When Julien Salles took charge of Manera it was a small accessory company with a single line of travel bags to its name. In the years since, Manera has grown in classic F-One fashion to develop a tight but performance-oriented line of harnesses and wetsuits that reveal an obsession with quality and design detail. We caught up with Julien to get the latest on the 2019 line of products.
THIS YEAR MANERA HAS THREE DISTINCT MODELS OF KITEBOARDING HARNESSES. HOW DO YOU DIRECT RIDERS TO CHOOSE THE MOST APPROPRIATE HARNESS FOR THEIR SKILL LEVEL AND STYLE OF RIDING?
Keeping a small range of products allows us to focus on improving them over the seasons, and spend a lot of time on R&D. Our goal is also to have a clear range, this is why our three harnesses are very distinct, yet our three models work very much in the same way: a frame in the back is connected to the spreader bar and spreads the pressures evenly around the rider. This frame is different depending on the model.
The Union model is made for riders that are looking for lightness and softness; with a single foam construction and a soft frame, it’s mostly a freeride harness and our riders love it for waves as it turns around the back easily. The Exo model is the cocoon harness; its larger outline wraps up the rider and its semi-rigid frame holds the back with a lot of comfort—it’s an all-around harness that will fit almost anybody. The Eclipse harness is our new baby. It has a stiffer frame with the best support of the range, but its softer sides still allows a good adaptability and flexibility. It has a low profile so it performs extremely well for freestyle/big air/waves/foil where you need some freedom of movement.
FOR THOSE MANERA FANS FAMILIAR WITH THE FEEL OF THE EXO HARNESS WITH THE ENERGY DISPERSION TECHNOLOGY, HOW WILL THE NEW ECLIPSE HARNESS COMPARE?
The two harnesses work under the same principle of energy dispersion with a frame on the back, except that the Eclipse’s frame is stiffer and covers the whole harness surface. I would say that the Exo is more like a comfortable family car while the Eclipse is more of a sports car. The Exo has a larger outline so it covers more surface on the back. Coupled with its semi-rigid frame and premium foams, it gives a pillow-feeling with a good hold. The Eclipse is stiffer and gives greater support than other harnesses; it will also allow a better freedom of movement thanks to its low profile. Basically, if you want to have fun in all the disciplines you pick an Exo; if you’re looking for performance and freedom of movement then you’ll go with an Eclipse.
HOW DO YOU STEER KITERS THROUGH THE X10D AND MAGMA SERIES OF WETSUITS AND WHAT ARE THE KEY FEATURES THAT KEEP THE WETSUIT BOTH WARM AND FLEXIBLE?
I always ask what the rider is looking for in a suit. If it is flexibility and lightness then you definitely need an X10D. If you are looking for warmth and comfort, then you need a Magma. The X10D is great for all the disciplines where freedom of movement is important (freestyle, waves) and for mid-season when the temps are warmer. If you are looking for a winter suit then the Magma is the weapon of choice with a warm and comfy Magma fleece lining.
Today Manera sells more wetsuits than harnesses, which is pretty interesting for a kiteboarding company. I feel like our choice to design premium kiteboarding wetsuits was right and we still continue to improve our range. Our 3D-fit is our main technology and putting on a Meteor suit is definitely a different experience—the fit is something important that not only brings comfort, but also warmth and durability. We pay great attention to our materials and we only use the best. This year we introduced our new ‘Air foam,’ which has the same characteristics as our past Nfoam, but in a lighter version, for even more comfort. It’s important to note that 100% of the wetsuits panels are built with the same premium material; we do not sacrifice the chest or the legs because they ‘need less flex.’ Our mission is to offer the best, and I think people can feel this once they’re on the water.
THIS YEAR YOU HAVE TWO NEW IMPACT VESTS, THE BOOM AND THE X10D. HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THE BENEFITS OF EACH MODEL TO KITEBOARDERS LOOKING FOR COMFORT, PERFORMANCE AND PROTECTION?
The X10D existed last year but it is a zipperless vest, so we designed its little brother with a zipper entry, the Boom vest. Both of them are built with X10D neoprene, the same type as our wetsuits. Our Shotgum foam is light and performs well in absorbing impacts thanks to its large inner air cells. Foam panels are a bit larger on the Boom vest for better protection, while the X10D vest is a bit lighter for increased freedom of movement. We feel it’s important to feel comfortable and free in a protection vest because if the rider doesn’t feel good then he or she will stop wearing it and this opens the rider up to injury; because of this, we’ve put as much thought into our impact vest design as has gone into our wetsuit lines. Both vests have undergone extensive testing and have passed the CE certification.
MANERA HAS BEEN KNOWN FOR BRINGING SOME CLASSIC KITE-LIFESTYLE ACCESSORIES TO MARKET, LIKE THE BAMBOO CHANGING SMOCK AND STRETCHY SEAT COVERS. WHAT’S NEW IN THE ACCESSORY DEPARTMENT FOR THIS YEAR?
This year we have (finally!) released our Blizzard jacket. It is a three-layer jacket made specifically for kiteboarding. We’ve never been really excited about neoprene jackets as they are bulky and heavy and not adapted to kite with. So we developed this light, windproof jacket to put on top of your wetsuits to cut the wind chill and allow for a far better resistance to cold, even with a standard wetsuit. The spreader bar goes completely through the front pockets to allow access to buckles and your front leash attachment, and, this jacket can be used with a sliding hook! As it is waterproof and breathable, it is a jacket that you can use outside of the water for any other sport activity, and even wear it on the streets.