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Marina Chang, Publisher marina@thekiteboarder.com Brendan Richards, Editor brendan@thekiteboarder.com Jennifer Jones, Art Director jen.jones@moxyinternational.com Shana Gorondy, Graphic Designer sgorondy@gmail.com Alexis Rovira, Editor At Large alexis@thekiteboarder.com Gary Martin, Technical Editor gary@thekiteboarder.com India Stephenson, Online Media Manager india@thekiteboarder.com Seth Warren, Senior Contributor elementsmixedmedia@gmail.com EDITORIAL CONSULTANTS Neil Hutchinson, Stefan Ruether, Rick Iossi, Toby Brauer, Matt Sexton, Kevin “Irie Dog” Murray, Kinsley ThomasWong, James Brown, Ginette Buffone, Maui Mike, Members of the Central Coast/Santa Barbara CKA, Evan Mavridoglou CONTRIBUTORS India Stephenson, Rich Sabo, Colleen Carroll, Matt Elsasser, Vincent Bergeron, Sensi Graves, Laura Maher, Victoria Williams, Will Taggart PHOTOGRAPHERS Reo Stevens, Toby Bromwich, Darren Willis, Alicia La Rue, Dimitri Maramenides, Jim Stringfellow, Cliff Jensen, Moxy International, Rutger Bogard, Noah Funk, Dave Nelson, Scott Kennedy, Leo Chen, Cole Elsasser, Ydwer.com, Lance Koudele, Thule, Rick Pryce, Adam Lapierre, Stu Johnson, Vincent Bergeron, Will Taggart, Michael Bula, Lindsay McClure, Dean Tomlinson, Joe Winowski, Agile Levin


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A small community of kiteboarders struggles to maintain launching and landing access on Vancouver Island.

26 ENGINE 2.0

Coleman Buckley is the king of cheap hacks and relentless tinkering: The story of hard work and innovation during the garage days of the Ride Engine brand.



Colleen Carroll and Craig Cunningham struggle against all odds to pull off a slider park in the remote islands of Venezuela.


Matt Elsasser shapes balsa and fiberglass into a serendipitous ride around the world with the help of mega brands like Thule and Patagonia.


English may be Vincent Bergeron’s second language but this French Canadian waiter turned worldtraveling photographer understands the vocabulary of avant-garde kiteboarding with no problems.

82 THE ALASKA SNOWKITING PROJECT Wyoming’s Will Taggart embarks on an ambitious film project to document the past and future of the backcountry snowkiting experience.









56 PROFILE : Katie Potter


Taking a break from school and professional work, this young Australian hits the North American contest season while exploring the US’s growing slider scene.



58 PROFILE : Karl Williams


As the head manager at Vela Kitesurf Resorts, Karl’s passion is arranging every aspect of travel into one finely tuned experience of kiteboarding bliss.

A grassroots approach to contests for the riders, by the riders.



Looking beyond kiting for the point of origin of the modern foilboard.

94 T H E N E W F R E E R I D E G E N E RAT I O N

ON THE COVER Jesse Richman drops in on a heaving whitewater slab at Cloudbreak in August. We saw the sequences; cleaner waves were had that session, but strapless and committed, Jesse is tucking into a foaming pit with little in the way of an exit plan. Photo Stu Johnson JAIME

















Fall 2015

With more than 20 years of experience in composite technologies, our Twintips are produced in a high tech facility in Austria. Using highly skilled workmanship we’re confident with our fair wages and meeting of European working standards. Environmentally responsible, we strive to deliver the product to market fast and efficiently and reach our goal of being a truly sustainable brand.


Legally Launched, Vincent Bergeron, Ride Engine, Venezuela, Matt Elsasser, Slider Jam


The Kiteboarder Vol. 12 No. 3

high tech made in austria


Avant Garde Gothic Demi




One of Hood River’s finest and a major player in the BIP movie franchise, Brendan Kerr scores an evening session in the Hood River slider park.

I remember when site access first became a hot topic. It was around 2003 when the growth of the sport and frequent accidents kicked off a number of battles for access. Most of those fights have either been won or lost and unless you have an access issue in front of you, these days kiteboarding seems more like a right rather than a privilege. Back in February on one of the beaches north of La Ventana, I dropped in on a conversation between a posse of old timers debating the Mexican laws regarding beach access. On that very beach, the adjacent landowners were attempting to close off public access despite the arroyo having been used by neighborhood kiters for many years. With the expansive shoreline of La Ventana, it had never occurred to me that beach access would be an issue, but the conversation proceeded into a list of all the arroyos that have closed since the early days. Whether this is problem today or a valid fear for tomorrow, the future of our sport depends on balancing the interest of all the stakeholders in our communities to maintain access to the water. A few days later on that same beach, I met Alicia La Rue, a Canadian with her own inspiring story about the fight for water access in Port Alberni on Vancouver Island. The struggle of Alicia and her kiteboarding community (p18) serves as a tremendous lesson about spreading grassroots awareness and building consensus among multiple groups to save kiteboarding in a small town. I witnessed that same grassroots activism in Hood River this summer when Rich Sabo, Colleen Carroll, Brandon Scheid and Craig Cunningham stepped up to organize an event without the benefit of sponsors or personal gain. It’s very exciting to see a new generation of athletes that are not only talented on the water, but rolling up their sleeves and getting busy in the community department (p94). In this same vein, just this week I was back in Santa Cruz and as I was driving up the coast I saw Coleman Buckley’s name plastered to a highway sign. You can read about Coleman’s grassroots struggle to build a successful accessories brand around his rigid harness concept on p26, but if you’re lucky you can also catch him on the side of the highway doing more than his fair share, filling garbage bags full of trash. Getting to the point: There’s some exciting new characters in our sport, too many to mention here, but if today’s athletes are any indication of tomorrow’s leadership, I’m willing to bet the future of kiteboarding will be very bright.


Brendan Richards



The morning surf was anything but easy. Shifty 10-foot wash-through sets and a strong current mixed with building offshore wind made it difficult to line anything up (at least for myself and the other mortals out; Kelly and Parko put on a clinic that morning). It was the perfect recipe for a great day of windsports at Cloudbreak. The wind chased the majority of the surfing crowd back to their boats and I paddled back in and pumped up my kite for what turned into an hour and a half solo session at my favorite wave in the world. With no photographer around, I was stoked to have my GoPro in my pocket to snap a few “selfies� to help remember this session. - Reo Stevens





The North Team had just got back from Venezuela and went straight into the Triple-S. After the event we were pretty excited to get back to our normal grind and start shooting some photos with Toby Bromwich. One night before bed the crew came up with the idea to get some inflatables. We started ordering water toys on EBAY and we ended up getting a bit carried away. “Oh, the palm trees would be cool!” “Ya and the ice cream cones too, what about a monkey? Ya, we should do the monkey for sure and have a shark popping out of the water! Pink flamingos, why not?” It was definitely a lot of fun getting this shot and I think we captured that in the photo. We call this image “Redneck Caribe.” - Craig Cunningham // Photo Toby Bromwich




The Maramenides family makes a point of kiting in their Greek homeland at least once every year. Young Cameron cruises the whitewashed patchwork of dwellings along Mykonos’ waterfront, arguably one of the most photographed scenes in the Greek Islands. // Photo Dimitri Maramenides


By India Stephenson

When Alicia La Rue discovered this small industrial logging town, nestled in the heart of Vancouver Island, she hastily moved her family and design business to the quaint harbor town of Port Alberni. Like clockwork, everyday around 3pm, the thermals heat up over the Alberni Inlet, providing the harbor with consistent 25-30 knot southerly winds. Having spent many of her summers camping at Nitinat Lake, Canada’s rustic kite mecca, Alicia happily traded her camping equipment for consistent winds, a tightknit community, and an affordable Victorian home in downtown Port Alberni. With no more than five kiteboarders on any given day, Alicia and her


new friends launched their kites amidst parked cars and tourists on Centennial Pier and walked to the open edge with kites overhead and boards in hand before leaping 25 feet to the water below. Alicia and the rest of the Port Alberni kiters spent most of their evenings cruising the buttery smooth inlet and boosting big airs, leaving locals and tourists watching from the town’s waterfront businesses, gawking in awe.

Va n







BC Port Alberni

The picturesque waterfront of Port Alberni offers butter smooth water and crowds of spectators that flock to Centennial Pier to watch locals like Paul Ouellet kiteboard. // Photo Darren Willis

Kiteboarding is new to Port Alberni. With ample forests surrounding the inlet, logging was once the dominant economic force. Environmental awareness and commitments to sustainability have turned this once booming mill town into a sleepy little hamlet where tourism now takes precedence. Providing a new opportunity, the spectacle of kiting has given Port Alberni a brighter future, increasing tourism and contributing to the rising appeal of action sports in this area. Each evening, the locals, many born and raised in

Port Alberni, join the growing throng of tourists who visit the area for its historic relevance, and flock to Centennial Pier to watch the small community of kiters perform bewildering stunts. Port Alberni’s pint-sized kite community had it all; glassy flat water and consistent winds, but their launch was anything but normal. The only way to publicly access the water was from Centennial Pier, a large cement parking lot that extends out into the Port’s waterfront.


Due to the complicated nature of their launch area, local kiters were mindful of the hazards that surrounded their kite spot and worked their hardest to mitigate any potential dangers. However, issues frequently arose when onlookers, not knowing any better, began taking it upon themselves to grab kite lines, snap pictures directly downwind, or even walk into lines while kiters were launching. The town’s Port Authority eventually caught wind of the potential hazards and liability issues associated with this new and “dangerous” sport. If launching large kites in between lamp posts and cars on a public pier wasn’t enough to concern the Port Authority, the 25-foot jump that kiters performed from the pier to the water certainly was. In January of 2015, Port Alberni’s local radio station, The Peak, reported that the Port Authority had placed a ban on kiteboarders launching from Centennial Pier. Concerned with safety and liability issues, the Chair of the Port Authority, Gillian Trumper, explained, “We have to make sure for everybody’s sake that it’s safe. There’s a mix of users on the waterfront . . . and we want to make sure from our own aspects of running a business that we aren’t liable.” News of the ban quickly traveled to Baja where Alicia was on vacation, and much like the other Port Alberni kiters, she was furious. Without a place to launch, there would be no more kiting in the otherwise ideal inlet of Port Alberni. Recognizing the importance of acting quickly, the local kiters banded together and established South Port Kiteboarding (SPKB) to unite the group and voice their opinions as one. As it turns out, the kiters weren’t the only community members disgruntled by the kite restriction. Alicia and her small crew were surprised by the public outcry and social media backlash that resulted from the news of the ban. Together, SPKB, along with the local residents, established a grassroots effort to raise awareness and lift the kiting ban. Local community members penned letters to

Providing a new opportunity, the spectacle of kiting has given Port Alberni a brighter future, increasing tourism and contributing to the rising appeal of action sports in this area.


