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Photo Chuck Harlan

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Now in its second year in the market, Switch Kites is entering its first phase of next-generation gear and has added two new kites to its line. The company will also roll out its first performance-oriented twin tip designed by PKRA rider Marc Jacobs as well as a land board for those light wind days. We pulled Co-Founder Ralph von Brause off the water to answer our questions about Switch’s 2013 product line.

Switch has made some modifications to the Nitro, its freeride/race kite, and the Method, its pure wave kite. What are the main changes riders will notice the most?

We have changed the Nitro’s bridle, the outline, and most noticeable for the customer, squared off the wing tip. We feel this design reduces drag and increases the efficiency of the kite. By changing the bridle we now have a direct back line connection and have created a solidly-supported structure, even in totally overpowered conditions.

Switch Nitro V2

The bar pressure is now adjustable from light to medium. We are still strong believers in our constant curved struts and leading edge design with its associated advantages. Despite a considerably higher manufacturing cost we feel it gives our kites a substantial advantage over the competition. To round it all off, the relaunch ability of the Nitro has been substantially improved and even reverse launching in eight knots is not an issue anymore.

Similar to the original version of the kite, it is extremely efficient with very little drag. This design feature allows you to go upwind like never before and to boost really high. The efficiency makes it the ideal kite for racing and big air freeriding.

The Method has a slightly longer wingtip and an aggressive panel layout. Furthermore, we moved the bridle attachment points from the front of the tube to the back. These changes have increased the stability in gusty off shore winds, reduced the bar pressure, and increased the turning speed.

We kept all other features such as constant power in the turns without hesitation or back stalling, insane upwind performance, instant relaunch, and complete power/depower within your bar throw. The original Method has a strong following of dedicated wave riders around the world and the new version will blow them away even more.

Switch Method V2

What about the Element? Can we expect any changes to your all-around kite in 2013? How does this kite differ from the Nitro?

We don’t believe in changing kites every year and coming out with new models in September simply due to peer pressure. Should we be unable to find any substantial improvements, we feel it is fraudulent to change the colors and panel layout and call it a new kite. The Element was released in March and none of the current prototypes would justify the release of a new model.

The same is currently valid for the Combat, our PKRA-ready freestyle kite. Marc Jacobs and Felix Pivec are extremely picky and they won’t settle for anything that is not substantially better. These guys are driving our designer Bill Hansen insane but we are confident that there are good things on the horizon.

Kite Name Sizes Stock Line Length Target Date Available
Nitro V2 8, 10, 12, 14, 16m 20m + 3m extensions Race, freeride, big air Now
Method V2 5, 6, 7 , 9, 11, 13m 20m + 3m extensions Wave Dec. 2012
Element 7, 9, 11, 13, 15m 20m + 3m extensions All-around Now
Vantage 7, 9, 11m 20m + 3m extensions Snow, land board Dec. 2012
Prime 1.5, 2.5, 3.5m 16-20m Trainer, snow, land board Dec. 2012

Were any changes made to your control bar?

We are working on some completely new features never used by any manufacturer before. Unfortunately whenever you deal with new manufacturing processes, you never know how long it will take. This project has been going on for the last 18 months and we are not in the position to comment on a release date just yet. However, once available, we believe everyone will be very pleased.

Photo Chuck Harlan

Switch will be rolling out two new foil kites for 2013, the Prime and Advantage. First of all, why develop foil kites?

Why not? Two line foil kites are fun to fly! It brings back memories of when I learned in 1999. Our range of 2-line Prime kites are extremely powerful and are serious traction kites. Like all our kites, quality and durability is our highest priority. Don’t worry about ripping the flying lines or kite in high wind. If you can hold them in 30 knots, take them out and have fun!

Use a land, skate, or snowboard or even just your feet to get dragged, lifted, or jump off sand dunes. The Vantage is a sheetable foil that flies on our standard bar. The kites are powerful, stable, and ideal for snow and land boards. The flying characteristics are totally different to inflatable kites but you will fall in love with their light wind performance and powerful graceful turns. Foils have a strong following, especially in Europe. It definitely is an advantage to cruise up an untouched powder slope without carrying a pump on your back.

Switch Vantage

We see that Switch still has a relationship with Firewire. Any plans to make your own directional boards? What happened to the twin tip line that was in development last year?

We will not produce directional boards. Why? We do not have the experience to produce premium high-performance quality boards. Firewire has perfected this art and anything else does not even come close. Try one and you will understand right away what I am talking about.

The second reason is shipping. It is impossible to ship individual surfboards around the world at a competitive price.

Marc Jacobs, one of the top PKRA freestyle riders, joined the Switch development team to design the MJ Comp twin tip boards which are currently in production. To dominate in diverse PKRA conditions, Marc needed a board that had explosive pop for high performance tricks, fast upwind ability to stay high in the competition area to perform more tricks, a smooth controlled ride in any water conditions, and finely tuned flex for extra control in hard landings. The MJ Comp delivers all this and we are excited to bring them to market.

What’s up with the Switch wetsuit?

Switch will be adding more and more different products to our lineup. The 4/3 steamer is a huge success and we are currently working on a 5/4. When starting the company we always intended to branch out and you will find more products being added to our warehouses. The next one that will be released is our land board, a fun toy to have if the wind is not strong enough to stay upwind.

How can riders demo Switch products? Any plans to get more involved with formal demos or do a demo tour with your riders?

We have a huge group of team riders all around the globe. Click on the demo link on each product page and give the one closet to you a call. We find this system is considerably more effective than touring the world with a truck load of gear and only scratching the top surface. Our team riders and happy customers are spreading the word and word of mouth is the best advertisement available.

Board Name Sizes Type Target Date Available
MJ Comp 132, 135, 138cm Twin Progressive wakestyle Dec. 2012
MJ Land 90cm Land Board High performance freestyle land board Now

Anything else you’d like to add?

We would like to thank all our customers for choosing our products and spreading the word. Despite being a relatively young company, we have had amazing growth in a very competitive market. It seems like our company’s values are right on and the market is ready for top-quality products at wholesale prices by cutting out the middleman.

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