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VOL. 9 NO. 4 THE SOUTH OF FRANCE KITESURFING MAURITIUS

CAMAS PRARIE THE UK SCENE

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Marina Chang, Publisher marina@thekiteboarder.com Paul Lang, Editor paul@thekiteboarder.com Shana Gorondy Art Director Alexis Rovira Editor At Large

Prima Donna - 5th Gen Freestyle - Freeride

Gary Martin Technical Editor Amy Hunter Account Executive amy@thekiteboarder.com

5 Line - Performance C Shape Sizes: 6m, 7m, 8m, 9m, 10m, 11m 12m, 13m, & 14m

EDITORIAL CONSULTANTS Neil Hutchinson, Stefan Ruether, Rick Iossi, Toby Brauer, Brendan Richards, Matt Sexton, Kevin “Irie Dog” Murray, Kinsley ThomasWong, James Brown, Ginette Buffone, Maui Mike, Members of the Central Coast/Santa Barbara CKA

CONTRIBUTORS Brad Gordon, Marina Chang, Chris Burke, Rick Iossi

PHOTOGRAPHY Sensi Graves, Richard Hallman, Brad Gordon, Hugo Valente, Bill Wilson, Nico Kux, Pascal Mamet, Toby Bromwhich/PKRA, Damien LeRoy, Zach Luellen, David Knight, Zach Dischner, Epic Kites, Dimitri Marmenides, Jennifer Adolph, Mike Sproul, Pete Cabrinha, Nate Appel, Greg Beneteau/aqua-terra.info, Jason Rubino, Paul Read, Justin Bufton, Ian Edmondson, Fidel Lopez, Olga Medowska, Lisa Jefferson, Leon Legot, Tiny Monks Productions, Sibylle Gauthier, Talin Bolen, Leslie Davies, www.inflatablekite.com Thanks to all editorial and photography contributors for supporting this magazine!

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ADMINISTRATIVE/ADVERTISING OFFICE 1356 16th Street Los Osos, CA 93402 (805) 459-2373

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CONTENTS

Brandon Scheid taunts the dogs in Brazil. Photo Sensi Graves

FEATURES: 12 AGAINST THE ODDS 18 THE SOUTH OF FRANCE 28 BRAZIL 34 ONE EYE WIDE OPEN 64 THE UK SCENE 74 ROOTS: HISTORY OF THE INFLATABLE KITE

DEPARTMENTS: 10 FROM THE EDITOR 46 THE SCENE 52 PROFILED: EMMET SPROUL AND ANNABEL VAN WETEROP 56 EXPOSED 70 WISH LIST 72 15 MINUTES

On the Cover: Check page 39 for the entire sequence of Airton Cozzolino Lopes on this Mauritian barrel. Photo Paul Lang

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FROM THE EDITOR ONE OF THE GREAT PERKS OF MY JOB IS THE TRAVELING I GET TO DO. USUALLY THESE TRIPS END UP SPREAD OUT THROUGH THE YEAR, BUT EVERY ONCE IN AWHILE THE STARS ALIGN AND MY TRAVEL SCHEDULE BECOMES HECTIC. Such was the case this fall when I found myself with four major trips scheduled over a six week period. First up was our annual trip to Surf Expo in Orlando, Florida, where the TKB team made our rounds while getting the latest information on new 2013 gear. By the end of a long weekend and a few sleepless nights we had shot, edited, and uploaded 42 videos representing more than four hours of gear info. If you missed it, you Jason Slezak at Punta San Carlos. Your editor almost passed on this trip so he could catch up on emails. Photo Paul Lang

can see all the videos at http://thekiteboarder.com/category/2013gear-videos. After returning from Surf Expo, I had just a little time at home before getting back on a plane to head to Montpellier, France, for the F-One importer meeting. After a fun week spent exploring a really interesting part of the South of France (read about this trip on page 18), I returned home thinking I had a little bit of time to relax and catch up on work before the next trip. I had an open offer to join the Liquid Force crew for a wave clinic they had organized with SoloSports at Punta San Carlos in Baja, but I had written off the trip as I figured there was no way I would be able to cram it into my schedule. Just a few days before the trip I still had no plans of going until my good friend Kevin Murray (AKA Irie Dog) called me to say he was going and had an empty seat in his truck. At the same time a hurricane off the southern coast of Baja began to make a turn out to sea, creating a really favorable forecast for wind and waves.

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In San Carlos we had wind everyday, good surf, and 70º water, a rarity for a place where a 4/3 fullsuit is usually barely enough. Escaping from emails for a few days while spending a lot of time in the water enjoying good conditions with good friends made the trip well worthwhile, even considering the broken brake line on Kevin’s truck that took us a full day to repair. Returning home once again I barely had time to repack my bags before heading back to the airport one more time to attend the North dealer meeting on the island of Mauritius. After an insanely long flight I arrived in Mauritius completely worn out. “What am I doing here?” I thought to myself, worried that I should have been catching up on work, not flying halfway around the world. A few days later I had the best kitesurf session of my life and I couldn’t believe I had allowed myself to think that coming here might have been a mistake (see page 34 for the Mauritius story). By the end of the trip I had come to a realization. There’s always time to catch up on work later. In 20 years, it’s the traveling experiences that will stand out, not the time spent sending emails. After an exhausting six weeks I finally returned home with four different currencies in my wallet, eight new passport stamps, and memories I’ll have for the rest of my life.


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By Brad Gordon

Against The Odds

Photo Brad Gordon

As I reflect back to when I was in business school, one of the primary things we learned was how to analyze the strengths and weakness of a business model and why 90% of them fail. My final project before graduating was to create a hypothetical business plan so polished that you could walk into any bank, hand it to a loan officer, and not get laughed at. The title of my 35-page presentation was called The Thermal Foundation and it represented a kiteboarding shop catering to Seattle area Jetty Island wind junkies. The name was derived from the blow dryer afternoon thermal winds that create optimal riding conditions and one of my favorite surf shops in San Diego called Liquid Foundation. I thought since I couldn’t kiteboard due to all my homework, at least I could write about it in some way. Irrelevant of my passion for kiteboarding, my professor had a number of issues with my business proposal. His opinion was that it could only be a seasonal business, had low margins, and was service-based with high labor costs. He was also concerned that I could not provide solid statistics showing growth and demand and said I’d be lucky to pay the electric bills let alone repay any business loans. Although I passed the class, my dream of actually owning a real kiteboarding business faded away and I remained a grocery store manager in the real world. Although it provided a stable income, it gave me zero job satisfaction. I am the kind of person that if I’m not happy in life, I just look down at my own two feet, because there’s nobody else to blame except yourself in these situations. Eventually I found a job with the creatively smart E-commerce whizzes at evogear.com as an entrylevel channel manager for the ski/snowboarding industry. They were interested in getting into kiteboarding but had concerns that the sport did not fit their core customer base, the 18-30 year old hipster, not the 30-55 year old demographic of a typical kiter. However, I never forgot about my dream to open a kiteboarding-related business. It just wasn’t the right time or place.


Photo Richard Hallman

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Photo Richard Hallman

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A seed was planted when the founder of Evo, Bryce Phillips, oozed with creative enthusiasm when he talked of adding an adventure travel segment to his company. He said, “Of course people love traveling around the world skiing, surfing, and mountain biking. We already have the marketable niche and the travel service could be promoted for free through our own established customer base.” We dreamed up all kinds of trips that involved our athletic clientele that could participate in multisport activities. Take New Zealand for example where you can ski in the morning and be surfing, SUPing, or kiting in the afternoon.

communities, I found work as a Black Diamond Ski Rep, landscaper, exterior painter, and even a Christmas light installer.

The work experience I gained at Evo was invaluable although I was disappointed when they decided to discontinue their interests in the kite industry. I eventually moved on and found a job in the eco travel industry of bicycle touring for a company called Bicycle Adventures. I found this outdoor work to be rewarding while getting paid to bicycle with guests through some of the most beautiful locations in the western United States. For the first time in my life I could say my job didn’t suck.

Living in Seattle, Washington, I found there were many possibilities in the Eastern Cascades but nothing consistent enough to run an all-inclusive operation. I then found a charming off-the-grid place called the Mount Adams Flying L Ranch near Glenwood, Washington, where the owners Todd and Julie served up delicious home cooked meals. Todd had me all jazzed up when he talked about the four-foot snowpack they got every year and added, “Man, it’s windy all the time up here. We kinda hate it.” In the fall of 2005, I started Cascade Snowkiting but soon found that like bicycle touring, you

Although the underling beauty of my touring job was that I had winters off to feed my growing snowkiting addiction, I soon received a cold dose of reality when I realized I couldn’t live for 12 months on a 6-month salary. There I was, a snowkite bum at heart that needed part-time income until the snow pack accumulated. I wasn’t afraid of getting my hands dirty so finding temporary manual labor was my alternative. Thanks to all the connections within the PSkite.org and NWkite.com

Now that I had found a little supplemental income, I started planning my winters around snowkiting events. Friends and I loaded the car up and made the pilgrimage to the longest-running snowkite event, the Montana Snowkite Rodeo. The following year we also experienced “The Best Snow On Earth” at the US Open Snowkite Masters in Utah. When Northern California kitesurfing legend Jeff Kafka teamed up with Windzup.com to offer the first operation that provided transportation, lessons, and accommodations at Skyline in Utah, I was so inspired by Jeff’s operation I knew that this was my new direction to start my own hobby business. The missing piece of the puzzle was finding the ideal location to set up shop.

CAMAS PRAIRIE FACTS: BEST SEASON: January (or as soon as there is a 30” snowpack) through late March. Check http:// hb.511.idaho.gov/cameras/Pine_ Turnoff.html for current conditions.

WHAT TO BRING: A helmet, 9-14m kites, skis or a snowboard, and any backcountry touring gear you have. A small piece of carpet to stand on when pumping up a kite in deep snow is a great addition to your list of snowkiting gear. Bring a ski jacket, extra gloves, goggles, extra clothes, extra socks, extra base layers, and don’t forget your shorts/bikini for the hot tub.

Thermal Foundation offers three-night all-inclusive snowkiting trips starting at $489 per person. See http://snowkitingidaho.com for more info.


Photo Richard Hallman

can only control the things you can control, like the food and accommodations. Weather was not something I could control. That first year was the beginning of an El Niño weather pattern. A week before I had my first group it rained up to 7,000 feet and melted a majority of the snowpack, causing me to have to cancel the trip. I had to eat 20% of the lodging fees and eventually came to the conclusion that this endeavor was a waste of time. Once again my snowkite dreams were put on the back burner.

