nothing happening on the island due to the CORONA-related entry ban, they are still testing the prototypes. It’s one of the most famous flat water spots in Germany “Up here is the best wind for testing anywhere in Germany. In normal westerly wind conditions it is not only super constant, but also builds up every day according to the same pattern due to thermal effects. So we can fly many different sizes in one day. And when you have someone like Aaron with you, everyone just wants to take selfies with him anyway and nobody is interested in your kites anymore,” he explains with a mischievous grin. The three are a well-rehearsed team. No wonder, because the to do list is long. The new Dice models are to be validated. There are also new Evo kites in the SLS version. Since Duotone now offers some kites in two designs (Classic and an SLS version) the development effort has doubled. Another reason why the development team should be strengthened by Marian. “The problem is the logic we worked out for the Classic models didn’t work at all with SLS. So we had to rethink and develop everything. Once the base is in place, it is relatively easy to take the next steps from there, but at SLS it took longer to create this base,” says Ralf. The problem/challenge of the matter lies in the different material properties of the leading edge. While commercially available Dacron is used in the

Classic models, the new Penta TX is used in the SLS. This is not only lighter, but significantly stiffer. “The magic comes from the coating. The coating makes up 75 per cent of the material properties. This defines the most important features such as the diagonal stretch of the fabric. It was all easier in the past, there was only one material for the leading edge and one for the canopy. Today we work with four different grammages for the leading edge. We do a lot of basic research to ensure that this works for kite construction. A colleague and another employee at our headquarters stand for six hours every day at the lasting machine and test the material for elongation and tear resistance.“ Creating the future requires commitment and financial resources. “It’s about quantifying feelings.” And also about not overshooting the mark. “We built Vegas and Dice prototypes with Penta TX, they were just too radical, even for us. If you pull a Megaloop with it, you will be afraid,” Marian interjects. “That is why we are already considering how the material can be further developed in the future so that it can be used on several model series.” LEARNING FROM GO-KARTS FOR THE KITE DEVELOPMENT The fact that there is no substitute for experience seems to be an important lesson for Ralf, which he also wants to instill in Marian. For this he has chosen an unconventional, but no less entertaining way. One of Ralf’s racing buddies runs a go-kart track in Leipzig, a city in the east part of Germany. Marian himself with a certain affinity for fast cars, was supposed to learn karting there in two days - that is, “really” karting. He reeled 250 laps, got faster and faster, until he knew every inch of the route by heart. At the end of day two, Ralf got into the kart and shaved Marian’s best time after a few laps. Because he can and because he has more experience. What can you learn from this for kite development? A kite is more than the sum of its parts. The material is one thing. How you cut and sew it, how the attachment points and bridles are attached, all of this ultimately determines whether a kite flies well or not. The initial situation is astonishingly the same for almost all manufacturers.

Ralf preparing wings for the ultimate lightwind testing.

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Even on twintips the Juice D/LAB can offer tons of fun in lightwind.


“Every kite designer I know works with the same software: Surfplan. This is a very powerful machine that David Aberdeen, an Australian, has been developing for 13 years. Without him the sport could never have developed like this. This is also the reason why there are so many kite brands today. With Surfplan every dork can build something in a relatively short time that somehow flies. The decisive factor, however, are the parameters with which the system is fed. And they are based on experience that not everyone has.” As is so often the case: the output is only as good as the input. And that’s where it gets complicated. I get a quick lesson in Surfplan. The tool is available as a free demo in a slimmed-down version for free download, the professional license costs of course. Aberdeen’s strategy: with the demo he started an open source development process and was able to improve the application with the help of many kite designers. Gradually, more and more professional designers jumped on it and sent him lists of features they would like to have integrated into the software. There is a new release once a month. “The program is extremely complex and mathematical, but basically easy to use,” explains Ralf. This allows kites to be created as 3-D models and immediately translated

