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TRIP Travel/Freeride/Wave Sizes: 8, 10, 12

Lightweight and easy to pack, the 2015/16 Trip is the ultimate choice for easy travel. Ideal for intermediate-to-advanced wave and freeriding, the versatile Trip features a strutless design which yields minimal turbulence, incredible low end and manageable power for an effortless ride. 2

Find the perfect travel companion in the NEW Naish Trip.

Photo: Quincy Dein Rider: Kai Lenny

Find Your Ride




TRIP Travel/Freeride/Wave Sizes: 8, 10, 12

Lightweight and easy to pack, the 2015/16 Trip is the ultimate choice for easy travel. Ideal for intermediate-to-advanced wave and freeriding, the versatile Trip features a strutless design which yields minimal turbulence, incredible low end and manageable power for an effortless ride. 2

Find the perfect travel companion in the NEW Naish Trip.

Photo: Quincy Dein Rider: Kai Lenny

Find Your Ride


aruba hood river

baja margarita

belize maui

welcome to vela Over 25 years has helped to define Vela Resorts as THE SOURCE to discover windsport travel experiences like no other. And 2015 will be no different. We welcome you back to see what we have to offer this season. Thank you! Through your support, we continue to learn and improve upon the art of what we do: create and plan high-quality kitesurf vacations for you. Vela introduced several exciting new spots last year - Hatteras, Tobago, Turks & Caicos, and the Philippines and would like to now introduce the NEWEST center - VELA COLOMBIA! As always, a trip to any Vela destination means you’ll find an operation featuring the friendliest, most experienced staff possible, exciting lessons from trained professionals, and the latest and safest new gear on the market from our longtime partner, Cabrinha. Hope to see you on the water!


CALL NOW: 800-223-5443


brazil philippines

cabarete st martin




hatteras turks & caicos

Cabrinha / Quincy Dein

Š 2015 Vela Kitesurf Resorts

Design: hauser-advertising.com5

Marina Chang, Publisher Brendan Richards, Editor Jennifer Jones, Art Director Shana Gorondy, Graphic Designer Alexis Rovira, Editor At Large Gary Martin, Technical Editor India Stephenson, Online Media Manager Seth Warren, Senior Contributor 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 Keahi de Aboitiz, Rich Sabo, Jason Hudson, Johnny Heineken, Sam Light, Sam Medysky, Craig Cunningham, Billy Parker, Brandon Scheid, Alex Fox, Jason Slezak, Colleen Carroll, Reo Stevens, Nick Leason, Vadim Polinksy PHOTOGRAPHERS ENFONDO, Ryan Taylor, Jody MacDonald, Cascade Kiteboarding, Hugo Valente, Gilles Calvet, Mrs. Meerkite VanCockenheimer, Cecelia Johnson, WCKA, Uri Magnus, Dave “Nelly” Nelson, Jason Hudson, Karsten Staiger, Hege Holt, Brian Nitto, Linda Argila, Ed Bulgin, Anett Pásztor, Anika LaLopa, Wes Matweyew, Vincent Bergeron, Gilles Calvet , Michael Petrikov, Mike Hitelman, Jason Lombard, Toby Bromwich, Lance Koudele, Jason Wolcott, Rick Dobrowski, Craig Cullen, Mandi Miller, Lift Foils, Dave “Litewave” Turner, MPS, Sari Anna Erdos, REAL Watersports, Eric Hertsens Visit us on: • • ADMINISTRATIVE/ADVERTISING OFFICE 1356 16th Street, Los Osos, CA 93402 805.459.2373 SUBSCRIPTIONS • | 805.459.2373 Have you got an idea for an article you would like to see in The Kiteboarder Magazine? Send your submission to: © 2015 Boardsports Media LLC. All rights reserved.








WOODEN SPUD 5’0” 5’3” 5’6”







Keahi de Aboitz disconnects from the endless pings of his smart phone and joins the Cabrinha Quest in the South Pacific to explore the value of escaping social media.



From chaos to conciliation, photographer Jason Hudson travels to Cabarete to document the historical currents that changed the sleepy fishing village into one of the world’s top Caribbean windsports destinations.


Before finding the bar of a kite and philanthropy, Linda Argila found herself in Danbury Federal prison for harboring the father of her child, an international drug

trafficker on the run from the FBI.


Take a walk down memory lane with the riders of North America’s most prestigious and progressive kiteboarding event.


Reo Stevens takes a look back to the early exploratory days of Indonesian kitesurfing.









The Heineken Tack.



Xantos Villegas – From La Paz to La Ventana and the

world over, this young gun is shaking things up in Baja.



Three young guns square off to win this issue’s hat.

Hege Holt – Diverted from Venezuela to the Caribbean, adventurous Hege finds her bliss after leaving her homeland in Norway.

24 48


For six years Nick Leason has been quietly shaping the future of freeride foilboarding.

88 ROOTS Celebrating Florida’s Irma Harris. Avant Garde Gothic Demi



Riders_Matchu Lopes / Tom Court - Photo_Mario Entero / Toby Bromwich



















# N O R T H K I T E B OA R D I N G

The Value of Nowhere, Behind Bars, The Triple-S Decade, Cabarete, Indo Reflections






Dare to Diversify






The Kiteboarder Vol. 12 No. 2



4 › 5 › 6 › 7 › 8 › 9 › 10 › 11 › 12 › 13




Summer 2015



Brandon Scheid tearing up La Ventana beaches with unhooked hand drags in front of photographer Vincent Bergeron. The angle of the shoreline was perfect for natural jibs and after a few warm up hits (aka crashes), Brandon was hitting the granite pebble strewn beach with more speed and throwing some serious buckets, this time stones instead of water.




There’s nothing wrong with a good cop-out.

I’ve used a cop-out like this on any number of occasions with varying levels of credibility, but when it comes to slacking on filling a vertical column of white space with introspective thoughts on this fine magazine we’ve put together - I have the granddaddy of all excuses: It’s North Kiteboarding’s fault. A good cop-out is as much about shrugging responsibility as it is about reading your audience and appealing to their humor, or even better, their sympathy. As kiteboarders, we all know conditions are fleeting; the best days are hard to come by and when opportunity presents itself, we must not look the other way. In my humble opinion, some of the best kiteboarders I know, professional or otherwise, have earned that title not because of innate athletic ability, but rather as skilled masters at the art of routinely escaping work and life’s cascading social commitments. They are typically the brilliant but somewhat sinister few who have scammed their way into an envious amount of time to practice our trade. When Danny Schwarz from North Kiteboarding called me up on a warm sunny day, it was more an act of duty that I ditched this deadline. Danny and his demo team were driving their way up Central California and it was very clear they needed a tour guide on my stretch of the coast. Danny, his brother Brian, and friends Luke and Jeremie, are more of a rough and tumble posse than an organized team; uncomfortably crammed into a large van bulging with kite equipment, a drone camera and a shiny new recurve bow with a bundle of arrows. One thing was clear — without a good session under their belt, there would be trouble. The tide was wrong, the waves were small and the wind was light, but I dutifully guided them through the back streets, my fingers crossed as we pulled up to the one beach that picks up the most swell. Over glistening white sandbars and turquoise water they surfed, and I foiled. It was chest high mush, but I shadowed them down the line with a GoPro and we hooted and hollered for hours. In the great words of fictional character Ferris Bueller,


Brendan Richards



Most surf guides refer to Ponta Preta’s power with the word “legendary.” When it comes to kitesurfing Cabo Verde’s crown jewel with its usual gusty offshore conditions, it can be totally out of control. Goofies have it even worse; they can try to switch stances but for those that really want to explore their true surf potential, riding this “wild horse” backside is the only real choice. When I first started kitesurfing this wave, as a goofy foot it was a major challenge. Sometimes I couldn’t sleep at night trying to figure out how to do it right. One of my main problems was keeping my harness from slipping sideways on the bottom turn. Once I replaced my harness hook with a rope, my chicken loop began to rotate and I started to set up a good angle on the bottom turn. This is what has allowed me to fully commit to the lip and attack it upside down. - Matchu Lopes // Photo ENFONDO





This year I decided to dedicate all my passion and energy for kiteboarding into organizing a challenging philanthropic event: Kiting for Cancer. The goal is to kite across 100 miles of open ocean from Little Cayman to Grand Cayman with financial pledges in benefit of the Cayman Islands Cancer Society. The trip will take around eight hours if no one gets gobbled up by a shark, but there will be full boat support and relay teams for those that feel the distance is too far. Our goal is to face our fears and push our endurance to the absolute limit, much like those who battle cancer do every day of their lives. For more information check us out: - Amy Strzalko // Photograher Ryan Taylor


Words by Keahi De Aboitiz | Photos by Jody MacDonald


aily routines have been turned upside down in the last decade. With smart phones in almost every hand across the globe it’s hard not to notice our constant disconnection to the external world. In a society where the digital phone never leaves your side, the age of the analog alarm clock is all but extinct. These new age devices steadily chime with every phone call, text, email, tweet, Facebook and Instagram update. People no longer bash the snooze button to silence a sleep piercing monotone buzz. Instead, they groggily scroll through a barrage of updated information streams as they encounter the first thoughts of the day. It might sound terrible to some, and to some it is, but the instant connection to everything has brought the people of this world closer to each other than one could previously ever imagine. However, as important as it is to stay connected with our peers, it can be equally important to disconnect from all the commotion, turn off your devices and remove the temptation to share, like, text, and email. With all this interconnectivity, there needs to be a time for disconnection, a real or perceived place for “you time;” a personal nowhere, in which you interact with yourself, your physical environment and recharge your batteries. Cabrinha as a brand is filled with passionate people who love the ocean. We all feel lucky to be involved in this industry and with this sport. However, even people who love their careers reach a point where they need to step back from the routine, turn the computer off, and hit the reset button. For many of us, the best reboot is simply heading to the beach and catching a few waves; whether it’s surfing, kitesurfing or even a body surf in the shore break -- the power and simplicity of the sea is often just the right cure to the digital bombardment. But sometimes a single session isn’t enough. The demands of work deadlines and digital overload can conspire with the change of seasons as it begins to reflect a calmness in the ocean. On Hawaii, each summer the once menacing north facing shores stacked with lines from the horizon, are beginning to look more and more like a flat lake every day. The North Pacific’s hibernation is cause for many surfers to begin an annual pilgrimage to the southern hemisphere to find the surf that counterbalances the digital onslaught. Last summer was no different for wave addicts Pete Cabrinha, Reo Stevens and myself. The three of us had the opportunity to explore a portion of the South Pacific aboard The Cabrinha Quest, a seafaring expedition in search of the world’s most remote and dynamic kitesurfing and surfing locations. The Quest consists of a 57-foot Lagoon sailing catamaran known as “Discovery.” With a crew of three, Captain Seon Crockford, First Mate Michaela Laserer and Chef Juan Tarragona, Discovery specializes in finding “nowhere” and thriving in that isolated space.


