Kiteboarding’s Biggest Punk: Ruben Lenten
The TKB Ruben Lenten Interview
By Paul Lang
Originally Published in the December 2007 Issue of The Kiteboarder Magazine
“Energetic, powerful, and solid.” That’s how Ruben Lenten describes his riding style in his own words, and I don’t think anyone could come up with a better description. If you have never seen him ride, you can’t quite understand what makes his riding special. It’s not just that he throws kiteloops thirty feet in the air or that he smoothly pulls the most technical wakestlyle moves you can imagine. Ruben’s riding is special because it is unique, and best way to explain why it is different is to use his words: energetic, powerful, and solid.
Ruben is also unique in the sport of kiteboarding in how he handles his business off the water. He is very outspoken, and this has led many to think of him as just another young punk. However, he is the only kiteboarder that I have met who has a manager. He has made a real attempt to brand and promote himself and hopes to have a long career in kiteboarding, both on and off the water. His attitude towards his riding is a very professional one and he takes his role as an ambassador for the sport seriously.
Love him or hate him, you can’t deny that Ruben is the kind of rider that the sport needs more of. Entertaining both on and off the water, he is the kind of rider that inspires others to either get into the sport or take their own riding to the next level.
I’ve heard that your nickname is The Dutch Destroyer. How did you get that name?
Yeah that’s right, in some of the PKRA press releases they call me the Dutch Destroyer, because most of the time I’m out on the water I just want to smash everything and ride as aggressive as possible. That’s how I ride my heats too, all or nothing. You should always want to destroy the one who you’re riding against.
Some people have referred to you as a young punk with a bad attitude. Is there any truth to this?
Young? Yes, luckily I’m still young and am enjoying every bit of it! Punk? Of course there are times when you’ve gotta punk it out. Bad attitude? Hmm…not really…I’m just having fun and don’t care too much about what other people think or say about me, because I’m doing it for myself. I try to make fun out of everything.
What inspired you to get into kiteboarding?
The beach, water, and wind. I was always living close to the beach and I loved it. Most if the time I was on the beach with my mates playing with little kites and buggies. After a while, the kites got bigger and bigger and we added a board, and that’s how it went! There were a couple of guys at my home spot who where already on the water and they helped me out quite a bit.
What was the learning process like for you?
Ha! The learning process. It took me forever to get on the board and cruise along. I think it was after three months that I first got going. My dad was cycling on the beach downwind with me. It was great! I think the beginning of kiteboarding is so much fun, especially if you’re doing it with someone else, because after a while you get used to it and things become easy. Then you’ll look back and think, wow, how stupid and funny did I look back then?
Aaron Hadlow has beaten you in many competitions. Do you think this makes him a better rider then you? Do competitions really determine who the best rider is?
Aaron Hadlow has beaten everyone in many competitions, and yes I think this makes him a better rider. Because of competitions, he is on top of his game! I ride a lot with Aaron and he is the only one that can kite like that. He really understands what tricks should look like, as well as he’s the only one I see try so many different new tricks in a single session. However, competition doesn’t always let the best rider win; good luck, bad luck and that sort of thing. Everybody likes kiteboarding in a different way so it’s a personal thing of who you think is good or not.
You have been very vocal on the subject of gear and it is no secret that you only ride c-kites. Why do BOW/SLE kites not work for you? What do C-kites do better?
Yeah I sure like to say my things about gear, but that’s because you’ve got to be really comfortable with what you ride. Bow/SLE kites are just not my thing because they don’t feel good for the things that I want to do and how I want them to look. For example, in a kiteloop, it’s the wingtips that catch you after the loop. What does a BOW not have? Wingtips! On a kiteloop, a BOW kite will only catch you when the kite goes above you again. That just doesn’t feel right for me, as well as the bar pressure is not as I want it. BOWs are alright for the learning process and the waves I guess.
Describe your set-up. Do you modify anything or ride stock gear?
My set-up, from top to toe is this: I ride the Slingshot Fuels (5,9,11,13) with some really thick white lines on the LEN10 pro bar. I’ve got really thick lines because I need to feel safe and chilled out about my gear. I use the Mystic Warrior harness; these harnesses just rock. I have some white Mystic Crossfire wetsuits and last but not least my new Slingshot LEN10 Lunacy Pro Model. I’m stoked on my gear lately because Slingshot and Mystic both really use my comments and suggestions in the development of each product. They know gear needs to be as comfortable and strong as possible.
Slingshot just released the Len10 Pro Model. How will this board be different from others on the market? Will this board work well for an average rider?
This board is different then others on the market because it’s got the Future Response Technology which gives you great flex, rebound, energy, and pop. It also has the FRT core in it which is light weight and strong. Some people might need a couple days to get used to the board, because it’s got some wide tips. It has more hook up and is a little harder to ride, but once you get used to it, it will help you pop higher.
Mystic designed the Warrior Harness from direct feedback from you and your kiteloops. Tell us about this process
Yeah Mystic got really involved in the kiting industry and is killing it right now. Their products are made with the latest techniques and materials. They’re constantly working on new things and always listen really well to my feedback. I like that because I get to know more about the harness as they explain everything. I know so much about harnesses now that I feel way more confident when I pull kiteloops at crazy heights.
In the past year, you have been stepping away from kiteboarding competitions. What do you think about the current state of the tours and why are you no longer following the complete PKRA tour?
That’s right, I’m not so motivated to ride competitions. Last year I was taken out by an injury and missed most of the tour. After that injury, I went back on the water with more motivation than ever and kind of created my own style of riding. I love doing big ass kiteloops, crazy jumps in strong winds, and sweet powered handle passes. I would rather just freeride and make my riding look tight and full of power and travel to other beaches and rip it up with locals. I want to show my kind of riding to the people by making movies and traveling. Also, I don’t want to travel so much for competitions that are not really my thing, I would rather hang out with people I care about and have fun! But, I know it’s important for the sport as well, so I try and make sure competitions and core events are a part of my season schedule.
Many kiters have complained about the current state of the PKRA. While the moves they are pulling are technical, many say the moves lack style and are not very crowd pleasing. What do you think about this?
These days on the tour the riding style has kind of changed. The guys are putting their kites a bit higher and rotate twice as much, but with less style and that’s not how I want to make the sport look. Sadly, this type of riding is winning competitions because judges think they’ve got to give room to innovation. That’s fair enough, but there’s some horrific stuff going on. They dangle twice after a sent backmobe and then pass again, land, and then the claim comes.
Where do you think the sport is heading right now? With the surf and racing aspects of kiting becoming increasingly popular, is the popularity of freestyle declining?
Yeah the sport is heading forward in so many ways; there’s something for everyone right now. I think our sport is really open to anyone. If you like the waves, you rock it on a surfboard. If you like racing you race, and so on. Do whatever you like, but do it with a smile! I think freestyle is still the biggest thing out there, and so many kids are pushing each other to try new things.
Do you like racing? What do you think about its impact on the sport?
Personally, I don’t like racing, I think it’s boring and I don’t have fun doing it. But if someone else does, good for them!
What advice do you have for someone who wants to throw kiteloops like you?
Feel comfortable with your gear and make sure your leash and safety are alright. Try them with less wind first, just to get the feel of when the power comes. Then, when you really want to go for it, go full speed on a seven-meter in thirty knots, edge hard and take off. Keep your stomach muscles tight and pull the kite into the loop right when you take off. Hope you go high enough and pull hard enough so the kite will catch you to get a nice landing. Enjoy your flight!
Originally Published in the December 2007 Issue of The Kiteboarder Magazine