Interview by Brendan Richards

 This story first appeared in The Kiteboarder Magazine’s Spring 2015 Issue: Volume 12, No. 1

If you follow Brandon Scheid and Rich Sabo on social media you undoubtedly know these two are no strangers to clowning around on and off the water. We caught up with Brandon and Rich in La Ventana to get the low down on the latest movement in kiteboarding: Dork tricks.

The dork tricks label seems self-explanatory, but what’s it really about and where did it come from?
Rich: Dork tricks are not new, not anything that hasn’t been done in kiteboarding before. They exist in other sports, if you look up #dorktricks, you’ll find bikers and skateboarders with a similar idea that the tricks are dorky but they look cool. Like Rodney Mullen would probably be the ultimate dork trickster of skateboarding.
Brandon: He did invent the kickflip though, and the varial flip, and the 360 flip…
Rich: Yeah, but he does triple kickflips to wheel stops…
Brandon: Yes, and then he walks his skateboard, then flips it back, then flips up onto his hands, riding on his hands, then kickflips out… do skateboarders view that as stupid and lame? Maybe, but when he was first doing it in the ‘80s, it was so progressive that he was the foundation for all of modern skateboarding.

What are the key features of the dork trick?
Brandon: The key feature of dork tricks is that you need the donkeydick, it has to be in. Otherwise, you accidentally come unhooked if you don’t have the donkey-dick, so you need that.
Rich: I accidentally unhook on dork tricks all the time, it’s great.
Brandon: I recommend the stopper ball for shorter throw as a great add on. A dork trick is like a double grab, it could involve landing wrapped or blind, but definitely has to be hooked in.
Rich: If you don’t do a double grab you should probably be landing blind or wrapped, but hooked in for sure.
Brandon: So, it should be a double grab to blind or two grabs like first grabbing tail, then grabbing stale before landing to blind.
Rich: I think the dork trick thing comes from how we always get focused on wakestyle, and how everybody wants this certain core style of kiteboarding, but we always got kind of pissed because we’re not wakeboarding, we’re freaking kiteboarding.
Brandon: Wakeboarders wish they could hook in!
Rich: Yeah they wish they could hook in because the aspects of kiteboarding we love are being able to jump, go for big floaty airs and feel like you’re really in the air.
Brandon: A wakeboarder can’t send a big massive air with a long floaty grab and a super soft landing. With a kite we can cruise through the air, and since you’re being pulled by your waist it frees up a lot of muscles for grabbing and you don’t have to be super strong.
Rich: Like for me, being weak, dork tricks are a plus because I will ride with Brandon who is an unhooked master of the universe and he makes all these unhooked grabs, and I’m thinking I wish I could do that, but the only way I can do that is if I stick my donkey-dick in. If Brandon goes out and does a tail grab back mobe, and I stick my donkey-dick in and do a similar grab hooked in, it’s still a super cool feeling.

Rich Sabo grabbing melan and indy at the same time. Although there is no specific name for this grab, Rich likes to call it a “mindy” while Australian friend Ewan Jasper likes to call it “going full dork.”

Rich Sabo grabbing melan and indy at the same time. Although there is no specific name for this grab, Rich likes to call it a “mindy” while Australian friend Ewan Jasper likes to call it “going full dork.”

Are you guys bringing back something that’s disgraced or out of vogue or are you pioneering new ground here?
Brandon: I love doing rocket airs on my snowboard, why would I not do rocket airs on my kiteboard?
Rich: Let’s take airstyle, it’s a similar concept in that it’s strictly hooked in, but everything in airstyle looks like fairy ballerina dancing.
Brandon: It’s kind of like a beauty thing. Airstyle is all about pointing toes, and…
Rich: Taking the board off your feet and playing guitar on your kiteboard. But something about that doesn’t seem cool.
Brandon: Dork tricks is totally different because we’re trying to take the tricks we love to do unhooked, and find new fun ways to do them. Some days we might rig a 9m and think we’re going to hit the kicker and the rails all day long, but when you get out there you’re not feeling it because you’re so overpowered and probably should have rigged a 6m. Then what do you do to have fun? Boost big airs, do some kiteloops, sure, but that gets old, so we started doing huge double grab back mobes and it feels amazing and it’s not nearly as hard or…
Rich: Painful of a crash. It’s more rewarding, because if Brandon goes out and does a new dork trick, I can probably learn the same trick that day. The progression is addicting because everybody wants to get better. My favorite part of the sport has always been when you’re learning and with dork tricks I can learn a new double grab every time I’m on the water.