into the appropriate cutting patterns. The challenge here: a kite model consists of hundreds of parameters. Elongation, the shape of the tips, profile, the curvature of the struts, the ballooning, the pre-tension in the cloth and the attachment points. A good kite takes a lot of data. And this data must be precisely adapted for each model and size. Ralf uses an Evo model to demonstrate how minimal changes to the parameters affect the overall system. “This is pure math. In principle, I do reverse engineering: by changing a parameter, I virtually build an error into a functioning system. Then I have to adjust all the other parameters so that the system works again.” And that is done individually for each kite size, practically by hand and based on your own experience and logic. If all values match, the patterns are sent to the producer in Sri Lanka. This is where the prototypes are sewn. “For the 9 meter Evo SLS, I needed nine revision levels to achieve the desired handling. That was the phase in which we first had to work through the entire SLS topic from scratch,” the perfectionist admits. WHO NEEDS WIND TO KITESURF? We are waiting for the prototypes. However, they are still stuck in customs clearance in Leipzig. In the meantime, Ralf and Marian want to show me their

newest baby: a sophisticated, ultra-light Juice made from Aluula material. The wholehearted promise: kiting with four knots of wind. We are standing at the spot and there is, in my opinion at least, zero wind. “Don’t worry, with the 13 meter you can foil easily and with the 15 meter you can also ride with a big twintip board,” promises Ralf. I look skeptical at the two inflated kites. Less motivated, but still excited, I trot to the car to peel myself into the wetsuit. When I come back, the two of them are already riding back and forth relaxed. Ralf puts the 15 meter in my hand and stands on his 165 Ultra-Spike, a monstrously large carbon twintip with a flat rocker line and a concave outline. I don’t feel much at the bar, but Ralf grins promisingly. So I steer the kite into the power zone. What happens then, I would not have thought possible. The thing attracts and develops a basic pull as if there were at least twice as much wind. I ride effortlessly. The wind is full of holes and comes from the wrong direction. In between I have to plow so that I can maintain the altitude, but so be it, I’ll ride. As soon as I stop, I feel how little wind there is. For my taste, the kite with the adjuster fully open even has a little too much transverse pull, despite the minimal breath of a breeze.

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Above: Ralf and his pigtail bag. Every prototype comes with several adjustment options, still some fine tuning can help sometimes.

Ralf tests all the kites he designs himself.


One or two clicks more depower on the Click Bar and it flies perfect. The difference in handling is enormous and suddenly runs amazingly well. Sure, you have to act a bit more technically, but I never would have thought you could ride a twintip in so little wind. “This is the most intuitive and by far the best kite I’ve ever built,” says Ralf, once again not exactly modest. As it turns out: I have to agree with him. We start the next attempt/try a day later with even less wind. Three, maybe four knots, measured optimistically. Again and again the kite falls into an air hole in the backstall. Again I don’t want to believe that you can kite in such conditions. In addition, I have mounted a mini board without volume on my foil. I would like to try it out with my own gear so I can get a proper picture. The water is crystal clear, the wind is not enough to ripple the surface. Marian and Ralf now need several attempts themselves before they actually manage the water start. “That really is the lowest limit. As soon as the kite flies over you and is reasonably stable, you can foil with it.” I send the kite into, let’s call it optimistically, the “power zone” and wait until something happens. The thing flies down, I’m crouching in the water, nothing. “That only works with a downloop. The kite is designed so that it pulls you onto the board through the hook,” says the maestro. Okay, so do the same thing again with a loop. And indeed, as soon as the kite has passed the lowest point and starts to accelerate upwards again, it pulls on my hook. I try to pump myself onto the board, but I brake the kite and flop back. “You see, just a little more and you’re off!” I begin to believe him. A good 20 attempts later, I’m just about to take off. A board with more volume would help, so Ralf pushes his foil into my hand. His loop set-up feels weird to me, but it even gets me a few feet out of the water. Dense sea fog creeps up behind us in slow motion. I’m slowly starting to run out of juice from all the action and the countless attempts to start. In the morning I was carelessly riding a racing bike with Marian. The guy puts steam on the pedal and drove me to the ground. With a slightly larger board, I would probably have really gotten away. But Ralf doesn’t let up, he definitely wants to take me foiling. The fog bank has now enveloped us. In the thick of the soup I can only see 20 or 30 meters, but the kite feels a bit more stable in the air. So one more try. And then I go foiling. What a great feeling! In addition, the kite is so easy to fly. I have the feeling that I am suddenly really powered up. When I stop again, the kite almost falls from the sky, still as good as no wind. “The difference between four and five knots is enormous. It’s like when the wind goes up from 20 to 25 knots on a smaller kite,” Ralf explains to me after the session. I am impressed. The guys have actually pushed the boundaries of what I can imagine with this kite, and tremendously. Two years of development have gone into the project. In the beginning, the production was reluctant. Too complex, too expensive, a new production line had to be built specifically for this. The Aluula raw material is ten times more expensive than conventional Dacron and it is devilishly difficult to process. The series models are correspondingly expensive. But I suspect that there are enough crazy people who absolutely want something like this despite the prices. I’ve been one of them since flying one.

