2011 Eclipse Kiteboarding Kite Line
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Eclipse 2011 Kiteboarding Gear Preview
2011 marks a new beginning for Eclipse with four new kites, new boards, and a clothing line to be launched later in the year. Eclipse is maintaining its “By the riders for the riders” approach with affordable pricing, unreal performance, better quality, and a bullet proof warranty with worldwide coverage.
Eclipse’s goal is to provide value to kiteboarders by offering products the riders want at prices they can afford. Eclipse’s Chris Cousins called us from testing in Italy to tell us about the changes Eclipse has been through this past year and what we can expect from the 2011 line.
Eclipse went through many internal changes in 2010 and had some delays in production as the company reorganized. What happened?
Delays in our product and internal changes in 2009 were a result from one bad decision we made in 2007 – a bad choice of a product supplier. In manufacturing, everything starts and ends with your factory. In 2007, we had to move our production because of quality issues.
It was a very sudden and unexpected move, which put us in a desperate situation. We moved to a different factory and signed a really bad contract with a manufacturer. We knew it was a bad contract back then but it was either that or no kites in 2008 so we just did it. Initially the move was good, but in the end the manufacturer used clauses in the contract to create devastating delivery problems, which affected Eclipse, many dealers, and our reputation. It was a horrible experience that I would not wish on my worst enemy.
What has changed now? What has the company done to re-establish shop and rider confidence in product delivery and customer service?
Selling kites is simple; customers want the best product for their money. They want it quickly and want good service if there is a problem. We intend to provide just that. Now we do things completely different. First, we use two factories – one makes products for Europe the other makes kites for North America.
One factory is a joint venture with Eclipse, so we have more control over production. For the USA, we are limiting the size of our dealer network. In the past, Eclipse had over 50 dealers just in the USA and it was far too many shops- prices were heavily discounted and it was difficult to compete and create a competitive advantage over our competition.
In America, we now plan to sell direct and through select affiliated shops — the pricing/sales structure is far better for the customers and Eclipse. We now control the pricing and customers’ expectations, which provides a better experience for the riders. In Europe, we still distribute directly to dealers through our offices in Spain and Germany which eliminates common tax/duty issues.
Who is Eclipse’s main designer?
Bill Hansen and I designed the current product line which we feel is our best work yet.
Eclipse just released the Thruster V.4. Will this kite be the same for 2011?
Yes, we are trying to get away from labeling kites by year because it’s completely pointless for this business. At Eclipse, new products are only made when they are truly better.
Changing the model year lowers the resale value on the kites, increases our expenses, and shortens our R&D process. So circumventing the model year allows us to focus more time on improving our products and creating better value for the riders.
For 2011, Eclipse will introduce the updated Kima. Tell us more about it.
Our focus on the new Kima was to satisfy the riders’ requests. Our aim was to increase efficiency, improve durability, and reduce bar pressure. At the end of the design process we created a kite which weighs about 2 lbs. less. This resulted in a much better range, which removed the need for a 12m in the line.
We also simplified and reinforced the canopy to increase strength in key areas. Finally some bridle modifications resulted in lighter bar pressure and faster relaunch.
Why would riders want to upgrade to a newer Kima or Thruster?
Because they are truly better kites with over two years of R&D invested in them. Try one for yourself.
How will the Kima GT and Thruster GT differ from the Kima and Thruster?
Both the new GT kites will be made with a new carbon-based fabric and will weigh one third less than traditional kites in the same sizes. Thus, they are very fast, powerful, jump higher, relaunch faster, and have amazing low end. It’s the next step forward in kite technology.
A new bar was introduced with the Thruster V.4. Will this same bar be used for all the new 2011 kites?
Yes the new bar is called the Morph. This bar is a complete redesign, nothing from the old bar remains. The bar is very interesting, with a new push away release, bellow the bar depower, adjustable bar ends, sliding stopper, and partial and 100% safety options. It’s a simple, safe, and performance-oriented bar we know riders will love.
Eclipse offered a custom surfboard in 2010. What are your board plans and when can we expect them to be introduced?
We are releasing the Skyline pro models in September. These are twin tip boards designed for the ultimate performance and value.
Any changes to the Bulletproof Warranty?
The warranty now offers worldwide coverage so if you break your kite in Fiji and need it fixed, you just go to the local repair man and put him in touch with Eclipse – we’ll take care of getting it repaired. In the USA you have to send the kite to Prokitesurf in Texas for repair. For us to honor your warranty, you absolutely need to register your kite online.