AXIS Kiteboarding is a growing family with roots going back to the beginning of our sport. Since 1998, founding member and designer Adrian Roper has pioneered kiteboard design with many of today’s industry standards and continues to lead the way by refining timeless concepts and integrating new technologies. AXIS cofounder Evan Mavridoglou tells us what’s new and what has changed in the 2017 AXIS board line.
New for this year you have the Axis TwinWave which is a hybrid of twin tip and surfboard designs. What’s the big sell on this board and who is it designed for?
The AXIS mission has always been to offer products that enable the widest array of riders to enjoy the wind and water. In addition to specialized strapped, strapless and freestyle surfboards we wanted to bring surf-like riding to kiters who want to play on the waves. The Twin Wave project started back in 2008/2009 in an effort to bring a surf-like riding feeling to kiters who only want to use a twin tip when they ride waves. This project has evolved the past few years and in 2017 it has become the AXIS Twin Wave 148. The Twin Wave is a 148cm long by 43cm wide twin tip with a scaled down version of the surfboard rail. The stance has a directional bias and the board can be configured with four to five (recommended) or even six fins. We provide two 70mm G10 fins, one 80mm (as a center) and two 40mm for the front fins. On the water the board has a ‘locked-in’ feeling, carves amazingly and gives the smooth rail feeling that a surfboard has when riding waves. Some of our riders have used the AXIS Twin Wave 148 on their downwinders and they claim it to be the ideal twin tip for the job.
Diving into the technical details of the Twin Wave, the V Spine bottom profile and the tucked rail allow this board to glide effortlessly from edge to edge. Tucked edges taper into a harder edge at the tail and there are also multiple fin placements to accentuate the directional aspect of the board, or simply ride as a standard twin tip. The TwinWave is dedicated to the waves but also excels in the chop. Not quite ready for a directional kite surfboard? Here is the perfect transition from a twin tip into the progressive and dynamic world of kitesurfing.
What are the highlights/new tech concepts in the twin tip line for 2017?
For 2017 the Liberty line gets a new rocker and smaller sizes. Exposed wood graphics, a Paulownia wood core and PU rails make the Liberty a favorite among beginner and intermediates alike. The Division is a brand new board for 2017. After its introduction three years ago, the Division gained popularity amongst riders looking for a more comfortable and flexible board for all conditions. The medium FAT rail, new rocker, new tips and bottom channels make the Division our most complete board for all conditions and riding styles. We also added a 140×43 which should become a favorite among riders who want to play with boots or straps on the same board, as well as bigger riders or lighter winds.
The Vanguard continues strong in 2017 with the FAT Rail technology we introduced in 2016. With FAT Rail technology, the thicker middle part of the board forces the flex to be more focused in the tails of the twin tips, giving the Vanguard a more refined and softer ride in chop. FAT rail tech also provides better edging and tracking as it causes the boards to ride more ‘nose up’ but its biggest performance advantage is the feeling you get when blasting high speed carving turns — your rail won’t skip out or skid and actually pulls and holds more like a surfboard rail. The Vanguard also has new PU rails for 2017 as well as a continuous carbon strip from tip to tip making its flex more solid and predictable. It’s a chop eating machine with incredible speed and load and pop.
The Limited continues in 2017 as the full carbon performance leader in the AXIS twin tip product line. There is nothing like riding a full carbon board and when you add our new rocker line, FAT rail technology, and PU rails, you have an explosive board that can hold its edge under any conditions. The Limited is not for everyone but if you can afford it, you will keep it forever.
The Grom 2017 model is also redesigned. Borrowing its design concept from the 2017 Division, it offers medium FAT rail technology, more flex than 2016 and two new smaller sizes.
The Patrol and Ultra maintain their character of 2016, with flatter rockers specifically designed for light wind conditions. The Patrol borrows its construction from the Vanguard, while the Ultra is a full carbon light wind machine, designed to dominate any light breeze destination. It’s incredibly fast, stable and fun to ride.
The Tandem board continues in 2017 with a new rocker and borrows its construction from the Vanguard boards. We tuned up the stiffness in the middle of the board with more carbon, improving the board’s flex pattern so the board rides better with less deformity with the weight of two people. Many shops are using the board as a teaching aid and also just taking people for rides to give a taste of what kiting is like, without having to take a lesson. The response from schools has been awesome.
The AXIS Wake line of boards also has a number of changes. The 2017 boards are fast and have less drag due to less channeling through the center. Additionally, the tip shape of all boards feature similar tip channels, with a single 10cm concave in between two load dispersing beams in the center of the board. This concave gives better grip for air tricks and also allows you to lock into pipes and rails more easily. The beams help disperse friction for a faster and longer lasting slide on obstacles.
Last year we added a new rail shape to the Wake line which was successful and continues for 2017. The rail thickness mimics the core thickness of the boards. This gives a much smoother ride through chop and additionally lets the AXIS wakestyle/park boards build up speed quicker and gives you a looser feel which is something that makes kicker tricks like Moby Dicks (which are initiated from rail to rail edge control) easier to achieve and feel better. Lastly, each have new PU rails. After lots of feedback from our team and other riders, we focused on PU rails for the Wake line of boards. These rails follow the board flex a bit better than other materials, and they offer added protection from knocks and bumps on obstacles. Finally, the 2017 AXIS wake style boards also have a new base construction which makes them even stronger hitting rails and ramps.