BEST MEASURING INSTRUMENT: YOUR OWN BODY The next day the prototypes finally arrive and the real work begins. The wind looks promising. In the meantime, Master Hadlow has also joined our group and we discuss the daily plan over breakfast. The new Dice are to be validated, it is already the final revision stage. When they arrive at the spot, the three switch from zero to 100 to work mode. You seldom see people setting up kites, unwinding lines and adjusting settings that quickly. “First we check the line lengths very carefully. Each new bar will open for half an hour: the steering lines are a bit too long in the delivery condition, but are shortened by

about one and a half centimeters due to the retraction time and then stay that way. The handling of the kites is precisely tailored to this. Every half a centimeter clearly falsifies the result,” says Ralf. Every bar is checked exactly once a day, deviations of more than three millimeters in the line length are not acceptable. The kites are usually adjusted so that they are not allowed to go into the backstall when the bar is fully tightened. The team only uses Click Bars. “The Trust Bar generates different feedback because it has a different width, a different depower line and a different geometry. It is

not technically possible for us to test on both bars, otherwise it will be too complex. The Click Bar is the best-selling bar, so we test it on it.” The first two kites, the 10 meter and 12 meter, soar into the air. Ralf and Marian ride a few runs, meticulously choreographed. “You can feel 98 per cent of the flight characteristics on land when you hook the kite for the first time. But you can only find out some things in certain manoeuvres,” says Marian. Everyone has their own test procedure: first, a few runs on different courses/tacks in order to assess basic pull, altitude running, depower behavior and bar feed-

back. Then follows a few standard tricks to check how the kite feels when jumping, how the hang time, the pop and the slack turn out. Each test session only lasts a few minutes, then a switch is made. There is no time to dawdle. Hadlow goes out, runs his program. Stylistically, he kites very differently than Marian or Ralf. In the meantime, the two discuss their impressions. Everything you feel during those few minutes on the water is relevant. The 10 meter kite falls a little on the last centimeter down on the bar, so you have to go again. With the 11 meter, that’s already perfect. Hadlow comes from the water and tells exactly the

Perfect lightwind testing spots on the German island Rügen.

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“Secret spot” on Rügen to avoid the Erlkönig shots.

same thing without being asked. Hook on it, everyone agrees, next kite. You have to work hard for this sensitive sensor system, where you only rely on your own body. There is also a linguistic problem. It’s about being able to get to the heart of what you actually felt. High steering forces are not the same for everyone and being able to express a certain starting behavior is also a challenge. “Over time, the team develops its own language for this, the precision of what we feel is getting better and better. This is exactly why it is so important to have world class kitesurfers like Aaron with

you, who can tell you exactly what is happening to the kite in the air.” I want to know how often they differ with their opinions. “Aaron and I never really. I don’t always agree with Marian, but in most cases we don’t have to discuss much and we know very quickly whether the kite fits or whether we still have to The changeover takes place directly on site. The crew doesn’t have to wait for new prototypes to do this. Because the fine-tuning is done via the bridle and the connection.


“I can rearrange the same kite for you by moving a few knots on the bridle so that you think it is completely different. And that’s usually only a matter of a few millimeters.” Ralf admits that things don’t always go as well as they do today. If something doesn’t fit, it could well happen that three people spend eight hours looking at just one size. Does he actually go kiting just for fun? No, that never actually happens. It’s always about work. For me, that puts the fascination with the job into perspective. It’s finally my turn. The wind is slowly going down, but there is

still enough for the 11 meter Dice. After a few hits and a few hops, I’m really impressed. You can still feel the similarity to the current Dice, but the thing’s performance is better. The bar feeling in particular convinces me, as the old Dice was always a little too soft on the bar. I ride to Ralf and tell him what I think about it. Either he is very polite or I am actually correct in my assessment. “Everything is exactly right. That’s exactly how it should be.”