Similar to the annual pilgrimage many make to La Ventana or Cape Hatteras, I found myself wanting to spend the winter in Idaho. After my first season exploring the area with a snowmobile packed with kites, I realized that the park-and-ride locations were only tapping into 20% of the potential riding area. There are still thousands upon thousands of acres of snowkiting terrain ready to be explored in central and southern Idaho. Sometimes on a busy weekend with a good forecast a dozen cars can be spotted at Malcomson Snowpark, but the best part about Idaho snowkiting is rigging up, riding off in any direction, and finding terrain features without another person in sight. After monitoring wind patterns and discovering dozens of remote areas, I knew I could invite small groups of guests to enjoy fresh tracks for weeks without creating an instant crowd at the more popular locations. At last I saw all the arrows pointing towards my burning desire to start a small snowkite operation. Even against my better business judgment, I had to play out my entrepreneurial dreams. Now that I was going to finally realize my vision of opening an all-inclusive snowkite operation, it was only right to give back to the local economy. I began to establish verbal contracts with restaurants, lodging, transportation, and, most importantly, a good caterer. Communicating through the grapevine in the small town of Fairfield you can find a room to rent, someone to make a Costco run with, or just hear a good-old Idaho story. Everyone that I talked to pointed me to a local lady named Faus Corlett. I contacted her and she agreed to meet me a few days later. Everything on the Prairie is 15 miles away and life moves at a different pace, which is one of the reasons why the people who live here are so special and grounded. Unlike the tech-savvy people to the west or the wealthy ski tourists of Sun Valley, Fairfield residents live the simple life. A typical day consists of getting the kids off to school and then sneaking in a few runs at Soldier Mountain Ski Resort or just enjoying a beer after work and listening to some

NEED TO KNOW: Be respectful towards local residents (they might be a landowner), snowmobilers, and other local snowkiters. The Camas scene is very non-ego. Most importantly never kite near Highway 35 or power lines. Avoid self-rescue situations as it’s a long ways back when you’re post holing up to your hips.

local musicians play at the Soldier Creek Brewery. Upon meeting Faus, I found out that she and her husband Bill had lived a very interesting lifestyle around the world and had ran restaurants in Tahoe and Sun Valley. Her cooking style is organically healthy with protein-balanced dishes utilizing local area products and produce from her off-the-grid farm including winter greens grown from their year-round greenhouse. Bill keeps the animals and chores in order around their beautiful property surrounded by the backdrop of the Sawtooth mountain range. Now, entering our fourth year of operation, we hold an excellent guest return rate, however we joke whether it’s the snowkiting or just Faus’s amazing cooking that keeps people coming back, because it certainly is not Fairfield’s nightlife! From time to time everyone finds themselves looking for a new direction and inspiration in their life. In many ways it’s like kiting. It’s not easily found. It takes work and isn’t always glamorous, but when it all comes together it’s definitely worth it. As ski resorts remain expensive and oftentimes crowded, the sport of snowkiting will continue to grow in a positive way. There’s nothing like hooking into your kite and sliding across a bizarre windswept playground only to find more fresh snow than could be found heli-skiing on a Canadian mountain. If you’re not already spending your winter somewhere warm and windy, try packing the car full of kites, skis, and snowboards and head towards the vast snowfields of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Utah where out of sight, out of mind is just the way snowkiters like it!

EXPERIENCE: Never kited? Just like water it’s best to take a professional lesson first. Got the water thing down, but never snowkited? Start out at the Malcomson Snowpark by hiking upwind at least a quarter mile away from any obstructions and take it slow. Use the buddy system so nobody gets lost. Read the terrain and avoid areas with exposed rocks and sagebrush.

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Photo Brad Gordon

It wasn’t until I attended Snowkite Soldiers in 2008 organized by Monty Goldman and Trish Smith that I realized Idaho’s Camas Prairie was a snowkite paradise. The Camas Prairie sits above 5,400 feet and averages 18-25° F temperatures that allow the snow to remain cold and dry. On many late afternoons steady easterly winds spill over 400 foot hills, wind lips, and wind-protected gullies created by previous strong southwesterly snowstorms. Monty, Trish, and their friends spent years building a good rapport with the local snowmobile club, private landowners, and the local authorities. With a strong snowkiting community now established, snowkitng access and permission is not an issue in most parts of Idaho as long as you’re just leaving ski tracks in the snow and respect any no trespassing signs.


The

SOUTH

When you think of the South of France you probably imagine yachts, fashion, and the Cannes film festival. That’s the image I had in my head when I was offered the chance to visit the new F-One headquarters in Montpellier to try all their new gear during their annual importer meeting. The invitation was to spend a week in the region to explore the kiteboarding potential of the area. Upon arriving, it didn’t take me long to realize that the image I had in my head of what the South of France would be like was completely wrong.

of France Words and Photos by Paul Lang

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Kiteboarders from all over Europe travel to Beauduc despite its remote location.

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Alex Caizergues rigged a 9m when other riders were overpowered on 6-7m kites.

“

Of course, no one else in the group would stand for me not getting in the water, missing harness and wetsuit be damned.

The new F-One office.

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After a long 22 hours of traveling I found myself in the Montpellier airport with no luggage and no idea of where I should go or how to get there. I wandered through the airport looking for a familiar face or maybe someone holding a sign with my name on it with no luck. I filed a claim for my lost luggage but ran into trouble when they asked me where they should send it when it arrived as I didn’t even know where I’d be staying. Just when I began to lose hope that my usual travel plan of simply showing up and having faith that everything would work out might fail me, F-One’s Raphael Salles briskly walked through the door. Raphael and I had never met, but we instantly recognized one another from photos. The first thing I noticed was how full of energy he was. It might have been that I was drained after the overnight

flight, but after a blur of hurried activity we had sorted out my missing bag and were in a rental van on the way to a KFC parking lot to meet up with everyone else who had already arrived. After quick introductions we loaded into the vans and were off to the beach since the wind was blowing. My missing bag had my wetsuit and harness, so I thought I’d just relax on the beach and maybe take a quick nap on the sand. Of course, no one else in the group would stand for me not getting in the water, missing harness and wetsuit be damned. Raph dug out a prototype Manera harness for me to use while Alex Hapgood, editor of the British Kitesurf Magazine, offered me a spare spring suit. The suit was a little small and my painfully white thighs were proof that I don’t often wear spring suits, but as soon as I got in the water

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I was glad for the loaned gear. As always, there is no better cure for jet lag than getting in the ocean. It’s almost like you can feel the layers of sweat and grime wash away and the burst of energy that comes from doing something active after sitting still for so long makes the desire to sleep disappear. The actual riding at this first spot near town turned out to be nothing special as we were in choppy water and gusty 9m wind, but the novelty of riding a new spot in a new country more than made up for the average conditions. After packing up our gear and loading back into the vans, we swung by the brand new F-One office to get a quick look at the new headquarters. The new office is a beautiful, open, modern space with uncluttered offices and plenty of room for prototypes and factory samples. In my line of work I spend a lot of time staring at a computer screen typing out emails and this office visit was my first chance to meet the crew at F-One face to face. We left the office and started the drive to our base for the next few days in the heart of the Camargue region. It was during the hour and a half drive to our hotel when I realized that we weren’t in the glamorous and glitzy South of France I had imagined. Instead we were driving past flamingos, horses, and bulls. More than anywhere else I’ve ever been, the Camargue reminded me of the California Delta. There’s water everywhere, a lot of farming, and not a lot of development. The Camargue is an estuary bordered by the two arms of the Rhône River, and if you look at a map you’ll see the area is made up of as much water as land. The area is famous for the white Camarguais horses, and the sea salt that is mined here is known to be some of the best in the world. Our hotel, the L’Auberge Cavalière, like most of the buildings in the area, was made up of a series of small white buildings with thatched roofs. There were horses across the street and the property was surrounded by calm water and reeds. At first

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I thought someone was joking with me, but there actually were beavers hiding in the shallow water on the property. The setting was completely picturesque with only one drawback – mosquitoes. The calm water that made for beautiful surroundings also apparently made for perfect mosquito breeding grounds. As long as there was a little wind they were hardly noticeable, but when the wind died, they attacked relentlessly. With everyone settled it was time for dinner, which was a sneak peak at how well I’d be eating on this trip. I’m used to having whatever food I can get my hands on while on the move when traveling, but that wouldn’t be the case here. Dinner was my introduction of the French apéritif – pre-meal drinks and light appetizers that are said to stimulate the appetite. After a great first dinner and a lot of fantastic free-flowing wine I wandered back to my room, getting lost for about ten minutes in the process. I laid down on the bed and immediately fell asleep. After breakfast the next morning the wind was already up so we went straight to the beach to go ride. F-One’s Mika Fernandez arrived with my missing bag and Nico Ostermann, the North America F-One importer, arrived in his tiny French rental car. While I’ve hung out with Nico a number of times, it was good to see the Frenchman in his native habitat. Back in the vans we headed off through the Camargue countryside to our destination of Beauduc, about 45 minutes away. Beauduc is well-known as a kiteboarding and windsurfing spot throughout Europe even though it is a really remote place. The last twenty minutes of the journey to get there is on an unpaved road through a series of salt ponds. At one point we had to stop for a few minutes


Mitu Monteiro made the best of the small, sloppy chop at Beauduc.

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Downtown Montpellier.

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while a film crew finished a scene involving an old bus parked on the dirt road. According to Raph this area is popular for filming movies and television shows, and it’s common to have to wait for a scene to finish on the way to Beauduc. As we pulled up to the beach we were greeted with the sight of a huge curving bay with a flat sand beach stretching out as far as you could see in both directions. Despite the remoteness of this spot, there were a few hundred cars and vans parked on the sand. Basically, you are allowed to drive on the beach and park and camp for free for as long as you like. A big drawback to camping here though is the complete lack of facilities. There are no buildings, no stores, and no restrooms.

There was no yelling on the water (except for a little friendly heckling) and nobody back on the beach made a single comment about crowds.