ade up of remote islands, the South Pacific is home to some of the most picturesque and untouched islands anywhere in the world. Each of these islands is their own unique piece of paradise. Coconut tree-covered atolls rise up sharply from the ocean’s blue depths, surrounded by a snaky, ragged fringing reef with smaller motus (islands) scattered about, and isolated by a dark, deep purple ocean with depths that plunge to 12,000 feet and more. There are no giant cities, no massive airports, or 5-star resorts, and this is the place which forces you to disconnect from the binary ether and join the real world. Meeting up with a boat somewhere in the South Pacific is not always an easy task and this makes our adventure different from what most of us are used to. Our destination airport is a little shack perched along a single stretch of tarmac that barely fits on the narrow strip of the atoll. Each step of the itinerary moves us farther from reliable wifi, each plane shrinking smaller until we cart our board bags down a long dock to our boat.

although there was some of the most perfect one footers rolling through, it was just too small to surf over the shallow reef. So we decided to explore the atoll, take a look around and regain our “land legs” after the night’s journey. The morning stroll around the village was a perfect opportunity to bring out the expedition’s latest toy, a quadcopter with a mounted GoPro camera. The drone provides a unique aerial vantage point to document these spectacular environments from a broader perspective. After a few hours of playing with our new toy, we sent it on a scouting mission. The reef pass was just out of sight for us but from the drone’s video feed we could see bigger waves rolling over the reef, so it was time to head back to the boat and check the surf again.

The scene as we pulled back into the reef pass will be etched into everyone’s mind for a long time to come. We watched as some of the most perfect waves anyone could ever imagine rolled into the pass with “If you were to design the perfect just a couple local guys out. It wasn’t reef, this is what it’d look like; windy but no one really cared. It was deep blue water colliding with mechanical. We watched as each set a ruler-lined coral ledge and a would do the same thing; start from After we get onboard the Discovery, perfect horseshoe wrap into the way up the point, then race down say our hello’s to the crew, and get pass with a stunning backdrop.” the reef until it hit a section where it our safety brief, it’s time to make slowed down to a speed a surfer could a plan for our 10-day stay. Luckily successfully paddle and take off from. For the next 100 yards it would for us the forecast looks amazing with back to back solid swells barrel perfectly without a single drop of water out of place, then slow accompanied by wind. With several different options available, down and offer a couple of slower sections for some turns. it’s just a question of working out where to go. After a few hours of sizing up the forecast and debating our course over cold beers, we set sail overnight to an island about 50 nautical miles away. Rumors have it that there is a perfect left that breaks around a reef pass, although word is that it can be very fickle. Due to the layout of the islands, for a swell to actually make it there, the direction has to be perfect or it will not reach in between the islands in its path. It was a gamble but would be well worth it if we scored. Armed with everything from shortboards, SUPS, kites, and more than enough camera gear including a new drone, we started our journey. The overnight sail was about as easy at it gets. Light winds and a downwind leg made for a nice, smooth journey under a giant full moon. Throughout the passage you could see the lines of swell we were chasing pass under the boat. Everyone was excited to see what the morning would bring. We arrived into the pass early that morning, hoping to see the perfect wave we’d heard all about. If you were to design the perfect reef, this is what it’d look like; deep blue water colliding with a rulerlined coral ledge and a perfect horseshoe wrap into the pass with a 18 stunning backdrop. Unfortunately, the swell hadn’t arrived yet and

With beaten up bodyboards and no fins, the locals were putting on a tube-riding clinic. These guys were getting wave after wave, and barrel after barrel. With huge smiles on their faces they came out hooting and called us into the lineup while they paddled back to the takeoff from the point. Familiar to crowded lineups, it’s hard to imagine a courtesy like this still in existence. Usually you are getting screamed at and abused. So actually getting invited into the lineup was a new experience, a kind of connectivity you can’t get on Facebook, and worth a million likes. Needless to say, everyone onboard took their invitation and joined our new friends for an afternoon surf. Unfortunately, perfection had its consequences. Lurking just a foot or two below the surface was one of the most shallow and jagged reefs imaginable. Although relatively flat, the live coral is razor sharp. It was clear everyone would be leaving some flesh on the reef by the end of the trip. It was something that was in the back of your mind every wave. Every time you fell, you were ready to hit the bottom. And one by one we all did; some worse than others. Pete was the first to find the reef, and although it was enough to slow him down, it wouldn’t be enough to keep him out of the water.



UPPER LEFT: Keahi at the helm of the Phantom quadcopter, with Pete looking on. // MIDDLE LEFT: Surveying the damage, Keahi feels lucky to have kept his face off the reef. // BOTTOM LEFT: Keahi just before his brush with the jagged reef. // UPPER RIGHT: The Discovery is a great vantage point to watch the arrival of a building swell. // BOTTOM RIGHT: Pete Cabrinha putting his board to good use as he waits for the wind.


After a few gems, I set up for a barrel. It was the same set up as before but this time I caught a rail and found myself following the lip over the falls. In the chaos I hoped to get off easy, maybe spat out the back, but instead I was driven to the bottom and ended up landing hard on my shin. As the wave passed over it ground my knee across the bottom while I did everything I could to keep my face away from the reef. I knew I had paid some sort of price for my momentary lack of judgment and I knew it wasn’t going to be good as I clawed my way back to the surface. Upon closer inspection, I saw a deep cut on my left shin and my legs and hands were covered with reef grazes. It was going to be a painful couple of days, but the worst had to be the timing; the next morning we were greeted with lines of perfection wrapping around the reef and no one out but friendly locals. The only difference was the waves rolling in were twice as big as the day before.

Keahi on his backhand in the middle of nowhere; getting a full recharge on his proverbial batteries.


I watched Reo and Pete score perfect waves all day long with only a handful of others. Pete was blown away by the caliber of this reef. For him, Restaurants in Fiji had always been the wave by which all others were compared, but after that day this left is Pete’s benchmark and he vowed to come back and surf it again. Watching Reo and Pete score perfect waves with a handful of locals was a tough pill to swallow, but from the sidelines I was able to fly the drone. Tracking waves for the first time is a feeling I’ll never forget; capturing the action with the camera actually made me feel like I was part of it. As the day went on the waves just got better so they kept surfing. I may not have been out there but I feel like I was and have the shots to remember the best waves of the day. So what is the value of being nowhere? It is simple . . . it’s priceless.


Race specific kite

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1. Cascade Kiteboarding women’s camp gets some serious air in La Ventana. The girls called it “Van Camp” because they went on so many far flung Baja adventures in Palapas Ventana’s 11-seater van. Photo Cascade Kiteboarding // 2. Keahi De Aboitiz on his way to the top of the podium at the first stop of the Virgin Kitesurf World Championships in Dakhla, Morocco. Checkout Keahi’s article on page 16: The Value of Nowhere. Photo Hugo Valente / VKWC // 3. Gabby Dittenhofer putting the Liquid Force WOW and Slingshot Screamer through their paces in Pismo. Photo Staff // 4. Marie Desandre Navarre starts her own Uber transport service on the nautical highway of Madagascar. Photo Gilles Calvet // 5. A lonely inflatable on the starting line at the 2015 Playa Central Gold Cup in La Ventana signals a turning point in kite racing; arguably one of the most progressive areas of kiteboarding design. Photo Michael Petrikov // 6. Cecelia Johnson has so much klout that when she drops her GoPro in the ocean, it finds its way back to her. Photo Selfie // 7. World Class Kiteboarding Academy hanging out between classes somewhere in Central America. Photo Courtesy WCKA // 8. Water photography works best with a bright colored helmet and healthy dose of distrust. Israeli photographer Uri Magnus keeps a close eye on Yuval Arad’s freestyle trajectory. // 9. Patrick Rebstock and Coleman Buckley hard at work where the magic happens at Ride Engine. Photo Dave “Nelly” Nelson // 10. Andy Holmes of Bellingham Kite Paddle Surf scores a barnacle covered diving fin at the Pismo Beach KiteXpo. Photo Staff // 11. Adventurer Seth Warren takes a break from globetrotting to hang out with friend Kristen Sblenorio at the Pismo Beach KiteXpo. Photo Staff


Welcome to Sabo Smack, a column where we address awkward and unfashionable phenomena that exists in kiteboarding. Problem: To start, I’m calling out one of the kookiest trends in our sport: The time honored

and bizarre habit of wearing shorts over a full wetsuit. Of all the boardsports out

there, this fashion faux pas seems to be indigenous to the sport of kiteboarding. The problem isn’t necessarily the kiteboarders themselves, but rather the bizarre reasons kiteboarders claim to do it.

Analysis: The reason you wear a wetsuit is that it is too cold to wear boardshorts. The wetsuit is designed to be a single layer that keeps you warm, with benefits in both

buoyancy and protection against abrasions. There is no need to get your high-

tech shorts all soggy; functionally it does nothing. If you think shorts over full neoprene is “fashionable,” let’s look at other recreational activities. Surfers don’t

do it, wakeboarders don’t do it, SCUBA divers don’t do it and girls certainly don’t

put bikinis on over their wetsuits (although that last image is quite hilarious). The functionality is zero and it is not fashionable, so we are net negative on this

practice. Having taught kiteboarding for a few years at REAL Waterports, many

of my students came to kiteboarding without a lick of watersports experience. More than once I watched students put wetsuits on backwards. I think it is this naïve nature of most kiteboarders that has encouraged the growth of boardshorts

over wetsuits. If you don’t know how to put on a wetsuit the right way, can we blame you for wearing your boardshorts over it? Yes, we can.