THE MARKET DETERMINES THE DIRECTION I want to know how they actually determine how and in which direction a kite is developed from one model year to the next. You have to define some kind of goal in order not to just do something different. If new materials come onto the market, such as the SLS or Aluula models, the matter is clear. Then the kites are redesigned from scratch. But how do you determine what should be changed about a classic Evo that has been on the market for years with little changed positioning? “We mainly do qualitative market research there. On the one hand, we have kites in longterm testing, for example in selected kite schools such as here on this island.” “They tell us whether there are problems with durability or handling. To do this, we ask customers and dealers just like our internal team what they think of a kite as soon as it comes on the market, and what they like or what they would like to have different. However, this phase is only very short, depending on the product cycle, maybe two months, as we then have to get the successor model ready for series production. With the Evo SLS, for example, we had very good feedback, but at the same time received information that it was too sporty for some kitesurfers. So we basically leave the kite the same and tweak the handling so it will be more intuitive

to fly. The heavier riders in particular should have the feeling of being able to hold onto the bar a little,” he explains. “In principle, every model is about filtering out what the customer wants and what the masses want. Only then can you be commercially successful.” And that’s ultimately what it’s all about: building kites that sell well. And something else is important to him: the kites should be as homogeneous as possible within a model series. In the past, the 9 meter and 12 meter were the standard sizes on which one began to develop a new model. Above and below it is interpolated. “But now I prefer to develop on a 10 meter because it’s easier to interpolate.” In addition, he initially concentrates on the most difficult sizes. “A twelve is probably one of the best-selling sizes, but to be honest, almost all sizes work better than the twelve. You can feel that very clearly in the handling and turning behavior. A 11 meter, for example, turns much faster. It’s harder to adjust a lot with the large sizes. With the smaller sizes, from 10 meter downwards, there are always some that work right away. Particular attention is paid to handling attributes.” With a 12 meter, it is about turning as fast as possible, while a 5 meter has to be braked because otherwise it would be too agile. As soon as the design goals for each model have been defined, the theoretical implementation on

the computer begins before the first prototypes are sewn in the factory. Over dinner, Ralf tells an anecdote about his job interview at Boards & More when the kites were still being developed under the brand name North. “I sat at the table with Till Eberle and Dirk Hanel and was asked about my prospects for the future. Then I replied: ‘I don’t want to end up windsurfing like some sail designers who just slap new colours on the cloth every year, but never evolve.’ I think that irritated the two of them a bit, but in the end we agreed.” He means things as he says them. He may sometimes offend others by doing this, but he is honest and straightforward. Has he ever really screwed up a project? “Technically by no means, but from a human point of view.” One of his latest projects is both technical and human and goes by the name of Marian Hund. The two are similar in type, in their views, in some photos they even look like brothers. “I would have been glad to have had an asshole like me as a boss back then, who really challenged me. I’ll do that with him now, but always motivating,” laughs Ralf, half seriously, half meant as a joke. Marian should become a finished kite designer within three years. Probably not one who just slips new colors on the cloth every year.

The Master and his student. Ralf and Marian checking the latest prototype.

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Hood River, Oregon


AWSI Kitesurfer Of The Year nominee, Jack Reider, throws down at the event site during this year's AWSI show. Toby Bromwich photo.

AWSI AWARDS KITESURFING Retailer of the Year: Real Watersports Brand of the Year: Naish Rider of the Year: Fred Hope and Daniela Moroz WING FOIL


Athlete of the Year: Olivia Jenkins and Kai Lenny Brand of the Year: F-One Retailer of the Year: MACkite Surf Shop

What’s better than an outdoor trade show in a windy location where retailers and media can try out the gear? One held in Hood River after two years of COVID lockdowns. The Association of Wind and Watersports Industries (AWSI) trade show was well attended by retailers from across the US and Canada. With wind every day and hundreds of kites, boards and foils pumped up and ready to go, this year’s show was a huge success. The 4 p.m. pro pool showdown was a highlight of each day, while exhibitors and retailers swapped stories from the past year of retail life in the pandemic trenches. Five main kitesurfing trends emerged at this year’s show. Expansion of light weight designs and new light weight materials in kite design is the biggest story. Aluula, first introduced by Ocean Rodeo two years ago halved the weight of their kites. The revolutionary material is now available from Duotone as well. Airush is working with a new light weight material from Challenge Sailcloth called Ho’okipa. And almost every brand has worked tirelessly at removing excess weight and lightening their kites to work better in the light wind conditions foil boarders are pushing their gear in. More refinement in hydrofoils and foil systems was evident across the board too. Foils from just two years ago are being left solidly in the dust with stronger, stiffer more versatile designs that work across a wider range of conditions. Having a hard time foiling through your transitions and moving your feet? A new, more efficient and versatile foil may just be the ticket to your success.