According to the locals, Beauduc can host 500-1,000 kiters from all over Europe on a busy summer weekend. To limit the size of vehicles that can be driven out to the beach a concrete gate was recently constructed at the beginning of the dirt road. Our Renault Trafic vans made it with only about an inch to spare. The wind at Beauduc is easy to predict and is driven by the famous Mistral winds. The Mistral is a northerly wind that funnels across the entire Rhone Valley and can last anywhere from one day to a week. It’s responsible for the famously clear air and sunny skies in the South of France as the Mistral blows everything else away. For our first session here the Mistral created fantastic 6-8m sideshore conditions. Beauduc is a large open U-shaped bay and the Mistral winds often blow into the 30s. Because of the flat sand beach and shallow water, it’s a great place for riders of all levels, but the high winds combined with the parked cars create a big hazard. Further downwind, the wind becomes more onshore, but kiteboarding is no

longer allowed in the onshore area because people were being hurt as too many riders were being pulled into the cars parked on the beach if something went wrong. Beauduc is not a good place to be injured as there is no cell phone service and the only way out if you are seriously injured is by helicopter. Currently as many as 80 kiteboarders per year are airlifted from Beauduc for a trip to the hospital. This is a big concern among the local kiters as it’s the local government that pays for these rescues, and they will be forced to close the beach to kiteboarding if serious accidents continue at this rate. Beauduc is a huge area, but the sheer number of kiters riding here can still make it feel a little crowded in certain areas. Even so, I always seemed to be able to find an open spot of water if I went a little upwind or downwind. I’m used to riding in the US where even seemingly minor crowds on the water can lead to a lot of discussion about crowds back on the beach, but nobody here seemed bothered by the number of kiters. There was no yelling on the water (except for a little friendly heckling) and nobody back on the beach made a single comment about crowds. By the end of the day the wind had steadily increased and most riders were on 5-7m kites. The wind here is a little gusty and shifty, though completely manageable, and the water is choppy with small, sloppy wind swell to play on with a surfboard. After a long day on the water we headed back to the hotel for another great dinner and a calm, uneventful evening. On the next day the Mistral had calmed down a bit, so there was no hurry to get to the beach. Instead we went back to the F-One office to get the full tour and a detailed presentation on the current line of F-One gear. The highlight of the morning was getting to see Raph’s garage in the F-One warehouse. In the garage were racks and racks of past and current prototype boards along with the more than 80 prototypes that were used to create the new Bandit 6. In this one room there were boards dating back to

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the beginning of F-One in 1997 to prototypes of boards for the 2014 model year. After spending a bit of time getting nostalgic over the old gear we got a report that the wind was up at Beauduc, so we piled back into the vans and began the hour and a half trip to the beach. The Mistral had died down overnight so instead of wind that was gusting well into the 30s we had much calmer 8m-11m conditions. After the tiring day before I think most riders were glad to have a day with conditions that weren’t quite as extreme. We spent a few hours riding and then went back to our hotel to get cleaned up for a special dinner where we’d be treated to a horse show while we ate. I showered as best I could while awkwardly squatting in the odd small bathtub with no shower curtain in my room and met the rest of the group in the hotel’s on-site horse ring for our nightly apéritif. As we sat down to dinner, the horse show began and we were treated to a display of the local Camarguais horses. Of course, during all this time and for awhile after the wine kept on coming. Sometime after midnight, someone had the fantastic sounding idea to visit the discothèque Club Purple down the street. As we approached the club we could hear the music blaring and see the lights flashing, so our group of French, German, and British kiteboarders thought we had stumbled onto a big party in the middle of rural France. After passing the body guard I have to admit we were a little disappointed when we found the scene inside was just a few people hunched over their drinks at the bar and one lonely middle-aged man dancing by himself like his life depended on it. Oh well, we decided to make the best of the situation and someone in the group decided to kick things off by ordering a bottle of vodka from the bar. The next time I looked at my watch it was after 4 am when we were making our way back to the hotel. Fabien Boyaval, F-One’s Communication Manager, was carrying a pile of wet clothes in his hands, which turned out to belong to F-One’s Gauthier Pheby. At some point in the night, Gauthier decided to smoke a cigarette outside and wandered across the street to have a seat on a fence. While enjoying a little break from the pumping music in the club, the fence broke and he fell down a steep bank into the water. He was soaking wet and covered in stinking mud by the time he got out. The doorman at the club refused to let him back in so he simply took off all his clothes in the parking lot, left them there, and went back to the hotel.

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The next morning found that the Mistral winds had shut off, leaving us little chance of wind. Instead of heading back to Beauduc we went to the beach in the nearby town of Saintes Maries de la Mer for a day of relaxing on the beach

and stand up paddling in warm, clear, summer-like conditions. Saintes Maries de la Mer is the capital of the Camargue and is a small town of about 2,500 people that can swell to over 50,000 people during the summer. The town is surrounded by a series of small beaches protected by seawalls, creating perfect places for sunbathing and swimming in the Mediterranean. After spending a relaxing day on the beach we drove back to Montpellier and moved into our new hotel just down the street from the F-One office. For most of the other people on the trip this would be their last day in town, but I was spending a few more days in the area to explore and get in a few more days of riding. Unfortunately, the Mistral winds never returned until after I left. Even so, there was plenty to do and see. On the next day Mika Fernandez and Céline Rodenas took me around to see some of the flamingos and SUP in the canals around Montpellier. We also explored the fortified town of Aigues-Montes. From the outside Aigues-Montes looks like a giant castle, but inside the walls is a beautiful old town full of narrow streets and outdoor restaurants and cafes. Aigues-Montes was originally built as a fortified port city in the 13th century, but now lies three miles from the coast as the coastline has moved out as a result of sediment from the rivers being deposited on the coast. That


night I had a chance to walk aound downtown Montpellier for the first time. After having dinner on Le Comédie, the main town square, I wandered up and down the narrow streets until I lost track of time, missing the last tram back to the hotel, which forced me to take a €25 taxi to get back to my bed. The next day was my last full day in the area and after catching up on a few emails I went back to Montpellier with Mika and Céline. They showed me the highlights of the town that I never would have found myself due to all the twists and turns of the narrow streets. After a quiet night I went to bed planning to get up early and leisurely pack my bags in the morning before my flight. That plan went out the window when I slept through my alarm the next morning. I don’t know why or how I slept through my alarm, but instead of waking up at 7:30 am I woke up at 9:40 when I was supposed to be on a flight leaving at 10:15 am. I thought there would be no chance of reaching the airport in time as I looked at my unpacked bags, but I thought, well, might as well try. I blindly threw things in my bags as quickly as I could and ran out of the hotel to the F-One office, where Raph happened to be outside. He thought I’d decided to take a taxi to the airport and when he saw me he simply said, “OK, we go now!” We jumped into his car and took the back way to the airport, just five minutes from the office. He dropped me off in front and I ran inside to the counter only to be immediately told I was too late and sent to another counter to figure out what to do. As Raph walked in to help me sort out new flights to get home, the guy who told me I had missed my flight ran up to me, took my bag, pushed a ticket into my hand, and told me to run. After a quick thanks and goodbye to Raph I hurried through security, ran to the plane, and found myself to be the last one through the door before

it closed. The stressful and hurried morning was not how I had wanted to leave France, but at least I was able to maintain my record of having never missed a flight. I breathed a sigh of relief as the plane took off and looked out the window. As we passed over the Camargue it seemed like all I could see was water ringed with small bits of land. I had only managed a few days of riding in the Mistral winds over the course of my week-long stay but this trip hadn’t been just about the riding. Yes, I’d managed to have a few great days in the water, but I’d also enjoyed fantastic meals, made new friends, and had a chance to explore a part of the world I’d known nothing about before arriving. The goal before setting out on a kiteboarding trip is usually to do as much riding as possible, but it always seems to be that the most memorable and successful trips are the ones where you are able to spend a little time away from riding just enjoying being somewhere different. To watch a video tour of the new F-One office, visit http://www.thekiteboarder. com/2012/09/video-newf-one-office-and-raphaelsgarage or scan the code.

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While most North Americans know all about the flat water lagoons of Brazil, the kitesurfing potential found on Brazil’s central and southern coasts is only beginning to be explored. Photo Hugo Valente

BRAZIL: By Marina Chang

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More than Flat Water


E

very year beginning in late summer, The Kiteboarder gets flooded with photos of North American kiteboarders enjoying the conditions of the famous flat water lagoons in northeastern Brazil. First discovered as a kiteboarding destination in early 2000, Brazil has exploded as a top destination for kiters worldwide due to its affordability, warm weather, and fan-like wind conditions that blow from July through January. If you haven’t been to Brazil yet, chances are pretty good you know somebody who has. Chances are also good that they couldn’t stop raving about the weather, women, and wind for weeks after they returned.

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Photo Bill Wilson

Photo Hugo Valente Guilly Brandao. Photo Hugo Valente

Photo Bill Wilson

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Ben Wilson thinks Brazil is home of some of the world’s best and most consistent kiting. Photo Bill Wilson

Sebastian Ribeiro. Photo Hugo Valente

Seeing that Brazil has over 4,000 miles of coastline and many of the biggest names in the surf world today, I began to wonder about the surf in Brazil. Brazil is home to some impressive talent including big wave rider Carlos Burle, Adriano de Souza, and Gabriel Mendina, currently ranked second on the ASP World Tour. Many of the top competitors on the KSP Tour are also Brazilian and all have solid backgrounds in the surf. Surely there have to be epic places to surf and kitesurf there. So why don’t we hear more about kitesurfing in Brazil and why has there been so much focus on the lagoons? “We have two kinds of conditions,” said Sebastian Ribeiro, a KSP competitor from Riozinho, Florianapolis, the surf capital of Brazil. “Northern Brazil is windy but doesn’t have good waves, so it’s good for beginners or flat-water tricks. In southern Brazil we have flat water and good waves, both lefts and rights. It is usually windy all year but the wind in the south is a little gustier.” Fellow Brazilian and KSP competitor Guilly Brandao agrees. His hometown is Ihhabela, an archipelago and city four miles off the coast of São Paulo. “The south is not as explored for kiting basically because you can’t rely on the wind as much. It’s different from the north where you have wind pretty much 24/7 during the season. Also the south is not as pleasant weather-wise as the north. People come from Europe or North America wanting to get away from the cold and up north is a tropical climate. Down south it’s kind of cold, especially during the winter months where temperatures can average 50° to 68° F. In the summer it’s quite hot though, the same as up north. Even though the south is not that consistent and the waves are not really world class, I think it’s just a matter of time until the kitesurfers start to come over here. A good 15-day trip should score you plenty of good riding. It is not guaranteed to be windy or that there will be a good swell, but there’s plenty of cool things to do around the area while you wait.” Pedro Henrique was six years old when he started surfing. “My father is from the first generation of surfers in Brazil and was one of the pioneers who surfed the Ipanema pier and started living the surf lifestyle, so it was natural that I began to surf early on,” he said. Raised in Lebon, Rio de Janeiro, Pedro was the 2000 ASP Junior World Champion – the first Brazilian to win the title. Now 30 years old, he started kiting only three years ago and firmly believes that kitesurfing has improved his wave riding and made him a better surfer. “I always

liked to see the freestyle jumps but when I discovered I could kite using my normal surfboard, the same board I used to surf in competitions, I soon found all the freedom of kitesurfing in the waves. Brazil has so much potential. The waves are very good throughout the central and southern coasts, but the best winds are predominantly in the north. Rio de Janeiro and Florianopolis are great places to surf with many beaches and a lot of different swell conditions from all directions. Like everywhere in the world, there are times when the wind is less constant but the entire coast gets strong winds. When it’s on, the conditions for kitesurfing are incredible here.” It took Ben Wilson ten years to finally make it to Brazil, and that happened just two years ago. When asked why Brazil seems to be below the radar for its surfing and kitesurfing potential, he said, “To be honest, I don’t really know. I’ve been there twice and in my opinion it’s home of some of the best and most consistent kiting in the entire world. I think it will become more popular over the next few years as it becomes better known, especially because there are so many great Brazilian kitesurfers hitting the scene who will help shape the industry.”