Solution: There is hope. As much as it hurts me to say, I will admit that I too used to

wear boardshorts over my wetsuit. In fact, many of the greatest kiteboarders

have fallen victim to this unsightly trend at some point in their kiteboarding career. However, just like that emo stage you went through in high school, you eventually get over it. Now that you have the knowledge, boardshorts over the

full wetsuit will hopefully go the way of kite pants. (What, you’ve never heard of kite pants?) Disclaimer: I realize saying it is not fashionable is a matter of

opinion and I recognize that kiteboarding is a sport of individual expression. So, if you feel the need to wear your boardshorts over your wetsuit, go for it! Just know you are the 1% of wetsuit users.


Enter Rich Sabo’s Smackdown Challenge: Tag your kookiest boardshorts photos on Instagram with #sabosmack and Tkb staff will reward a lucky winner! @the_kiteboarder




Words and photos by Jason Hudson

It was the “Wild West” of kiting.

With hardly a notion of how to fly a kite, young athletes were flocking to the banks of Cabarete Bay to learn the newest windsport. This surge of popularity came with a sliver of a rough patch, a peek of the unsavory,


and a flux in commotion and petty crime that would begin to push people away. Marina Chang, publisher of The Kiteboarder magazine recalls her first night in Cabarete in 2000. “A man crept into my room late at night; I woke up to an intimidating stranger standing over my bed.” That experience didn’t deter her though. Chang moved to Cabarete in 2001 and partnered with Kitexcite, helping to expand the school into two locations and 18 instructors during Cabarete’s golden years. 27

ooking back on the beginning of the sport in the Caribbean it is necessary to touch on the bad, but a true recounting paints a rich cultural experience beyond trite anecdotes of petty crime. Chang continues, “The people, the scenery, the warm water and consistent wind, the rawness of a developing country combined with a diverse community of expat personalities and low cost of living greatly appealed to me and I couldn’t wait to get back” – an accurate description shared by many who found themselves in the Dominican Republic before the height of the boom town days. Kiteboarding is rich with legends of the bold; stories of the few ingenious risk-taking athletes addicted to the concept of going faster, further and higher on the power of wind and waves. Looking back to the origin of the sport you will find its pioneers; watermen with deep roots to the ocean. Since the very beginning, these individuals have had an insatiable desire to push beyond what was thought to be possible. Often mistaken as reckless, these innovators harnessed a higher level of athleticism and acumen that allowed them to create a unique culture and a brand new sport. On the then sleepy banks of Cabarete Bay along the North Coast of the Dominican Republic, these pioneers helped build the footholds of what we now know kiteboarding is today. In the late 1980s, Cabarete started to establish itself as a windsports destination. With steady and reliable winds almost every day of the year and a peak summer season with ideal windsurfing conditions between June and September, the windward facing beaches of Cabarete had the perfect setup for windsports enthusiasts. When windsurfing first arrived on the reef-protected beaches in the early 80’s the area was still greatly untouched by the booming commerce of a large tourist economy. But it wasn’t long before Cabarete became a popular destination, thriving with visitors from all over the world to take advantage of what is still considered the best windsurf slalom conditions in the Caribbean. BELOW: Luciano Gonzales lays a hack on an Encuentro ramp.


In the late 90’s the popularity of windsurfing began to make a decline; this made way for the pursuit of a different type of windsport, enter kiteboarding. Although the very first kiteboarder in Cabarete was an unknown Swiss guy who spent a winter in town trying to figure out the new sport, Christopher Tasti and Franz Olrly are considered to be the fathers of kiteboarding to the Dominican coastline. The two Frenchmen brought with them the original Wipika two line kites and it wasn’t long before they began to catch the attention of local windsurfers who wanted to take their riding to the next level. Local legend has it that waterman “Scary” Gary Eversole was the first to cross the bay with his kite setup. Skipping across the chop on his windsurf board, he rode up on the northwestern beach across the bay out of control and unable to stop. “We had no idea what we were doing, we were learning by getting out and trying, sometimes making big mistakes,” says windsurfer, Cabarete kiting pioneer and long-time local Marcus Bohm. Eversole, collecting his kite and ball of spaghetti after his high speed beach landing, made the walk back along the bay; thus christening “Bozo Beach” for all the learning kiters who would make the trek back upwind, head hung low, carrying their gear in a gathered mess under their arm. Still very much in its youth, kiteboarding was quickly finding a new home in Cabarete. As kiting requires less wind than windsurfing, it was becoming possible to unlock more riding days throughout the year, and as a result kiting was spreading quickly throughout the local windsurfing community and worldwide. From all over, expats and international travelers were flocking to ride the steady trade winds promised like clock work every afternoon. Cabarete was quickly on its way to becoming more popular than ever. Catching on to the growing trend, resorts began to offer all-inclusive packages. Now the Cabarete adventure could be easily accessed by anyone – and it was. The skies became speckled with kites of all colors and the waters filled with riders of all levels and nationalities. Cabarete was officially on the radar.

For the better part of the next decade, Cabarete would continue to grow as a destination for windsports – specifically thanks to kiteboarding, with property values skyrocketing to over three times their original worth. However, the sport would start to hit a ceiling around 2007. Overly crowded beaches, renegade schools, reckless instructors and little to no regard for established rules in the water would become the worldwide impression of Cabarete. Petty crime would soon rise, and accounts of visitors being held up or reporting stolen gear would become more commonplace. To add to it, a few years of unusually poor conditions would start to deter visitors, just as another invention was beginning to shape the tourism industry – the Internet. It was now possible to view real-time conditions, read reviews and book travel smarter all over the world. Kite-cationers who previously sought the ease and comfort of inexpensive and all-inclusive travel packages could search out in other directions. In subsequent years, the maddening crowds and pandemonium that had become synonymous with Cabarete’s Kite Beach was beginning to subside with the explosion of worldwide kiteboarding destinations. Despite this calming effect, kiteboarding was still very much the bulk of the local economy in this region of the Dominican North Coast. “Kiteboarding in Cabarete is out of its infancy now,” says Kite Club partner and professional kiter Cameron Dietrich. During the slower seasons of the post boom years, competition has encouraged schools to become more professional operations. Primary lesson centers, like The Kite Club, would be prompted to update all of their precautionary standards, and get all of their proper insurance. “It’s a slow going process building a relationship with the agency of Tourismo Dominicano, but we want there to be a standard for competency and aim to limit accidents,” Dietrich says. “That requires a level of standard and cooperation with other schools.” This makes sense when you look down the beach where kite schools make up much of the activity along Kite Beach.

“We had no idea what we were doing, we were learning by getting out and trying, sometimes making big mistakes,” says windsurfer,

Cabarete kiting pioneer and long-time local Marcus Bohm.


30 30

Brandon Cordina boosts a healthy frontside air on Cabarete’s outer reefs.


A great deal of the instructors are local

kids; as young athletes, they got their start helping on the beach, untangling lines and launching kites.

There are riders of all levels out in the water, yet unlike the height of the boom days, the interaction between instruction and visiting tourists is surprisingly safe with streamlined launching and landing and overall improvements in on-the-water etiquette. This is all not for nothing, as many of the schools have made it a priority to teach their instructors properly from the ground up. A great deal of the instructors are local kids; as young athletes, they got their start helping on the beach, untangling lines and launching kites. The natural athleticism of the Dominicans prompts a lot of these kids to pick up the sport astonishingly quickly, yet they often bypass basic lessons in safety. “We try to educate them,” says Audrey Meyer with Vela/Dare2Fly Kite School at the Agualina. “Teaching and talking to the new instructors is important, because they have to be a role model for everybody else in the water.” This continued investment into the future of the sport has become the new mantra ushering Cabarete kiteboarding into a new generation. Additionally this new perspective would help develop some amazing Dominican kite talent to emerge out onto the world stage. A major player in helping to thrust Dominican riders into the international spotlight is Eric Hertsens, a Belgium windsurfer and shaper who moved to Cabarete in 1983 looking for wind and waves. Eric started kiteboarding shortly after Eversole, purchasing his first Naish kite for $2000. In 1999, Hertsens started EH Kiteboarding and for the next 10 years, mentored and sponsored local kids with gear, providing the launch pad for many professional Dominican kite careers. Luciano Gonzales would be one of Cabarete’s first Dominican professionals. Getting his start as an assistant at Kite Club, Gonzales would run the beaches helping with crashed kites and tangled lines. Only a few short years later he would begin traveling and competing all over the world when he was just 16 years old. A generous soul, Gonzales’ connection to his roots is filled with pride. Gonzales is a force to witness in the ocean; he is a big guy, and carves deep lines on Cabarete’s waves with power and intensity. Continuing to kite and live in Cabarete, he now helps to teach and bring up the next generation of younger athletes. The legacy of success from first generation athletes like Gonzales continues to strengthen the foothold of the sport as an opportunity for future Dominican athletes.

