Manera doesn’t suggest that their products will make you a better rider or king of the beach. What Manera does assure is that they will help you make the most out of your sessions thanks to their products. Your back will not hurt after a two-hour session and you won’t get cold because you want to ride all year round, but you will be comfortable, safe and every session will be a pleasure, as it is supposed to be. From the company behind F-ONE, Julien Salles gives us the scoop on Manera’s 2016 lineup.
At the Manera distributor meeting in Mauritius, there was significant discussion about the proprietary 3D pattern software that Manera uses to design its wetsuits. How does this help in the design of the suits?
There are basically three types of neoprene companies. The first approaches a factory, asks for an existing design and puts their materials, colors and logos on it. Then they market their “perfect fit” or “like a second skin” suit, but their suit has been designed by a factory employee that has probably never been in the water before. They can change a panel from time to time and use a bunch of marketing to overcome their lack of research. You’d be surprised how many brands are part of this category!
The second type of neoprene companies are the ones using a skilled wetsuit designer. Most of the time, these designers have been working in the industry for dozens of years, but the people that are able to do such a job are rare. More often than not, they work by hand with paper panels, scissors and wood mannequins. With their experience and knowledge, they typically achieve a very good fit in their designs.
Then we come in, with our 3D software! Working with an existing factory design was clearly not an option for us — it doesn’t match our product oriented philosophy. We design the panels and seams directly on a virtual 3D mannequin, thinking about panels that need flex, avoiding friction areas, maximizing comfort and building general style. Then this software is able to accurately flatten these 3D panels into a 2D file, taking into consideration the fit, elasticity and thickness of materials, compression and outline. This 2D file is then read by our factory that is able to precisely follow our specifics. The 3D design brings a state of the art feeling and fit to our suits; here, we can stand behind the expression “second skin”. With 3D tech, the natural curves of your arms, legs, back and chest are matched by the suit. It allows for better comfort, flexibility and most importantly, warmth! Just check out a Manera suit hanging on the rack. Its arms, legs and waist tend to have a body shape. Then compare it to a regular suit and see the difference. But the best way to believe it is to feel it for yourself!
The Manera product options include three suits: the Line Up, the Meteor X10D and the Meteor MAGMA. Can you explain the functional differences between these models?
We made no compromise when building the Meteor MAGMA and Meteor X10D suits; our goal was to design the best wetsuits on the market. The difference between both is that the MAGMA suit has full Magma fleece inside, which makes this model a lot warmer for very cold water use or for people that are more sensitive to the cold. The X10D is lined with very light X10D jersey material that is perfect for mid-season use and people looking for extreme flexibility. The Line Up offers up a performance suit at a great value. We used our 2015 design and very warm and durable materials to assure you get the best value for your money.
The Magma and X10D suits use Tripl3X Neoprene. How does this material compare to standard neoprene products?
I hear so much marketing BS nowadays about “neoprene” but the truth is that most neoprene companies use the same raw materials. What we call neoprene is simply three layers of material; most of the time, it’s a sandwich of two jersey layers with neoprene foam in between. It is very important to build this mix carefully; if you use an outside premium jersey and high quality foam, but you pick a standard or cheap inside jersey, the last one will rip off after a few sessions because it doesn’t have the same flex and characteristics as the two others. So it’s pretty much like cooking; you have to use the best ingredients and they have to work well together.
We are working with the biggest neoprene and wetsuit manufacturer, and from the beginning of our collaboration, have tested many types of materials. We used the exact same process as for our kite R&D, taking the time to select the best features and materials, and testing it for a long time period. The TRIPL3X is a mix of Magma fleece, N foam and square flex jersey. For TRIPL3X-X10D, we use N foam and re-flex jersey materials. You can be sure these three layers of materials have been selected and tested to keep you warm and comfortable even for your most extreme sessions!
What are the features that make these suits standout for kitesurfers?
Most of the wetsuits on the market are designed for surfers: back arched, shoulder/arms towards the back and head up. This completely fits with the surfer’s paddling position but not with the kitesurfer’s. We are not a surfing brand and we wanted to adapt our suits to kitesurfing and SUPing. A big advantage was that we were able to move the virtual 3D mannequin when designing the suit. So we put this mannequin into kitesurfing and SUP positions: back bent, shoulder/arms toward the front, head down. The mannequin had quite a weird position when we looked at it on the screen, but it works perfectly; we feel far better kitesurfing with our suit than with a surfing suit.
We also realized that surfing suits always have a thin panel around the shoulders and arms, mostly because they need flex to paddle. Consequently, in cold and very windy conditions, we get cold around the arms with such suits. That is why we designed our suits with thicker panels around the arms and are completely transparent with our panel’s thicknesses. You can find all the info about where we use which thickness and the percentage of it in our catalog.
Manera suits also have a few special features. The water strainer on the ankles drains water out of your leg instantly (no more ballooned ankles). Additionally, the sealing points on our suits’ wrists and ankles help keep the panels in place and block the water from entering it.
This is the second year for the Exo harness. There have been some small fit and finish changes to the overall look, but what are the main functional features of this harness?
There are a multitude of technologies included in this harness. In its design, we worked with a laboratory that specializes in body movement, which helped a lot! But the main technology that makes a big difference compared to other harnesses is Manera’s EDF (Energy Dispersion Frame) which has many different thicknesses and a very particular shape; it is the result of a long study on the energy dispersion around the back. The fact that Manera harnesses are manufactured so the EDF is directly linked to the spreader bar is essential. All the kite power is directly transmitted to the frame, then the frame absorbs and distributes the forces. Having a rigid plate on the back is useless if it’s not directly linked to the power of the kite.
Manera has an extensive line of travel bags. What do you recommend for the surfer or freestyler with travel plans on the horizon?
This is funny because right now I’m writing this text with the Air Force under my feet, all packed with wetsuits, boots, gloves and surfboards as I’m leaving tomorrow for two weeks in Iceland!
For a kiter traveling for waves, we have surfbags (5’8” and 6’0”) as well as the Air Force, which is the bag I take on all my trips. For a freestyler, we have a twin tip bag that fits most of the twin tip sizes, along with the well known Golf bag that fit twin tips, kites, bars and boots. Finally, when testing in Cabo Verde during the winter, Mika and Raphael use the Session, a very lightweight choice without wheels that fits twin tips, boots and kites.
All information regarding what you can fit into the bags and their weight is on our website. I like the idea that you can buy a boardbag and stick with it for a large part of your life. It’s always good memories when you grab your old dusty boardbag and head to the airport!
Is there anything else you would like to add or a specific product you would like to discuss?
We know there is a lot of marketing hype out there and nowadays, it seems especially fashionable to be a waterman, but this is not what we are about. What we like about the sports we cater to and do ourselves is enjoying our time in and on the water. What we enjoy about our job is helping people to have more fun on the water, thanks to our products. The business, fashion and money facts are remote ideas to us.