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Photo Hugo Valente Photo Hugo Valente

None of those interviewed for this story tried to portray Brazil as having epic wave riding spots. Ben said, “I think in terms of wind it has some of the most consistent conditions anywhere. If you’re into beach breaks and long downwinders then Brazil offers some of the best conditions hands down. I think it’s got a lot of potential, however it’s missing the super long waves that you can find in other parts of the world.” Guilly agrees. “I wouldn’t call it a great wave destination. I would say it’s a great fun destination where you have the possibility to score great kiting in the waves, great surfing, and great parties.” Guilly, Sebastian, and Pedro are just some of the talented Brazilians paving the way for the next generation of kitesurfers in their country and exposing the world to Brazil’s potential as a kitesurfing wave destination. Kitesurfing is gaining in popularity but has its challenges, especially with the younger generation. Pedro believes that kitesurfing is growing fast, not just in Brazil but all over the world. “In Brazil we have a lot of surfers and it’s just a matter of time until they see the potential of the kite and how much fun it can be. For the kids, getting into surfing is very easy. You just need a surfboard. The kite is a little more complicated and takes more determination to learn but the children are good because they make the most out of whatever they get.”

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On Ben’s most recent trip to Brazil he spent some time with Victor Ribus, a former WCT surfer who, at the height of his career, was ranked number three in the world. “It’s so awesome to see surfers at this level and their mates getting into it and riding the waves exactly like they would surfing. It seems like more and more are getting into it every day which is really exciting for kitesurfing and the

surf culture in Brazil. From what I see there are more flat water kiters getting into kitesurfing and also surfers are gravitating towards it. I think this is where the market will move to, particularly in Brazil.” As far as up and coming young riders from Brazil, Ben said, “I’ve definitely seen some younger kids tearing it up in the surf but most of the youth there was more interested in flat water riding. I think this is a standard demographic. Our target market is mostly people in their mid-twenties and upwards who are seeing there are more options. They’re seeing that riding your surfboard with a kite is the ultimate extension of surfing.” “There are a lot of pro surfers in Brazil that are getting into kitesurfing,” said Guilly when asked if any of Brazil’s big name surfers were into kitesurfing. “Even last year’s world junior champ Caio Ibeli is really hooked on kiting, but the young kids are too focused on their rising competitive careers so many of the professional free surfers are the ones that are really putting time and effort to progress into kiting.” He added, “I think there’s a big opportunity for kitesurfing to grow a lot here. I see it every day. Surfers young and old, who were not interested in kiting at all, are now getting really excited about it. They see that kitesurfing performance in the waves is getting a lot like normal surfing so they can relate to it, and also the economy here has been improving a lot. A surfer who couldn’t afford to buy a kite three years ago is now earning a bit more money and is able to get one.” Without a doubt, Brazil’s wave riding potential is just beginning to be explored. More schools and shops are starting to open in windy surf spots like Florianapolis. Businesses like Kite Adventures already offer downwind tours in the north and Ben plans to start running Brazilian wave camps from Rio to Taibi starting next season. In the years to come, we anticipate more wave riding images from Brazil as locals and visitors alike venture outside the lagoons in the northeast in hunt of wind and swell along its vast coastline.


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One Eye Wide Open I can very easily break down the trips I get invited on into two categories. Trips falling into the first category are the ones where I have to weigh the pluses and minuses of going before I can commit. These are the trips where I have to ask myself “Will it be productive? Will I be able to get photos? Is it worth the time away from home? Does it fit into my schedule?� After carefully considering the pros and cons I either accept the offer or politely turn it down. Trips that fall into the second category are a little different. These are the ones I commit to without much thought or consideration. When North Kiteboarding extended an offer for me to join them in Mauritius for their 2013 European dealer meeting, I immediately put the offer into the second category, said yes, and worked out the details later.

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Words and Photos by Paul Lang


Patri McLaughlin tucks into the green room at One Eye.

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Kirsty Jones enjoys a SUP session with a pod of dolphins.

Located in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Madagascar, Mauritius is quite literally on the opposite end of the globe from my home in California. I knew very little about the country other than the fact that it’s consistently windy, warm, and the home of a world-class kitesurfing wave. Mauritius has received a fair amount of coverage through the KSP World Tour and previous videos and magazine stories, but I was confident that I would be able to explore the island and get enough of a feel for the place while I was there to be able to tell a unique story. I confirmed the trip dates with North, booked my ticket, and then neglected to find out any additional details about the trip, a minor detail that almost prevented me from entering the country. After a seemingly endless amount of time sitting on planes, I confidently walked up to the immigration desk in Mauritius and presented my passport and immigration form to the seated officer, a short man with a huge mustache. Since I didn’t know where I’d be staying, I had just written “kiteboarding” in the open space that asked for my address during my visit. I’ve written similar things on immigration forms for other countries and not once had anyone even raised an eyebrow while inspecting my documents. That was not to be the case this time. The officer looked up at me, let out a sigh, and asked me to step aside and wait until everyone else in line had passed through. Soon I was the last person waiting to be admitted into the country and he proceeded to ask me a lot of questions that I did not have the answer to. I’ll admit these were simple questions I should have known. It really is a good idea to know how to answer questions like “Where are you staying?” or “Who is picking you up from the airport?” when arriving in a foreign country, and he didn’t seem to like my vague responses.

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I know it sounds ridiculous that I wouldn’t find out this basic information before flying halfway


Inside the reef is a huge, shallow flat-water lagoon.

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Tom Court launches in Le Morne.

around the world, but my traveling experiences have taught me that the best course of action (and the most interesting one) is to simply show up somewhere and figure it out from there. However, this time I think I took the “figure it out as I go” plan a little too far. I pulled out my phone and dug through all the emails regarding this trip, hoping to come across a mention of where I was staying or maybe even a phone number I could call. No such luck. After a lot of insisting on my part, I was allowed out of the airport with a security guard following me to make sure I didn’t make a run for it while I was checking to see if there was anyone outside waiting to pick me up. I scanned all the hand held signs for my name and approached everyone I thought looked like a kiteboarder to ask if they were here for the North Kiteboarding meeting. Again, no luck. Back in the airport the immigration agent folded his arms, looked at me sternly, and just shook his head. I had now been at the airport for over two hours and was tired, frustrated, and didn’t know what to do next. I was about to be taken to an office to wait while the immigration officers figured out what to do with me when I approached the counter for a Mauritian travel company. You see counters like these in airports of any tourist destination usually offering overpriced special deals on local transportation and tours. On a whim I gave them my name and asked if they had any reservations for me. To my complete amazement, they did. A taxi had been waiting for me in front of the airport but the driver left after waiting for over an hour. They called the driver and told me I was staying at the Mornea Hotel in Le Morne. With my passport finally stamped I hurried outside to find my taxi driver who warmly welcomed me to the country.

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Finally out of the airport I got my first look at Mauritius as Izam, my taxi driver, excitedly talked about his country. Izam was amazed to hear that I was from California as visitors from North America are rare here. During the hour long drive to Le Morne, we passed through endless sugar cane fields and small towns.


The entire sequence of the wave that landed Airton Cozzolino Lopes on the cover of this issue.

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The roads were narrow but clean and well-maintained until the last half mile before reaching the hotel when the road became deeply rutted dirt. The open lobby of the hotel was full of bright couches and pillows, and I was immediately offered a seat, a hot towel, and a drink that I could only describe as delicious in taste and orange in color. Barbara from North welcomed me and told me about the upcoming week’s activities, and I was quickly shown to my room. I checked the time and after a doing a little math I realized it had taken me 39 hours of traveling to get here from the time I left home. Alone in my quiet room, I stared at the bed for a few moments and thought about immediately going to sleep, but quickly changed my mind, put on a pair of board shorts, and went down to the beach. The best way to quickly get used to a new time zone is to avoid falling asleep before night, so I figured the only way to stay awake was to get on the water. I had seen plenty of photos and videos of Mauritius before coming here, but I had no idea how concentrated the riding spots here are. Le Morne is the center of kitesurfing and windsurfing on Mauritius and while there are a few other ridable spots on the island, very few people ride anywhere other than Le Morne. Directly in front of our hotel was a huge flat water lagoon with a shallow, mostly sandy bottom. About a half mile offshore I could see waves pounding the outer reef. I wandered down the beach and found the North crew well set up with an outrageous amount of brand new equipment to demo. At the beach I finally had the chance to meet North’s Philipp Becker in person after years of working with him through email and Skype. I picked out a kite, board, and harness and got a little information about the surf spots before heading out. Directly in front of where we were setting up and launching kites was one of just two deep channels through the reef. About half a mile straight offshore was Manawa, a typically large, crumbly wave that breaks far from shore. The wind direction is side-on at Manawa and it lies next to the channel, creating an easy way to get out after every wave. Downwind from Manawa is Little Reef, which is usually smaller and steeper. Further downwind the land curved away and directly in front of that point was the attraction I was most excited to expereince on this trip: One Eye. As a goofy footer living in California, sometimes it seems like I’m destined to forever kitesurf backside. The photos and videos I’d seen of One Eye basically perfectly matched my dream wave: Fast, steep, hollow, and, most importantly, a left. I was really anxious to get down to One Eye, but for once I listened to that little voice in my head that was telling me that it probably wasn’t a good idea to tackle a fast, powerful wave breaking over a shallow, sharp reef in my slightly delirious, sleep-deprived state. I rigged up a 9m for Manawa thinking I’d stay away from the shallow reef until I got at least a little rest.

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Photo Florian Panther/Mario Entero


Tom Court spent his time alternating between flat water and wave riding sessions.

