For the 2019 Freeride Gear Test, Tkb trucked over 120 kites and boards to the never-failing windy destination of La Ventana, Mexico for one of the largest and most comprehensive kiteboarding equipment testing sessions in this magazine’s history, and quite possibly the entire industry! With the help of 14 carefully vetted obsessive kitesurfing souls, we put every piece of equipment through the wringer — we used, miss-used and sometimes downright abused, every piece of equipment.
When it comes to testing there is a tremendous amount of subjectivity that leeches into the process, from the variability of conditions to the diversity of personal tester preference and the wide range of riding styles. However, at the Tkb Freeride Gear Review we try to hone in on objective assessments of kite equipment for strengths and ideal use to help the end user decide which equipment to demo and eventually integrate into the idealized quiver.
One of the ways we aim to bring objectivity to our testing is by expanding the size of our team beyond one or two magazine staffers to a divergent group of testers that bring to the test a broad spectrum of style, skill level and equipment experience. We pack our pre-wind mornings with presentations by brand representatives in order to help educate testers on equipment highlights and host Q&A sessions to get an in depth understanding of the equipment. This year the individuals that comprise the testing team are as diverse at the 70+ models of equipment we push into the spotlight. The 2019 team integrates kiters of all age groups, sizes and gender and includes testers with retail and industry experience. Aside from highlighting tester quotes in each of the product reviews we have collected their profiles and personal reflections on this years test here to lend insight into the kiteboarders behind the process.
“Somewhat of a wind addict, a minister of the house of stoke, an expert beginner who is constantly striving to refine his technique through epic adventures with present and future friends.”
Weight: 170 lbs.
Experience: 5 years
From: Montreal, Canada
Personal gear: Airush Wave and Ultra II, HB Anti BIAX 5’2″, Moses Onda 91 cm with 633
Riding style/home conditions: Strapless and foil freestyle.
Local spot(s): Around Montreal and Champlain Lake; 10-15 knots, gusty, choppy with occasional waves.
Favorite pro kiter / most impressive kiter / most influential / sexiest kiter / your personal kite hero? Keahi due to his ridiculous effortless smoothness on every wave and trick.
If you were going to be reincarnated as one piece of kite equipment what would it be? A foil wing so that I could see all the wonderful creatures which lurk under the surface.
What was the main thing you learned about kiteboarding gear during the test week? A hefty amount of wax on a surf pad gives you wings!
What kite and board would you want to purchase for yourself and why? If I couldn’t pick my existing quiver again I’d choose the Liquid Force WOW V4 because…WOW! Pivotal turns, nimble, great drift, and lightweight; somehow even managed to boost big and provide great hangtime. For a board, the Duotone Pro Wam – a light, playful, pop-a-looza, smooth turning and overall a joy to ride.
“I have been kiting since forever and a day and rediscover my love for it every time I go out. To pay for my gear I work as a Systems and Software engineer building cool gadgets.”
Weight: 220 lbs.
Experience: 18 years
From: San Diego, CA
Personal gear: I have a pile of gear that I collected over the years. My go-to kites are the F-One Breeze and Furtive. For boards, I mostly ride my Lift with a Camet raceboard or Slingshot Kneeswagger. When the wind comes up I like to use my T-9 Skimboard, Litewave Kick-S and DV8.
Riding style/home conditions: We have both great surf and flat water conditions with light wind, I mostly foil but love wave riding and jumping around on my twin tip.
Local spot(s): All over San Diego County, but my main spots are Silver Strand J-Street and Mission Bay. 9-12mph wind. Glassy surf and butter flat water in the bay.
Favorite pro kiter / most impressive kiter / most influential / sexiest kiter / your personal kite hero? LaRoy Rutledge (local San Diego kiter). He is older than Betty White, builds his own gear and kites every day.
If you were going to be reincarnated as one piece of kite equipment what would it be? Kite leash; everybody uses/needs it but doesn’t care about it much.
What was the main thing you learned about kiteboarding gear during the test week? There is a lot of good gear out there, also a few stinkers; mostly it comes down to your riding style. It is a good idea to ride and test before you buy.
What kite and board would you want to purchase for yourself and why? Well, I bought the F-One Mirage foil right after the test, so that and the F-One 51TS foil board are one for sure. There were many exciting kites in the test this year but if I had to pick just 1 I would say the Bandit, I love the balance they found between solid jumping, reasonable quick turning and grunt to get you out of trouble.
