Tkb interviews Airush’s Kite Designer Mark Pattison
Airush’s kite designer, Mark ‘Paddo’ Pattison, got an early start in windsports in his hometown of Adelaide, South Australia when his father hooked him on windsurfing at the sprite age of seven. Mark has over 10 years as head kite designer at Airush under his belt and spends half of each year surfing and kitesurfing in Bali where his fetish for minimalist kite equipment comes in handy.
A kite designer is a relatively exclusive position to secure in the kitesurfing industry. How did you land a job dreaming up new kites?
Being obsessed with windsurfing, straight out of school I wanted to get into the industry in one way or another. I thought about working at the local custom windsurf board shaper’s shop, but working with boards is super dusty, itchy, sticky and generally filthy work. So, even though my friends gave me hell for being a sissy, I decided to get into sewing instead. At that time, I was working in retail at the local windsurf shop that happened to have a sewing machine. The guys there taught me how to do sail repairs. In those early years, I had met Ben Severne who was the previous designer for Airush as well as the designer of his own windsurfing brand, Severne Sails. Around 2002, we met again in Geraldton, West Oz, when he let me use his sail loft to repair one of my sails that I had trashed—I did a pretty good job because I wanted to sell it. He was impressed and offered me a job. At first I just helped build prototype race windsurf sails, but soon I was helping Ben with all the Airush kites and bars, building prototypes as well as testing them on the water. Around 2006, Ben wanted to concentrate on his windsurfing products so I started designing the kites myself. It was really hard at first, but I had a lot of help in the beginning and after a few years it started to become easier and things made more sense.
“Even though my friends gave me hell for being a sissy, I decided to get into sewing.”
In your years as a kite designer, what has been the biggest personal discovery for your own kitesurfing?
Probably making one strut kites and other super lightweight stuff. It’s so cool to have equipment so small that I can pack up and travel with. I do tons of surf trips with my surf mates who always give me shit for bringing my kite gear. I’ve made a custom kite, harness, bar and tiny pump setup that all fits into a small backpack, so they don’t even notice I have any kite gear until we arrive at a spot and it’s windy.
This is a preview from Tkb’s winter 2017 issue — Read The Paddo Factor by subscribing to The Kiteboarder Magazine.