ABOVE: While the new launch may not offer the adrenalin inspiring jump off the edge of the Centennial Pier, it remains technical nonetheless. // Photo Darren Willis // BELOW: Todd Horn boosts a big air with the Port’s prominent lumber industry in the background. Photo Darren Willis

media sources and government officials. Town resident, Crystal-Anne Smith, explained, “Kiteboarders attract spectators which in turn brings economic growth to Harbor Quay’s numerous shops and restaurants, as well as Port Alberni itself. Port Alberni is a gem in the middle of Vancouver Island with amazing outdoor activities that attract many young and active individuals who are willing to invest time, money and energy towards Port Alberni’s welfare.” The issue exploded in the local media with interviews and coverage eventually making it to statewide channels including Shaw and Global TV. Recognizing the huge amount of publicity that the ban had created, the Port Authority chose to respond. Approaching the Port Authority to question the ban and explore possible solutions, local kiter Dale Moffat established himself as a primary advocate in resolving the issue. Dale recalls, “It was the launching and landing from the pier itself that concerned the Port Authority.” As the issue arose in the press and became increasingly controversial, the Port Authority agreed to work with Dale and SPKB to come up with an alternative to an outright ban. Dale attributed the Port Authority’s willingness to

work with SPKB to the large amount of press that was generated. “We highlighted the fact that more than just a few kiteboarders had been affected by the decision and forced the city’s government and the Port Authority to recognize the future potential that kiteboarding could contribute financially and promotionally for this small industrial town.” Despite pressure from the public, the Port Authority remained steadfast in their decision to ban launching from Centennial Pier, but agreed to build a new, safer launch. Once the Port Authority decided they would explore an alternative launch site, Dale dove headfirst into the research necessary to propose a new launch. He explained, “We can mitigate or eliminate 95 if not 100 percent of the Port Authority’s concerns with just a little bit of redesign and rework.” After hours of web-based research and discussions with the correct people, Dale designed three different proposals for the new kite launch. Collaborating with the Port Authority and Alberni Engineering, Dale finalized a design that would provide the most user-friendly and efficient launch possible.


ABOVE: With a new lease on kiteboarding and plenty to be stoked about, Alicia La Rue cruises Port Alberni’s waters. Photo Cliff Jensen // BELOW: The new launch uses two floating docks connected via a bridge for easy launching and landing. Photo Alicia La Rue

Upon selection of a new location, just 500 feet upwind of Centennial Pier, the Port Authority utilized the two piers already existing at the newly chosen site. Facing a few design challenges, Dale recalled, “Keeping the piers secured was the primary challenge in building the new launch.” In order to make the piers into a viable launch, they had to be repositioned directly into the wind which, “on heavy wind days, placed crazy amounts of stress on the anchor block and pierto-pier chains.” Dale insisted that the Port Authority use an arched bridge to connect the two piers and emphasized the specific need for a low profile ramp that would connect the piers while minimizing the chance of snagging lines. The leading design took into account the appropriate angles and distances necessary to allow the launch to move properly in all wind directions as well as accommodate a variety of kite line lengths. Alicia put her graphic design skills to work, crafting detailed SPKB signs explaining how to use the new launch as well as explicitly informing kiters launching from the site that they would assume all liability for their actions. With an anchor barge and two tug boats, Alberni Engineering hooked things up within a matter of hours and the Alberni kiteboarders got their new legal launch in April 2015, just three months after the initial ban. Issues with site access and public safety have always plagued the sport of kiteboarding. Even as safety systems evolve and improve, accidents are bound to happen. Kiteboarding is not a crime; it does however involve an ever-present amount of risk that can’t be completely eliminated. As with most action sports, ignorance and the lack of understanding and awareness for safety are often the key factors leading to increased regulation and all out bans.


It’s almost absurd to think that a historically rigid organization such as the Port Authority would cater to the needs of five kiteboarders, but this affair also demonstrates the power of public pressure and media, including the strategic benefits of aligning the interests of the minority with the majority’s welfare. Our sport has plenty of site access battles ahead of us, but as the conflict in Port Alberni indicates, sometimes a grassroots community effort, along with positive and open communication channels, is all it takes to increase public awareness and make a change. Thrilled with the new launch and incredibly proud of her community’s accomplishments, Alicia La Rue confidently believes, “Harnessing the power from the wind, there is no obstacle we can’t maneuver around.”

Page 21


1. Reo and Raechel have dialed the tandem side of the sport. // 2. Gary Siskar, Rich Sabo, Mike Duhaime, Greg Gnecco and Brandon Scheid holding court at the 2015 Huckfest. Photo Tkb Staff // 3. It’s love and war (paint) for Justi Vonada, Audrey Davis, Sarah White, and Claire Ranit at the 2015 Bridge of the Gods. Photo Jim Stringfellow // 4. Sleazy stoked on taking first in the sweater contest at KB4C. Photo Moxy Int. // 5. Heather Beamer with Mike D; he was the only shark face seen that day in Cocoa Beach, FL. Photo Moxy Int. // 6. A broken foot won’t slow this Stringfellow down. Jim fabricated his own air chair to do laps when he wasn’t taking a million photos at KB4C. Photo Rutger Bogard // 7. Blaine Baker and Rich Sabo take tandem kiting to an entirely new level: Man on man. Photo Tkb Staff // 8. Brendan Kerr, Lucas Arsenault and Thomas Aguirre: Nothing but a bunch of Spicolis on the men’s podium at Bridge of the God’s amateur division. Photo Tkb Staff // 9. Cynbad Brown, Tonia Farman, Colleen Carroll, Laura Maher, Katie Potter and Rachel Callahan have a leg up on the competition at Huckfest. Photo Moxy International // 10. Triple-S soldiers holding the lines. Photo Tkb Staff


Welcome to Sabo Smack, a column where we address awkward and ego-driven phenomena that exists in kiteboarding.

Problem: For my second edition of Sabo Smack I’d like to talk kiteboarding videos; more specifically the 100% GoPro edit that leaves me wondering how even the rider themself has the attention span to watch the entire video. This mindnumbing category of cinematic spam features all the greatest creative fails; from ridiculously shaky line-mount footage to wide perspectives in which the rider is so far away from the GoPro that I need a magnifying glass to watch it (figuratively speaking, I’m still young and I don’t own a magnifying glass . . . yet). These 10-minute GoPro videos of people mowing the lawn at their local spot need to stop. I think it’s safe to say that a single minute of lawn mowing will suffice. Then there are the “Professional” riders who pump out nothing but pure GoPro edits. While this may work if you are a sponsored GoPro athlete, I think the question arises — are you really a Pro if all your content is from a GoPro?

Analysis: The aptly named GoPro was created because a surfer needed closer shots than a professional photographer could deliver. Unfortunately, the mass availability of POV (point of view) cameras and editing software has created one big problem; everyone and their mother is now making video edits. What’s the expression, “So easy a kiteboarder could use it?” It’s not rocket science why we are getting so much poor content with the GoPro; when you give the public access to a three-button camera that can shoot the same quality as high-end filmmakers, you are most certainly asking for trouble.

Conclusion: If we are to stop the assault of mediocre GoPro edits and prevent the complete clogging of YouTube, we need to come to an agreement on what works and what doesn’t. It’s safe to say that filming your friend 30-feet away with a wide angle does not (and will never) work. You need to get close. Real close. So if the GoPro isn’t mounted to you or your board, you need to get it closer in some, preferably creative, way. Secondly, watch your clips and watch others. If you have to watch a clip five times to decide whether or not it’s cool, guess what? It isn’t. Maybe originality and creativity is asking too much of the masses, but if you are looking for inspiration for what works and what doesn’t, search YouTube for Jake Kelsick and Dre’s GoPro: Kiteboarding Bliss, as a good example of what we should all strive towards in our GoPro approach.



By Brendan Richards

It’s the early side of noon in the middle of a Californian workweek and Coleman Buckley is pumping up a kite on the thick-grained sandy beach known to the locals of Santa Cruz’s north coast as Davenport Landing. In the distance, windsurfers strong-arm oversized sails and pump hefty sailboards down chest-high lefts on the south reef, but like most days, the waves rolling off the north point are empty. With the valve on his kite sealed and wraps of tired Dyneema lines falling from his homebuilt control bar, the San Francisco native is stopped in his tracks by a heated windsurfer with an urgent public service message: “Kitesurfing is not allowed at Davenport,” he boasts. This statement is not without truth. The beaches of the north coast have long been divided by a generally observed truce; windsurfers have exclusive domain over Davenport while kitesurfers share everything else.

Coleman with his first production mold. // Both Photos Brendan Richards


oleman’s tall frame is suited head to toe in thick, black neoprene. It’s one of the few pieces of equipment to remain in its unaltered off-the-shelf form, mostly because he’s been preoccupied with reengineering his kites and control bars. At that time, Coleman was relatively new to Santa Cruz. In fact, he was fresh off “The Farm” — that’s code for Stanford, the most prestigious educational institution on the West Coast. After four years studying bioengineering and despite vague medical school aspirations, Coleman was as much out of place as a kitesurfer in Davenport as he was a newly minted Stanford graduate on Santa Cruz’s isolated north coast midweek. Unlike his classmates just over the hill, the majority of them pulling down six-digit Silicon Valley salaries, Coleman was tutoring math and living some sort of existential quarter-life-crisis for which the only cure was surfing his brains out. Most watermen, windsurfers included, would probably agree that this deviation deserves some kind of respect, but Coleman was in the wrong place for respect; he was pumping up a kite in Davenport. Taking his eyes off an empty set wave tapering off the north point, Coleman addressed his new friend with his typical trademark boyish demeanor. At 6’4” tall with avian-like appendages, Coleman was most likely considered lanky in his younger days, but his recent regimen of paddling and kiting had weighted his upper body with enough muscle to hold his own amidst confrontation. “Go out there and you’re probably going to get beat up,” the entitled windsurfer warned. Coleman weighed this advice briefly and responded with far greater tact and good-nature than appropriate under the circumstances: “Are you going to beat me up?” he questioned, placing emphasis directly at the windsurfer. The answer was a disgruntled and defeated “no.” This windsurfer would not be throwing any punches today. Historically speaking, the few forays into Davenport by kiters have typically ended in shoving matches, petty property destruction and fistfights, but like everything Coleman does, his approach represents his ability to challenge the status quo with integrity and intellectual purity. *********** In the years following Coleman’s Davenport session, he has changed the harness segment of the windsports business with his custom rigid frame design. If you ask Coleman, he will coyly claim he never intended to start a kitesurfing company; in a vast understatement, “it just happened.” With humble beginnings in a garage on Santa Cruz’s west side, Coleman has created one of the most exciting and innovative brands to enter the industry in recent years. Coleman’s fixation on kiteboarding started at the early age of 13 years, when his father took him to watch a kiteboard contest on San Francisco’s waterfront in 2007. Moments after stepping out of his dad’s car, Coleman watched as a young Jesse Richman launched a massive jump that extended the entire Crissy Field waterfront (still viewable on YouTube). Coleman recalls the event announcer exclaiming, “15-year-old Jesse Richman has just set a new world record for hangtime!” and the impressionable Coleman thought, “hey, we’re both around the same age, maybe I can do that too.” If his fascination with kiteboarding was securely planted, it was still far from fruition; high school would be a busy time for Coleman, and college even busier. Having graduated from Stanford in the spring of 2010, Coleman wanted to spend one good summer in Santa Cruz, catching up on all the surf he missed while consumed with the bioengineering gauntlet. Moving into a room on the west side of Santa Cruz, he made rent with a tutoring gig and spent his free moments on the north coast obsessively hacking away as a beginner in the niche world of kitesurfing. Partly out of necessity, partly out of habit, Coleman began tinkering with his kite equipment. Starting with an