MIKE DOUCET (AKA KITER MIKE)
“If it’s windy I’m out there, 159 days this year (2018)!”
Weight: 200 lbs.
Experience: 7/8 years
From: Lexington, MA
Personal Gear: 2018 Rebels, 2018 Clouds, 2018 Jaime, 2018 Crazy Fly Raptor Pro, Slingshot Alien Foil board
Riding style/home conditions: Freeride, surf, foil, all-around.
Favorite pro kiter / most impressive kiter / most influential / sexiest kiter / your personal kite hero? Nick Jacobson.
If you were going to be reincarnated as one piece of kite equipment, what would it be? The kite. Love the feeling of flying.
What was the main thing you learned about kiteboarding gear during the test week? Kiting gear can be very specific. You like it or dislike it according to what you enjoy doing.
What kite and board would you want to purchase for yourself and why? I’d get the Duotone Rebel and Jaime (newer models of what I currently have). I like to boost and this combo does the job/fits my style.
“I love kiting! Took my first lesson in 2000 and for the last 19 years I have been working at Murrays.com selling kite gear. We don’t get strong winds consistently in the Santa Barbara area so we are enjoying foiling a lot. I’m really loving the evolution of the sport and the continued diversification of disciplines and gear.”
Weight: 190 lbs.
Experience: 19 years
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Personal gear: BWSurf 2018/AE2, Airush 2018 Ultra, BWSurf 2018 Stallion, Liquid Force 2018 Impulse Foil
Riding style/home conditions: Strapless surf and foiling.
Local spot(s): Ventura, CA; 15-25 mph and small to medium waves.
Favorite pro kiter / most impressive kiter / most influential / sexiest kiter / your personal kite hero? Who is not inspired by Kai Lenny right now? He is seemingly doing every watersport and is able to make the most of almost any weather condition. To me that is the goal, to be able to play every day and enjoy the conditions that we have to their fullest.
If you were going to be reincarnated as one piece of kite equipment what would it be? I would want to be a 9m kite; perfect foiling in light winds, kiting waves in the 20-30mph range, or pushing it on a twin tip in 25+.
What was the main thing you learned about kiteboarding gear during the test week? There is a lot differentiation of gear within the same discipline. Wave kites for example differ widely. Some are geared towards low end power, while others are geared towards the higher end of their wind range with lots of depower and like to be flown aggressively to generate power. These differences further separate gear and suit differing conditions and riding styles. So with some searching everyone should be able to find something to match their local spot and style.
What kite and board would you want to purchase for yourself and why? I really enjoyed the versatility of the Airush Ultra. It’s light, quick and drifts really well which makes it great for both foiling and waves. RE: boards, I am really liking the progression of the ‘Tomo’ style boards; they go upwind really well, their surf performance is continually getting better, they are great for strapless airs, and they are super easy to travel with. So I would go with the FCD Blunt because it is remarkably light and held up to our week of abuse really well.
“I design things and love to fly kites when not making things. I am always moving around exploring the world and never wanting to sit still for too long in order to experience something new. My favorite thing about moving around is all the beauty within the world and the people in it.”
Weight: 165 lbs.
Experience: 5 years
From: Portland, OR
Personal gear: Slingshot RPMs, LF Space Craft, 6′ Rusty Dozer surfboard
Riding style/home conditions: Freeride / learning in waves.
Local spot (s): The Gorge. Gorge weather, everyone knows what it is like! Gusty, punchy, cold, hot in the summer, large rollers in the Columbia, sometimes too windy, sometimes just right, sometimes too light.
Favorite pro kiter / most impressive kiter / most influential / sexiest kiter / your personal kite hero? Nick Jacobson, Jesse Richman, Jake Kelsick, Paula Novotna and Don Montague!
If you were going to be reincarnated as one piece of kite equipment what would it be? The kite as its closest to the stars.
What was the main thing you learned about kiteboarding gear during the test week? That community makes the whole entire sport. Sharing new kite tricks and tips with new friends.
