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BWS is the only surf-specific kite company in the world. A collaboration between co-founder and CEO Ben Wilson and his best friend and designer, Dano See, they have spent the last six years channeling their passion and experience into a world-class company with global distribution. We caught up with Ben in between his busy travel schedule to fill us in on what we can expect from BWS in 2015.
New for 2015 is the Noise Pro. How does this kite differ from the original Noise and what are its standout features? the Noise Pro kite generations are the result of refining and improving on the original noise kites. We wanted to make a more lightweight kite with as few moving parts as possible that still held up in the waves. We’ve always said the key to wave riding is simplicity; bells and whistles sound great but end up causing more trouble than they’re worth. So with this in mind, we essentially cut off the wingtips, which also meant we could drop down to a 3-strut support system. This more streamlined design has the added advantage of greater turning speed and responsiveness. We refined the profile for improved drift and drive, adding a consistent curve leading edge for faster relaunch and greater stability. We’ve found this style of kite performs optimally in the waves and has really made a difference for our team riders. In 2015 we further refined the bridle by removing the rear circuit line and updating the graphics. The Noise Pro 2015 has a new look, greater simplicity but maintains the functionality and performance of the original Noise Pro. We’ve made similar updates to the XXL (14.5m) and XXS (5m) kites.
Were any changes made to the Undertow Control Bar? Again, simplicity is the key here. We’ve tidied up the depower system on the new undertow bar so it’s interchangeable and also improved the handle so it’s easier to grab. The lines are 12-strand Dyneema that we pre-stretch to 250kg prior to assembly, an extra step that’s not industry standard.
Tell us about your new partnership with Sea Shepherd. The Sea Shepherd kite is essentially the Noise Pro 2015 with Sea Shepherd branding. It looks incredible; all black with the iconic white logo. Twenty-five percent of sales goes directly to the organization to help them continue their crusade to bring an end to the destruction of the world’s oceans. I love that they’re not afraid to use some fairly direct tactics to target whaling, something many Australians, including myself, feel very strongly about.
How does the R&D process work at BWS? Does the company follow traditional industry release schedules? We tend to launch a kite every July or at the beginning of the southern summer season. Dano See and I are constantly refining our products using the feedback from our Ambassadors (previously known as test team) and global team riders. Of course, we’re riders too, so every time we hit the water we’re essentially doing R&D. At least that’s our excuse!
BWS has been running wave camps out of Namotu for the last three years. What makes your coaching camps so unique? The Namotu Kite Weeks are not just for kiters; they’re for partners and friends too. Of course the island itself is the ultimate kitesurfing destination, but you can also fish, surf, SUP, snorkel, SCUBA or just relax. Many of my students bring their partners along to learn or just hang out. Namotu is my second home so I’m incredibly lucky to be able to share it with guests from around the world and help people improve their wave riding.
South Africa has been added to the wave camp schedule for 2015. Why was this location chosen and what can participants expect when joining this camp? I’ve been searching for new places to hold coaching camps for a while now, and one of the stand-out locations was Cape Town. I really wanted somewhere more accessible for european riders that still had a range of surf breaks able to work in different wind and swell directions. I’m really excited to head back to Cape Town – it’s been a few years since I’ve ridden there and it definitely ticks all the boxes.
Team rider Ian Alldredge took on a stronger role in the company this year and participated in many of the BWS coaching camps in 2014. Do you plan on integrating him more into the BWS coaching camps? It’s been great having Ian share his experience and skills with guests on the Namotu Kite Weeks and the USA/Europe coaching tour. He’s really at the cutting edge of strapless riding with so much knowledge to share. His first solo camp is Morocco in April 2015 and will be a very adventurous trip with guests traveling the desert in 4x4s and staying in traditional mud brick houses. Unfortunately I can’t make that one but definitely recommend it!
BWS did a number of smaller coaching clinics and demos in North America and Europe in 2014. Do you plan on doing this again in 2015? We’d love to head back in 2015 but with the additional kite trips and private coaching we’re looking at returning the following year in 2016.
BWS has a new directional, the DHD, which has only been available in Australia to date. What kind of conditions is this board best suited for and how would you recommend a rider choose his or her size? Will it be available in North America soon? the DHD White Noise is something I’ve been working on with Darren Handley for a while. It’s manufactured here in Australia, close to my home so I can be really hands-on with its production – something that hasn’t been possible until now. We’re also working with a manufacturer in Europe so we can provide it with free shipping in other countries, hopefully before 2016.
The DHD comes in three sizes at present so I recommend girls and smaller guys opt for the 5’9”, average sized guys the 5’11” and big blokes go with the 6’1”. It’s ideally suited for smaller, everyday waves and can be configured as a quad or thruster to suit personal preference and conditions. At home on the Sunshine coast the conditions can be fairly mushy on the beach breaks where it performs really well. I’ve also tested it on Namotu (see youtube clip) in larger, cleaner waves and it’s been fantastic too – definitely a good all-arounder.
Are there any plans to add DHD smaller sizes or expand on the BWS directional line? Absolutely. We’ll be adding some more size options over the next year within the DHD line. I couldn’t be happier with this board so I really want to make sure there’s one available to suit everyone.
Is there anything you’d like to add? I chatted with a lot of European and American kiters earlier this year who would love to join a camp, but simply can’t make it. With that in mind I’ve created a virtual video course based on the Namotu Kite Weeks. People will get much of the same info and be able to ask questions without leaving the house. you can find out more at www.benwilsoncoaching.com.