Control bars with quick reconnect chicken loops, that can be reattached as easily as plugging in a seatbelt are now becoming the industry standard. On the twintip board front, some exciting new high-end constructions are pushing the limits of weight and performance. The new Formula V2 is the lightest twintip Slingshot has ever made. The 136 cm weighs in at a crazy light 1.9 kg. Not to be outdone, the new Carved Imperator 7, built in exclusive Cartan 2 carbon. The big air category is hot, with multiple new models available in newer light weight materials. Two made our top ten list; the new Aluula built Ride kite from Ocean Rodeo and the tweaked and lightened North Orbit. In addition to the kitesurfing trends we observed at the show, wing foiling is definitely the new hot category that is here to stay. At the last AWSI show in August 2019, stringless kites were barely a blip on consumers’ radar, but the past two years of explosive hard goods growth has supercharged this exciting new category. Consumers have been turning their unspent travel dollars into hard goods purchases to help them make the most of their time on the water at their local beaches. Kitesurfing and wing foiling are emerging from the pandemic stronger than ever. The gear to take advantage of our local water sports locations has never been better. Be sure to check out Kitesurfing Magazine’s videos from the show on our YouTube channel Be sure to subscribe to receive updates from our next round of gear testing this fall in Cape Hatteras.

STUFF WE LIKE SLINGSHOT PHANTASM THE GOLD STANDARD The new premium Phantasm Series line explodes this year and sets new standards for Slingshot’s extensive collection of wing shapes designed for all the foil disciplines. The Phantasm lower unit come as a package with carbon front wing, aluminium alloy fuselage and tail wing. They can be paired with the Phantasm Lower unit systems available in both aluminum or full carbon. Also available is the adapter key so you can use your older mast system from any Slingshot Hover series of previous seasons with any Phantasm Lower.

DUOTONE JUICE D-LAB LIGHT IS RIGHT Duotone is embracing the revolutionary light weight Aluula material in the D-Lab series of kites. The Duotone Juice D-Lab is 30 per cent lighter than a standard light weight construction. This will revolutionize your light wind riding. The Duotone Juice gives riders a high performance experience and a kite that can relaunch in the lightest of breezes. The smaller 13 metre size is perfect for light wind foiling, dominating in 7-10 knots and capable of flying in ligher winds. Check out the R&D story in this issue. Sizes: 13, 15 Suggested Retail: $3499 (13m), $3749 (15m)

NAISH S26 HOVER KITE AND HOVER GLIDE SERIES VALUE AND PERFORMACE The Naish Hoverglide series checks all the boxes in the performance, light weight construction and price point. The line is expansive and covers all your foiling needs from kite foiling, wing foiling all the way to crossover SUP foiling and surf foiling. The smaller Hover Kite models take full advantage of a minimalist design. When riding strapless, the smaller sizes have the ability to sink the board and position it on its edge for easier take offs. Sizes: 97, 112, 127, 142 cm Suggested Retail: $909-$1,029


WMFG 1.0 PRO PUMP ONE FOR ALL Having one pump for all your action sports just makes sense. WMFG’s Pro Pump is the perfect solution to reaching the higher PSI pressures required by todays inflatable SUPs, inflatable wing boards and even some smaller diameter kites. An added benefit, this pump makes pumping easier for kids and smaller riders too. Suggested Retail: $119

NORTH ORBIT BIG AIR/FREERIDE The winner of the most recent King of the Air, the North Orbit has already obtained legendary status. New for 2022, North have further reduced the weight of the Orbit with N-FORCE 75 reinforcement and lighter weight bladders, so the kite feels even lighter and more responsive in all conditions. Sizes: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14 Suggested Retail: $1289 (5m) $1939 (14m)