TOP: Testing his latest harness design on Santa Cruz’s north coast, Coleman is making up for a late start with kites, but doing just fine in the strapless airs department. Photo Brendan Richards // ABOVE: A batch of custom Armor harnesses from the early days, complete with oneoff artwork for each customer. Photo Noah Funk // RIGHT: Coleman with friends, testing wetsuit designs on a cold Santa Cruz morning. Photo Dave Nelson



old inflatable kite, he sewed zippers into the leading edge and canopy, building a 10m that origami-ed into a size smaller. A few years back, RRD had introduced a kite that could adjust the aspect ratio with zippers, but Coleman had solved the problem for the struggling college graduate, a more affordable kite quiver. He began shopping his ideas to various kiteboarding brands, but the resounding answer from the industry was a polite, “thanks, but no thanks.” Meanwhile, Coleman’s summer reprieve had extended into winter and the combination of surf and kitesurfing was turning him into a full-time Santa Cruz resident. Despite the reality check on his folding kite aspirations, Coleman continued dabbling with all things kitesurfing; particularly the idea of building a better kite harness. Having bought a brand new harness and disappointed with its marketing promise of true anatomical fit, Coleman concluded, “kitesurfing was ripe with lots of low hanging fruit in terms of gear and plenty of room for innovation.” However, the question remained: Could money be made? For the time being, the utility of innovation, rather than financial reward, was enough to keep Coleman preoccupied with improving his gear. Focused on the anatomical issue, Coleman took a seam puller to his brand new harness with the intention of creating an inflatable harness that would mold to the shape of the rider. With a custom-welded kite bladder sewn back into the harness Coleman had improved the overall feel, except the unwieldly bladder was bulging through the flexible back of the harness. To eliminate the bulge, Coleman created a carbon shell, and quickly realized the hard skeleton itself was the breakout concept. With each prototype the carbon shell became thicker and Coleman learned he could deliver better back support, but more importantly, his invention prevented the harness from creeping up out of position on the rider’s torso. The concept was new, and the construction a little sketchy, but Coleman sought out the opinions of other kiters. He reached out to professional kitesurfers like Josh Mulcoy and Patrick Rebstock and offered to build them custom samples. Coleman’s early construction methods were crude at best with his first fitting resulting in a near disaster. ABOVE: Coleman felt lucky to have a solid team of influential supporters in the early days. Patrick Rebstock pushing the limits with Engine products while spreading the word. Photo Dave Nelson // FAR LEFT: Coleman in the garage factory on Peyton Street, hacking a custom harness together. Photo Dave Nelson // NEAR LEFT: As far from Central California as can be, Coleman and Patrick comparing notes at the spit in Hood River, Oregon. Photo Brendan Richards

On a hot Santa Cruz day, Josh Mulcoy was laying in Coleman’s front yard with a thin protective layer of plastic Saran wrap separating the pro-surfer’s back from sheets of resin-impregnated carbon. The resin fired off surprisingly fast, releasing more chemical heat than anticipated. Coleman watched as one of his biggest surf heroes screamed in agony, writhing shirtless in the grass while Coleman struggled to remove the branding-hot mold contraption. Fumbling to find a garden hose, Coleman watered Mulcoy down, and skillfully convinced his latest guinea pig to stay through the remainder of the fitting process. Receiving extremely positive feedback on the samples and backed with a team of highly talented riders, it wasn’t long before Coleman got his first legitimate order from as far off as Oslo, Norway. Coleman recalls spending close to a week building that harness, obsessing over every microscopic detail in order to get it perfect. He labeled his garage-based company Ride Engine, and his first harness product “Armor.” A single harness order


made his garage-based venture little more than a hobby, yet a few months later Coleman returned from a long trip with 10 harness orders. At the time, while holding down his tutoring job, an order of that size seemed near to impossible to assemble, yet later that year, he was staring down a standing order for 50 more. Looking back on this ever-busy time period, Coleman reflects on what he calls, “the shifting baseline of what is normal and what is possible,” as he quickly learned “the limits of what you can accomplish is much higher when you find yourself in a high-pressure situation.” Coleman never put a limit on the orders he would take; instead, opening the floodgates, he was determined to handle any and all demand that came his way. If the 20th century colonial house on Peyton Street was your standard college flophouse when Coleman first moved in, Engine’s growing harness production was slowly transforming it into a factory. Fabrication workstations spilled from the garage into various rooms throughout the house. Coleman’s five housemates didn’t seem to mind living amongst the jumble of sewing machines, resin and stockpiles of neoprene, nor did they complain when he expanded his work force. According to Coleman, the smartest decision he made was hiring extra hands, even when money was tight. Placing ads on Craigslist, he found a college kid willing to cut fiberglass for four hours on Mondays and a local lady who would come by on Tuesdays to help sew. Colman worked feverishly to get harnesses out the door. Requiring all sorts of creative ingenuity, he refers to Engine’s early days as a “by hook or by crook operation.” By the spring of 2014, Engine was humming along with about as many orders as the Peyton Street operation could manage. Coleman was in a tough position — his company was taking off, but not without incredible personal sacrifice. Coleman reflects on those days: “I felt trapped by the harness business. I was spending so much time making them that I wasn’t doing anything else that interested me.” Even with helpers, he spent most of his days keeping up with production demands, bogged down with the mundane business functions of order processing and shipping. Ride Engine left little time to focus on innovation or riding itself. It was around this time when Coleman, thumbing through the advertisements of a magazine, spied a new harness that claimed to offer a new energy dispersion frame. The product wasn’t anything close to the rigid shell crucial to the performance of Ride Engine’s Armor harness, but the marketing material made it sound otherwise. For Coleman, that was an “oh shit” moment; the enemy was coming. Like David in a battle with Goliath, Coleman knew he needed to get serious or get out before his competitive advantage disappeared and his small cottage brand lost its edge. As Coleman weighed his strategic options, he pondered a fallback plan. He crossed medical school off the list because it was clear he had a calling for creating products. A master’s degree in industrial design seemed like the best option, but not an easy choice as the Ride Engine brand was building too much momentum to just walk away. With some pro bono advice from a patent lawyer, Coleman set out to pitch his rigid harness design to the bigger accessory brands of the industry. If he had a buyer, his lawyer would quickly bang out a simple patent. While relatively inexpensive in the world of industry, a patent was no small cost to Coleman. With the intention of selling his non-existent patent, Coleman asked team riders Patrick Rebstock and Alex Fox to introduce him to Tony Logosz, a longtime windsurfing and kitesurfing equipment designer at Slingshot. Coleman’s reputation preceded him. Tony was impressed by Coleman’s design skills and invited him to work in Hood River at Slingshot’s R&D lab for the 2014 summer season. Tony took Coleman under his wing, helping him think through the process of scaling up Ride Engine’s production. From the outset, it was clear that Tony wasn’t interested in purchasing Coleman’s pretend patent, however, he was interested in helping build the Ride Engine brand into a leading provider of cutting-edge kite accessories.


ABOVE: Off the beaten path, Coleman’s move to Santa Cruz in 2010 represented new blood in the tight knit kite community. Photo Scott Kennedy // RIGHT: Blurring the lines between abode and factory; Coleman turned a college flop house into a patchwork of textile work stations and fiberglass forge. Photo Leo Chen


ABOVE: Coleman hacks into the lip of a solid piece of southern hemi energy that’s traveled a long distance to unwind on this Santa Cruz beach. Photo Dave Nelson // LEFT: Apprentice and master: Coleman and Tony Logosz sharing a lighter moment in the R&D process. Photo Brendan Richards


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By Colleen Carroll | Photos Toby Bromwich



to just 10 days earlier as Craig Cunningham, Aaron Hadlow and I stepped off our respective flights, hungry for flat water sessions and full of ambition to build a few features for our upcoming team shoot. We would have just one week to assess the scene at the kite spot and get to work. Having built his share of sliders in the past, Craig would be leading the project and had big plans for what we would construct. The three of us had made our way to Isla de Coche, our kiteboarding paradise for the next week and a half. The legendary flat water at Punta Playa, the well known kite spot on Coche, was situated only an hour’s flight and a short boat ride away from the nation’s capital, Caracas, located on the coastal mainland of Venezuela. We were in and out of the city in the blink of an eye, just as we had planned. Currently regarded as one of the world’s most dangerous cities, Caracas faces political instability and heavy drug trafficking, so we wanted to get out of there as fast as possible. To make matters even more interesting, the US State Department discourages its citizens from traveling to the country. While the boys didn’t have any issues, Craig, hailing from Canada and Aaron from the United Kingdom, I had had to jump through a few extra hoops to attain the necessary visas. For the first time in all my travels, I stopped to consider if it was a good idea to visit a country my government deemed so dangerous. I’ve become so accustomed to traveling where and when I want without reserve, but my intuition was telling me to go. Despite all the dire warnings, I cruised through Venezuelan customs with only a few extra questions. The customs agents miraculously deciphered my broken Spanish and soon I was bouncing my board bag down an uneven dock on Isla de Coche alongside my North Kiteboarding teammates. Over the next few days, the three of us slipped into an easy routine of waking to a traditional Venezuelan breakfast of beans, fried plantains and arepas (corn cakes), then wandering down the beach towards the undeveloped sandy point for a quick morning session in smooth winds and protected flat waters. We’d walk back to the hotel pondering a mental list of to-do’s for the slider build, check off some tasks, fit in an afternoon kite session and repeat. If the first two days were any indication of what was to come, this trip was off to a great start. The spot was just as good as we expected and the features we were building were almost complete. With the anticipated arrival of the photography crew in a couple of days, we knew we could get some awesome footage.


ABOVE: The flight to Los Roques offers human room only. Tight quarters and weight limits force the North Team to book a second plane for their equipment. // BELOW: Craig takes a break from a food poison induced coma to stomp out some signature moves during one of the few kicker sessions on Coche Island.

LEFT: Colleen makes product shoots look deceptively easy. // BELOW: Underneath clean logos and pretty vinyl graphics lurks a complicated beast not easily tamed into a ridable feature.


LEFT: Craig reaping the rewards of all his efforts. // MIDDLE: Craig and Colleen struggle to get tubes securely planted in the unstable Venezuelan sand. // RIGHT: Colleen enjoys the last light during one of the few hard earned slider sessions.


Somewhere around day three we ran into our first setback. The small town of San Pedro de Coche started facing frequent power outages, which meant businesses were more often than not closed, making it nearly impossible to get the necessary materials to work on the sliders. Venezuela as a country has experienced incredible economic and political instability in recent years. We were told that the Venezuelan economy is heavily based on oil exports and the recent fluctuations in crude pricing has led to rampant inflation and little investment in transportation and energy infrastructure. Challenges like this are expected, and logistical hiccups are bound to come up during international travel, so we pressed on and did what we could. Minor delays began stacking up as our construction progress ground to a standstill. The entire photo and film crew had arrived ready to start shooting and despite our head start, our time in Coche was nearing its end with not a single feature completed. Craig scrapped his original plan and shifted to plan B. We were now focusing on just two features: A simple kicker and a unique upflat-up tube that Craig envisioned as an easy build off of an existing structure at the local kite school. Like all things involving sliders, even the downscaled project was proving to be more challenging than expected. With only two full days of shooting left, it would be a struggle to get the images needed for our team shoot.

Challenges like this are expected, and logistical hiccups are bound to come up during international travel, so we pressed on and did what we could. Minor delays began stacking up as construction progress ground to a standstill.

