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Photo courtesy JN Kites

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JN Kites was founded by Bernhard Jochum and Michael Nester. Both had industry experience at Cabrinha and North before breaking off to start their own company in 2003. Based out of Merano, Spain, JN kites are now available in North America. Importer Chris Gatewood tells us what impressed him about the company and what we can expect from JN’s 2013 product line.

JN Kites has been around been around for 10 years but has not had a distributor in North America until now. What made you decide to import the brand?

Let’s be honest – most of us like nice graphics and a good-looking kite. Seeing the JN Prima Donna in the air and then getting a closeup look of the premium build quality made the decision for us to look a little closer at the brand and the rest of the JN kite lineup.

We initially brought in a quiver of the third generation Prima Donnas and the first generation Mr. Fantastic and then followed up with the fourth generation Prima Donnas and third generation Wild Things. We are now riding the fifth generation Prima Donna and fourth generation Wild Thing. In terms of design, build quality, graphics, and value, we are satisfied and think it is a good time to bring JN kites into the US/North America market.

JN Wild Thing

What kite has seen the most success for JN?

The C–shape Prima Donna has probably been the most popular kite from JN, however both the Wild Thing, which is JN’s first kite, and the relatively new Mr. Fantastic have seen a great deal of success through the evolution of each generation. They all share the same high-end build quality, materials of construction, and advanced designs for the lineup of JN LEI kites, yet the Wild Thing, Prima Donna, and Mr. Fantastic are significantly different from each other in shape, feel, and what type of rider they are best suited for.

In the history of JN, the Mr. Fantastic is a much newer kite than both the Wild Thing and Prima Donna and its design focus is towards beginners and intermediate kiters yet offers advanced riders a great freeride and wave kite. The design of the Mr. Fantastic puts it in the position to become the most popular and most user-friendly kite from the JN range.

Now in its fifth generation is JN’s Prima Donna. Where does this kite fit in the JN line and what kind of rider will appreciate the Prima Donna the most?

The Prima Donna has evolved into a kite that not only satisfies the freestyle crowd, but has been tuned and reworked to give more low end grunt and a wider wind range to satisfy the freeride crowd as well. Don’t be mistaken though as it is still one of the longest-running aggressive freestyle C-kites on the market.

JN Prima Donna

The Wild Thing was JN’s first kite and is a hybrid C now in its fourth generation. How does this kite differ from the Prima Donna in terms of performance and feel and why would you recommend a rider choose this kite instead?

Outside of high-end build quality and materials of construction, the Wild Thing and Prima Donna are different in every way: shape, 4 vs. 5 lines, bridled vs. non bridled, bar pressure, and power delivery. The Wild Thing with its open canopy shape and profile, along with its simple yet tunable bridle, offers a wider wind range and has easier relaunch with the 4-line setup as opposed to the 5-line direct connect found on the Prima Donna.

Kite Name Sizes Stock Line Length Target Date Available
Prima Donna 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14m 21-24m Freestyle, freeride, wave Now
Wild Thing 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16.5m 21-24m Freeride, wave, freestyle Now
Mr. Fantastic 4.5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14m 21-24m Beginner/freeride, wave Nov. 2012
Randas 6, 8, 10.5 ,13m 24m Freestyle/freeride foil kite for snow Now

What is the floating batten system all about and how does it affect the kite’s handling?

The floating batten system (FBT) developed by JN is a feature that allows the profile to adjust itself to current wind conditions which extends the wind range and smoothens out the handling during gusty or changing wind conditions.

Tell us about JN’s modified control bar for 2013, the Master’s Craft.

The JN Master’s Craft bar is suited for the entire range of JN’s kite. The latest generation maintains the simplicity and safety the bar has become known for but with an improved push away quick release, self-aligning chicken loop, and adjustable bar length from 45cm to 55cm. The above-bar trim uses a simple cleat for tuning the kite on the fly.

Photo courtesy JN Kites

What is JN’s warranty policy?

A Jochum & Nesler product is warranted to be free of defects in material and workmanship to the original purchaser for the period of 180 days from the date of purchase. All warranties are limited and subject to some restrictions to protect both the original purchaser and JN.

Any plans for race-specific gear?

There are no plans for a race-specific kite at this time, though the larger Mr. Fantastic sizes might be applicable toward some racing/free racing. Currently, the largest kite planned in the Mr. Fantastic range is the 14m.

JN also offers the Randas, a foil kite made for snowkiting. Will you be importing this kite?

We will have the second generation of the Randas available for kiters wanting a foil for snowkiting. Current sizes are a 6, 8, 10.5, and 13m.

JN Randas

What about the boards offered in JN’s line?

JN has a line of twin tips and surfboards available though as we move forward in our business plan, it will not be part of our initial efforts in introducing JN kites to the US/North American market. As things progress we will bring them in so people will have full access to the entire line of JN products.

Want 185 pages of 2013 kiteboarding gear info on 28 brands? Check out the TKB 2013 Buyer’s Guide.