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The latest round of local rippers is beyond impressive. The majority of this younger generation received their start similar to Gonzales, just by helping on the beach. Ariel Corniel is on the Naish global team and Robinson Hilario rides for F-One; both Dominicans are in the top ten on the PKRA, now known as the VKWC (Virgin World Kitesurfing Championship). With proper guidance from schools like Dare2Fly, Kite Club, Kitexcite, Laurel Eastman and others, the newest generation is learning how to approach the sport with responsibility. In many cases the local kids learn highly technical wakestyle tricks by trial and error. With limited access to instructional videos on the Internet, they are learning mobes and other unhooked handle pass tricks by simply getting out there and trying. “These kids’ love for the ocean is not a natural thing,” says Marcus Bohm. “Growing up scared of the water, many of them don’t even know how to swim, yet each day they get out there and huck themselves over the reef out of passion for the sport of kiteboarding.” The North Coast of the Dominican Republic remains a prominent influence in the greater kiting world. Despite the many changes over the last 15 years, it is safe to say that today it is stronger than it has ever been as an influential breeding ground for growth in the sport. Waves for kitesurfing, flat water for wakestyle kiting and so many organized schools for proper instruction; Cabarete is undoubtedly still very much a valued force in the world for the progression of kiteboarding. As the surge of all inclusive kitecation packages has started to make a steady and thankful decline, travelers are beginning to realize the true value of building their own pilgrimage to Cabarete. It is the natural beauty of the warm blue Caribbean waters shrouded by the watchful eye of coco groves combined with an eclectically influenced culture that make this a one-of-a-kind kite destination. Today, Cabarete is a hustling town, still rather small by American and European standards. The center

LEFT: Luciano Gonzales was the original beach grom to rise to professional kiteboarder status. // ABOVE: One of Cabarete’s original kiteboarders, Gary “Scary” Eversole throws a shaka with a full mouth of greens. Photo Eric Hertsens

of town is often congested with bottlenecking road traffic made up primarily of 150cc motos, small cars and foot traffic. Just on the other side of the long string of buildings is Cabarete Bay with walk up beach access to clubs and restaurants of all kinds. As each day wears on, the hanging bulbs of the outdoor seating begin to overpower the setting sun ushering in a hearty nightlife. Bars and clubs will stay open indefinitely, serving drinks and playing music as long as there is someone there to appreciate it. Cabarete has definitely grown into itself over the years, with diverse offerings in sport and culture. Today’s visitors have virtually all of the modern amenities at their fingertips. It definitely wasn’t always this way; looking back on the original pioneers that literally paved the roads of Cabarete you can see why they are considered the bold. They pursued a passion for wind-driven sport at a time when neighboring villages dwarfed Cabarete, a time when the sleepy town was hardly on the map, a time when no one understood kiting let alone how to do it safely. Passing down knowledge among the newly initiated, they helped progress a sport by taking chances, making mistakes and learning by experience. Gary Eversole and the early pioneers of Cabarete kiteboarding who


literally landed on Kite Beach with their two line kites in the waning years of the 20th century couldn’t possibly have known what they were creating with their simple passion for going higher, further and faster under the power of the consistent Caribbean winds. Today, as kite culture continues to flourish, it is extremely evident that the trial years of Cabarete are behind us. However, the maturity and impact on the sport of kiteboarding from the North Coast of the Dominican Republic will continue to be a strong force in the progression of kiteboarding for years to come.

The Dominican Republic remains a prominent influence in the greater kiting world. Despite the many changes over the last 15 years, it is safe to say that today it is stronger than it has ever been as

an influential breeding ground for growth in the sport.



By Marina Chang

The radiator belched a steady plume of antifreeze saturated steam through the twisted wreckage of Italian sheet metal and crumpled plastic. An assortment of morning pastries and fruit littered the floor of the brand new Fiat with shards of glass and pine tree bark scattered around the crash site. It’s 8am and in the long, winding driveway of an expansive Hamptons estate, Linda Argila takes the calamity in stride.

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Photo Karsten Staiger


professional kiteboarding coaches have flown in from around the country to pair up with New York’s high society for the annual Dream Extreme event. The goal is to share the basics and improve the level of kiteboarding for its participants while fundraising to help children of incarcerated mothers. A grand weekend replete with beach massages, stand up paddle boarding, live DJs, gala dinner parties and a silent auction, Linda has combined two of her passions: Kiteboarding and helping children. In the heat of early morning preparations Linda warns her army of mini Martha Stewarts that they are running a bit behind. Gift bags, culinary mini-bites and auction items are hustled out of the contemporary mansion and loaded into a four-car procession, each filled to the brim. She takes the lead and heads down the driveway where she waits for the last car. After a few minutes, Linda’s impatience flares and she circles back to the house to find a yellow Fiat plowed into a tree. Linda’s aggravation is quickly replaced with polished crisis management skills as she learns her assistant was securing a loose food tray while braking, causing the car to slide through gravel and total the front end. To make matters worse, the car belonged to Dream Extreme’s top donor, philanthropist Bonnie Pfeifer Evans, who had just purchased the custom Fiat SUV a few weeks before. John Steinbeck once wrote, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Derived from a Scots poem written by Robert Burns in 1785, it means you can prepare for everything but the unexpected. As it turns out, no one was hurt, Bonnie handled the awkward situation graciously and the weekend was a huge success for all. If only life went so smoothly all the time.

LOWER LEFT: Linda helps families in Haiti displaced by the 2010 earthquake. Photo courtesy Linda Argila // UPPER RIGHT: Turks and Caicos is Linda’s home away from home. Photo Anika LaLopa | Wes Matweyew

n the surface, Linda Argila looks like a well-polished, successful businesswoman, elegant and perfectly placed within the jet set of the East Coast. A professional fundraiser, she has raised more than $30 million for charities through large scale galas and other events like Dream Extreme, patronized by renowned artists, celebrities, and leaders in business and philanthropy. You would never guess that 14 years ago, Linda’s world fell apart when she was ripped away from her family and her young daughter to the infamous walls of Danbury Federal Correctional Institution, of Orange is the New Black fame.


It all started in the winter of 1989 when Linda met the man of her dreams on a blind date, and within seven weeks of their whirlwind romance, she found herself deeply in love and pregnant. A decade later, she was sentenced to “one year and a day” in prison for harboring a fugitive – the father of her daughter, Ashley.

Photo Anett Pasztor

From a state of fear and imprisonment, Linda found a way to free herself. Behind bars, she devised a self-help regimen that got her into the best physical, mental and spiritual shape of her life.

Although life-shattering, Linda’s prison experience also served as a catalyst, setting her on a path to help children, who like her own daughter during her incarceration, suffer because of separation from their parents. Her extraordinary story is an inspiring account of a woman whose life unravels after waking to FBI agents at her door looking for the father of her unborn child; a clean-cut businessman she never suspected of being one of the country’s top drug dealers, wanted for marijuana trafficking. Kidnappings, plane crashes, buried fortunes, ransomed masterpieces, a women’s prison, and redemption, unfold like a script from a Hollywood movie, and will soon be unveiled in her upcoming book. Linda’s story illustrates how even the most unexpected and extreme hardships can reveal life-sustaining lessons. From a state of fear and imprisonment, Linda found a way to free herself. Behind bars, she devised a self-help regimen that got her into the best physical, mental and spiritual shape of her life. Linda’s “My Prison Workout” helped her

overcome fears and many obstacles, and remains a tremendous source of inspiration to her today. The book comes full circle to the present, revealing how Linda found freedom and happiness, in part, due to kiteboarding. Linda says she’s been “Seduced by the Wind,” (book epilogue) where all the stresses of everyday life are forgotten – kiteboarding has given her a sense of selfempowerment and confidence that continuously nourishes her soul. Linda is excited to share her journey before, during, and after prison with others, and hopes that by publishing her book, she will not only entertain readers but bring light to the plight of children with incarcerated mothers, while inspiring others to overcome challenges. There are many twists and turns to Linda’s story that have helped shape the life she leads today. However, two very impactful experiences are when she learns that her fiancé Bill was a wanted man, and the traumatic reality of her first day in prison.


The Dream Extreme event brings the world of New York’s finest together with the most talented kiteboarding coaches in the industry. //UPPER LEFT: Ed Bulgin, a prominent Hamptons builder, first introduced Linda to kiteboarding. Photo courtesy Ed Bulgin // LOWER LEFT: Thick as thieves, Linda with fellow philanthropist Bonnie Pfeifer Evans. Photo Anett Påsztor // UPPER RIGHT: Linda with her best friend, her daughter Ashley. Photo Brian Nitto // LOWER RIGHT: World-renowned surgeon Stacey Silvers (front) was stoked to learn the fundamentals of foilboarding at the 2014 clinic. Photo Brian Nitto

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The follow ing are excerpts of those moments “The Raid” Dawn. The blue of the late spring sky began to wipe the night away as the two SUVs rolled to a stop. Eight men emerged from the black Suburbans. Opening the tailgate, they each reached in and grabbed shotguns and sidearms. They cinched their Kevlar vests, zipped up their dark blue windbreakers, circled the house and waited for the CO to make the call. ***

The sound was distant, but as I woke, I realized it wasn’t distant at all. The phone rang a second time before I could answer. “Hello,” I said. “May I speak to Bill Cody?” “He’s not here,” I replied and hung up. 6am. His friend would have to wait for the normal world to wake. This wasn’t my time, nor was it Bill’s who hadn’t moved a muscle, seemingly oblivious to the call. I pulled up my pajama top and ran my hand over my belly, hoping our baby girl hadn’t been disturbed from her slumber the way I was from mine. I lay there, bonding with my daughter, imagining what color her hair would be, as the quiet of the morning was restored. I loved my life, I loved Bill; the only thing that really bothered me was his friends calling at all hours. That would have to stop in three months. Breaking into the silence, Tank and Chewbacca began to bark. Not the “squirrel up a tree” bark, it was the “something is wrong” bark, the threatening one. It sent a chill up my spine as it echoed from the front hallway. The phone rang again. I quickly answered. “Ma’am, this is the FBI. US Marshals are at your front door. If you don’t restrain your dogs, we will shoot them.” I dropped the phone as I panicked. “Bill,” I screamed, “the FBI is going to shoot the dogs. Quick, they’re at the front door.” Bill’s eyes flashed open. He scrambled out of bed, grabbed his pants, struggling to put them on. I leapt from the bed, confusion filling my mind as I ran for the door. “Why would they shoot the dogs? What’s going on?” Bill was two steps behind and silent. As we raced down the hall, I turned and looked at him, ghostly pale, shirtless, shoeless. “Bill, answer me! Why is the FBI here?”


Tank and Chewbacca flew at the door, hitting it full force, barking and growling. I knew those sounds; they were in full protection mode and would tear apart anyone who tried to get near us. I gripped them by their collars and struggled to pull them back. “Bill, help me.”