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While riding through the channel out to Manawa, the tide was on its way out and the strong currents were very noticeable. During tide changes, the entire lagoon drains and fills through just two channels – one at Manawa and the other downwind of One Eye. When combined with the fact that the waves in Le Morne are far from shore, the currents create a potentially dangerous situation. Break down at the wrong time and the swim back in against the current wouldn’t just be long, it would be impossible. This is especially worrying at One Eye, where the wind blows side-off. Of course, there are rescue boats on hand from Club Mistral who will pick up troubled or broken down windsurfers and kiters for about $35. When you consider that the alternative is floating around the Indian Ocean for hours or even longer, this is well worth it. North had hired two boats to be on site and provide rides back to the beach at no charge, but they were only on the water until 4:30 pm. At that time the wind seemed to get flukey everyday, so venturing outside the reef late in the afternoon with no potential rescue is very risky. After riding in really crowded conditions at Manawa, frustration set in and I headed in. The many hours of traveling and lack of sleep had taken their toll on me, and I felt like I couldn’t even talk in complete sentences. After taking a shower I decided to lay down for just a minute sometime around 5 pm and immediately fell asleep, not waking up until the next morning After devouring a huge amount of food at the buffet breakfast, I headed to the beach and got back on the water. I went back to Manawa and had a much better session, realizing my frustration from the day before was caused as much by my state of mind as the crowds. To be sure, there were still a lot of people in the water and, for the most part, a shocking disregard of surf etiquette, but the slow, overhead lefts were well worth the minor hassles. Back on the beach I joined a group of Italian North dealers to do a kite comparison. Over the course of the afternoon, I rode every new North kite on every available setting. The only way to truly compare kites is to ride them back to back on the same board in the same conditions. The subtle differences between the different models and different settings were obvious. The kite comparison having taken up the entire afternoon, I still hadn’t ridden One Eye. That night I again ate too much at the buffet dinner before hitting the bar to down a few of the local Stag beers with some of the other magazine editors on the trip. Rou Chater of England-based IKSURF, Thijs Vunderink of the Dutch Kitesurf magazine, and I ended up making full use of the all-inclusive (drinks included) part of our stay at the hotel and made good friends with barman Jean-Paul. All of us were here on

The rescue/photo boat was on hand to haul any downed kiteboarders and windsurfers back to shore.

a working trip and each lamented that we should have been sending emails or doing something else productive instead of sitting at a bar. Unfortunately, the internet wasn’t just slow at our hotel, it was downright useless. It would have been better if it didn’t work at all because at least that would have saved us hours of staring at our screens trying to will the internet into working. The internet worked just enough at times that I was able to get an email or two through, but that was about it. At first we were all a little stressed about the fact that we were falling behind on work, but a few Stags and a couple shots of whiskey helped the situation. I was also able to catch up with Tom Court, who I had seen just a few months before in Hood River. He had already been in Mauritius for a week, but this was his first time here as well. For most Europeans, Mauritius is known as a honeymoon resort destination, not for kiteboarding. “Before coming here I only knew about the white sand beaches and immaculately groomed hotels that the tourism brochures show, but now it feels like this five-star image the island has built is a tiny bit misleading,” Tom said. “Outside the resorts Mauritius is a charming and downto-earth island with small tropical villages scattered around the stunning mountains that dominate the interior of the island. It’s a beautiful place, but the highly privatized coastline and heavy tourism seem to kill the sense of local flavor.” Tom was staying in a nearby house and discovered exploring the coastline to be a little difficult. “If you aren’t staying in one of the hotels, it can be difficult to get to the beach at certain places to explore the potential. Having said that, there is a public beach at One Eye, and it’s rare to find a place that has so much world-class kiting in one spot. Right there is a flat water lagoon on the inside, kickers on the reef, and then crunching scary waves barreling out the back. I’d say it’s one of the best all-around spots I’ve been to for kiting.”

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The next day delivered more great kitesurfing conditions, so I decided it was time to head down to One Eye. As I don’t ride around reefs very often, I have a healthy fear of shallow reef breaks and have to admit that I was a little nervous about riding the infamous spot. I saw many boards coming in damaged after being ridden too close to the reef and Philipp told me after the trip that they broke 25 fins over two weeks. Kirsty Jones, who has visited Mauritius a number of times and knows One Eye well, told me not to worry and she, Tom, and I took off from the beach riding downwind. Still nervous about the reef, I took my time finding a wave to line up on and watched other riders catch a few waves first. The faces this day were around eight feet and were so fast that I fell off the back of the first few waves I tried to catch as they outran me. Finally finding myself in the right position with enough speed I caught my first wave at One Eye. This wave wasn’t the best one of the trip, but it was the most exciting. To catch a wave at One Eye, you start by basically claiming it far outside while riding as fast as you can to stay slightly ahead of it. As the wave begins to get steeper and taller you release your edge and go screaming down the smooth vertical face of the wave while hoping the wave doesn’t section and break in front of you. If it does begin to close out, the only option is to edge hard and try to get in front of it, which isn’t super easy because of the side-off wind direction. If you do get in front of the whitewater when the wave breaks, there’s very little room to do anything as you’ll find yourself over the reef in less than a foot of water. On my first wave I’m sure my eyes suddenly widened as I took off with a lot of speed and could clearly see the reef flying by just below my board. The noise of the wave steadily crashing on the reef right behind me was incredible. At the end of the wave I let out a yell, took a deep breath, and worked my way back upwind for more. With each wave I pushed myself to ride deeper and deeper as my level of confidence rose, though I got washed around a bit in the process. My fear of the reef lessened with every wave, and the nervousness I had at the beginning was replaced by sheer excitement. After getting my fill, I went back to the beach and grabbed my camera as Kirsty went back out along with Airton Cozzolino Lopes and Patri McLaughlin. I hopped in the photo boat

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and took a few shots from the channel as the wind began to back off. There was still enough wind to ride, but One Eye became even cleaner and more hollow, allowing Airton and Patri to tuck into the cleanest barrels I’ve ever seen kitesurfed in person. The rest of the trip became a blur of eating buffet meals, kitesurfing One Eye, and drinking Stag beer in the evenings. My goal for this trip was to spend time exploring outside of the main kiteboarding area trying to get a feel for what the island of Mauritius is really like. I usually pride myself on digging a little below the surface of the places I visit. For me kiteboarding trips are about more than just the kiteboarding potential of a place. I try to make my trips about the people, the cultures, and the local food as much as the actual riding, and I traveled to Mauritius with the full intention of getting off the beaten path. That plan went out the window after catching my first wave at One Eye. All I wanted to do from that point on was to ride that wave. Other than one morning trip up the coast to an area where we swam with dolphins, I never left the resort area until it was time to begin the long journey home. I knew I was missing out on an opportunity to experience a new culture, and I felt like I was ignoring what I had traveled so far to accomplish, but I honestly didn’t care. If I wasn’t in the water, all I wanted to do was get back out there. Sometimes traveling is about searching out experiences and making connections that are beyond the average tourist experience, but sometimes it is simply all about the riding.


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“...It’s a few notches above the rest in Theofmost delicious food terms the meals, the accommodations The launch and thebest whole casual but deluxe vibe.”

The easiest spot for beginners

or beginners, this is the ultimate “FThe most comfortable rooms learning spot. And the hot tub rules.”

The biggest hot tub Lots of alternate activities... t Ventana Windsports, we stayed “A

right ON the beach, and wow is the food good. What a relaxing and windy And it’s be allback right the paradise!” water! trip! We’ll to on kiters’

Ventana Ventana Windsports Windsports www.VentanaWindsports.com www.VentanaWindsports.com 47


LA VENTANA DOWNWINDER INN

Owners Wayde and Char Yates invite you to experience their piece of paradise with six rooms in a garden setting conveniently located near great beach launches. Each room has a queen bed, storage shelves, personal refrigerator, coffee maker, and complete bathrooms with hot showers for $50/night. Roof tops are available for relaxation and to enjoy the fabulous sunrises, sunsets, or just star gazing like you have never seen. A spacious outdoor community dining area provides all necessary items from the quick breakfast to a sit-down relaxing dinner. Complimentary cars for local transportation around town are available to guests as well as the daily downwind shuttle service. www.downwinderinn.com

EF BLOCK

Building your dream or vacation home in Baja? The patentpending EF BlockTM transforms standard recycled polystyrene and plastics into durable, fire-resistant, and highly insulative blocks that are easy to stack and shape into just about every construction design you can imagine. The EF BlockTM will have an everlasting positive impact on your lifestyle and our environment through strength in construction, thermal energy savings, and the recycled use of materials that would otherwise be sent to landfills. EF BlockTM is quick and easy to construct and, once constructed, various fascias can be applied to customize the appearance of finished walls. www.efblockmx.com

PALAPAS VENTANA

Founders of the La Ventana Classic Race, owners Tim and Jimena Hatler’s property is located upwind of the main riding area where waves often break when there’s swell or a strong El Norte. You’ll know you’re at the property when you see the palapa roofs of their quaint casitas with large porches, each overlooking the Sea of Cortez and Cerralvo Island. Lodging includes authentic home-cooked meals (breakfast/lunch) served at the convenient restaurant/bar located just above the launch area. Stop in for a killer espresso and wifi. With a central location close to riding, area markets, and restaurants, Palapas Ventana’s warm atmosphere will make you feel like you have a home away from home. Sport fishing, diving excursions, the infamous hot dog tour, and day trips to the island are also available. www. palapasventana.com

VENTANA BAY RESORT

Located halfway between the main town and the hot springs, Ventana Bay Resort offers a choice of accommodations from beachfront rooms to private bungalows nestled in a beautiful

desert landscape. Their on-site private restaurant serves delicious and healthy meals which are anticipated by both locals and guests alike. Guests can keep to themselves on their private patio or join other guests for a cocktail at the clubhouse overlooking the bay. The Resort also offers lessons for all levels with all of the latest windsurfing and kiteboarding equipment along with a sports package with mountain biking, snorkeling, and kayaking equipment. www.ventanabay.com

VENTANA WINDSPORTS

In the middle of the action but seemingly a world apart, Ventana Windsports offers a casual laid-back atmosphere in an intimate setting with super comfortable rooms. With a large launch/land area directly in front of the property and a 2,000 gallon hot tub for soaking after your session, you’ll also enjoy healthy gourmet meals in the new ocean view restaurant overlooking the entire bay (included in accommodations), thick futons, feather beds, and fine bedding and furnishings, along with plenty of hammocks and lounge chairs for your “Baja Deluxe” holiday. Lodging also includes wifi and use of sports gear (SUP boards, kayaks, bikes). www.ventanawindsports.com

LOS BARRILES VELA KITESURF

Vela Kitesurf has been creating and perfecting the windsports resort experience for nearly 25 years. Whether you are looking for long tropical beaches with reliable side-shore winds, perfect flat water, or good surf breaks, Vela offers stand alone lessons or packages with gear, lessons, and lodging options at many locations around the world. Check out the website for their full offering of destinations with wind reports from their center managers, videos, and feedback from other travelers to give you a sense of what to expect. Gear rentals are available – leave your board at home and try the new 2013 kites! www.velakitesurf.com