Having added riders Reno Romeu and Stefan Speissberger, as well as our team manager, photographer and two videographers, our group was up to nine people. We sat down to a late dinner to discuss the details of an abbreviated two-day shoot. Optimistic, we agreed that it was conceivably possible if the wind cooperated, we set off early and everyone rallied hard all day to get it done. As we walked back to our rooms from dinner, we couldn’t help but feel the pressure building for the day to come. We needed the very best from each team member to pull this off. But as the evening turned to night, Craig started to question his dinner choice. With the frequent power outages, food poisoning had been in the back of our minds and Reno had already succumbed to an unknown foodborne illness within hours of his arrival. Everyone else had been ok, but then Craig started vomiting and it wasn’t long before our photographer, Toby Bromwich, followed suit. By the next morning, a good portion of our group was severely ill, so the task of building the features was even more daunting. We recruited local kiters to help carry everything to the water and pressed on. Craig and Reno managed to drag themselves out of bed and Toby pushed through unmentionable discomfort to keep his camera firing. Despite everyone’s best efforts, after eight days filled with construction delays and endless frustration, we managed to put two features into the water, only to find that neither of them were working as planned.


We needed additional anchors for the kicker because hectic weekend boat traffic had spun it out of place. On the contrary, the flatbar need more floatation because it was tilting to one side, and we had to figure out a method for digging deeper into the sand to secure the up tube. We were losing crucial filming time. In hindsight, we should have anticipated this; building features always takes more time, energy, and money than expected. This is one of the reasons why it’s so special to score a good park session and also why there are so few slider parks in the world. The countless hours of building and troubleshooting that go into building any feature for kiteboarding takes determination and on the fly decisions. We were attempting to pull this off in Venezuela. While a beautiful country for kiting, it was making this mission next to impossible. It was all we could do on our last day in Coche to make something happen. With a little ingenuity from a sickly Craig and our local guide, Christiano, we had a floating flatbar. We jammed the pole out the end and jerry-rigged a fitting using extra kite leashes to keep it in place. The kicker was finally working as well. Because of the unforeseen challenges, it wasn’t what we had initially conceptualized, but we were incredibly relieved and excited to finally have our park completed. We rode until the sun sank to the horizon, transforming the sky into a gorgeous palette of deep orange and pink hues before slipping into darkness. Exhausted, sunburnt and some of us still fatigued from illness, we had finally ridden our park, but it wasn’t time to claim victory yet. While the building process seemed long and stressful, we had merely begun our trip and were headed first thing the next morning for the remote archipelago of Los Roques National Park. The team desperately needed the change. Our group had struggled to maintain the enthusiasm required to accomplish a project of this magnitude. The images in the magazines do a phenomenal job at making it seem like the team shoots produced by the big kiteboarding brands are a vacation for everyone involved, and yes they certainly are incredible, but they also take hard work, determination and a knack for problem solving. When the crew repacked our 20 or so board bags to continue the team shoot at the next location, we were excited to get a fresh start for the next segment of our adventure.

We weren’t out of the woods yet. As we checked-in for our small-chartered plane we found that it couldn’t safely carry us as well as all of our oversized gear. Without our carry-ons we had over 1700 pounds of equipment. 48

ABOVE: Craig Cunningham finally scores hits on the Frankenstein up-flat-up slider that proved a challenge to complete. // ABOVE RIGHT: The stunning view of the Los Roques archipelago. // BOTTOM RIGHT: Aaron Hadlow scores a solo freestyle session at one of the many isolated oases in Los Roques.

Rejuvenated by the prospect of greener pastures, we eagerly loaded our excessive amount of gear into two wooden boats that would take us back across the channel to Isla de Margarita from which we jump on a small plane to our next stop, Los Roques National Park. Despite the relatively short distance between the two islands, we endured a second round of customs interrogations. The rapid fire questions aimed at camera equipment, drones, and what seemed to them like a completely unreasonable amount of “stuff,” was staved off with a simple airport act commonly referred to as “the stupid tourist.” Luckily for us, this time, the performance worked and we were eventually waved off with a mere headshake of annoyance. However, we weren’t out of the woods yet. As we checked in for our small-chartered plane we found that it couldn’t safely carry all of us along with our oversized gear. Without our carry-ons we had over 1,700 pounds of equipment. Fortunately, our smooth talking Brazilian teammate, Reno Romeu, negotiated a deal to pack our equipment onto a second plane that would arrive in the archipelago the next day. It wasn’t an ideal situation but it would have to do. Despite the frequent setbacks, the shoot trudged on. We had claimed a few gems along the way, but there was still so much work to be done and we couldn’t afford to continue at such a slow rate.

The flight to Los Roques was incredible. Shortly after takeoff in our comfortable 14-person plane, we flew over the most beautiful chain of islands I’ve ever seen. The contrast in colors was spectacular. From the window, tiny white irregular-shaped dots outlined by brilliant turquoise rings with layers of deep ocean blue speckled the Caribbean Sea below. With hardly a palm tree, hill or building in sight, it looked like we had just discovered kiteboarding heaven. For as far as the eye could see, Los Roques National Park was a flat water utopia; island after island with not a sign of human existence. We waited an extra day for our airborne baggage mule to arrive, and in the meantime settled into our 43-foot luxury catamaran. Once our gear had arrived and was lugged onboard, we set sail from Gran Roque, loaded with everything we needed for our 10-day voyage. Our first stop offered the perfect glassy waters we were after, yet a meager breeze left us unsatisfied with the conditions. We relied on our captain’s local knowledge and cruised to another island, which provided yet again the picture perfect waters we desired, but the wind was merely a tease. We were playing a game of cat and mouse. We sailed around the islands in a steady 12 knot breeze; the perfect amount of wind for a leisurely and quite speedy sail but just below that coveted amount of wind necessary for the hardcore freestyle action we had hoped to capture. Day after day, we sailed, forecasted, and chased our best-guessed predictions. We covered countless miles of pristine marine territory, constantly in awe of its raw and unaltered beauty. Despite the uncooperative wind conditions, we couldn’t help but feel fortunate for the opportunity to simply experience a place so serene. On rare occasions, we did get on the water. Ready at all times, our gear was pre-rigged and our eyes were glued to the anemometer; any spike

over 15 knots meant all riders and cameras were out making the most of every minute. In a way, it made the time spent kiting even more special because you never knew how long it would last; a savor the moment type of experience. There wasn’t time to hold anything back so each session was full on with 100% commitment into every trick. You could see the energy in each athlete’s riding as each rider was driven to land their tricks and get a shot, as their deadline could be up at any moment. In reality, I think we saw the best come out in everyone. Although it felt as though the universe had been working against us almost every step of the way, finishing off our two-week trip, we had hard drives full of footage for North’s 2016 international campaigns. We had ventured out to a place lesser known in the kiteboarding world despite the warnings. We had experienced kindness and generosity from the locals, success with creating new features under challenging conditions, as well as a rare opportunity to explore the remote islands off of Los Roques. We never really experienced the turning point we had hoped for, but through hard work and persistence we got the job done.























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Quality commitment in every detail. WWW.NORTHKITEBOARDING.COM

By Matt Elsasser

“When I arrived home I promptly failed a midterm. My

teacher handed back my test with a look of disappointment,

but I had no regrets. One botched midterm was well worth the trip to secure a longtime dream sponsorship.”

Getting your foot in the door of a large company outside of the kiting industry isn’t easy, but it’s the key in being able to gather the support necessary to live and travel as a professional kitesurfer. Using the Internet and a little creativity, I was able to find the kind of sponsor I had been seeking for years, one which would allow me to travel the world while continuing my college education. It all started two summers ago when my dad, brother and I carved balsa lumber into a flat rocker “alaia” style board. We filmed the process of making the board from start to finish and took it down to the Hood River Sand Bar to shoot footage of whatever chaos we thought would ensue. Without straps, fins, or any rocker I wasn’t sure that I would be able to do anything on this plank of wood, but as we began to film, I realized that a board so simple has very few limitations. After a few laps on the flat water, I began launching the board off the kickers and sliders in the park, laughing the whole time at how entertained I was. I edited a quick two-minute video of the alaia sessions while on a plane flight to Maui, and uploaded it to YouTube under the name Splinter with little to no expectations. The video was an instant hit. A breath of fresh air in the kiting community, it was something new, entertaining and unconventional. My inbox was overwhelmed with dozens of messages about the blueprints for the board. The truth was that I had no idea what the dimensions were. The board was so crude that most people laughed when they finally saw it close up. As the video’s initial attention began to fade, the real fruits of my alaia labor were, unknowingly, just about to pay off.


Photo Cole Elsasser


ABOVE LEFT: On assignment, Matt prepares to enter the cold water of the North Sea. Photo Thule // ABOVE RIGHT: Matt drawing lines in the Elsasser family garage. Photo Cole Elsasser // BELOW: An unexpected stop in Sweden gives Matt a chance to test his Patagonia wetsuit. Photo Thule


hile scrolling through Facebook one day I came upon a video contest called “Go Epic with Thule.” Pulled from a group, a semi-finalist was chosen each week and after a couple of months, the best video out of all the finalists would win a free trip to paradise with a Thule athlete. Knowing that Thule sponsors top athletes in their respected sports, I was all for a free trip but my main focus quickly shifted to snagging a position on Thule’s team. I immediately submitted the Splinter video to Thule’s video contest and ended up winning the weekly video submission, but there were still many weeks to go before the grand prize winner was selected. With high hopes, I emailed Thule asking if they had any space on their team but they politely responded that, at this time, the team was full. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I received a surprise email explaining that I had won the grand prize! I was both shocked and stoked. Thule’s Go Epic contest had received over one million online impressions with videos from 28 countries stemming from adventure racing, biking, kitesurfing, skiing, snowboarding and surfing. Somehow, the video that my brother and I had created on a whim won! A few days later, I received a call from Thule’s headquarters in Sweden asking if I would come to Munich and claim my prize at ISPO, the world’s largest action sports trade show. The obvious answer was yes, but I was stuck on California’s Central Coast, in the middle of the winter quarter of my junior year at Cal Poly. It wasn’t ideal timing. Chasing my dreams in Munich meant I was going to have to miss a few crucial days of school right before midterms. As I ran around obtaining clearance from my professors, the looks on their faces were classic. They weren’t happy that I was headed to Munich the weekend before midterms, but nothing was going to kill my excitement about this opportunity. When I arrived in Munich, I hopped in a cab headed for the ISPO trade show. With no working phone, thousands of people outside the convention center and a pretty tight credential system, it took me awhile to figure out how I would actually get into the event. Luckily, a cute German girl was nice enough to let me use her phone to get a hold of my one and only Thule contact. Walking down the overwhelming slew of aisles lined with booths, I found myself shaking hands and hanging out with the likes of surfing icon Garret McNamara and skiing legend Glen Plake. If I had known what I was getting myself into, my nerves might have gotten the best of me, but everything was moving so fast, I didn’t have the time think. I wasn’t just meeting the American Thule distributor, like you would for most major companies that sponsor athletes. All at once, I was sitting side by side with Thule’s CEO Magnus Welander, meeting all of Thule’s employees and attending Scandanavian press conferences. I can assure you that I learned more during dinner and sitting next to Magnus­than I would have learned in a classroom that entire week. That night, I laid in bed thinking how much had happened in that one day; how many incredible athletes and businessmen I had just met. In that moment, I realized how wild of a weekend it had been. Meeting the guys behind Thule for the first time, I already felt like a longstanding member of the family. The Swedish company and its staff are extremely warm and welcoming. They let me right into their world while ensuring I was comfortable every step of the way. Despite knowing very little about Thule and its Scandinavian culture, from the very start, establishing a working relationship with this company felt like a perfect fit. The following day I accepted my award for winning the video contest. Listening to legendary athletes like Garret McNamara, Matthias Giraud and Flo Orley praise the video of the alaia project my dad, brother and I had made in our garage was surreal. I went up and gave a nervous acceptance speech on the main stage at ISPO and watched my video play, anxiously surveying the reactions of the massive audience as they watched. Moments after I accepted the award the Thule team manager offered me a spot on the team. My heart stopped. I wanted to scream “hell yes!” and start jumping up and down like a little kid. Instead, I calmly answered with one of the biggest smiles I can remember and we walked back to the booth for a fully catered welcoming party with lots of hand shaking and hugs.


