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Adrian Roper has deep roots in watersports. A surfer, windsurfer, and kitesurfer, the native Kiwi has shaped boards for all these sports for close to three decades. Adrian is now entering another phase in his life and career with the launch of his new company, Axis Kiteboarding. He is eager to share his new designs with riders and get feedback on his new shapes. Read on for what Adrian developed to launch his new company.
You were the designer/shaper for Underground for 28 years. Are you branching out with Axis or is this a new company for you?
I started Underground almost 30 years ago, mainly building windsurfers and surfboards. As Underground grew with kiteboarding I employed more crew to develop the designs and construction methods we used. I sold Underground about four years ago and had been working for the new owners.
I was not happy with the direction they were taking the company so have started again as a specific kiteboard design and build with original ideas. I have taken many of the original crew that worked well together forward into Axis Kiteboarding and I am really enjoying developing the new range of equipment.
To launch the Axis line, you have three new twin tips and one new kite surfboard. Tell us a bit about the new Inferno twin tip.
The Inferno is an all-around design with a budget. It is a fun, comfortable board to ride that makes progression easy.
What about the Vanguard? What do those spines on the bottom deck do other than look cool?
The Vanguard is our freestyle/freeride board. The spines/concaves on the base split the water and smooth the ride in chop and help with hard landings. The channels on the deck indicate where the spines on the base are but do not contribute hugely to performance.
Why would you recommend a rider choose one board over the other?
The Vanguard compared to the Inferno is suited more for advanced riders that are really pushing to improve their riding. It can handle harder landings and the carbon reinforcements provide better pop.
The Limited is based on the Vanguard but is all carbon. Why would a rider choose this board over the Vanguard?
The Limited is an all carbon board, but is probably a little softer than carbon boards from other brands due to the PU rail which seems to provide a little more dampening compared to ABS rails. It probably has a slightly harsher ride than the Vanguard but for heavier more powerful riders it provides more support when loading for jumps. The carbon definitely looks pretty cool too!
You are also introducing a new foot strap system on your twin tips. Tell us about it.
We have completely redesigned our foot pad system from the base up. The Axis UTS (Ultimate Traction System) Footpad and Strap system features a dual density super comfortable pad which allows you to move your heel around when you change directions. The base plate has five slots that allow the footbed to be mounted on any angle. The long slots also allow our system to be retrofitted to most other boards. The UTS is our unique concept in that the neoprene covering of the strap fits down into a slot between the pad and the webbing. This means that no matter what size you adjust the strap to, the webbing is covered to protect your foot from chafe.
The straps feel very secure as they are always held down against the base plate. The adjustment is on the joint between the left and right sides of the strap which also allows some twist to custom fit to your foot shape. The security strap is Velcro to hold it all together strongly after you have adjusted the size. One size fits all from the very smallest foot to long, large feet. The pad plates and straps are supplied as a ready-to-mount unit and are super easy to fit. The package comes with screws and an Axis screwdriver in a handy bag so if you are traveling nothing gets lost.
|2013 AXIS BOARDS|
|Board Name||Sizes||Type||Target||Date Available|
|Inferno||134, 139, 146, 152cm||Twin||All-around||Dec. 2012|
|Vanguard||129, 132, 135, 138, 142, 148cm||Twin||Freestyle||Dec. 2012|
|Limited||132, 135, 138cm||Twin||Pro freestyle||Dec. 2012|
|Patrol||144cm||Twin||Light wind freeride||Dec. 2012|
|New Wave||5’8”||Surf||New school surf||Dec. 2012|
In our interview with you at Surf Expo, you mentioned that your New Wave kite surfboard is infusion laminated in a mold and has a drop deck with full sized surfboard rails but nothing in the middle. How do these things affect the board’s construction and performance?
The core is solid PVC with a Paulownia top of the rail. The board is around 20mm thick in the middle and the thickest part of the rail is around 35mm. The infusion lamination is a cool way to laminate the core in a full base mold so that each board has the same shape and weight. The board is pretty tough and has a nice soft flex making for an easy ride. The drop deck gives a lower center of gravity that makes the board feel very stable to ride.
The New Wave only comes in one size, the 5’8”. What conditions does this board really shine in and for what level of rider? Any plans on expanding upon the sizes?
It is a 5’8” board but with a rounded nose. If it was a normal pointed nose it would be more like a 5’10”. For sure we could add more sizes and styles of this board. Our first step has been to work with a production facility to show them how to build a board this different. The New Wave is a very versatile board. It is an all-around wave riding board but also excels as a fun flat water freestyle board. It is mostly ridden without straps but accommodates both styles of riding.
Do you have any plans to develop a race board?
We are working on race boards but with the time required to setup the new company our focus has been on the rest of the range. I built windsurfing course race boards for many years for the top racers on the tour and also raced myself. I feel we have some great ideas to take into this area but do not feel it is a good idea to rush into building a race board without the time to dedicate to the development that goes into a successful board. Good things take time….
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I hope the riders out there have a great time on the new boards. We have had a fun time developing the range and look forward to your feedback.
Want 185 pages of 2013 kiteboarding gear info on 28 brands? Check out the TKB 2013 Buyer’s Guide.