But as I turned, he was gone. Vanished. As if he was never there. “Hurry up,” a voice screamed from the other side of the windowed front door. Just then, Matt, who’d spent the night, emerged from his bedroom. Though confusion etched his face, he saw my struggle, grabbed the dogs and locked them in his room. Trembling, I undid the lock, and the door exploded open. A sea of armed men flowed in, guns raised, spreading out, racing into the depths of the house. Screams — mine — and shouts — theirs — echoed everywhere. Gun barrels rose up into my face and Matt’s. Adrenaline filled my veins, my legs growing weak as the beat of my heart thundered in my ears. It took me a moment to realize the man with the gun in my face was yelling at me. “Who are you? Where is he?”

“Self Surrender” You might think I arrived at prison angry — angry at the injustice of it all, at the years of psychological terror that the legal system had put me through; angry at Bill for creating this mess and then abandoning me. But no, on this day I only felt shame. I was scared and despondent and helplessly sorry for everything. “Argila!” a female officer barked. “Come with me.” Alone, I followed her to what resembled a dismal dressing room in a rundown department store. She ordered me to strip down to my underwear. Crying, I did as I was told. Facing the officer — a middle-aged woman wearing a white collared shirt and a pair of navy trousers — I undressed, dying of humiliation, and extended my arms out at shoulder level. In a bored voice, she commanded me to contort into unusual positions, turning me this way and that. She finger-combed my hair, then told me to open my mouth wide and lift my tongue, while she pulled my lips back to ensure nothing was tucked in there. “Now remove your bra and underwear,” she said. She checked under each of my breasts. “Spread your legs, squat, and cough,” she said. It felt degrading and inane; in my naiveté, I couldn’t believe that anyone would ever try to hide anything “down there.” She handed me a pair of Fruit of the Loom underwear, a cheap white cotton bra that was too tight, an old worn-out pair of blue canvas shoes, elastic-waist khaki pants and a khaki button-down shirt, both of which were several sizes too big. My

from Linda’s m em oir: photo was taken and an ID card issued. I was assigned a prison registration number: 43949-053. I no longer had a first name. I was no longer Linda. Henceforth, I was Argila or #43949. Upon the conclusion of the intake process, a strikingly pretty blond woman of about fifty-six picked me up from the administration office in a white minivan. She drove me to the prison camp. Maria was eloquent and nice — not the sort of person you’d expect to work in a prison. Noticing me trembling and weeping during the short ride up the hill, she took my hand and tried to reassure me that I would be okay. It didn’t help. I felt scared and paranoid in this new environment. The hopelessness of the prison was palpable. The damp smell of cold concrete filled my nostrils. The walk down the hallway to my room seemed to take forever. To avoid the gazes of everyone I passed, I kept my head down, staring at the top of the worn-out pair of shoes I’d just been issued. In one arm I clutched a thin pillow and a pillow case filled with linens. In the other, a small clear plastic bag, barely big enough to fit a sandwich, held a few toiletries: A black plastic comb, a cheap toothbrush (but no toothpaste), and a thin square of soap. That was it, my “prison starter package.” It was all I had for the next year of my life behind bars. Photo courtesy Linda Argila

As a new arrival, I was assigned to a temporary group room, which I’d share with other women of varying ages, races, and criminal convictions, until a bed became available in the dormitories. Apart from the bunk beds, the room consisted of nothing but bare cement walls, cold concrete floors and metal lockers. I was given the top bunk, since lower bunks were reserved for less able-bodied inmates. When I climbed up to my bed, exhaustion washed over me. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, I collapsed. I couldn’t imagine surviving the next hour, let alone the next year. Eventually I found the nerve to wander around the grounds. The camp was quiet and deserted, as most of the three hundred other inmates were on work duty in scattered parts of the prison and wouldn’t be back until lunchtime. I discovered a long wooden staircase that led down from the prison building to the gym and track overlooking southwestern Connecticut. I stopped halfway down and stood gazing out at the peaceful view from the balcony platform, and for a brief moment I forgot where I was. Then I remembered, and my heart broke all over again. “Why you crying?” someone asked. I turned and found an attractive, physically fit woman peering at me. I thought to myself, She will never understand. “I just left my nine-yearold daughter,” I whimpered. She stood before me, dignified and poised, staring hard into my eyes. “I left my son when he was nine too,” she said, nodding. “He’s nineteen now.”


inda’s personal challenges have helped bring her greatest aspirations into focus and given her the strength to pursue them to the utmost. Now, behind the bar of a kite, Linda says, “This sport empowers me, helping me get closer to living my life fearlessly, so that I have the courage to act upon my ideas and dreams.” She adds, “As a result, doors continuously open, exposing me to new and exciting opportunities.”

Photo Karsten Staiger


An impassioned kiteboarder, Linda shares an unconditional bond with her daughter Ashley, who recently graduated from college and is learning to kiteboard herself. They are both looking forward to this year’s Dream Extreme, sharing fun times with friends and family, and living life to its fullest, one day at a time. As of yet, Bill Cody has never been found.




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From the moment I started kiteboarding I knew I wanted to establish a school in La Ventana. Driving down the dusty roads of La Ventana you’ll pass a seemingly endless line of kite instruction signs that makes it hard to imagine this seasonal kite town could possibly need one more kiteschool. Yet, a quarter mile into town, up the first arroyo and across from Joes’ sits a new compound. Ranch fencing strung with vibrant banners, vertical Airush flags, jet skis and a hand-painted bienvenidos sign marks home for 4 Elements Kiteboarding school.

teaching; I like the way I can share my experience and knowledge and watch as kiteboarding makes a positive change in people’s lives.” Armed with a degree in alternative tourism from the University Autonoma in La Paz, Xantos has created 4 Elements as the first step in his dream of offering an authentic La Ventana experience that encompasses not only kite instruction but a holistic immersion into kiteboarding as well as southern Baja culture.

4 Elements is the brainchild of a youthful Xantos Villegas and while the school is relatively new in the hierarchy of longstanding La Ventana teaching institutions, Xantos himself is no stranger to La Ventana. Born on Mexico’s mainland in the city of Guadalajara, Xantos’ family relocated to La Paz when he was 8 years old. Following in his father’s footsteps, Xantos first learned to windsurf in the tranquil bay of La Paz, and later spent many of his formative winter weekends chasing wind over the hill in La Ventana.

Despite the heavy presence of kiteboarding in La Ventana, there have been relatively few young Mexicans embracing the sport. Xantos recalls teaching windsurfing in La Paz. “Ninety percent of the people tr ying windsurfing were from another state. The people here don’t realize what they have out there: Beautiful water, beautiful wind. They have the best, but they cannot see it. When locals see all these people coming from the US and Canada, they think ‘it’s not for us, it’s only for them, I don’t want to be like them.’ ” According to Xantos, this is beginning to change, as more young local kids are venturing into kiting.

While Xantos may be late to the kitesurfing party, he’s no slouch. As a teenager, Xantos quickly found a niche in windsurf racing, setting lofty competitive goals to win the Mexican Windsurfing Championships with long term hopes of an Olympics windsurfing bid. Through his teens, Xantos established his own windsurfing school in La Paz, teaching locals the basics of boardsailing with the steady south summer winds. When kiteboarding began taking over the beaches of La Ventana, Xantos’ friends tried to convince him to convert, but it wouldn’t be until a couple years later when he aged out of contention for the Mexican Windsurfing Championships that he would give kites a try.


In that vein, with the glaring absence of a kite event in La Ventana, Xantos and his friends organized the La Ventana Windfest as a way to unite the community and motivate the local kids to embrace kiteboarding. With fun contests, tons of prizes, and locals only categories, the Windfest brought the town together once again. Looking back on this year’s inaugural Windfest, Xantos fondly recalls the basic premise. “This community is amazing. There are a bunch of people, we are a huge family here in La Ventana, let’s get together for three days to have fun.” And to Xantos, it was a massive success.

Under the watchful eye of friend Rico Rodriguez, Xantos quickly learned the basics of kiteboarding. According to Xantos, “From the moment I started kiteboarding I knew I wanted to establish a school in La Ventana.” With seasonal instructor jobs in La Ventana, Puerto Vallarta, and ultimately San Francisco, Xantos perfected the art of charismatic and effective kite lessons.

As for the future, Xantos plans to expand his school, build the La Ventana Windfest into a premiere kiteboarding event, and return to his racing roots, albeit with a kite and foil in the hopes that foilboarding will one day become an Olympic sport.

When Xantos speaks about teaching kiteboarding, he exudes energy, and gushes about his vision for the broader concept of instruction. “I love

RIGHT: Xantos throwing up stoke signs in front of his compound on the main drag in La Ventana. // Photo Brendan Richards


Every single person has a bliss. In today’s fast-paced society, we are bombarded with messages advising us on how we can slow down, find our centers and live more fulfilling, happier lives, with millions of self-help solutions clamoring to solve our first world problems. Many of us find ourselves “chasing our bliss” but are we so busy seeking this idealized final destination that we are missing out on daily living?

the inspiration and courage to launch DreamBuz Media, a full service marketing and PR firm. Today, Hege has two additional businesses, Lifestyle Cabarete (online magazine) and ZeZe Travel (specializing in travel to the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Puerto Rico), all of which support community works and improving the lives of Dominican families through straight-out cash and in-kind donations of services.

Hege Holt began chasing her bliss 12 years ago when she left her Norwagian homeland for the Dominican Republic. At the time, she did not realize she was beginning a journey of self-discovery – she just knew that there was more to life than living in Oslo and taking a few weeks of vacation every year. “Chasing one’s bliss is scary. It means that you have to listen to yourself and eliminate the impressions forced upon you from society,” says Hege. “We are too influenced by the system around us and this is often putting boundaries on who we really are, who we think we are, and what we think we should be doing, based on others’ opinions.”

Hege has a deep love for the Dominican Republic and has experienced firsthand the generosity of the local population. She recalls how one family helped her out in her early years. “Local champion Jan Marco’s career was in its early stages and I was helping him and a couple others get some media attention. Jan Marcos’ mom started running a tab with the local moto taxi to bring me food and when I tried to pay her bill, the motoconcho driver said he’d donated the work.” Hege was speechless. “These people have nothing, but when someone else has even less, they share and help each other. These are friendships for life and one of the reasons my heart is here in Cabarete.”