When I arrived home I promptly failed a midterm. My teacher handed back my test with a look of disappointment, but I had no regrets. One botched midterm was well worth the trip to secure a longtime dream sponsorship. In fact, during my first meeting with Thule, when I asked about what kind of projects they would like me to be doing, their answer was, “Think of any trips you want to do, and we will help you accomplish them.” I downplayed my excitement and calmly replied, “Yeah, I think I can do that.” My journey to become part of the Thule Crew was unconventional and unexpected. It’s been a year now since Munich, and joining Thule has definitely been a major game changer in my career. The financial support of companies like Thule and Cabrinha have sent me to incredible places all over the world, far surpassing anything I could have ever imagined. Yet with all of these experiences, my journey as a professional kite surfer has also been more work than most would expect. Like many kids, I figured if you were good enough to go pro all you had to do was kite and collect paychecks. I think I speak for most of the professionals out there; in the kiteboarding industry, to make money, you need to do a lot more than just kite. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve learned so much about the companies that sponsor me, from the business side of things to the latest marketing and media production skills. While I wouldn’t advise skipping out on a college education, after juggling both a professional kitesurfing career and university at the same time, I can honestly say I have learned more practical skills from working with my kiting sponsors than I did in four years of academics. If there’s one lesson to draw from my Thule adventure, the more opportunities you create for yourself, the more you will get out of life. I can’t thank every one of my sponsors enough for supporting me as an athlete through my scholastic pursuits. I’ve learned more than I ever would have thought from this incredible sport. My hope is that larger brands will continue to see the magic in kitesurfing and support our youth in chasing their dreams.


ABOVE: A good sponsor breaks down barriers, and offers new frontiers: International cuisine. // BELOW: Matt putting his Thule sponsorship to work in Indo while filming the latest BIP movie. Photos Cole Elsasser


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Find a way to escape and enjoy the little things. After a week of no wind, competitors at the 2015 Venyu Triple-S finally got the goods on the last day. Katie Potter cautiously set up her kite, visualizing exactly how she would approach each of the park’s features. As the 2015 Australian Women’s Kiteboard Vice Champion and sponsored Naish team rider, Katie is no stranger to freestyle, but slider riding was a whole new story. With very little practice and not much experience under her belt, she ended up hitting two of the rails for the first time during her heat, and much to her surprise, on her third attempt, scored the highest girls’ hit on the infamous John Wayne slider. One month later, Katie headed to Hood River to compete in her first kiteboarding race. Lots of laps, jersey changes, tangles and beer chugs later, Team Naish took home the win at this summer’s Kiteboarding 4 Cancer derby. At just 21 years old, the Melbourne native is not afraid of new challenges. In fact, she thrives on them. She has chosen a career path that will change the way companies approach and develop their business models, tactics and goals in today’s modern world. Katie is in her last year of college, working towards a degree in “Service Design,” a new field of study that combines business strategy and innovation. According to Katie, the standard business degree focuses on running a business and maximizing profits. Service Design differs in that it takes a humancentered approach to creating commercial services while ensuring the project stays viable, feasible and desirable. To put it simply, organizations are becoming increasingly aware that they can no longer rely solely on providing value through products and need to shift towards creating meaningful and memorable customer experiences. This is where Katie’s degree will kick in. “I just started my final Honors year. We get to work in international teams with international companies brainstorming services and experiences that don’t yet exist. We will be working at the forefront of technology and innovation. The most rewarding part about it is that we will end up designing new products and experiences from beginning to end. Because of extensive customer research, constant prototyping, user testing and manufacturing, our end result will be so complete that the company who hired us can implement the final concept straight away.”


Katie started kiteboarding with a few haphazard lessons but what put her on the path to becoming a pro rider was meeting Ewan Jaspan, the top ranked male kiteboarder in Australia. Katie reminisced that Ewan motivated her to prioritize kiting above everything else. Once she got up on the board, her addiction followed. “My commitment to the sport came over the cold and gusty winter months in Australia when I had to battle untangling balls of line and kites falling out of the sky.” Ewan has been an influencing factor in both Katie’s personal and professional life. Now dating for five years, Ewan inspired, coached and pushed Katie to an advanced level that helped her earn a spot on Naish’s Australia team. Motivated by the number of diverse women she met kiting in the Gorge, Katie is on a mission to get more girls involved in Australia’s kite scene. She said, “We have a good number of women getting into the sport but still not very many young girls. This is something I’m putting a lot of effort into and trying to change over the next few years.” As to aspiring female riders, Katie has this advice: “Keep trying, crashing, learning and having fun along the way. Don’t be disheartened if you’re crashing a lot – it means you’re learning.” She added, “Guys can often muscle through tricks while they are learning, whereas, I find that I need to learn the technical aspects to help me through the trick. Although this is a slower way to learn tricks, the outcome is more rewarding because it’s less forced and smoother in motion. I think this is also true for most women.” So, what’s next for Katie? Upon graduation, she plans to travel and kite all the places she missed out on over the past few years. While she’s out satisfying her wanderlust, she hopes the company she currently works for will welcome her back when she returns. “Especially if you are young, get out there, travel and experience new things. Even when you have work and responsibilities, find a way to escape and enjoy the little things – like kiting!” RIGHT: Taking a break from academia and corporate work, Katie Potter is finding balance in kiteboarding. // Photo Rick Pryce Words by Marina Chang


Still smiling after a wheel malfunction and a long scootbike to the top, Karl Williams is a traveler at heart. In it for the people, Karl’s work is dedicated to sharing the exploratory stoke of kiteboarding. Photo and Words by Brendan Richards


GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE. It’s early morning in downtown Hood River, Oregon; the streets are empty with the exception of a black minivan that just pulled up in front of Vela Resort’s early 20th century brick office building. Karl Williams, my impromptu mountain bike guide, jumps out the driver’s door, pops the back hatch and crams my wheels in-between bench seats, children’s toys and his full suspension carbon bike. Loaded up and headed for a trail on the Washington side of the river, it occurs to me that Karl, a windsports travel guru and affable father of three, is in his element; he’s taking me on an adventure. Karl runs Vela Kitesurf Resorts, a longstanding network of kite and windsurf resorts that offer the ultimate wind-driven vacation. Karl grew up surfing in Santa Cruz, California, but had very little contact with windsports prior to his first day of work at Vela. When it comes to kiteboarding, Karl considers himself an “intermediate in practice, but an expert in theory.” Karl graduated from college in Santa Barbara just as the US economy was falling deep into recession in the wake of 9/11. Jobs were hard to come by, and after a brief stint of unemployment on Maui with his girlfriend, he moved back to Santa Cruz. One night, Karl’s college sweetheart, now wife, lovingly cut out a newspaper ad for a “tour operator.” Although Karl had never heard of “Vela Windsurf,” he was in dire need of employment and at first glance the company’s website indicated the job had something to do with travel to exotic white sandy beaches and crystal blue water. Karl was offered the job immediately and began a crash course in the abstract theory and technical terms of windsports. From behind a desk, Karl cultivated a deep understanding of kiteboard locations, windy seasons and conditions most suitable for the various skill levels of Vela guests. Stepping away from the monitor to exercise his travel perks and enter the practical world of kiting, he was cursed in the wind department. However, after a couple years of travel combined with Vela’s wise decision to move their office to the reputedly windy town of Hood River, Karl can finally walk the talk.

We are halfway through our mountain bike grind when Karl’s rear wheel emits a raunchy metallic clash. His rear axle implodes; his pedals now freewheel in both directions. The ride should have been over, but Karl insists on scoot-biking the remainder of the trail so I don’t miss the best part of the ride. Watching him haul his bike uphill, I wonder whether this selfless stoke is rooted in his individual or professional persona. It’s not hard to imagine Karl going the extra mile for his clients: Sharing insider tips to keep non-kiting travelers entertained, enthusiastically answering the most mundane details or arranging for onsite surfboard rentals and elaborate downwind adventures. Karl is the first to admit that the broader travel agency model is all but dead unless you’re selling Disney trips, cruise line packages or sanctioned trips to Cuba (you can probably scratch the latter off the list as of the time of printing). While much of the world has been trained to book directly, loyal Vela customers know better; Karl will send you to the best destinations with the highest standards of service at a competitive rate. As a family man with three young kids and a limited travel budget, Karl can identify and relate to his customers. Capable of building the best value for anybody from the single traveler, to couples, to families or groups of friends, Karl doesn’t have to compete on price, but prides himself on skirting around the hidden fees that unwittingly snag the bargain shoppers. As Karl explains the mechanics of his job, it boils down to skillfully arranging every aspect of his client’s trip into one finely tuned experience of kiteboarding bliss. Karl’s genuine interest in helping people explore the kiteboarding world is apparent; this year he’s managed to introduce foilboards into the list of the latest gear available at his destinations. I genuinely believe Karl when he claims he’s in the business of making lifetime guests and lifelong experiences. What’s the motivation that keeps him coming to work every morning? According to Karl, it’s “to help people experience the world, get out of their comfort zone and go someplace they didn’t expect to want to go . . . and come back wanting to do it all over again.”




According to Patrick Rebstock, “Surf designed equipment should get out of the way and let you focus on your surfing. Products like the Ride Engine sliding spreader bar in tandem with a short chicken loop and a long throw bar frees my upper body so I can take a more natural and open position on the wave.� Photo: Adam Lapierre



Airush’s jack-of-all-trades, Julien Kerneur, is equally adept on the race course as he is popping off new-school freestyle, or as this picture demonstrates, booting massive airstyle. Photographer Ydwer van der Heide captures Julien mid-superman against the backdrop of Mauritius’ rugged backcountry. // Photo Ydwer.com




Katie Potter’s profile on P56 talks about how guys often master tricks through sheer might while Katie focuses on the technical points for a slower but smoother progression that she finds much more rewarding. // Photo Lance Koudele





At 15 years old, Australian James Carew rides the Axis train to Fiji and scores infinite backside hacks off the lip. // Photo Stu Johnson


30% 4 0 KG T E S T


Trident Performance Sports Inc | info@tridentsports.com | USA




Intro by Brendan Richards | Words and Photos by Vincent Bergeron

If you meet Vincent Bergeron with camera in hand, you might think he’s a man of few words, but athletes like Sensi Graves and Eric Rienstra will tell you otherwise. Most stories about this French Canadian photographer start with anecdotes of Vincent’s entertaining, yet incomplete command of the English language and finish with his unwavering commitment to documenting pure, visceral images of avant-garde kiteboarding.


