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In order to constantly progress their surf line products, WH was looking for a shaper who could work with their nuclear energy with an open mindedness towards the modern technologies and shapes that is the lifeblood of the company. Through team rider Bertrand Fleury, they heard that their good Maui friend Sean Ordonez was enthusiastic about cooperating with the brand. As Sean had already shaped many sick boards for Lou in the past, the ideals and philosophies of surfing and kiting they shared resulted in the birth of the partnership. Sean has experience shaping many thousands of boards and most importantly, he is still an active kiter, naturally riding Rabbits! Sean answered our questions to tell us all about the result of their first winter working together which produced three new surf shapes that are being produced at WH’s new factory.
What were the top goals with WH in developing the company’s new surf line?
I am stoked to be working with Wainman Hawaii as Lou has always been a good old crazy friend of mine. He rips! He loved some of my first custom wakestyle kiteboards, even though I always wanted him to keep pushing the surfing side of things. Lou sure led the charge of mixing wakeboarding maneuvers into kiteboarding –very inspirational and I am stoked to be working with him again along with the WH team. There is only one top goal in making a good surf kiteboard: Make it do everything well, especially in the surf, since this is what I have been focusing on from the beginning. WH’s new surf line has a solid background in the scene of pro surfing with some of my hot young up and coming team riders. Now blending it with the WH team, you will see and feel what a true surf kiteboard is supposed to do. I am really stoked to finally get to share with WH my vision of where I saw kiteboarding going in the surf since the beginning before it went technical on the tricks.
You have been shaping boards since you were 11 years old and were one of the first kiteboard companies on the scene in early 2000. Do you still plan on offering your own kiteboard designs through SOS?
No, I am not offering my own production SOS line, even though I still continue to make specialized custom shapes for my customers’ particular needs. I love making custom boards and experimenting with new shapes and technologies, so this will always help the production board lines stay fresh and ahead of the changing times. Wainman Hawaii’s new line is a reflection of this restless and passionate R&D. I am happy to be working together to help WH promote my designs to get the stoke out there!
We briefly overviewed WH’s surf program in our 2011 preview guide so let’s go a bit more in depth. The Magnum is a continuation of the previous surf program but the sizes changed. Did anything else change?
Well, yes everything! They are a totally innovative breed of the new generation of surfing as the Magnums come from a long line of thoroughbred custom pro model surfboards I have been designing for my surf team. Yes, the kitesurfer wants to surf just like surfers do. That is why we focused the line of Magnums on the high performance end of the sport with a bit of the classic short board lines.
All the new kite surfboards feature five fin boxes for a thruster or quad setup. Do you lose a bit of performance by offering this type of setup?
All boards are equipped with five Future Fin boxes, designed to be ridden as a thruster in third gear or as a quad in fourth gear. This option is like having only one board that you can rally off-road (thruster) or high-speed race like an Indy car with a quad set up. There is nothing bad about having the option if you are open minded and get to know your equipment’s potential. You can even use it as a twin fin like Lou does just for fun and a different feel. Heck, just ride it finless, right Lou? The fins that are included with the board were also carefully designed to fit the needs of the boards, but they can be used with other Future Fins if you feel the need to custom fit it to your needs. The option of mixing and matching fins will help you understand your equipment better.
When would you recommend riders use each setting?
I would recommend the boards to be ridden as a thruster when conditions are choppy or in onshore hollow or mushy waves. When the wind picks up and the wind direction changes more side to side-offshore and the waves get clean and smooth the quad is my recommendation. Once you try them both, only you will know what works best for you.
What level rider and kind of waves is the Magnum best suited for?
The Magnum is a very user-friendly board for most riding levels. It is best suited for riders with a good level of technical surfing skills. These boards come into their own and stand apart from all the imitation surfboards when they see the perfect clean hollow waves that they were designed for. You can ask Bertrand Fleury how they ride at his new home break….ahhh, I am jealous!
The Magnum also features straps inserts that are offset and pre-positioned. What’s the purpose of this?
The importance of the slight offset of the inserts for the surfboard line is that the correct and natural ergonomic way for the front foot to apply the proper transition from toe pressure to heel pressure while surfing is in a slight duck foot stance. Thus, the pre-positioning of the inserts has been carefully thought out for the rider’s best comfort while surfing and making smooth rail-to-rail transitions.
New for the surf lineup is the Gambler. How does this board differ from the Magnum and why would a rider prefer this board instead?
The concept of this board was to take a classic Magnum style board and keep the same volume but reduce the total length of the board by a few inches, replacing some of the lost length in the extra width while still maintaining the same tail outline. This caused the board to have a much tighter turning radius than the Magnum. This also encourages the rider to take a slightly wider stance and place more weight on his front foot rather than just on his back foot such as on the Magnum. As a result of the outline curve of the Gambler, the board still holds at high speed even though it is wider. It’s designed for shorter waves with hollow sections and is best in side, side-on, or onshore conditions. Riders should try both the Magnum and Gambler to make a decision on the type of style that works for them best.
If you could choose one standout performance or new construction feature to highlight for the entire line, what would it be?
The new line was first and foremost designed to surf the waves before the wind picked up and once you add the other element (wind), these boards will speak for themselves and show the kiteboarding world what a true surf kiteboard is supposed to feel like. Just ask the pros. Stop buying copies or imitations and support the people that are designing the real deal.
You also developed the Passport for WH, which is a wide board positioned as “the world traveler board” for both kiting and surfing. With sizes just one inch larger than what is offered on the Gambler, how is this board different?
As they say, the Passports are made to travel the world and surf or kite any kind of waves from mushy to perfect hollow sections. The main difference is that the Passport will lift and perform under less than perfect wave conditions and require less speed and wind to lift and turn. The Gambler might require a bit more power in the waves and wind to perform as easily as the Passport. Even after your kiting session is over when everyone’s kites are falling out of the sky, you and your Passport are still gliding through flat spots on the wave – turning your kiting session into an epic windless surf session. The Passport is Versatility.
Why would you recommend a rider go with the Passport versus the others in the line?
The Passport is ideal for mushy weaker surf conditions, but don’t be fooled as this board tends to excel at speed and hold in the barrel too.
What is the warranty policy on the boards?
Ask a pro what sort of warranty he has on his magic performance board. There is a fine line between bomb proof weight and the perfect flexibility for performance. Overall, our boards are a perfect balance of weight, flexibility, and durability. Any lighter and the performance would be hindered. All boards have a warranty against manufacturing defects from the factory.
What do you think makes the WH surf program stand out?
We are professional craftsmen that have evolving professional equipment for some of the best in the sport since the beginning. This surf line is closing the gap between surfing and kitesurfing. These boards are genuine surfboards designed by surfers for kitesurfing. Only a kitesurfer will know the feeling.