Hege landed on the northern shores of the Dominican Republic in 2003. When preparing to leave Europe, she randomly met Martin Aune, a Norwegian kiteboarder, at a motocross camp in Sweden. Shortly after, he convinced her to drop her travel plans to Venezuela to go with him to Cabarete instead. Hege had no idea where Cabarete was, but soon learned that this was where she wanted to be. In 2006, Hege met Richard Smitten, an international best-selling author who had also partnered on projects with filmmaker Oliver Stone. Richard wanted to produce a feature film about the passion of kitesurfing and the search for perfect conditions, and approached Hege about writing the book for the movie. It was the start of a friendship, mentorship and professional relationship that would have a great impact on Hege’s life. Tragically, Richard passed away while casting for the movie but he left Hege greatly inspired to believe in herself and pursue her dreams. Richard taught Hege that every single person has a bliss, but few are dedicated and open enough to recognize it and follow it. He said he could not teach her what her bliss was, but he could teach her how to listen and follow the signs in life. Two years after his passing, Hege found


In 2011, Hege met Ron Zauner, founder of, who would bring yet another philanthropic opportunity to her life. Four years ago, Barrio Blanco was one of the most challenged and crimeinfested villages on the North Coast. It was the center for smuggling, prostitution, drugs and other unsavory activities but today, this village is a more of a middle-class neighborhood with healthier and happier residents. The children now have clothes, a clinic and a school, while many of the families have had their garbage shacks replaced with cement houses with water and electricity. Hege encourages everyone to not only chase their bliss but to live it every day. “Chasing bliss for me means finding the place in life where I wake up every morning feeling happy. This is my measurement of how good I am doing in life. What the reasons are doesn’t matter. They are different for all of us.”

RIGHT: Hege spreading her bliss in Cabarete, embracing a barrio dog like her own. // Photo Sari Anna Erdos






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Rider_Reno Romeu / Pic_Toby Bromwich























# N O R T H K I T E B OA R D I N G



Sensi Graves performing in a symphonic medley of fading sunlight, slack water and butter wind before an audience of standing room only cardons in southern Baja. // Photo Vincent Bergeron





Etienne Lhote taking a break from camp counselor duties in Fuerteventura. F-One has a youth camp they call “Next Generation� which gathers kids from around the world for a week of intensive freestyle training. // Photo Gilles Calvet



The Kuzi Expedition parked at Kero Niuni Island in northern Mozambique, waiting two days for a break in the 30 knot winds before continuing their downwind adventure. In the final hours of daylight, Jake Kinney was on fire in front of a small crowd of villagers cheering him on. The session ended in the dark, retreating to their boat for beers and fresh fish bought off the villagers on the island. // Photo Seth Warren





An energetic Chris Bobryk tucking it up and making it rain in sunny Central America. // Photo Jason Hudson


THE FOIL TACK Words by Johnny Heineken | Photos by Michael Petrikov

Heading into a tack make sure there’s nobody over your shoulder. Start by pulling the kite up towards the top of the window. Timing depends on kite size and power - bigger kites need take longer to climb, and if you are lit on any kite size you need to give it a ton of time to get to the top of the window. Remember, the kite is seeing close to 40 knots of apparent wind in 20 knots of breeze! Wait for the kite to get almost directly overhead, and then start pointing the board up into the wind by pushing on your back foot and putting your weight onto the kite. Push the bar away from you so you don’t get lofted. Let the kite hold you up as it swings across the top of the window. Trim in for more power to hold you up, but don’t stall the kite. Often, especially on foil kites, it’s better to turn the kite harder instead of trimming in for more power. Pull your back foot from the old back strap, swing under the kite, and aim for the new front strap. You need to nail this new front footstrap or it’s pretty hard to recover. Your old front foot should help you pull the board around and control the roll of the board.

Keep in mind that all foils are different. 58


Tacking is a slow entry, fast exit type of maneuver. Don’t rush into it or you’ll get lofted - especially on a foil kite.

Fall back against the kite as it dives and try to find the back footstrap. When learning, just try to land the back foot centered on the board and try to exit the tack on a reach with the board flat before heading back upwind. Keep in mind that all foils are different. Some are really stable in roll, and others fall sideways if you don’t pay attention. There are pros and cons to tacking both. On my Sword foil I have to point my toes going into a tack to start the roll of the board over to the new direction or I come out with the board headed downwind and fall over the board onto my face. My Spotz has quicker roll response, which means I don’t have to point my toes to convince it to roll to the new side, but I have to pay more attention during the maneuver or it’ll roll past level and end up leaning too far upwind.

Some are really stable in roll, and others fall sideways if you don’t pay attention. 59

Photos Mike Hitelman

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The history of kiteboarding competitions on American soil has been a checkered lineage of sporadic starts and waning disinterest, with one single shining exception; The Triple-S Invitational. The first event in 2006, a joint venture between REAL Co-Founder Trip Forman and rider Jason Slezak, was intended to bring the best riders to the slicks of Hatteras for the most progressive riding. Over the years the format morphed from jam sessions to organized heats in various disciplines along with a growing purse, but one element has remained constant — a Triple-S invite and wildcard entry are the most coveted tickets to ride in the industry.


I grew up watching the Triple-S. Looking back, it’s crazy to think I have managed to win it twice while competing against so many riders I look up to. Despite the two-run format in the finals, winning is anyone’s game because you never really know what you’re going to get when you line up to hit a rail or kicker. Last year I qualified first in the semis which meant I had the last run in the finals, and the event was stretching right into the darkness. It always feels like there is extra pressure on the kickers division as it’s hard to land your best tricks consistently. I remember standing in the slick by myself, waiting to do my very last run with the outcome of the contest resting on my final kicker hit. Somehow, I managed to land my heelside-backside-5 in the dark, which must have given me the edge over Brandon Scheid to take the win in the sliders. This also meant that I won the Triple-S invitational overall. That run was both memorable and a giant relief.

Photo Jason Lombard, 2014

With a little bit of luck my birthday always falls in the middle of the Triple-S. On my birthday last year, Mother Nature delivered a solid 30 knots for the freestyle portion of the Triple-S. The turnout to watch the event was incredible; at 8:30 in the morning the pier was stacked with spectators. In my first run I managed to stomp three solid tricks but on my last right foot forward trick I missed the bar and my kite leash snapped in the strong wind. Jason Slezak picked me up on the ski and as he headed back to shore, everyone on the dock started singing happy birthday. I was slightly embarrassed but loving it at the same time. Once I arrived at the beach they announced who’d made it into the finals and I heard my name. I guess I had put a solid enough run together before losing my kite and with the wind cranking, a massive crowd on the pier, and it being my 24th birthday, I couldn’t have been more stoked!

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Photo Jason Lombard, 2014

In 2012 pretty much the whole crew I ride with (NA Blend) and a lot of my other friends were all in the Triple-S. I’d put in wildcard entries for the previous two years but was just missing the cut with guys like Sam Light, James Boulding, and Eric Rienstra snagging them.  That year, they also only let in one wildcard for the guys sliders/slicks division and it went to Alex Pastor, a PKRA World Champion. There were a few riders that were on the injured list, but nothing was confirmed. I was trying to keep my spirits high while they were calling up all the invited riders, knowing I most likely wouldn’t hear my name.

But in the end, I did! Finally I had made it through and although it was a bit of a backdoor entry, I went on to win the Rookie of the Year.

Photo Toby Bromwich, 2012


The 2011 Triple-S stood out because I was able to achieve my goals; landing multiple 5’s, 7’s, frontside, backside, Pete Rose, and a Tanty2blind. After the first back 5 I landed, I could tell everyone was ready to go all out. And we did, I remember Brandon went in right after and stomped a back 5 as well. I think the level really went up consistently on the kickers and rails after that year. The best feeling was from my friends giving me good vibes for going for it and getting it done.

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Photo Lance Koudele, 2013

2013 was an exciting year; master rail builder and all around handyman Joby Cook redesigned three of the features in the slider park and the vibe of the event was stronger than any previous year for me. I started the event feeling really strong, however one big crash in the qualifying rounds of the slider division took most of the wind out of my sails. I botched a big kicker hit, took a hard toeside edge, ripped all my inserts out, and was left feeling concussed for most of the day. I ended up not placing very high in any of the divisions and the event was a writeoff for me competitively. I did however have the honor of shooting with legendary kite photographer Toby Bromwich, and sessioned

with all my friends in perfect conditions at one of the best rail parks in the world. At the Triple-S there is always a silver lining.

Photo Toby Bromwich, 2013


My greatest Triple-S moment was in 2012 when I made it onto the podium for the first time. I won 3rd Place in the Slider and Overall Division as well as the award for Best Session for my performance on the day of the slider event. That day the wind was light and it was challenging to stay upwind, much less get the best slider and kicker hits in.  Luckily I had a 17m kite and was able to nail a few backside 270 wrapped frontside lipslides to seal the deal.  My friends Brandon Scheid and Billy Parker were also killing it that day and took 1st and 2nd

in Sliders and Overall that year as well, making it a full NA Blend sweep! It was an unreal feeling standing on the podium with my boys, the Dubplates bumping jams behind us, and a crowd full of our friends going nuts.

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Photo Mike Hitelman, 2014

Eric Reinstra The first year I received an invite to the Triple-S was amazing. It took me a long time to earn the cool card, but in 2013 I got the invite. I had no expectations of doing well, I really just wanted to ride the park and see my friends. I had always felt so left out, but to have that first opportunity to compete in the Triple-S and ultimately finish runner up on rails and overall to my best mate, Sam Light, and take home Rookie of the Year honors, that first year was one of the highlights of my career.

Photo Lance Koudele, 2013

Photo Real Watersports, 2007

When Trip and I came up with the concept for the Triple-S our goal was to steer kiteboarding in a direction that would showcase what we saw as the most dynamic and fun aspects of kiteboarding: Surf, Slicks and Sliders. Fast forward 10 years and the way that kiteboarding has developed in those three disciplines is nothing short of amazing; I am always proud when I see park events popping up around the world and feel that we have made a difference in the evolution of kiteboarding. The “Camel Toe” rail that is seen here in this shot was a big catalyst that drove us to start the Triple-S. It was built in 2004 by the early crew and then became a staple of the early days in the REAL Slider Park. It was raw, gnarly, and sent more than a few riders limping away with bumps, bruises and broken boards, or in my case, an ambulance ride to the hospital with a broken back.