All of Vincent’s North American friends know what he means when he says, “I go by walk.” Quite frequently, Vincent disappears, slipping off on foot to discover a world outside of kiteboarding, often reappearing to capture our trade with a long lens from a unique, unexpected angle. Growing up in the culturally rich burrows of Montreal, Vincent’s boardsports pedigree is a mix of snowboarding, skateboarding, BMX and rock climbing with influences from traditional team sports including hockey and soccer. According to Sensi Graves, “You always know you’ve got a really great shot when you can get Vinni to cheer. He doesn’t cheer very often and so it’s really special when you get a rise out of him. Correction, Brandon (Scheid) gets a lot of cheers. The rest of us really have to work for it.” The collective perception is that Vincent is a no bullshit photographer; he never minces words and will call athletes out if they’re not up to par. Using his personal vision to influence both his athletic subject as well as the photographic frame, Vincent is as much an image taker as he is an image maker. Vincent attributes his inspiration to other photographers within the industry such as Bryan Elkus, Tracy Kraft Leboe, Toby Bromwich, and Lance Koudele, to name just a few. However, most of his technical knowledge was formed from reading massive amounts of internet tutorials followed by an exhaustive regimen of trial and error. Waiting tables in Montreal, Vincent stumbled onto kiting when he met Liquid Force designer, Julien Fillion, but in recent years he’s photographed some of the most respected athletes of our sport. Eric Rienstra recalls, “When Vinni first started shooting with us, he was working as a waiter and photography was more of a hobby, but his skills have progressed to the point where he is now being hired for product shoots for kite companies.” When asked about his personal relationship with kites, Vincent admits to teaching himself two years ago, but his dedication to creating stunning action sports imagery ensures that most of his time is spent wandering down desolate beaches (as Vinni says, “going by walk”), and restlessly searching his viewfinder for a different perspective. We asked Vincent to share some of his favorite photographs and give us some insight into his creative approach. In my personal experience, there is no single recipe for a good kiteboarding photo; this sport has too many variables at play. The conditions are never the same and it is almost impossible for a rider to repeat the exact maneuver for the camera again. This is also what makes it particularly interesting and never boring. My photographic process starts with the familiar — my camera equipment and the light — both are essential before heading out to shoot. After that, I


“Eric Rienstra is so stylish! It is a gift for the photographer to have the chance to work with Eric, he is in my opinion one of the most creative riders with integrity. Some might say he’s extraterrestrial, but his bohemian side makes him a fascinating subject. I love to listen to Eric philosophize over any subject!” - VB


“Brandon Scheid is the captain. He is charismatic, totally dedicated and very constant. I consider him both my friend and my agent as well as a key motivator. His riding style is the perfect balance of power, comfort and innovation. Brandon is also the best cook I know.� - VB



“In my opinion, Sam Light is the best rider of the day because of his power, style, and highly technical riding with grabs. He’s also very funny and always has a fantastic story to tell. He is a perpetual teenager and never boring.” - VB


use an assortment of self-taught techniques to capture kiting, but the key is to be ready because you never know when the magic moment arrives.

before going into the water. Lighting makes all the difference — even when the wind is rotten the images will be better — the famous golden hours are the time for magical photos.

For me to want to photograph, I need a good rider. Style is very important; clothing sets the tone as much as the rider’s maneuvers. It’s difficult to take a magazine worthy picture of someone in a seat harness with triple UV protection sunglasses and a Go-Joe attached to their board. Yes, safety will always remain important, but this is not what draws people to this sport; we are attracted to the kite because it is extreme and powerful.

Communication with riders is key. I always start a session with a reminder to keep the kite low, as flush with the water as possible. For a freestyle shot or just general scenic shots, if the kite is too high, it doesn’t look good. The kite is what makes the sport magical, and it’s the photographer’s job to better develop and integrate the kite into their image. To get the kite low and powered, there is no solution other than to constantly beckon riders to think about where they place their kites.

Location is as important as rider and style. When I choose where to shoot, it’s important to keep in mind that a perfect place for kiting is not necessarily the best place to take pictures. The popular spots tend to be crowded and have already been photographed a thousand times, so it’s much better to go explore and find new locations. A view of the sea will always be a point of view of the sea, whether it’s in a Caribbean paradise or just your local beach. Without the right backdrop, you only have the horizon and the water; this makes for boring photos. Knowing your Kodak (read camera) is very important, and for that you need to take pictures, and then take more pictures, and when you’ve done that, take even more. When we are on location, a true photographer has little time for anything other than photographing, let alone kiting. Whether you’re fine-tuning a new lens or exploring the territory, there are always new techniques to try. I always take pictures before and after the session; the lifestyle of the kiteboarder is as valuable as the action itself. This requires me to keep my Kodak out at all instances; when it’s time for beer or lunch, for the photographer, it’s still time for work. Sometimes, I like to go solo and take long walks to get away from the standard point of view; it offers a broader outlook and often I find a new perspective for the next day. Commercial photography requires that you attend to all the details. You must arrive at the shoot with fully charged batteries, formatted memory cards, a wetsuit and proper water shoes to move throughout the spot. I always make a checklist for equipment which includes rider’s gear as well; they tend to forget their pump, bar, and backup board. Equipment failure is not uncommon for both the photographer and the rider, so we plan around it. Most importantly, a good photographer has a strategy for what he/she wants to shoot. Part of this is knowing the wind forecast and trying to better anticipate the day. Riders always want to go into the water when the wind starts blowing, but sometimes it’s wiser to wait until the light is best. It is not uncommon that I have to convince a rider to wait

Photographers must be vocal; I shout, laugh, and give feedback. Riders love to hear the photographer; it motivates and maintains the camaraderie in our relationship. The more my vocal cords hurt in the evening, the greater the chance we achieved beautiful images. Riders rarely understand the big picture, as they don’t necessarily know where to load and pop. It’s my job to tell them what to do, and maybe more importantly, what not to do. It’s my job to search for a better point of view; bend down, elevate, change the lens, rig up a flash, go in the water — and I’m always on the run because I can’t lose a single moment. The most technical maneuvers are not necessarily ideal for a good photo. Again it is a question of style and ease. It’s better to encourage the rider to do what they know best rather than to attempt a triple pass for the first time. A simple grab integrated into a rotation generally trumps passing the bar, and it is the photographer who has to determine what makes the best image from the Kodak’s point of view. Sometimes you have to make the rider do the same maneuver 10 times over in order to get one good shot. I try to push the limits of each kiter, but each rider requires a different approach. I find myself adapting to the rider and encouraging them according to their strengths. If I ask someone to do a handlepass and they don’t have it mastered, then it is a waste of time. I focus riders on what they can do and use my skills to make it work visually. To be entirely honest, sometimes I lie to riders and I tell them the photos are awesome when this is not true; that way the morale stays high and they actively continue to kite. Sometimes it’s the total opposite and I tell the hard truth about an athlete who doesn’t do the right things; I can be really cruel when I feel it’s a waste of time. Stopping to look at the images is essential, but difficult when you’re taking 2000 images in one hour. Is my focus good? Is my camera setting ideal? Am I better to move? I have to stay focused at all times, not only in terms of photography, but also in terms of my mental



state. I always try to get away from people; even if a pretty girl talks to me about my big lens I try to dodge the conversation to better concentrate on work. While photographing, it is virtually impossible to stay focused with someone at my side. By being antisocial, I can maintain a bubble and a centered state of mind. One of the biggest practical challenges while shooting action is fighting exhaustion; the best time of day is often at the end when the rider is tired and burnt. I try to find ways to prevent an athlete from fading on the late session. I bring lunch, snacks and water in my photo pack, and never hesitate to offer these to the riders. Sometimes a little boost of energy can stretch a session and land the best shot of the day under the last ray of sunshine. When the day on the water is done, the work has only just begun. I spend long hours at the computer selecting photos. The best formula is to show only a little but show only the best. What seemed to work in the viewfinder of the Kodak can be disappointing at the computer. Sometimes a picture is perfect even without a single touch-up, but the opposite is also true when a flat image becomes sublime with a bit of color correction. Generally, I try to make a first selection with the riders sitting in front of the computer. It motivates them and helps illustrate what to do and what not to do. If the rider is disappointed with the results, sometimes they will pay more attention to my direction when I tell them what to do and where to do it. This collaboration as well as the rider’s reaction often inspires me to work harder the next day. The last step in the photographic process is deciding which photos to submit to the magazines and kiteboarding companies. It is a long process that requires a lot of discussion and a good methodology. My criteria for a good photograph starts with style. No matter what, if the action is not powerful and committed, it doesn’t deserve to be printed. Secondly, the shot needs to be sharp. As professional photographers, we are supposed to consistently deliver the best of the best. Photos with soft focus should not be in a magazine. Finally, I believe an image should speak for itself. If you need to quote Gandhi, the Dalai Lama or Chuck Norris to make it work for a publication it’s probably because the image is not powerful enough. To part with what I’ve learned in recent years, new photographers just need to play around. Stop thinking so much and just go out and shoot photos; don’t be lazy — explore each location. All those expensive DSLRs need to be used. If you have athletes in front of your camera and less than 60 gigabytes of images at the end of the day, then you aren’t trying hard enough. When you look at your work, it’s important to be critical of what you show. There are millions of images in the world; ask yourself why some are more interesting than others and always try to focus on the emotion and technique that suits your own creativity.


“Julien Fillion was the first to believe in me. He knows exactly where to ride and understands the photographic process; this makes for an efficient and highly productive shoot. Julien is also a person with so many different interests and diverse talents, which has opened opportunities for other parallel projects.� - VB

In addition to massive portfolio of action images, Vincent has a growing list of action videos you can check out at www.vimeo.com/vincentbergeron


2015 S O U T H PA D R E I S L A N D , T E X A S


November 6-8, 2015 Enjoy miles of at water and wave riding at one of the most consistent wind destinations in North America while you demo all the new 2016 gear from participating brands. This three-day demo event is open to all intermediate level or better kiters and will be held at the SPI Kite Ranch.



THIS + THAT Cobra Dog is a great stretch pre or post kiting because it both strengthens the spine and the shoulders while opening the front side of the body.

I love riding to music I can dance to. Here’s a mix of upbeat dance tunes, house, hip hop and songs for moving and grooving.

“Drop the Game” Flume & Chet Faker “Work” Iggy Azalea “Zhu” Faded

The back-bending action works to counteract the relentless pull on the upper back during kiting and stretching the abs and hip flexors always feels great after a long kite session. 1. Press down through your palms and tops of your feet to lift your hips off the ground. You can keep a little bend in your elbows or press to straight arms.

3. Look straight ahead or slightly up to lengthen through your neck. 4. Broaden your chest and take a few deep breaths.

2. Draw your hips toward your wrists and move your shoulders back away from your ears.

“Classic Man” Jidenna

For more tips and stretching inspiration, follow kiter and yoga instructor @vowilliams on instagram.

“You Don’t Own Me” Grace “The Wolves” Ben Howard “Uptown Funk” Mark Ronson “Changes” Faul & Wad Ad “Show Me” Swedish House Mafia “Cavalier” James V. McMorrow

Laura Maher on delicious smoothies... Smoothies always help me feel my best when I start my day or before a long session. The challenge can be to find ways to make a nutritious green smoothie without the overwhelming pulpy grass-like taste. Slipping green superfoods into a smoothie can go from awesome to awful pretty quickly, so here’s a few tips:

Add citrus, it hides bitter green flavors. Smooth the taste with something creamy: ½ cup of yogurt, kefir, coconut or almond milk. Banana and mango are great ways to mask bitterness, while adding creaminess. Use the Golden Rule: 2:2:3. 2 cups greens, 2 cups liquids, 3 cups fruit. There’s plenty of room to freestyle within that ratio.