EXOTIKITE

ExotiKite Kiteboarding School has been teaching kiteboarding in Los Barriles since 1998. An IKO certified and insured school on the East Cape boasting professional and experienced instructors, jet ski lessons and rescue, radio helmet instruction, and a guaranteed safe, successful, and enjoyable learning experience, they operate year round offering kiteboarding lessons, advanced wave riding and trick clinics, rentals, SUP tours and rentals, snorkeling, surfing, kayaking, and accommodations. Visit their store next to Smokey’s Cantina or their school one mile north of town at Kite Beach. www.losbarrileskiteboarding.com


2013 TKB CALENDAR Baja – Hatteras – Alaska – Idaho- Honduras California – Canada – Hood River – Ecuador http://store.thekiteboarder.com


THE SCENE

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1. Kevin Langeree high fives the photo boat during the 2012 Kiteival Mauritius PHOTO NICO KUX 2. Bruna Kajiya gets ready for her heat at the PKRA event in Haikou, China. PHOTO TOBY BROMWICH/PKRA 3. Damien LeRoy captures a GoPro self portrait in the Florida surf. PHOTO DAMIEN LEROY 4. A-Train in the Airtime van. PHOTO ZACH LUELLEN 5. Here’s the reverse angle of photo number three. PHOTO DAVID KNIGHT 6. At Beauduc in southern France there are no facilities, so don’t forget your shovel. PHOTO PAUL LANG 7. The PKRA’s top freestyle women for 2012: Karolina Winkowska, Bruna Kajiya, and Gisela Pulido. PHOTO TOBY BROMWICH/PKRA 8. An unknown rider in South Padre Island, Texas. PHOTO ZACH DISCHNER 9. Dimitri Maramenides, one of the hardest-working people in kiteboarding. PHOTO COURTESY EPIC KITES 10. The Liquid Force van, somewhere in Mexico. PHOTO PAUL LANG 11. Alex Pastor entertains the crowd during the last PKRA stop of the year in New Caledonia. PHOTO TOBY BROMWICH/PKRA 12. The craziest part about this photo? The kite was not damaged at all! PHOTO PAUL LANG 13. Tom Court, putting out the vibe in Mauritius. PHOTO PAUL LANG 14. Jason Slezak shares his knowledge during the Liquid Force Wave Camp at SoloSports. PHOTO PAUL LANG 15. Youri Zoon, Alex Pastor, and Alberto Rondina, the top PKRA freestyle men for 2012. PHOTO TOBY BROMWICH/PKRA 16. Kevin Trejo catches the last wave of the day in San Carlos. PHOTO PAUL LANG 17. Brian Lake, AKA Bernie, top PKRA racer for 2012. PHOTO TOBY BROMWICH/PKRA 18. Jason Slezak checks the morning surf in Baja. PHOTO PAUL LANG 19. Dimitri Maramenides snapped this photo mid jump. PHOTO DIMITRI MARAMENIDES 20. Riders prepare for a downwinder during the 2012 Kiteival Mauritius. PHOTO PASCAL MAMET 21. Five months old and already hooked on kiting! PHOTO JENNIFER ADOLPH If you have a photo you would like to see in The Kiteboarder Magazine, send it to editor@thekiteboarder.com.

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PROFILED

Photo Mike Sproul

TIPS:

• Give your gear plenty of attention and maintenance so that it doesn’t fail while in use. • If you are a kid, make sure that you have all the proper safety equipment like a helmet, life jacket, and good line knife. You are lighter so things can happen faster. • When trying new tricks, always exercise extra caution because there are many unique ways you can get bonked or slammed. • Remember that just because you get better does not mean that the sport gets safer. Stay safe.

Emmet Sproul AGE: 12 HEIGHT: 5’1” YEARS KITING: 3 FAVORITE SPOTS: Maui, Oahu, Skyline, and Strawberry Park SPONSORS: Ozone, DaKine, CrazyFly, Coloradokiteforce

GEAR

BOARDS: CrazyFly Raptor Pro 127, Slingshot Pit 5’2”, Scud Skimboard, Icelantic Scout Skis KITES: Ozone REOs HARNESS: DaKine Pyro A skier since the age of five, Emmet’s first introduction to kiting was on the snow when he was nine years old. Now with three years of experience under his belt, he is shredding on flat water, waves, and the snow. When asked what he likes the most about kiteboarding, Emmet said he loves the other world kiting takes him to as well as how all the varieties of kiting allow him to express himself in different ways. But the best think about kiteboarding to him? It took his family to a whole new level of ‘funology.”

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When, where, and why did you start kiteboarding? I learned to snowkite first in Breckenridge, Colorado, with Anton Rainold and Coloradokiteforce. I started because my dad kites a lot and my mom wanted to start kiting also, so we thought it would be fun if

we could kite together as a family. I started on a 3m training kite and played with that for a long time. After that I went to a 5m SLE kite. The very first thing I learned was how to use the safety release. When starting young, it is extra important to use the correct size kite for the wind because we are so light. Lighter people and kids have to be careful because they have less of a wind range on each kite and can get overpowered fast. Do you have any plans to compete? I ride for Ozone USA, DaKine, CrazyFly, and Coloradokiteforce. I am also an ambassador for Ozone to help get more kids and families into kiting. I plan to compete again in snowkiting this winter at the Dillon Snowkite Open and other snow events and also in the Naish Race Series next summer in Maui. I enjoy competing and really like racing. Kite racing is possibly the highest performance type of sailboat racing ever. How does your family schedule kite trips around your academic responsibilities? I’m in the sixth grade and most of my traveling is done in the summer or on school vacations. I’m a straight-A student and when I do travel during school I ask my teachers for any work that I may need to complete while I’m away. I try to do all of it in the first day or two to get it out of the way. I would like to homeschool to be able to kite more. My parents said I may be able to do that in the future but not yet.

What is your favorite style of riding? It depends on the conditions. On a clear day with waves I like to ride my strapless surfboard. That’s probably my favorite. I also really like high winds on my twin tip to work on my jumps, rolls, and jump transitions. My dad won’t let me unhook yet so I won’t hurt my shoulders. What do you think will attract younger riders like yourself into the sport? I think the fact that you can do everything that you can do on a snowboard, wakeboard, and a surfboard on a kite will attract more kids. The feeling of jumping and hanging in the air feels so cool that I just think they will love it if they give it a try. They need to understand that it’s not about being rad and shredding. It’s about the feeling of kiting. What is something you do outside of kiteboarding that most people wouldn’t know? I have a sewing machine and I like to sew. I like to make bags out of old kites and stuffed animals. I also play classical piano and play the organ and clarinet. I like to play fun jazzy songs. Any words of wisdom you want to share with our readers? When you plan a kite trip, make sure there are plenty of things to do in that place if it’s not windy while you are there. There is always a chance that even in a windy location there may be no wind. Then it can still be a fun trip, even if you don’t get to kite.


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PROFILED

Photo Pete Cabrinha

TIPS:

• Get some safe bikinis! All kite girls will know what I mean! • When you start a trick and it doesn’t feel right, don’t keep going because it will go wrong! • If you really believe, anything is possible.

Annabel van Westerop AGE: 18 YEARS KITING: 4 FAVORITE SPOTS: Boca Grandi, Aruba; Grand Cayman; and Uruau, Brazil SPONSORS: Cabrinha, Saba Rock Island

GEAR

BOARDS: XO Siren KITE: Switchblade Siren HARNESS: Cabrinha Waist Having recently signed on as an International Cabrinha Team Rider, Aruba’s Annabel van Westerop has had an exciting past year. Her first dream came true when she won a silver medal at the world championships of Paso Fino horseback riding in Colombia in 2009 and she said, “I am working on my second dream and won’t stop until I reach my goal!” When, where, and why did you start kiteboarding? When I was 13, my dad started some strange sport called kiteboarding. I didn’t know what it was! I really wanted to try it when I saw it, but my parents wanted me to start windsurfing first. I loved it, but how could I keep windsurfing while looking at my dad and all those other kiteboarders doing all these crazy tricks? After begging my parents, they finally let me take a lesson. I bought a second hand kite and board and was then on the water everyday!

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How did you get the nickname Tinkerbell? Uh oh… It’s really going worldwide, isn’t it?

This nickname was invented on a trip to Grand Cayman about a year ago when I was giving a clinic with my good friends Damien LeRoy and Jon Modica. On the first day, I made a joke to someone and he called me Tinkerbell at the introduction evening. He definitely got the laughs he was expecting but it also got a very positive response, and I think it fits me too! Have you always lived in Aruba? I was born a real Dutchie! Holland was my home until I was 11 years old when my parents made the best decision of their lives. We moved to Aruba with the intention of trying it out for half a year and now eight years later we still have no regrets and are enjoying life on this paradise island. Aruba has a reputation for having gusty winds. Is this a fair statement? I would recommend Aruba as a kiteboarding destination to everyone! You are right, there is one gusty spot where the wind is offshore and the water is perfectly flat. The farther you go out, the less you feel the gusts and it is a beautiful beach near the city and all the hotels. That is not the only spot though! Boca Grandi is at the far end of the island and is the favorite spot of many local kiteboarders, including myself. The wind is constant and you feel like you are away from the rest of the world for a little while. Our self-made driftwood hut gives you protection from the sun and is the perfect place to hang out with friends after an amazing session. What can be done to draw more girls into kiteboarding? Well, Cabrinha just did it by creating perfect gear just for

girls, which also looks really pretty! To the girls that feel intimidated, I can totally understand, but just try it. The control is in your own hands so you decide where, how fast, and how high you go. What is your favorite style of riding? I love doing freestyle more than anything. I am training really hard at the moment because I would love to compete in the PKRA and hopefully get on the podium someday! What is something you do outside of kiteboarding that most people wouldn’t know? I have a side job at a magic show where they cut me in half and make me disappear. Where’s your dream destination? Saba Rock island! Can you believe this dream destination is my new sponsor? This little island is located in the BVIs and I get to go there very soon. Next on my list is a snowkiting trip. It doesn’t really matter where as long as there is snow and wind because I have wanted to try it for a very long time. What has been your most memorable kiteboarding experience? I was in Bonaire about two years ago with my parents on a kiteboarding vacation. One day I was just riding around and having fun when about seven dolphins showed up. I cautiously rode closer and had the time of my life while being surrounded by wild dolphins that came up from behind, underneath, and both sides! I will never forget this special moment and hope that I will get a chance like this again!