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Photo Toby Bromwich, 2014

Joining the Triple-S Invitational in 2012 on the women’s wildcard ticket was the single most important moment catapulting me into the world of professional kiteboarding. That first year I had zero expectations for what was to come; the lifelong friends I would meet, the challenging heats, and the unforgettable parties. It’s by far my most favorite event of the year because of the weeklong feeling of excitement. It’s a unique opportunity to catch up with friends from all over the world and it’s the one time we all get to ride together and use that motivation to push the level of progression. Yes, the week is focused on competition but beyond that it’s a week of bringing good people together who share a common passion for our sport.


I’ve been going to the Triple-S every year since its conception so it’s difficult for me to pick a particular moment of significance out of so many. There are insanely good house parties, so alive you could literally feel the house moving to the rhythm, and endless mega sessions on the water, but the one moment that stands out is the time we were gapping from the ramp up to the rail on top the Redbull funbox. Having to come at it so fast meant that if you messed up you were probably going to pay your taxes. Another standout thing about the Triple-S is that there never used to be any heats; there was no pressure, and everyone had a chance to ride their best and push their limits. This normally resulted in a frenzy that almost always ended in progression! ‘11

Photo REAL Watersports, 2006

The Triple-S has produced countless stories from parties to slick sessions, rail riding, waves, hook ups, broken bones, late nights, weird mornings, jams, friendships, skinny dipping, laughter, tears, full moons, break ups, diamond losing, and marriage. I’ve had some of the best moments of my life in the last 10 years of Triple-S, but most importantly it gave me the opportunity to meet my wife, Becky Blair. Photo Jason Lombard, 2014

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We live in a world that has come to the realization that we can no longer use and abuse our planet without conserving our precious resources. We are learning about consuming at sustainable rates in order to keep what we have so that future generations can enjoy them in the same way that we do. It’s an idea that the younger generation of today embraces and thankfully the concept of sustainability has become common knowledge and practice throughout many communities. So what happens when sustainability isn’t common practice and overdevelopment and environmental sacrifices are made for short-term economic growth? I’ve been lucky enough to travel the world and have seen a lot of diverse cultures in the past 10 years, but one country’s arrival stamp populates my passport more than any other – Indonesia. Over the last decade, I have seen the encroaching tail end of what can happen to an area when sustainability and planning take a back seat to “progress.”

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Words by Reo Stevens | Photos by Jason Wolcott


y first time to Indonesia was in 2006 after seeing photos and hearing stories from the Space Monkey crew that had gone there in previous years. This would be my first time traveling alone in another country and upon arrival I was instantly shocked and awed by the difference in culture. I was terrified by the complete lack of value for human life on the roadways; it was the introduction to a world that I would become very familiar with over the coming years.


At that time I really wasn’t surfing “the real North Shore” much anymore because of the crowded lineups and over inflated egos that come with the location. I started windsurfing when I was eight and within a couple of years the majority of my time was spent either windsurfing or kitesurfing, and on occasion, I would surf the lesser “B” and “C” grade waves that the North Shore has to offer. This made getting a barrel with a kite a bit like finding a diamond in the rough so when the initial stories of the setup in Indo surfaced, I was really excited by the potential of scoring a legitimate barrel with my kite. It was a major change for me, as kiting was transitioning from a flat water diversion to pass time on waveless summer days into an eye-opening wave discipline. This new direction was the beginning of a series of exotic kitesurfing trips I have been lucky enough to experience. The golden age of surfing Indonesia was long past, but in 2006 I found myself in the midst of a new era of Indonesian exploration, an emerging frontier for the discipline of kitesurfing. Those days would eventually become the “golden days” for the original kitesurfers. Over the coming years I found myself slowly transitioning from a rookie grommet, the young one getting lost driving around the local neighborhoods, learning the ropes of the lineups, to the hardened veteran handing down the local knowledge I’d collected during my travels to the islands of this Asian surf paradise.

Much of the same advice given 10 years ago will get you through today, however Indonesia, especially Jakarta and Bali, has undergone striking physical changes. The steamroller of progress has been going strong, roads have been improved and land has been developed at an exponentially growing rate with each year. In some areas I can hardly recognize where I am; what was once a quiet rice paddy is now a massive hotel surrounded by restaurants and bed and breakfasts’. There has been so much development in such a short time, you can hardly believe that it has taken place, but with the ease of accessibility and word of mouth increasing every year, it’s only natural to see the growing pains of large-scale population growth and traffic. I’m not one for the hustle and bustle of a large city but despite this increase in development and people, Indonesia remains one of the best destinations for surfing and kitesurfing travel. To go with the expectation of scoring at least one of these activities is great, but the possibility of being able to do both is even better. Surf in the morning and kite in the afternoon when the wind picks up is a dream of every kitesurfer; this is the reason kitesurfing is so special and what brings me back to Indonesia each and every year. Because it is an extension of surfing, not a replacement, you’re not trying to figure out whether to surf or kite, but rather surf when it’s good, and kite when the surf blows out. This two-pronged approach to Indonesia will do wonders for your wave count.


Over the coming years I found myself slowly transitioning from a rookie grommet, the young one getting lost driving around the local neighborhoods, learning the ropes of the lineups, to the hardened veteran handing down the local knowledge I’d collected during my travels to the islands of this Asian surf paradise.

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If you show up to a place you haven’t been before, take note of the locals and learn from them; see what the local right of way rules are and try your best to absorb them and blend nicely with those that have come before you.

After a fun session, Reo catches up with his old friend Zulu, one of the regular kite caddies over the past few years. Zulu spends his time working for the local gold mine doing security and other odd jobs the majority of the year, but during the windy months, he takes the time off to kite caddy for Ryan Blakeney.


ocalism can become a factor when resources are not abundant, yet on the many days where the crowds are light and the swell is consistent there is rarely a problem. It’s only when there hasn’t been swell for a while, or it’s small and crowded that everyone starts to battle for what little waves exist and that’s when localism kicks in. Localism at Indonesian kitesurfing spots is an interesting animal because there aren’t any actual local Indonesians, except for one or two who kite. The people who claim “local status” are the ones who have been going there for the longest or have spent more time there than others. Despite the arguable benefits of localism, I believe everyone deserves to be treated with respect. But I also believe that respect is earned and not just given to anyone who doesn’t offer it in return. So if you show up to a place you haven’t been before, take note of the locals and learn from them; see what the local right of way rules are and try your best to absorb them and blend nicely with those that have come before you. However long you’ve been surfing, it’s good to approach Indonesia and surfing with the concept that you’ll never become a true “local.” You are always a guest in someone else’s house and it pays to act as such. If you keep that mindset, arrogance levels are kept low and the amount of respect given towards others is high. Problems occur when someone new comes in and fails to follow these rules, or treats others with disrespect. Those that come in thinking they know everything and disregard the natural flow of things typically clash with their surroundings. These people usually don’t last long, but are a nuisance while they are around.

I’ve met a lot of kitesurfers through the years and many of them have become lifelong friends, but some of the more unique people I’ve met have been the Indonesian locals. Friendly, honest and caring, every year you can come back to each specific spot and somehow they already know you’re coming; you travel from halfway around the world yet the news spreads through these small towns quickly. When you arrive, the friends that you made in years past are anxiously waiting to say hello and catch up on what has happened since.

ABOVE: A lunch time special at a local warung (restaurant). // LEFT: Reo having a few Bintang sundowners a few years back with Ian Alldredge and Ryland Blakeney at another local warung. Although there are plenty of places to get cold Bintangs in the hotels where the boys stay, it’s always good to venture out and support the local establishments.


Much like when there is tension on the water, there can be a bit of localism between the Indonesians in the towns as well. Being a poor area, the traveling kitesurfer can provide job opportunities for the locals through transport hire, kite rigging, and de-rigging. The first kiters to this area taught a select few of the motivated locals how to properly rig and de-rig a kite and ever since it has become a

seasonal form of income for these people. However, through the years, the increase in job opportunity has brought in more people seeking employment causing a hierarchy based on localism with the original “kite caddies.” But like the occasional surfer who clashes with the established few, their inability to blend well causes them to disappear fairly quickly. The locals that are honest and respectful seem to always have a place. Indonesia is a land that I will always hold close to my heart, but I have started exploring new areas of the world, taking chances like the original Space Monkey crew, in hopes of finding new surf/kite destinations that don’t clash with the Indonesian season. No matter how the island nation changes, one thing is for sure — Indonesia’s inner beauty is almost impossible to hide because it shines through in the face and spirit of its people. This, along with its flawless waves, will continue to bring people like myself back year after year despite its unrestrained development, until its waves are too polluted to surf and the Indonesian smile is long forgotten.

Reo Stevens would like to thank the original crew of Ben Wilson, Jeff Tobias, Jaime Herraiz, Will James and photographer John Bilderback for venturing beyond the norm and exploring the vast doldrums in hope of finding windy surf. Those few took the chance and rolled the dice so the rest of us could reap the rewards. Mahalo and Aloha!


“Hey, girl, wanna hang?” While Sensi Graves looks on, Brandon Scheid does a little trash talking of his own. VINCENT BERGERON © 2015 Patagonia, Inc.