Blueberry, Mango & Kale Smoothie 1 C Frozen Blueberries 1 C Frozen Mangos 1 C Banana 1-2 C Kale 1 1/2 C Coconut water 1/2 C Orange Juice


Words and Photos by Will Taggart

The Alaska Snowkite Project started not as a defined trip or a film production, but as a vague creative project; an incomplete thought that unfolded during long kite sessions, around dinner tables and after untold rounds of beer. From the start, the mission was to identify the boundaries of snowkiting, then leverage grassroots media efforts and growing industry connections to explore the sport’s past and take a stab at the future of what’s to come. 82


“The goal of this video project was to not only capture the history and lore of early snowkiting but also to tell that narrative within the context of the modernday evolution of the sport.�


As it stands, snowkiting has already seen some impressively high benchmarks of achievement. Eric McNair-Landry and Sebastian Copeland kited 370 miles in 17 hours midway through a 43-day selfsupported circumnavigation of Greenland. Snowkiting’s backcountry history is littered with amazing landmarks like Johann Civel climbing over 30,000 feet of altitude in a single day, or Christophe Grange soaring 5,000 feet off a mountain to the valley below, flying over trees, cliffs, and gapping massive sections of mountains in flight. These are monumental steps in snowkiting’s progression, yet each step is just a scratch on the surface of what snowkiters are doing these days. At each milestone, deep within the hearts of those that push our sport, there are epic tales of discovery, design breakthroughs and incredibly close calls. We’ve all shared these stories while kicking tires in the parking lot and collectively, these stories are the soul of snowkiting. The goal of this video project was to not only capture the history and lore of early snowkiting but also to tell that narrative within the context of the modern day evolution of the sport. The history of snowkiting isn’t an easy story to tell; it isn’t just one style, and there’s no single point of origin. There are many disciplines in snowkiting: Flyers, jibbers, speed kiters, mountain climbers, and distance/multi-day kiters. These are just the main snowkite genres and although you’ll see a lot of crossover, each group is equally passionate and has contributed to the growing knowledge base. Bringing all the disciplines together to weave a cohesive story is a complex undertaking, however, long-running events like the Bighorn Snowkite Summit are exceptional narratives of how the fragmented world of snowkiting meets and forges connections that have become instrumental in the progression of the sport. As we look back at each of the Snowkite Summits, there’s been a steady stream of improvements in baseline safety standards, newly developed riding techniques and most importantly, progress in risk management. The simple act of riding together has become a collective lesson; we’ve advanced in such areas as gliding principles and managing the potential dangers of extended flight, as well as minimized the risks of climbing steep mountains where circumstances can too easily result in a massive unintentional takeoff. As a group, the Jackson Hole Kiters have been pushing the backcountry side of snowkiting with multi-day self-supported trips through Wyoming’s vast peaks. This group, myself included, has managed to cover huge distances in remote areas, suffering in the extreme cold, lugging heavy packs and cumbersome cameras. Access to some of the more remote areas has succeeded after many failed attempts including getting lost, running out of time and encountering extreme conditions. Surviving long nights with the tent flapping out of control while trying to keep warm makes for even more epic stories and embodies the true spirit of exploration. LEFT: Johann flies up the bootpack leg with his kite. // ABOVE: With kite tucked away, Johann makes the final push to summit Tone’s Temple.


As a member of the Jackson Hole Kiters, our focus has been on merging snowkiting with mountaineering. Spending most of our time snowkiting in Wyoming, we find ourselves on epic multiday adventures to discover large unexplored areas that resemble some of the most incredible terrain commonly seen in places like Alaska. Here in Wyoming, there’s the extra challenge of climbing to elevations of over 10,000 feet, where we can kite above tree line and finally have an open canvas to kite across. Although it creates a great story, often when we reach Wyoming’s epic locations we’ll find ourselves intimidated by the remoteness, tired from the journey, and in the back of our minds worried about making it back out. Struggling to reach these remote locations in our backyard inspired us to begin dreaming of traveling to areas with wide-open terrain and easy big mountain access. The treeless mountain terrain of the Chugach Mountains in Alaska is some of the best-known accessible extreme snowkite terrain. The wind can blow virtually from any direction and on most days you can find something to kite up. For the purpose of filming a documentary, Alaska is the place guaranteed to deliver vivid imagery of snowkiters


aggressively riding amongst the backdrop of mind-blowing scenery while pushing the limits of the mountaineering aspect of the sport. In terms of logistics, the plan was for five us to spend a month living out of a mobile home. Johann Civel, Wayne Phillips, Pascal Joubert, Charles Symons and myself packed our lives into 200 square feet of mobile living space, utilizing every available inch for gear storage and bare-bone essentials. We spent our time kiting nearly every day and filming our experience. The wide-open terrain was brilliant just like we had dreamed. Based out of our mobile home on Thompson Pass, once we became more familiar with the area, we began to push the boundaries of where we were kiting, exploring increasingly challenging terrain. After our first week, we were kiting up, skiing down, and traversing across the base of various mountains. We quickly learned how to link up valleys and mountains, forming routes with different strategies for changing snow conditions and wind directions. Using the wind to climb where you can and then skiing down to the next launch point from where you can start your next ascent, the kite is an amazing tool in big

“We quickly learned how to link up valleys and mountains, forming routes with different strategies for changing wind direction and snow conditions.” mountain travel. As we began exploring new and challenging routes, each day we began to open up a much larger expanse of terrain. In the process of logging incredible footage and exploring the limitless backcountry terrain, we learned some key lessons about our gear and the basics of responsibly adventuring in Alaska. The main piece of equipment that really changed our kiting experience was our foil kites. On this trip, we flew the Ozone Frenzy and Summit kites. If we had an extra foil kite, there’d always be someone wanting to borrow it. The foil kite is incredibly easy to launch and land in challenging situations, it saves a ridiculous amount of weight over an inflatable, and there’s one less piece of equipment to remember due to the simple fact that no pump is required. The best days in Alaska were usually in big kite conditions, but there were some good small kite days and many days where we used a combination of both. I usually packed both a 7m and an 11m because we would typically use the larger kite to cover distances in the valleys and smaller kites for looping vertically up large pitches. Another tool I found to be vital and will never go without is a radio. You start every adventure thinking you’ll stay close and maintain visual contact with each kiter, but sooner or later, that plan falls to pieces and it becomes a race to the top or visibility drops and you find yourself in the middle of nowhere with bad visibility. Your radio is your only source of communication, so keep it close and powered. In the Chugach Mountains everyone wears a climbing harness for rescue purposes whenever they’re out on the snow. Guides quite frequently carry ropes and axes for navigating tricky spots. However, we only used ropes and axes a few times, purely to be extra cautious when we were on glacier terrain or when we just weren’t sure how safe things were. Most other times, we were in terrain that simply required the typical backcountry basics: A probe, beacon, shovel, and emergency provisions. As a snowkiter in Alaska, you quickly become acquainted with the downside of its treeless terrain; whiteouts frequently render you almost completely blind. Like any Alaskan expedition, we had a few

TOP: Will Taggart stoked on another incredible summit. // ABOVE: Accessing terrain in Wyoming’s Absaroka mountains where few have been requires an overnight stay. // LEFT: Pascal kiting up a ridge on the Loveland Glacier in preparation of speedflying down.

spells where we had to wait out storm conditions, but on more than one occasion a break or “blue hole” in the storm would entice us to leave the safety of camp. Under the power of a kite it only takes a few minutes to get miles away, but blue holes often don’t stay long and the atmosphere can quickly return to full whiteout mode. A number of times I kited out into the mountains for 15 minutes under beautiful light, only to have the visibility drop to five feet. Taking out my probe and compass, I’d have no choice but to etch a line in the snow in front of my ski tips, making sure I wasn’t going to fall off a cornice or into a crevasse, while slowly scooting towards our home base. A 15-minute kite session that turns into a two-hour inching session grinds on you, but cabin fever is powerful enough to make you take your chances. If there were trees in the Chugach, you could at least go for a nice backcountry run, but without spatial awareness, there’s pretty much nothing else you can do but wait out the white.


Crammed into our small mobile home while exploring the wonders of the Alaskan backcountry, we brought our film full circle and satisfied our dreams of kiting to the tops of big mountain terrain. The evolution of most adventure sports arrives at a point where a wall is reached; the bar seems to be set too high and progression becomes incrementally small and requires significant increases in risk.

Despite this plateau, we’re all searching for ways to move forward because progression and breakthrough is what keeps us coming back for more. This was the key theme we wanted to showcase in this film project: Sooner or later we will all push our own limits. By combining the power of kites with mountaineering skills and big terrain ski access, we hope to take backcountry snowkiting to the next level.

Taggart plans to release his feature length documentary, the Alaska Snowkite Project, on demand in the fall of 2015. 88


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p h oto s : j a s o n w o l c ot t


pau l s m y t h


team RideR:

Ryland blakeney


SP GADGETS Mouth Mount When it comes to spicing up your GoPro edits, this Mouth Mount is a great way to score some unique footage without messing up your teeth. With dual density rubber and an easy to adjust swivel you can dial in some smooth POV action from the rider’s true perspective. $34.95 // sp-gadgets.com

NPSURF S1 Tracker EZ Featuring a pivoting spring-powered hook which reduces the torque load experienced when a kite pulls with a side vector to your body, this new design effectively makes your connection point much closer and negates sideways forces during turns or toe-side riding. When unhooking, the hook self-centers once the load is removed. Made of forged aluminum for superior strength. $104.99 // npsurf.com

MANERA Meteor Magma 4/3 Manera’s new Triplex Magna Neoprene is the bomb. Combining Magma Fleece, V Foam neoprene and Re-Flex Skin with reinforcements in all the right areas specific to kiteboarding, the 4/3 Meteor Magma suit is extra warm and super stretchy while offering durability. $439 // manera.us

WEATHERFLOW Weathermeter This Bluetooth Smart device syncs up to your phone up to 100 feet away and measures wind speed, wind direction, temperature, wind chill, relative humidity, dew point, and pressure. Skywatch does all this and more for half the price of comparable meters with the same wireless features and measurement capabilities. Wow, that’s a lot of features that fit in the palm of your hand! $79.95 // PKSdistribution.com

SHRICK APP for Andriod Users & Action Sport Fans Shrick (Share+trick), is a new social network app for every daredevil out there. Targeting 21 segments of action sports, its intuitive interface includes built-in tools for photo and video editing, letting you add special effects like slow motion to your footage. Shrick also has a system of ratings and leaderboards, letting you compete with friends and the rest of the world by uploading your tricks. FREE // https://goo.gl/aCkrZE

FUTURE MOTION INC Onewheel Like carving powder or waves? Onewheel is a self-balancing electric skateboard that lets you fly over pavement and dirt on a single wheel board using selfbalancing technology. Riders can accelerate up to 12mph by leaning toward their front foot. Leaning back slows down, or even reverses this revolutionary new board. $1499 // rideonewheel.com

ROGUE KITEBOARDING Quick Connect The fastest, easiest, and hassle free line management tool. Perfect for small, crowded or sketchy launch sites as well as water launches. $19.99 // roguekiteboarding.com


For accessory reviews from this issue, see: thekiteboarder.com/category/gear/accessory-reviews/

Down Sweaters and dry suits. When you are this far south, you need both. Chile. JODY MACDONALD © 2015 Patagonia, Inc.

Down for whatever. Kiters need jackets that work for everything, especially in winter. Our multifunctional Down Sweaters are light, warm, block wind and pack down into the internal pocket for travel ease. The shell and liner are both made from 100% recycled polyester, and they’re insulated with 100% Traceable Down—a fi rst in the surf industry—that’s sourced from birds that were never force-fed or live-plucked. There are plenty of choices out there, but only Patagonia jackets are made with the extra care and attention that our mission statement requires.


Men’s Down Sweater packs small into its own stuff pocket.