Sebastian Sponholtz recently joined the AXIS team and with that addition you have not only added one of the most talented strapless freestyle riders on the West Coast, but also a very technical mind in development. What’s the story with Sebastian’s new surfboard?
As a strapless kiter in Northern California, Sebastian mostly rides rocky beaches with peaky breaks and cold water. His style of riding involves a lot of aerial maneuvers both in the flat water and off waves so his signature board, the Climax, is more aimed at strapless riders who want to have a great time at any spot they go to. The Climax has been Sebastian’s go to board for the last few months for anything from flat water to Sherman Island to firing Cloudbreak so far, so good!
Sebastian and Adrian designed the Climax with two different modes in mind as Sebastian realized that when he’s kiting, he is either really far forward on the board for going upwind fast or all the way back on the board for smacking the lip. The wide point of this board is slightly more forward than usual and what this does is allow the rider to have a stance that is more centered on the board. Sebastian found that having a centered stance really helps to keep the board on your feet because you rotate around the halfway mark of the board rather than having a lot more nose volume to swing around.
The rails on the back half of the board are fairly parallel which makes light wind kiting and going upwind easier; they also give the board a lot of drive to power through chop. The tail of the Climax was kept pretty narrow instead of keeping it wide like a lot of the modern planing hull designs nowadays as Sebastian believes that a narrow tail is crucial for wave kiting — it allows the rider to stall the board and stay in the pocket of the wave.
With kiting as opposed to surfing, there are so many more forces involved. When you are kiting and you drop into a wave, the apparent wind affecting the kite dramatically increases due to the increased velocity gained form the wave. So if it is blowing 20 knots a lot of the time it feels like you are overpowered when on the wave because your apparent wind is more like 30 knots over the kite. So by keeping the tail of the board narrow, this allows the rider to step on the tail, stall the board and achieve a more manageable apparent wind.
So much went in to nailing down the construction of this board as well. Sebastian is super picky about having a board that is light and flexy enough for airs because if it is too heavy or stiff he won’t be able to land a lot of his tricks. He believes light foam is necessary in a strapless board as it compresses perfectly and seems to keep the board on your feet. The issue is that with light foam, comes weaker, more fragile boards. So for the Climax, Adrian used a light EPS foam blank with two strips of high density foam running all along the stringer. This construction provides the positive attributes of light EPS and takes advantage of the deck shape in order to maximize breaking resistance.
The Climax’s deck has pre-shaped heel dents which not only are insane for keeping the board on your feet in the air but really allow the impact forces to be channeled through the stringers and fibers rather than compressing the foam and buckling the board.The layup on the Climax is fiberglass and Innegra cloth. The Innegra is awesome because it is super flexy and really increases the breaking resistance of the fiberglass. Last but not least, the Climax ships with AXIS’ 2017 surf expoxy fins. They are made differently than regular fins and feel awesome.
The AXIS foil program has been under development for a few years now. AXIS has taken a different approach to the carbon high-end performance foil, what are the biggest construction and performance selling features of the Maroro?
When we took on the design of our foil program, we didn’t want just another product on the market. We wanted a new approach to how a foil should work, and wanted to help customers to buy one foil that they can use as their main platform for many years.
We put a team of eight people together, all experts from various fields of aeronautics, engineering, and sailing hydrofoil design, along with foilers with many years of experience. Having such a team has enabled us to move fast and change the paradigm of how most companies see foiling today.
The Maroro Foil is the outcome of our team’s efforts towards a modular design that follows the rider as their level evolves. The Maroro Foil is a high end/high performance freeride foil inspired by racing but made to have a super wide sweet spot. It is built with a current designed high aspect wing/mast set. Since we get most of our feedback from what works in racing, we knew that it was not necessary to make a low aspect foil to get the foil to be easy to ride or to foil up early.
The Maroro Foil mast is 100cm long, as longer masts help keep the board from hitting the water longer. Longer masts are the trend in racing as they give you more room to keep the foil in the water at higher speeds and in choppier water. Our foil is fast but we don’t market it to only address the speed market. We are just trying to make the AXIS Maroro foil to have a wide range of easy riding characteristics and we managed to make it friendly to ride, so it’s a super fun foil to ride and play on. The truth is all foils ride very differently from each other and it takes time to get used to the uniqueness of each individual foil’s characteristics. We made the mast section as high performance as possible (stiff as hell and with a refined NACA section foil so it’s not going to be slow) and wanted to make a 100% carbon mast that would allow us to add more serious race wings to it in the future as we are working on that as well (all our wings are 100% carbon). Right now, our foil has a big sweet spot and does not become unruly at high speeds like most recreational foils so we are stoked about that. A lot of people are going to have a lot of fun on our foils.
We realized that each person rides differently so instead of having the rider adjust to the foil, we wanted our foil to adjust to the rider’s style, needs, weight, and progression of learning. This is why we have made the rear wing adjustable, from approximately 1.5° to 5.5°, although the optimal riding with less drag is between 3 to 4.6°. We also provide the tools and instructions to our customers to adjust their rear wing with confidence. For 2017, AXIS will be releasing a whole range of foil products, including race, free ride, hybrid, convertible andstrapless foilboards. Stay tuned to AXIS as we release more details in the next six months.