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WOO Sensor Clip the WOO sensor onto your board and track every jump’s height and airtime. Connect the WOO wirelessly to your iPhone to reveal all the details of your session and how your riding stacks up with others from around the world. $199.99 //

ION Spectre Harness This harness is like having a Swiss Army knife wrapped around your waist. Loads of technology with T-sticks, and adjustable support for a custom fit. $279.95 //

MANERA Poncho Made of bamboo with an ultra-soft feeling, this handy changing accessory absorbs water three to four times better than regular cotton and dries twice as fast. It’s also naturally bacteriostatic and hypoallergenic. $79 //

PROMOTION Exo Skin Tops This top is completely windproof, surprisingly warm, and really comfortable due to four-way stretch and loose fitting designs. Choose from long or short sleeve models. $99 // MYSTIC Len10 3/2 Wetsuit The Len10 suit offers similar technical aspects to the Voltage Series: Impact foam for protection, 100% M-Flex and a double front zipper. $219.95 //

PKS Distribution Q- Power Line Designed specifically for kitesurfing, this low-drag round line with an ultra-tight braid is stiff, reducing tangles and settling to almost nothing. Available in six colors in spools, custom line sets, or extensions. From $80 //


VINTAGE ELECTRIC BIKES Cruz A very cool retro electric bike with up to a 30 mile range, max speed of 36 mph in Race Mode, and only a two hour re-charge. Comes in either Street or Race Mode. $4,495 //

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TOP: Although he usually saves Maui for the summertime, 17-year-old Dave Shah from Newport Beach, CA, packed his bags for spring break and headed back to the aloha islands for a series of epic hiking and kiting sessions with friends. Photo Rick Dobrowski // LEFT: Emma Cullen is a 17-year-old kiteboarder from Berwyn, Pennsylvania. Along with her younger brother, she traveled to Eleuthera island in the Bahamas to score this shot. Photo Craig Cullen // ABOVE: Huntington Beach, California local Mandi Miller has been kiting for a little over a year but she’s got tons of stoke and is setting her sights on entering her first competition this summer. Photo Selfie





131 / 134 / 138 / 142



129 / 133 / 136 / 139 / 142



6.5 / 8 / 10 / 12 / 14 / 16





138 / 142 / 146



6' 1 5⁄8" X 19"








5' 11 5⁄8" X 18 3⁄16"

5' 8 3⁄4" X 17 1⁄2"


5' 5" X 21"






6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13 / 14

6 / 8 / 10 / 12 / 14 / 16.5

6 / 8 / 10.5 / 13

45CM / 55CM











The Road to Foil Perfection By Nick Leason

I’ve spent the last six years obsessively searching for that perfect balance in a foil. It’s occurred to me that my definition of “perfect” seems to advance at the same rate as progression in the designs. It’s been a long road to get to where we are and as I look back, I realize that we have overcome many challenges that although simple, were undefined at the time. Today, we face new challenges as we drive the product to be better, searching for new sensations and perfection. As I push to keep up with this growing movement, I compare the challenges that we have faced in the past to what we face now. We have been building foils for years and I have always felt that regardless of the speed and purpose of a design, it should be able to hold and drive all the pressure that you can put into it without losing control. A simple goal right? Well, there are a lot of parameters that affect that feeling both in design and construction of a foil. Learning what they are and how to govern them has taken countless hours of building and testing. It’s about finding the limits, studying them, understanding them and refining around these


Owner and laborer Nick Leason attending to the smallest details of both design and craftsmanship in his Puerto Rico workshop. // Photo Courtesy Lift Foils

new ideas. This year, I feel that we have a product on the market that appeals to a large kiteboarding demographic. It’s well built and it takes you where you want to go, with complete control. As I look into the near future of the sport, I like to dream up the next step for my peers and myself. I want to expand the different styles of riding and appeal to a larger group of people. I want someone who is new to the sport to be able to jump straight onto a hydrofoil without having ever touched a twin tip or directional board. Then I want to bridge the gap so that same student can experience different rides and progress in whatever direction they choose to take. From easy touring for miles up a coast carving smooth ocean swells, or the fastest sailing around a course, my goal is to build gear that will help take you there.  It’s an exciting time in the world of foiling; I absolutely love it and I want to share it with everyone. Each person is different, so we will approach each riding style with a variety of wings to best suit them. In our own way, we will find new limits and break them. It has already begun as people find it easier access to the sport and less of a struggle in the water. There are smiles and more friends jumping in every day. I reckon this is only the beginning and the best is yet to come. Perfection always seems to be right around the corner. 


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by Marina Chang | Photo Litewave Designs

Every beach has a kite ambassador. The one that takes fledging new riders under their belt, helps visitors with the rules of the road, and sprints from the parking lot to help you launch or land your kite. Then there are those that go the extra step to achieve super ambassador status, like Irma Sue Harris of Fort Pierce, Florida. Affectionately known as “Irmy” to her salty sisters, longtime friend Christine “CJ” Sleitcher recalls her first encounter with Irma Harris. “You can do it!” Irma yelled encouragingly as CJ looked apprehensively at the ocean. Newly initiated and just starting to go upwind, CJ didn’t think she had the skills to take on the overhead waves or 35 knot wind conditions. With Irma’s reassurance and coaching, CJ went for it and although she took a few beatings, came off the water with a huge smile and newfound self-confidence to kite in any conditions on her own. Hundreds of local and visiting kiters to Florida’s shores can share similar stories about Irma. She was often the last one on the water as she was too busy helping others, yet Irma always made sure she got a piece of the action too. Irma was one of Florida’s original kiteboarding crew. She was introduced to the sport in 2001 by Greg Kuklinski who was repping Seismic Kites at the time. An immediate natural who found her passion in kiteboarding – her stoke never waned from the first day she hit the water to over a decade later. Irma seemingly made it to every Florida kite event, spreading good vibes to those around her, ever helpful and ensuring that all were included and having a good time. In 2003, Litewave Dave Turner met Irma at Surf Expo and quickly swooped her away from Seismic. “From the moment I met her, I was impressed by Irma’s beauty, athletic ability, kindness and


incredibly sweet demeanor,” said Litewave. For the next 12 years, she would represent Litewave boards and GK Kites at demos across Florida and beyond. In need of help, Irma was courted by longtime friend, Slingshot’s Neil Hutchinson of Fort Lauderdale, to join his team at the beginning of 2015. It was a great opportunity for Irma as she had no kite sponsor since GK Kites went under several years ago. With Litewave’s blessing, Irma took on the new role with vigor and Neil was excited to have the support and an ambassador like Irma to represent the brand. Irma Harris earned her angel wings on March 27, 2015. She was integral to the Florida kiteboarding community, and universally loved by all that met her for her passion and beauty, inside and out. Irma found her roots in kiteboarding and supported hundreds of beginners on their path to becoming kiteboarders. In memory of Irma, Slingshot’s Alex Fox is designing custom graphics for two Vision 138 boards. One will be for people to ride so that Irma’s memory will live on in the water, and the other will be used as a memorial in celebration of her life. Irma was one of the first sponsored female North American riders when kiteboarding was just starting to take off as a sport.

By Vadim Polonsky The popularity of foilboarding is growing fast. With nearly 30 brands jumping into the hydrofoil market at this time, there are a wide variety of properties to choose from. In this article we will outline the most important characteristics of hydrofoils to help you figure out which products will best suit your needs. FOIL MATERIALS: The material of the foil determines the weight, durability, performance and price. The high-end hydrofoils are made out of carbon (MHL, Sword, Spotz). These will be lighter and easier to handle both in and out of the water. The physical properties of carbon typically result in a more luxurious, smoother ride. On the flip side, carbon is more expensive and likely to chip during hard hits – which is very likely to happen, especially when learning. The repairs of carbon are more complex and usually more costly. The main alternative to carbon has been aluminum. Foils made out of aluminum, like the Liquid Force Fish, Sroka, or Manta, are usually less expensive and overall more durable than carbon. On the downside, they are heavier and require minor maintenance to avoid galvanic corrosion. They usually come with fiberglass wings to reduce corrosion effects. These also tend to be more durable than the carbon option, but suffer a bit in performance. STRUT / MAST: Most hydrofoils come with a 90cm to 100cm strut. This seems to be the ideal all-around strut length. Shorter struts make the ride less intimidating and more forgiving. While longer struts offer better performance. The other important property of a mast is the type of connection to the board. While there are two main types – the plate and the tuttle – some manufacturers use their own proprietary connections. Most connections from the mast to the fuselage are proprietary as well, so the parts are usually not interchangeable from one brand to the other.

FUSELAGE: This is the piece that connects the mast to the wings and is around 70cm in length. The shorter fuselages make the foil turn faster and snappier, while the longer ones tend to offer a more stable ride. Some foils come with the mast and fuselage as one piece to improve hydrodynamics and reduce drag, but traveling with this type of setup is usually more challenging. WINGS: Lower aspect ratio (shorter wingspan and bigger chord/leading edge to trailing edge distance) wings tend to create more lift. These types of wings require less speed to get the lift, which makes it easier to learn. Higher aspect ratio (longer wingspan and smaller chord) wings have less drag and are more hydrodynamic. This helps the foil fly faster and at higher upwind angles. DECK: Hydrofoil boards come in a wide variety of decks. More forgiving boards will have a good amount of volume, beveled rails and rocker in the nose. These characteristics significantly help to recover control after loosing lift or burying a rail. Weight makes a big difference on the deck, as lighter boards are easier to handle. There are many other intricate performance properties to hydrofoils such as shape, stiffness, and angles of attack. However, these are outside the scope of this article. The performance characteristics on today’s foils have come a long way. Don’t wait to embrace foilboarding, the sensation is amazing!

Green Hat Kiteboarding stocks a wide variety of foils in their demo fleet and can help you find the best foil for your local conditions and style. Check out their website for more detailed product comparisons and reviews. //


The frontside air is a finesse move that requires so many variables to fall into place. The clean launch, styled air and crisp landing back in the wave is a reward well worth a million attempts. Vasco Santos punts one in Portugal. // Photo MPS



Big Winds has been committed to kiteboarding since 1998. We carry a comprehensive selection of the highest quality gear available. Whether you’re a beginner looking for your first kite or you’re wanting to step up your game, Big Winds has you covered. Our staff is excited about kiteboarding and we’re stoked to help you find the best gear for your needs. Call or come visit our expert staff in Hood River, one of the best places for kiteboarding on the planet. We guarantee you’ll be glad you did!

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The Kiteboarder Magazine Vol. 12, No. 2  
The Kiteboarder Magazine Vol. 12, No. 2  

The Summer 2015 Issue includes: The Value of Nowhere | Cabarete: Then and Now | Behind Bars | The Triple-S Decade | Indonesian Reflections