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EXPOSED


HEAD FIRST “In Hatteras I finally got around to an idea I’ve had for a long time, the X-Fighter,” said Eric Rienstra. “Take a slider and a kicker and set them up crossing each other so you have to jump the slider when you hit the kicker.” If you’ve seen Rienstra (AKA the Predator) ride, you know he cleared it just fine. Photo Nate Appel

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EXPOSED


TRUNKIN’ IT Jason Slezak scores a rare warm-water session at Punta San Carlos in Baja. “Everyone warned me about how cold it is here, so I had no idea I’d be riding until sunset every day perfectly warm in just trunks and a t-shirt.” Photo Paul Lang

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IN, THEN OUT Kiteboarding’s time in the Olympic limelight proved to be short-lived when ISAF, the international governing body for sailing, reversed its decision and reinstated the windsurfing RS:X class as an Olympic class while giving kiteboarding the boot. “I have mixed feelings about the whole thing,” said racer Johnny Heineken. “With the attention after the original decision came added stress, increased gear regulations, silly formats, and the involvement of people who have never raced kites or even seen a kite race. I’m disappointed, but also relieved to no longer have to defend the sport I love from ignorant criticism. In my opinion, kiting is the most fun and free form of sailing in the world. This will remain true, maybe even more so now without the hindrance of Olympic involvement.” Photo Toby Bromwich/PKRA

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EXPOSED


SALT & SPEED As this issue went to press Rob Douglas and Alexandre Caizergues were in France trying to set new speed records on a salt pond they found with Google Earth. “Usually we don’t ride at the same time, but a French TV crew was filming that day and asked us if this was possible,” said Alex. “Rob started 100 feet behind me and I’m not ashamed to tell you it was quite scary to see him behind me going 60 mph. The only thought in my head was ‘Don’t fall!’” Photo Greg Beneteau/aqua-terra.info

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Driven together by challenging conditions, socializing is just as important as the actual riding in the UK. Photo Jason Rubino

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THE BRITISH SCENE By Chris Burke

Those who have visited the UK know it is a hard place to kite. It rains about half of the year, normally only blows when it’s pouring, and has a variety of stony beaches that are etched out by strong tidal currents that rip along the shore faster than you can run. Yet somewhere through the madness we’ve developed a kite scene here that is one of the strongest in the world and from which some of kiteboarding’s greatest athletes have emerged. Head to any beach here on even the most unpleasant day and so long as there’s at least a little breeze you will be amazed to discover an eternally optimistic crew of kiters who, rain or shine, get together to make a session happen.

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Photo Paul Read

Ultimately kiting in the UK is hard. You have to work for it, wait, put up with the crap, and be passionate for that session when it finally comes.

Maybe it’s bred through our strong history of invasion and defense, maybe it’s just our stubbornness as a once proud empire, but right back through history our determination is shown by the great British icons who’ve stopped at nothing to achieve their ambitions. Ernest Shackleton, who embarked on four unimaginably grueling expeditions to the South Pole, never once halted on his life-long quest to conquer the Antarctic. Closer to our own shores in 1805 Nelson unflinchingly defended our country against the impossible odds of the combined forces of the French and Spanish Navies. Our stiff upper lip and stubborn attitude to never give up while trying to make the most of what we have is what we know and is what’s in us when trying to kite. Calling our conditions changeable doesn’t quite do justice to the variables we have become accustomed to. Due to pressure systems that form in the Atlantic we are often at the mercy of an eclectic mix of weather and wind conditions that pass over us before being drawn into mainland Europe. During its journey each of these systems delivers a variety of wind conditions blowing from every direction across the country. It’s something that as a UK kiter you learn to understand. We must be prepared for and be ready to make the most of a potential session at the drop of a hat. We’ll watch the forecast daily, plan our next session, and, following morning text messages to link up with friends, discover more often than not that our meeting point was in fact just a stepping stone on the way to another beach with the right conditions.

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It doesn’t stop there though. Having arrived at the right beach the next hurdle some kiters here have to tackle is a fast moving current caused by the narrow English and Irish channels. If timed wrongly certain areas can see currents of up to 15 knots and vertical tide changes of up to 45 feet. Of course sometimes it’s

really clear that conditions are going to be epic. We’ll see a big predictable system pushing in, and that’s when people start to get excited. It brings out characters you haven’t seen in a while, normally the veterans of the sport who save themselves for the good days. On those days there’s a buzz in the air; those are the days when kiting in the UK rocks. Ultimately kiting in the UK is hard. You have to work for it, wait, put up with the crap, and be passionate for that session when it finally comes. As a result crews of kiters come together to plan their next session. Banter and peer pressure encourage progression and together friends make a potentially marginal session a certain and earned good one. It’s taking advantage of less than ideal conditions that makes UK kiters adaptable. You learn here that if you can find fun in every session then you’ll stay passionate. That’s what raises our standards and is exactly why you’ll see so many amazing riders from the UK competing all across the world. I grew up in the West Country and windsurfed on the weekends with my old man. We read about kiting in a windsurf magazine and managed to get hold of a Wipika Classic kite about 13 years ago. We traveled to the South Coast while trying to figure it out. Back then Poole, the Isle of Wight, and Hayling Island were the central kiteboarding areas of the UK. Conditions were gentle there and crews of friends taught themselves after watching the early videos of Robby Naish and Mat Pendle. Gradually kiting began to grow and spread, but our beaches are small. It wasn’t really until the release of bridled kites that kiteboarding exploded onto the scene. Now there’s hardly a beach you won’t see a kite at if it’s even slightly windy and every kind of person from young girls to old guys are getting along at the beach.


Photo Ian Edmondson

Photo Justin Bufton

Poole, located 200 miles west of London, is one of the main UK kiteboarding areas.

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Photo Paul Read

Down on the South Coast, from Kent (southeast of London) to Cornwall (to the west), we have a large variety of beaches and estuaries. These offer options to ride everything from choppy harbors and ramping kicker waves to flat water lagoons and head high beach breaks. Poole, situated 200 miles west of London, is where I’ve decided to base myself and run Wainman Hawaii UK from. Boasting itself as having the world’s second largest natural harbor, Poole is a pretty British seaside town big on watersports. This is where kiting in the UK first kicked off. Centering at Sandbanks Peninsular Beach there is a busy scene here from April to November which often sees as many as one hundred kites making the most of the waves outside and the flats inside. Fortunately, I get to travel a lot with Wainman. As a team we hit many locations through the year promoting the brand and then gather in Maui for the winter where we work together developing new gear. It’s exciting, it’s always fresh, and I love traveling with some of kiting’s greatest characters, but the UK is always home. When I’m home I get the chance travel the country as our UK agent and session with friends along the way. It’s a small country, but each spot is wildly different. More than anything what never ceases to get me excited is the level of stoke I discover at every beach. We get amped to break into a ghetto little lagoon and knock together something we can jib, even on the most drizzly of British days.

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Up in the North of England my teammate Hannah Whiteley is based in the seaside town of Lytham, near Blackpool. Despite having some rather unappealing brown-colored water, Lytham delivers an exciting variety of small spaced out ramps at high tide, drying out over the shallow beach at low tide to reveal an array of shallow pools. Hannah is part of a community of kiters (young

and old) who time their sessions to head down together and make the most of each day’s conditions. It was her father and this community that really got Hannah excited about kiting when she was just 15 years old. Encouraged by them all she was down at the beach everyday passionate about progressing. Within a year she was winning consecutive BKSA (British Kite Surf Association) tour stops. In 2009 she became the British Champion and held the title for three consecutive years. Besides helping riders like Hannah push their level of riding by keeping them motivated to stay ahead of the competition, the BKSA tour is a great chance to meet friends and visit different parts of the UK to kite. Forming a big part of the UK scene, the tour visits all corners of the country and draws up to 50 likeminded competitors in categories for all types of riders. Unlike other competition tours, our tour focuses on encouraging up and coming riders to kite together and push each others’ abilities while enjoying a weekend of kiting and socializing. It works so well here because not only do we have so many keen riders, but the BKSA weekends are renowned for their supportive and low stress atmosphere on and off the water. Normally based around a campsite at a remote beach, the socializing is just as important as the riding with bacon rolls in the morning and a group BBQ in the evening. Strong friendships are formed and with a competition format that stays true to British sportsmanship, everyone is happy. Win or lose, everyone leaves with a smile. There’s a very special atmosphere here in the UK, unlike anywhere else I’ve been in the world. Having to earn each session makes us passionate, and ultimately that feeds such a strong progression among British kitesurfers. It’s why we have so many strong worldclass riders, and be assured there’s a whole lot more to come!


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watch what our kiters and surfers do when the wind and waves die at the beach

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Clockwise from top left: Alex Fenlon, RiChARd hAllmAn, JAson l lombARd, RodRigo FARiAs moReno, VinCent beRgeRon

69 Š 2012 Patagonia, Inc.


WISH LIST

1. AXIS KITEBOARDING UTS FOOTPAD/STRAP

4. NORTH KITEBOARDING STYLER WAIST HARNESS —

SYSTEM — Designed from the ground up to provide the ultimate in comfort, stability, and performance. Fits most boards and adjustable to fit most foot sizes $159.95, www.axiskiteboarding.com 2. DYNABAR JAY XT HARNESS — A hybrid harness for use with the DYNABAR spreader bar and enhanced by leg straps. $115, www.slidingspreaderbar.com 3. MYSTIC BOARDING DISCOVER JACKET/BURNER VEST — A warm puffy jacket or vest made for all weather conditions. Perfect for misty, cold, and windy days. $110-$179, www.mysticboarding.com

 eatures complete EVA-padding and Friction Fit to F keep the harness firmly in the right place. $199.95, www.northkites.com 5. NICE TIME BAGS DIGITAL MESSENGER BAG — Built from recycled kites, this bag features a divider, four pockets, and holds an iPad. $70, www.nicetimebags.com 6. NITE WATCHES NITE HAWK — Water resistant to 20 atmospheres and uses scratch resistant K1 mineral glass and a triple anti-reflective coating. $440, www.nitewatches.co.uk

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7. PATAGONIA MEN’S R2 FRONT-ZIP FULL SUIT —

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Features added warm without added rubber, is fast drying, and is made from post-consumer recycled polyester, merino wool softened warmth without chlorine, and no PVC. For the TKB Review visit www. thekiteboarder.com/2012/12/patagonia-r2-wetsuitreview or scan the code. $525, www.patagonia.com NANO PUFF HOODY — Windproof and water-resistant, this full-zip jacket is made with warm, incredibly lightweight, highly compressible 60-g PrimaLoft ONE insulation. For the TKB Review visit www.thekiteboarder. com/2012/12/patagonia-nano-puff-jacket-review or scan the code. $249, www.patagonia.com

is ideal for use in the waves. Water Drainage System comfortably and quickly gets water out of the helmet. $79, www.oceanglasses.com 10. SENSI BIKINIS LAURA V TOP/DOMINIQUE BOTTOMS — The Laura V top features double cross back straps and woven elastic for extra support. The Dominique bottoms feature a side braided detail. $48-$52, www.sensibikinis.com 11. SOG KNIVES ESCAPE — Features a one hand opening blade and cuts kite lines and most other lines and straps.$65, www.sogknives.com 12. SOLOSHOT AUTOMATIC CAMERAMAN — Automatically keeps your camera pointed at you while you surf, snowboard, kitesurf, wakeboard, dirt bike, race cars, or play field sports. $479, www.soloshot.com

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15 MINUTES

Bryce Davies enjoying himself in Fiji. Photo Leslie Davies

This issue’s winning photo (above) takes home a Patagonia Sun Hoody. Send your photos to editor@thekiteboarder.com to get your 15 minutes of fame and a chance to win something from Patagonia. Tommy Fields throws down in Florida. Photo Fidel Lopez

Johnny Berger going backside in Florida. Photo Lisa Jefferson

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Bill Eastburn managed to have a little fun with the winds from Hurricane Sandy in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Photo Olga Medowska


Anthony Mariano grabs in Fort Lauderdale. Photo Leon Legot

Alex Thon throws in one last raley at sunset in Bellingham, Washington. Photo Tiny Monks Productions

Lucas Tarin in the South of France. Photo Paul Lang

Charles Jarry goes big in Maui. Photo Sibylle Gauthier

Liquid Force rep Greg Gnecco scores a little time on the water in Mexico. Photo Paul Lang

Mike Campanaro at Tybee Island, Georgia. Photo Talin Bolen

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Dominique Legaignoux prepares for an early kiteboarding test in 1985.