Are you afraid that the core freestylers of the world are going to lash out at your dork trick movement?
Brandon: Are we afraid? No, because we know it’s going to happen, they’re like [whiny voice] “you guys are so stupid, this is dumb,” but at the end of the day we’re not doing it to make us seem cool, we’re doing it because it’s fun and we’re having a good time on the water and to me that’s more important.
Rich: If anyone questions our core-ness, I mean please, come on, we are behind the Slider Project, we live in Hood River, we read Kitescoop and hate on just about everything. [sarcasm] We are taking the core parts of wakestyle and making it hooked in, big deal.
Rich: For sure, we’ve been already getting heat, but we’ve also seen shout-outs and some of the PKRA riders are putting up double grab photos. You can’t talk about dork tricks without mentioning Alex Fox. Some days Fox goes out and decides today is just for dork tricks and doesn’t even bother with unhooking. Craig Cunningham’s on it, Chris Bobryk’s on it, he’s been on the dork train for awhile, and they’re not nerd tricks, they’re dork tricks – it’s a term. It’s all about asking whether you would rather go out and crash a blind judge 5 all day long or land 20 new dork tricks and then try the blind judge five times – it’s just a way a to mix it up.

Craig Cunningham is not afraid to get his dork on. Photo: Toby Bromwich

Craig Cunningham is not afraid to get his dork on. Photo: Toby Bromwich

What about the legitimacy of freestyle kiteboarding, and how that fight has been so image and unhooked focused. Are you guys ruining all that hard work?
Rich: I think seeing a picture of a big hooked in method, or something like a dork trick where it shows athleticism, flexibility, and power is cool – it demonstrates a different state of mind. We still want kiteboarding to look really good and dork tricks can be done in a cool way.
Brandon: I’ve been trying to tell people we’re not wakeboarding. We’re not. We like to do the same kind of tricks, but even then we’re still not really wakeboarding because we’re dealing with a whole other concept. I can do three wake tricks, boost some huge airs, then come in and switch to my hydrofoil; we’re not confined to that same little spot that wakeboarders are. I don’t feel that we should try to be 100% like them. It’s not getting us anywhere. Just because we ride wakestyle tricks, tons of wakeboarders aren’t coming over to me and saying, “let me buy kites right now.” They all know what kiteboarding is and they kind of think it’s cool, but it’s not like our freestyle kiting is so waked-out that they feel like they have to kiteboard.


Is there an issue of legitimacy within the sphere of dork tricks?
Rich: Yeah, but it’s hard to talk about legitimacy for dork tricks without covering what grabs you can’t do; no tindy, no melan, no tailfish, no mute – these grabs are not allowed. These grabs are easy, even old men can get them on their first try.
Brandon: If you do a melon, it better be the most poked melon ever. The next big thing is the foilboard dork tricks.
Rich: I watched Brandon try a foilboard mobe the other day…
Brandon: Yeah and we were trying unhooked back rolls, it’s mellower than you would think. I tried a couple of mobes, but with the greater swing weight, the foil was slow to come around.

When did you guys get started with the dork tricks?
Brandon: It really started in Hawaii four winters ago when James Boulding was still on the LF team. We were riding a bunch and it was super windy, 7m stacked all day, my arms hurt, and I really didn’t want to do unhooked tricks. So we just started doing huge weird grabs, tuck knees and tails, weird floaty airs and then James did one to blind hooked in, then we started ole-ing the bar around like the surf guys do. That was kind of the start.
Rich: So it started with wrapped blind landings in Hawaii and then it spread to Hood River.

Is there a dork tricks edit coming out?
Brandon: That’s the real question! We had planned on making a dork tricks video in La Ventana but we needed three guys and our third member didn’t make it. Alex Fox didn’t book the ticket. [deleted expletive remarks about Fox being a cheapskate]
Rich: The truth is that dork tricking is not a lucrative part of the business.
Brandon: Yeah, we’re not at the top of the sport at the moment, yet, but were’ trying to come up. We need a few more legit tricks and then we’ll let an edit fly. We were watching some videos the other day of Rich and our photographer, Vinny Bergeron, told Rich he should stop unhooking. He thinks Rich should ride all the time unhooked and then right before he throws his trick, hook in.


The interview digressed into a detailed list of legitimate dork tricks and arguments over the finer nuances of flying vampires, flying squirrels, and the Rusty trombone.

Turns out these guys did end up making a Dork Tricks video! Watch it here:

This story first appeared in The Kiteboarder Magazine’s SPRING 2015 issue available here, for free. Want more stories like this? Subscribe now.


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