RIDE ENGINE DEFENDER HF VEST PROTECTION The Defender HF Impact Vest has been designed to give you gladiator-level protection. The padding on the Defender HF Impact Vest allows for smooth integration with a kite harness. Internal impact-shell technology shields your upper body from wayward foil points, board noses and other scar-producing dangers so you can ride another day. Suggested Retail: $182

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STUFF WE LIKE NAVIGATOR CONTROL SYSTEM NOW ISO CERTIFIED The 2022 Navigator now complies with ISO 21853 for faster, safer release and intuitive single-action reload in all conditions. Five new tool-less interloops complete the modular system, allowing riders to switch effortlessly between disciplines simply by swapping out the loop. Sizes: 38-43, 45-50, 50-55 cm Suggested Retail: $589

OCEAN RODEO RISE ALUULA BIG AIR Ocean Rodeo dominated the light air category this last year with their ultra light weight Aluula material and the Aluula Flight 14.5 metre. New for 2022 Ocean Rodeo and Alulla Composites bring us the new high aspect, 5-strut Rise, delivering an all-new standard in acceleration, precision control, big air torque and stratospheric performance. Built using 82gsm Aluula Gold composite material and Aluula seam technology, the Rise’s power to weight ratio is next level, coming in at over twice the strength of traditional Dacron airframes, yet at half the weight. Sizes: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

REVO HANDLE CARVED AND ELEVEIGHT A clever rocker adjuster is integrated into the new REVO grab handle; a quick turn increases or decreases the board rocker by half-an-inch. Easily activate REVO with a flick of the wrist to reduce or increase board rocker depending on your riding conditions and/or preferences.


DUOTONE DICE SLS PENTA TX Joining the Neo and Evo SLS kites, the Dice is the latest kite in the Duotone lineup to receive the SLS (Strong, Light, Superior) treatment. The Dice is known for Freestyle, and mega loops! The Penta TX material used in the Duotone SLS kites offers higher performance and a reduced weight, but without the mega cost associated with the ultra high end Aluula material. The Penta TX is 5 times more tear resistant, has 50% less stretch, and is 15% lighter than standard Dacron. Sizes: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

CARVED IMPERATOR 7 BEST GETTING BETTER The Kitesurfing Magazine test team thinks the Imperator 6 is one of the best twintip boards ever made. The Imperator 7 promises to be even better. The new carbon fibre Cartan 2 combines untwisted, unidirectional carbon fiber strands with minimal epoxy binders. Improved filament-to- filament load transfer results in an incredibly energetic Imperator 7 that’s 100 grams lighter than the previous generation. Sizes: 130x39, 133x40, 135x41, 137x42, 139x42.5, 141x43, LW 146x45, LW 152x48 Suggested Retail: Imperator 7 – $1,699.95, Carved Ultra 2 Bindings - $399.95

AIRUSH HO’OKIPA CLOTH MATERIAL REVOLUTION Airush unveiled a new material at the AWSI show that they are doing secret kite R&D with. Developed in conjunction with Challenge Sailcloth, this unique woven composite is the result of testing to find the optimum balance between responsiveness, light weight and long-term performance. The Ho’okipa Ultra PE fabric is 25 per cent lighter than traditional Dacron. Incredibly, this high-performance fabric comes with a reduced environmental impact, where Ho’okipa Ultra PE is made up of 48 per cent recycled content.

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SURF SHOP sauble beach, canada est 1996

Check out the stash on Jesse Richman! Making the most out of Maui and convincing fellow pro kiter “BlurryPhoto” to shoots some flash action. Blurry photo.

STUCK IN A RUT? The world’s top instructors and pros share their tips to getting unstuck.

The Kitesurfing Magazine test team is back in action with its largest head-to-head gear test in more than two years. The test team checks out the latest in light wind kite, foilboards, crossover foilboards, big air kites, twintips and surf kites. 96 - KITESURFING MAGAZINE / VOL 7 / ISSUE 2



Are we allowed to travel yet? Where are we going?


KING OF THE BIG AIR KITES Zero hesitation, lighter, faster steering and precise response.

O R B I T | Own the sky

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FREERIDE SERIES Know freedom as you glide effortlessly. Feel the energy surge through your hands. Then rise above it all. A I RU SH . C O M

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