ROOTS : EVOLUTION By Rick Iossi | Photos courtesy www.inflatablekite.com

Many people are credited with contributing toward the development of kiteboarding as we know it today, including George Pocock, who used kites to propel carts on land and ships on the water in the 1800s, and Corey and Bill Roeseler, inventors of the Kite Ski. Yet it wasn’t until two young French brothers with a crazy idea, passion, and a vision for what the sport could become did kiteboarding begin to commercially develop into the sport we enjoy today on land, water, and snow.

OF THE INFLATABLE KITE

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Bruno and Dominique were only 24 and 25 years old when they applied for their first inflatable kite patent.

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Bruno and Dominique testing an early BOW kite design.

Bruno and Dominique Legaignoux became immersed in watersports and competitive sailing at the early age of ten in Brittany, France. They won the French National Junior Dingy Sailing Championship in 1979 and spent their free time sailing, surfing, and windsurfing. Bruno was so focused on sailing that he dropped out of college at 18 to become a sailing instructor. Their interest in sailing fast led them to work on prototype devices for speed sailing including thick sails with a deep wing-like camber to create more lift. The Legaignoux brothers also experimented with a wide variety of speed hulls and boards without much success. In 1984 at the Brest International Speed Week in Brittany, France, they saw Jacobs Ladder, a custom-designed catamaran from the UK pulled by a stack of two-line Flexifoil foil kites. Immediately they thought they had just seen the future of speed sailing and began to think about ways of using kites. Back then it took three people to launch the stack of kites. They didn’t relaunch from the water and they didn’t go upwind very well, so they sat down and began to work out how to overcome these problems. Bruno and Dominque left on an around-the-world sailboat trip and cruised around while beginning to experiment with kite propulsion. The brothers started by pulling their sailing dingy with a stack of a dozen of their own home-built 0.5m carbon fiber-framed kites and then moved on to trying to pull themselves on skis and boards. They quickly found out water skis were more efficient and easier to get up on than a single board with these kites. Although they thought there might be a market for kite propulsion in boating, they chose to start with trying to develop kites to pull water skis, a board, or whatever they could find that was short, light, and fast. “The first time I used kites with skis was in 1984 in Brittany, France,” said Bruno. “I wasn’t able to go upwind but at least I could go back and forth at good speeds without much trouble. We were happy but knew we had a long way to go.”

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They tried putting foam in different places on their early kites to make them able to relaunch from the water but that didn’t help. To keep themselves focused, the brothers created a list of performance goals for their kites. They wanted their kites to be water relaunchable, stable, and speedy to improve handling. They wanted a simple, aerodynamic, and durable kite to optimize performance and reduce downtime for repairs.

They put their sailing trip on hold and focused their energies on testing and developing kites through trial and error. After being unable to relaunch their stacked kites from the water after months of trying, they decided to use one large kite. They realized the single large kite would need a heavy frame to hold its shape, so they came up with the idea to try an inflated frame to keep the kite rigid. Bruno and Dominique learned that a C-shaped kite could be strong, stable, and light, but the breakthrough was when they discovered it could relaunch from the water relatively easily when combined with a rigid inflatable framework. The very first prototype leading edge inflatable kite was a 5m kite built in October of 1984. “A two-line C-kite without bridles required so much steering travel with a long bar that it wasn’t practical,” said Bruno. “We tried using a pulley attached to a harness with one line going from wingtip to wingtip through the pulley, but this was really awkward as we had to pull the line pretty far to get the kite to turn.” Immediately realizing they were on to something big, they filed their first USA patent in 1985 for a Propulsive Wing with Inflatable Armature. This obscure-sounding patent title was basically the starting point for what we fly today. It was a two-line kite with an inflated leading edge and inflated battens, similar in shape to the original Wipika Classic kite that would


The WIPICAT in 1990.

The original kiteboarding quiver.

The Buck Lyons Interview

be released more than ten years later. Bruno and Dominque showed off their invention during the 1985 Brest International Speed Week and won the Ingenuity Prize. They only managed to clock a 17 knot speed at the event but they returned the next year and beat most of the windsurfers while hitting 15 knots of speed in only 10 knots of wind. In 1985 the brothers were convinced that this new sport had the potential to become larger than windsurfing due to the small size, light weight, and low cost of the equipment. They knew they could jump very high and far and also believed that a kite would one day become the fastest sailing craft on earth. It’s important to remember that common use of the internet was still a long ways away at this time. The immediate exchange of ideas we enjoy today were not possible back then. To communicate with someone in the US they had to wait two to three weeks each way for a letter to cross the Atlantic and back. “During the first five years, a few people showed interest in the concept but no one really appreciated the importance of the shape of the kite itself,” said Bruno. “At the time windsurfing was a very strong, dominant watersport with 400,000 sails being sold each year. The windsurfing brands were making a lot of money and were not interested in developing a new sport. To most people, we were just a couple of crazy guys. We didn’t even know what to call it and were just using the French names planche à cerf-volant (windsurf kiting) or ski à cerf-volant (ski kiting). It wasn’t until 1995 that Manu Bertin suggested we call it flysurfing, so the names kitesurfing and kiteboarding were a long way off.”

While Bruno and Dominique were confident in their kite, it took more than a decade to develop a commercial product that was ready to be sold. “Over the first ten years we were focused on developing the kite and making it more stable,” said Bruno. “We also looked at other possible markets for the kite such as dune jumping, rescue at sea, small craft propulsion, etc. We knew it would be hard to grow kitesurfing with windsurfing still such a strong sport. We talked about abandoning the kite at times but the progress we made each year kept us going.” From 1991 to 1994 the Legaignouxs created and developed WIPICAT, an inflatable craft aimed at the general market that could be pulled with their kite. The WIPICAT kite was an 8.5m kite flown on 6.5m lines and packaged with an inflatable craft the rider laid on. It was not a successful product. At the same time windsurfing’s popularity was beginning to decline and some windsurfers starting to take a closer look at what the Legaignouxs were doing. Manu Bertin contacted them towards the end of 1994 and they sent a few kites to him in Hawaii. Laird Hamilton got his hands on one of the kites

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and over the next few years things accelerated quickly as other legendary Hawaiian waterman became interested in kiting. Frustrated that they hadn’t been able to find an existing brand to license their kite patent to, the brothers formed the Wipika (Wind Powered Inflatable Kite Aircraft) brand in 1995. In 1998 Naish approached them about licensing their kite patent. “That’s when things really happened quick,” said Bruno. “We had 13 years of kite development behind us while the windsurfing or paragliding designers were just getting started. The year after Naish became a licensee, I designed 60 kites for 8 different brands anxious to enter the kitesurfing market ASAP. That winter the office was more of a plan factory than a kite R&D department.” Soon after, Bruno began to experiment with four-line bridleless kites. “After a few tests the advantages of a four-line kite were obvious, but we were concerned about introducing four-line kites to the market too soon. It seems silly now, but we were worried that four lines would be too overwhelming to people not used to dealing with kites and lines. We felt the larger wind range offered by a four-line kite meant more safety, and that was the main reason for bringing it to the market.” Two years later they were concerned about accidents they were hearing about so they focused on creating kites with even more depowering ability.

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In 2000 the brothers moved to the Dominican Republic to continue their kite development and worked on developing kites with extremely high depower. “We began working on the BOW concept in 2000-2001,” said Bruno. “We were concerned we might not be able to get a patent for the BOW and we would lose royalties from the C-kite if the BOW kite was successful, but we moved forward because we really thought the BOW kite would save lives.” They created the first BOW kite in 2002 by modifying a Wipika Freeair by adding bridle lines and changing

its shape. The brothers were ultimately successful in receiving a number of patents for their BOW kite concepts, with the main BOW kite patent having been applied in 2004 under the title Wing Having a Negative Dihedron for Towing a Load. The brothers first demonstrated the BOW kite design to Takoon, a company they were involved with. Bruno pushed to get the BOW kite on the market as soon as possible but met resistance. In mid-2004 he decided to present the concept to other companies and Cabrinha’s team was enthusiastic about the BOW kite idea. Takoon and Cabrinha released their first BOW kites to the kiteboarding market in August 2005 and soon after similar kites from other brands started to show up in the marketplace. When asked about what he would have done differently, Bruno said, “It would have been difficult to dream up a better direction for the sport. Kites have driven the fastest sailing craft on earth, provided an easy way to surf waves, and were briefly selected for the Olympics. I’ve always thought kitesurfing would have a wider appeal than what windsurfing had in its best years, we just haven’t found effective ways to make the sport more accessible to the general public.” As I was talking to Bruno for this story he was getting ready to continue the circumnavigation he put on hold when the Legaignouxs began making kites. “In 1984 we put our sailing circumnavigation on hold to develop kites. Our original goal was to make a little money and get back to sailing after a few years. Those few years stretched into more than two decades. Time will tell if I finish the trip this time.” For more photos and info about the history of the inflatable kite, visit http://inflatablekite.com.


Rider: Teddy Lyons | Location: Pismo Beach, CA | Photo: Paul Lang

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Profile for The Kiteboarder Magazine

The Kiteboarder Magazine Vol. 9, No. 4  

The Kiteboarder Magazine Volume 9, Number 4 is the Winter 2012/2013 issue of The Kiteboarder. This issue features Camas Prarie, The South of...

The Kiteboarder Magazine Vol. 9, No. 4  

The Kiteboarder Magazine Volume 9, Number 4 is the Winter 2012/2013 issue of The Kiteboarder. This issue features Camas Prarie, The South of...