With a massive offering of technical wear capable of keeping kiteboarders warm while off the water, Patagonia is also a leader in environmental, performance-based wetsuit technology. Jason McCaffrey answers our questions on everything Patagonia including the recently released kitesurfing specific boards by FCD Surfboards.


PATAGONIA LAUNCHED ITS COMMITMENT TO FAIR TRADE IN 2014 BY MAKING 10 FAIR TRADE CLOTHING STYLES IN A SINGLE FACTORY AND TODAY, PATAGONIA OFFERS 480 FAIR TRADE STYLES MADE IN 14 DIFFERENT FACILITIES. WHAT IS FAIR TRADE MANUFACTURING AND HOW IS PATAGONIA’S USING ITS PURCHASING POWER TO CHANGE THE INDUSTRY?       

We took an important step this spring to change the surf and apparel industries by making our full line of board shorts and bikinis Fair Trade Certified™ and just this October, added our Better Sweater® and Men’s and Women’s Synchilla® Snap-T® styles to the program. We chose products that would ensure a high volume and significant return because for every product made at a Fair Trade Certified factory Patagonia pays a premium that workers can use to elevate their living standards including day care for their children, health programs, cash bonuses, market vouchers, water filters and other necessities. Fair Trade offers direct and practical benefits to workers and is part of our broader drive to support workers, elevate communities and do our work in a truly equitable way. To date, more than 26,000 workers have benefited from the premiums Patagonia has paid through our Fair Trade program. It’s why we use Yulex® natural rubber instead of traditional synthetic neoprene in our wetsuits, in that we hope our choices will motivate other businesses to incorporate more sustainable practices in their supply chains.

PATAGONIA’S R-RATING SYSTEM IS BASED ON WATER TEMPERATURE VERSUS MATERIAL THICKNESS AND DIFFERS FROM THE REST OF THE WETSUIT INDUSTRY. WHY?           

When we launched our first wetsuits, from the get-go we immediately knew that our merino wool liners were game-changing. We also knew that if we didn’t figure out a way to tell people how warm they were, they would think they performed just the same as the industry standard. So to clarify that, we came up with a temperature rating system and built suits to perform within a specific range rather than calling out the thickness and letting people wing it. It took a while to catch on, but I think a lot of people find it a more useful way to purchase the right suit. We switched out the merino for high-stretch polyester, but we’ve stuck with the R system. Basically, R1 Lite is our lightest suit rated for 65-75°F water temps, and our warmest cold water suit is the R4 for temps ranging from 32-38°F. We also have a cheat chart on our website page if you prefer to choose by traditional wetsuit thickness for comparison’s sake.               WE PRINTED AN INTERVIEW WITH FLETCHER CHOUINARD IN OUR FALL 2017 MAGAZINE ABOUT HIS UP AND COMING LINE OF KITE SURFBOARDS. CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE MATERIAL SELECTION IN THE LATEST FCD PRODUCTION BOARDS AND HOW THE PERTAINS TO PERFORMANCE?          

FCD Surfboards uses MARKO composite ‘iFoam’ for chop-dampening control, flex and maneuverability on all the kiteboards and all blunts get glassed with a 14 oz. deck and 10 oz. bottom. The lightweight core allows us to add more glass for durability without compromising weight or performance.

IN TERMS OF SELECTING A BOARD, HOW SHOULD KITESURFERS CHOOSE BETWEEN THE SHRIKE AND THE BLUNT MODELS?                    

Everyone seems to have a cut-off nose style board these days but with our kite-optimized rocker and features, the Blunt is becoming a favorite in all conditions. First off and most noticeable, the Blunt carves off the tail on a dime. The parallel rails are super-efficient and allow you to fly upwind while taking advantage of apparent wind speed and power when it’s light. It’s pretty compact and has a lower wind profile so it sticks to your feet well in the air while sending strapless freestyle tricks. The deep concave and 4-channel bottom deliver hold and carving control, while the preshaped deck depression/deck channels keep your feet in the sweet spot and increases sensitivity / responsiveness. We use MARKO composite ‘iFoam’ for chop-dampening control, flex and the Blunts come stock with a Quad fin set up.

The Shrike is all about high performance ‘surfing with a kite.’ It turns quickly in the pocket, snaps beyond vertical and lets you square off the bottom with enough speed to fit twice the amount of full power turns into a normal section. The Shrike works great as a daily driver but really comes alive in bigger, more powered conditions. Slezy rode his from the trials to the final heat in this year’s Cape Hatteras Wave Classic in large challenging conditions. We use extra glass for durability but still maintains true surfboard weight and flex which is something we’ve found people definitely want in a kiteboard. The Shrike comes stock with a 5-box setup to accommodate thruster, quad, and 5-fin setups.


Want more gear info? Get the latest product info from all the top brands all in one convenient place with Tkb’s 2018 Buyer’s Guide.