Headed by one of the most well-respected kitesurfers in our sport, BWS was founded seven years ago by CEO Ben Wilson and designer Dano See. For the 2017 model year, the surf-specific kite company has one do-it-all surf kite in addition to three directional boards. The company also offers wave camps in Namotu, Australia and Mexico along with an online coaching program containing over five days (160+ hours) of tutorials shot on location in Fiji. We caught up with North American importer, Dray Murray, to see what’s new at BWS.
For 2017, BWS has narrowed down its kite products to one single surf kite called the Aeneema. How does this kite both reflect the evolution of kite design at BWS and the ideal design for riding waves?
At BWS the aim has always been to build a kite to be a seamless extension of surfing. We want a kite that can seemingly disappear and allow you to surf the wave unhindered. We never want to get pulled off a wave because of the kite; it’s there to increase our wave count and time on the face of the wave. We want to be able to execute full cutbacks without getting pulled off the wave and then be able to sheet in and get to the next section.
In our own pursuit of perfection we have found that often anything you seek to improve on a kite hinders something else. So in tweaking our existing design we came up against a wall where we couldn’t change one aspect of the Noise without removing some other vital part of its performance. So we decided to start a new design, not being hindered by our old platform and take what we had learned to create an entirely new kite from the ground up. We knew what we needed: Stability, drift, smooth power delivery, huge depower, and a jumping style that caters to strapless riders. Dano, our chief designer, is a mad scientist when it comes to kite design and has come up with so many prototypes and tuned countless factors to create the Aeneema over the past few years. We have sent these kites all over the world to our extensive team of talented surfers for review and feedback. Ultimately, we ended up going with a slightly higher aspect ratio, a narrower LE, and reduced weight which produced a more responsive kite with a larger wind range and a very consistent pull from everywhere in the window. For 2017 we have added a 15m size to the line for bigger guys and lighter winds. We also adopted some of the more recent advances in kite technology and design in our continued search for perfection by adding the latest Teijin canopy material as well as a new panel layout to increase strength without sacrificing weight or performance. The Aeneema is now that extension of surfing that we have been aiming for. Try it for yourself and see.
What are the key design principles behind the Undertow Bar and the key features that make this ideal for surf riding?
The Undertow Bar provides all the features you need and nothing you don’t. Surfing is about simplicity. We don’t want to be distracted from the wave by the kite or the bar. We designed a bar that is as clean, light and durable as possible. We use 2mm Liros lines with 1100 lbs breaking strength which are much stronger than the 600-800 lb industry standard. Being thicker they stretch less, are more chafe resistant, are safer to touch when under load and are much easier to see when down in the waves. We have a small ClamCleat above the bar, a PU covered centerline, a below the bar swivel and easy to use quick release on the chicken loop. New for this year is a much more durable PU coating on the center line and chicken loop and a new molded donkey stick. To top all that off the Undertow bar has a very soft grip and padded bar ends to protect yourself and your board from the bar. Ultimately, the Undertow Bar is simple, clean and rugged. They last for years and every part is replaceable so you won’t need to buy a new bar with every kite.
For 2017 you have two surfboard models: White Noise and the Ben Wilson Signature models. What kind of surfing and type of rider will these boards be best suited for?
The White Noise is our equivalent to a ‘fun board’ — it’s the shortest and widest board in our range and best suited for everyday conditions. Its wider tail is loose and snappy and works great in marginal to good conditions. It excels in knee to head high waves, generates speed quickly and can easily hold it through flat sections. This is my go to board. I love how quickly it generates speed while holding that speed through the lulls, and it’s quick and snappy off the top, making marginal conditions much more fun. It has five fin boxes and I run three when well powered and switch to four when slightly underpowered before rigging a larger kite. The White Noise is also a lot of fun for ramping off small waves; the wide tail provides generous pop and it’s shorter length makes it easier to keep on your feet during strapless airs.
The BWS Signature is for bigger, more powerful waves, getting into the pocket, fast down the line riding and powerful maneuvers. This is a great board for central or northern California when the waves pick up and demand something with grip, speed and explosive power. This is the board I want to be on! It’s for the guys who are riding chest high waves and above, and it really shines in steep and hollow waves. The narrower, straighter outline performs carving turns at speed, slips into the pocket and gives you great control in those steep sections. Its fun and loose at low speeds and can handle the power and speed to drive a bottom turn and crack the lip when lit.
New to the BWS lineup this year we are adding a High Wind model with a rounded pin tail which is a slightly thinned out version of the Signature. The High Wind has a slightly more robust build and is designed for riding lit. The thinner rails can dig in and really hold a rail even at high speeds and overpowered conditions while the rounded pin tail makes it easy to go rail to rail and hold a turn at any speed. This is for the guys who like to tow in with the kite and spend their time in fast, powerful, steep waves and is the closest thing we have to a gun. It’s also great for guys who like to ride the power of the kite to whip at waves and ride them powered up.
As a surf-specific brand the BWS board category only includes surfboards. What construction has BWS chosen to balance the demands of durability and performance?
We have recently teamed up with Australian surf shaper Darren Handley of DHD Surf to create the highest performance kitesurf boards possible. If you are looking for the best performance you have to try a handshaped PU board by a top surfboard shaper. There is nothing else out there like it. The BWS boards are all high density polyurethane, just like performance short boards. We use fiberglass and PU resins to give us the lightest boards with the best flex characteristics, feel, and liveliness available. To meet the demands of kitesurfing we cross the fiberglass sheets at 90º and also add carbon patches around the fins and tail for strength without sacrificing weight, flex or performance. We believe that this combination of material is the best balance of strength and performance and it really does stand out from the rest. If you don’t believe us, give me a call and try one yourself.
Get all the brand interviews and gear spec in one place with Tkb’s 2017 Buyer’s Guide.