TOP: Canadian Mike van der Valk throws an unhooked raley at Jones Beach on the southwest side of Lake Ontario. Photo Michael Bula // LEFT: Gareth Sims, a fish guide based out of Benguerra Island off Mozambique is in the clouds above the Indian Ocean. Photo Dean Tomlinson // ABOVE: Davenport’s Brian Friedman tucks into a left at the Waddell beach break during one of the summer’s first south swells. Photo Joe Winowski



With little more than pride on the line, Brandon Scheid’s powered and technical riding earned him the win at the Slider Jam as well as a year’s worth of bragging rights.


Words by Rich Sabo

Photos by Brendan Richards

No Sponsors, No Prize Money, Just the Glory. While skate and snowboard parks are commonplace these days, kiteboarding’s equivalent, slider parks, are still incredibly rare. To my knowledge, there is only one freestanding kiteboarding park in the world and it is located in Hood River, Oregon. The east coast has a slider park at REAL Watersports in Hatteras, NC, but because the features need to be brought in and out of the water for every session, it is not always available. Hood River’s slider park is made possible through the efforts of the Slider Project, a community of kiteboarders dedicated to maintaining and advancing slider riding as a part of the sport. Sliders require a significant amount of upkeep, but a freestanding park like the one at Hood River allows anyone to show up anytime during the season and get their jib on. While this may pose a liability nightmare somewhere down the road, it currently operates smoothly and consistently draws the top kiters as well as up-and-coming talent from around the world to the Gorge every summer. This segment of the sport is incredibly small, but is becoming increasingly popular amongst professional and recreational kiteboarders alike. The 2015 Triple-S Invitational was a slider specific event with more prize money for its podium than any PKRA (now the VKWC) stop in 2014. Most of the Triple-S competitors travel from all over the world because slider events (let alone opportunities to train for them) are few and far between. Other events have come and gone, such as the Ro-Sham-Throw-Down and the Islamorada Invitational, but as of last year there was no park event in Hood River, a location that to many, would seem to be a no-brainer. Following this year’s Triple-S, a group of riders met up, myself included, and decided that we needed to put together a second event that would take advantage of Hood River’s permanent features. From afar, creating a kite event might seem easy, but convincing athletes to show up without prize money is hard and production costs add up while sponsors are hesitant to throw money at a fledgling competition without a proven track record. With these challenges in mind, Eric Rienstra, Brandon Scheid, Craig Cunningham, Colleen Carroll, and myself setup an informal meeting to solve these problems and lay the groundwork for a successful slider park contest in Hood River. We started by figuring out the “who.” As this was a slider focused contest with the end goal of creating one comprehensive piece of media, we decided to invite all of the riders from the Triple-S Invitational invite list. We figured this would be a good baseline for keeping the skill level high and the chaos level low. Reaching out to riders and discussing possible dates, we picked a weeklong competition window in August when most of the riders were available. Since we had no sponsors and very little time to prepare, the prize purse was set to zero. The winner would receive nothing more than a makeshift trophy and a year’s worth of bragging rights.


hen came the important questions: What should the format look like and how are we going to judge it? All of us are huge fans of Rob Dyrdek’s Street League and wanted to try to capture as much of the jam style format as possible. The problem with jams is that they’re fun for the competitors, but they usually lack excitement for the audience. The average Joe doesn’t know the difference between a blind Pete and a blind Fredo, let alone a Moby Dick 540 and dum-dum (yes, those are all real tricks). With this in mind, we decided to come up with a format that would allow riders to showcase the best of their technical abilities, while maintaining the competitive pressure and overall viewership. We divided the contest into three sections. Starting with the Tech Section, the riders received three hits on each feature in the park. No rider would benefit from their favorable side (regular/switch) because we planned to change up the kicker’s direction. We wanted riders to demonstrate their best tricks, but with three scores per feature we had hoped to encourage a little bit of risk and consequently, a lot of progression. After the Technical Section, we moved into the Line Section. In this portion of the contest, riders had to hit three features, one after the other, similar to a slopestyle ski or snowboard course. However, if a rider crashed, that run was over. The monotony of repetitively hitting one feature and one-trick pony flat water freestyle contests are part of the reason that kiteboarding isn’t as spectator friendly as other extreme sports. The Line Section allowed riders to showcase their style and flow by linking multiple tricks together. The final day of the Hood River Slider Jam was the Build Section. Upon entering the contest, all riders were warned, “if you plan to participate, plan to build.” During scheduled lay days, riders worked together to build extensions onto the park’s existing features. With the addition of some pipe and culvert tubing, we were able to increase the risk factor and technicality to really put the riders’ abilities to the test. A few of the competitors even opted out of some of the features as they were “too gnarly.” Without prize money, the judging was done by the riders. Steven Borja with ESBO.tv organized all of the footage from the previous day and created a rough recap of every single hit each rider performed (a sort of instant replay style of judging). After the event, all of the competitors gathered to watch the footage and score each hit on a 1-10 scale. An average from all of the hits were taken and the best score for each section counted. Since the main idea was to build a sponsor driven event for the future, we were going to need to prove that the media exposure from this year’s event would justify a sponsor’s investment. We hit up every single camerasavvy person on our list and pitched them a week of hard work and little promise of compensation. Luckily, professional photographers Steven Borja, Andre Magarao and Toby Bromwich believed in the uniqueness of the slider event and volunteered to help.


Riders had to pitch in for the raw materials, roll up their sleeves and build the additional features while working together to transport the oversized features a half-mile into the river. Unlike most contests with an Event Coordinator and a Head Judge, the Hood River Slider Jam gave everyone a chance to step up and wear any number of hats.

FAR LEFT: Grassroots riders meeting at the Hood River Marina. Photo Moxy Int. // TOP MIDDLE: Brandon Scheid, Alex Fox, Craig Cunningham and Sam Light all pitch in to move the North rooftop into position. // MIDDLE: Heavy lifting in the slider factory. Photo Lindsay McClure // BELOW: Alex Fox removes Craig Cunningham’s collateral damage. // BOTTOM: Airing onto the extended feature, Alex Fox scores big in the final.


he media focal point was the final event video in which the scores were imposed onto the video with recaps to give it a Street League feel. Most of the time it’s hard for non-kiters, or even recreational kiters, to comprehend what is difficult and by placing the actual scores on the screen with the trick performed, we helped engage viewers and distinguish that line. The biggest challenge in a grassroots event is maintaining structure; Unlike most contests with an Event Coordinator and a Head Judge, the Hood River Slider Jam gave everyone a chance to step up and wear any number of hats. The end result was a fun and competitive event in which we made something very special from nothing other than the hard work of passionate people.

UPPER RIGHT: Colleen Carroll represents for the ladies. MIDDLE: Winner Brandon Scheid demonstrating intensity and smooth style off the kicker with Sam and Craig watching on. BOTTOM: Jason Slezak and Sam Medysky taking a break between sections.

Follow @thesliderproject on instagram and look out for the launch of the IndieGoGo campaign to build more features in Hood River, Oregon. 98


Once upon a foil story . . . LEFT: Mike Murphy, inventor and pro knee-foiler. Photo courtesy Mike Murphy RIGHT: Julien Fillion grabs rail and flies a wing on the new LF Foil in Montreal. // Photo Vincent Bergeron

While Laird Hamilton first thrust foilboarding into the public spotlight with his big wave tow in at Jaws in the 2003 surf documentary, Step Into Liquid, it was Mike Murphy who first taught Laird how to ride a hydrofoil some five years earlier. Inspired by the experience, Laird and the Maui “Strapt” crew started bolting a combination of different boards and bindings on to Mike Murphy’s foils, to dial in stand up foilboarding in the early days of tow-in surfing. As a pioneer, inventor and competitive pro rider for over 50 years, Mike Murphy literally transformed the sport of waterskiing and hydrofoiling. Historically, Mike is largely recognized as the world’s best rider in several disciplines of water skiing. He is also the co-inventor of the original water ski kneeboard (1972), first sit down hydrofoil (branded as the Air Chair in 1989) and the holder of 12 patents for innovative water ski related products including the means and manufacturing of a two-piece billet t-bar hydrofoil (strut plus fuselage). More than just a nutty inventor, Mike is the first kneeboarder, the father of hot dog water skiing (1970s) and the first to land and ride away from a flip on a hydrofoil (1990). Mike was first exposed to hydrofoils back in 1966 and ever since, riding foils has been his passion. In 1976, he opened a waterski school on the Colorado River where stand up foils became part of his regular riding routine. As he improved and started pushing the limitations of his gear beyond its original intentions, Mike began combining his original invention (the kneeboard) with a single strut foil that he developed with Henry “Buck” Buxton. It worked well, and shortly thereafter, in 1985, Mike teamed up with Bob Woolley to develop the world’s first kneeboard hydrofoil, and sold the design to Kransco, a manufacturer of Hula-Hoops and Hydroslides. Unfortunately, just before Kransco was about to bring the product to market, an employee took a spill on one and got hit by the foil at a company picnic. Concerned about the product’s potential liability issues, it never made it into production. Continuing their experimentation of new ways to ride a hydrofoil, four years later, Mike partnered with Bob once again to introduce the world of water skiing to the seated hydrofoil, the Air Chair. Nearly 15 years ago, Mike rode a sit-down hydrofoil with a rope attached to Corey Roeseler powered by Roeseler’s original Kite Ski invention. This stunt most likely established Mike as the first person to ride a hydrofoil under the power of a kite. Back then, kite technology was sketchy at best, but today Mike is giving kiting a second chance. Today, at nearly 70 years of age, Mike Murphy shows no signs of slowing down. In 2013, he launched Next Foils, continuously attempts to break records and just signed ink as a consultant in design and engineering for LF hydrofoils, which also gives the company exclusive rights to his patents. With a lifetime of foil insight and experience, it is an honor to have Mike join the kiteboarding industry and contribute to the progression of hydrofoiling in our sport.











Light, durable and reinforced for dedicated wave junkies. Diamond tail, five FCS fin box. Sacrifice nothing, upwind fast, snappy turns off the lip, speed, grip and control. Hold your line even when overpowered. Slice up the waves face and aggressively charge that lip knowing Oppy will maintain control. Rocket upwind to do it all over again, all day long.

A 4-liner with a perfectly adapted bridle set up, offering enhanced light wind performance, effortless water relaunch. Swept back leading edge, extremely efficient kite surface. Great for playing in the waves, freestyling, or freeride. On/off power, tight turns, and stable. Feel the Fantastic, you'll love it.

Aggressive performance, fast turning, explosive boost, extremely fun sporty kite. A ton of power with strong to moderate bar pressure and good feedback. The friendly beast, Wild Thing has always had a cult following for being an adrenaline fueled ride. Great as a wakestyle, freestyle or wave kite. One bar, you choose your line configuration, fly 4 or 5-line.

LARGE: 5' 11 5⁄8" X 18 3⁄16" / SMALL: 5' 8 3⁄4" X 17 1⁄2"

6.5 / 8 / 10 / 12 / 14 / 16








6 / 8 / 10 / 12 / 14 / 16.5



Where are you going this winter? Hope Levin will be hanging in her personal paradise on Turks and Caicos, savoring every moment. // Photo Agile Levin


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8/5/15 10:48 AM


Damien Leroy & Matt Elsasser facing o in the Gorge.


Profile for The Kiteboarder Magazine

The Kiteboarder Magazine Vol. 12, No. 3  

The Fall 2015 issue features: - The Value of Nowhere - Legally Launched - Engine 2.0 - Venezuela - Shaping Opportunity - Going By Walk...

The Kiteboarder Magazine Vol. 12, No. 3  

The Fall 2015 issue features: - The Value of Nowhere - Legally Launched - Engine 2.0 - Venezuela - Shaping Opportunity - Going By Walk...

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