What kite and board would you want to purchase for yourself and why? The Soul was amazing, a very powerful kite that you can fly a few sizes smaller than a LEI. Had a para-glide feel to it when jumping, flies with a regular 4 line bar and packs down super small for traveling. The Ozone Torque board was an amazing board to jump with. The edge held super well on toeside and the footpads were ultra-comfortable. This board was also VERY light and had awesome graphics. For a directional, the Duotone Whip CSC was super floaty and felt like my feet stuck to the board — the ability to carve and changing of foot placement felt super locked in and stable.
“I grew up skiing North Idaho powder and mountain biking single-track. When I first tried kiteboarding I knew it was the beginning of an epic romance — it’s a multi-dimensional sport that continues to feed my appreciation for the elements, warm salty water, and new challenges. I’m currently learning to foil!”
Weight: 180 lbs.
Experience: 6 years
From: Seattle, WA (but the SF Bay Area was home for the last 8 years)
Personal quiver: North (now Duotone) Rebels, Evos, and a Neo, Liquid Force Envy, Nobile NHP Carbon, Liquid Force Impulse Foil + Galaxy board, Litewave Wing, cheap ass foam surfboard
Riding style/home conditions: Freeride most the time and surf when I feel like making the drive.
Local spot(s): (Bay Area) 3rd Ave San Mateo, Sherman Island; (Seattle area) Golden Gardens, Edmonds Beach. My local Bay Area spot was 3rd Ave which usually has a steady 18-22 knots with some gusts, chop and small swell. I’m just getting acquainted with the local Seattle spots, but as soon as we have a winter storm I’ll be hitting Golden Gardens and Edmonds Beach.
Favorite pro kiter / most impressive kiter / most influential / sexiest kiter / your personal kite hero? Greg Boyington aka ‘LMG’. Greg was a pillar of the Bay Area kite community. He often shared his local stoke for the sport and brought me out for my first time kiting at Sherman Island. Greg passed away several years ago, but his legacy and big smiles will always live on.
If you were going to be reincarnated as one piece of kite equipment what would it be? I’d be a strapless surfboard so I could catch massive floaty airs and dance across shallow reef breaks watching the fish scatter.
What was the main thing you learned about kiteboarding gear during the test week? Refining my tastes and personal preferences was a big take-away. I want my gear to be an extension of my body — reactive and responding to input before I even have to think. It was challenging to find a kite that didn’t perform well, however I tried many boards that were a total fail — too floaty, excessive spray, painful straps/pad… the list goes on.
What kite and board would you want to purchase for yourself and why? I’ve been riding North kites for the last 4 years and the rebranded Duotone line-up didn’t fail to impress. My favorite kite/board combo was the Duotone Dice paired with the Select board. I rode this setup on my second day and was totally dialed in as soon as I hit the water. The Dice is super responsive with plenty of feedback. Paired with the Select I felt totally invincible; locked in and charging on rails. The Duotone Click bar was the most innovative pieces of equipment I used all week, and the Select strap/pad setup was way more comfortable than most of the other brands, despite being impossible to adjust in the water.
“Active and sporty and almost 62 years old with an ambition to master kites and foiling in 2019 to incorporate with my other professional sailing activities. I am outgoing and thrive with new challenges and hope to be kiting for many years to come. I enjoy off-road mountain bike activities, big boat racing — especially on big tris and cats — and am currently working on a 2019 Transpac LA to Honolulu project with a MOD 70 Tri, hoping to get one on the starting line with a new owner.”
Weight: 195 lbs.
Experience: 15 or so years on and off; most progress in last 10 months with new/better gear. Lots of miles with kitewings on ice and snow.
From: Lincolnville, ME
Personal quiver: 2019 Rebel Duotone kites, 2019 Duotone KTB Select Textreme 138
Riding style/home conditions: All around — I travel to kite but will be exploring more options in Maine around the mid-coast Vero Beach area.
Local spot(s): TBD. No local spot around my house yet. There is a lake in front of my house but its too puffy with lulls, etc.
Favorite pro kiter / most impressive kiter / most influential / sexiest kiter / your personal kite hero? I do not have any favorites or even really follow who is who and what is what in the kite world right now. Surely I recognize some of the big names, yet do not worship anyone of them. I am wide open to be impressed by tricks and jumps and technology yet have no sports heroes in any sport — you are only as good as your next race….
If you were going to be reincarnated as one piece of kite equipment what would it be? Something that would fly in the same effortless manner as a Giant Wandering Albatross through the southern oceans on an unobtanium foil and be made from natural fibers and powered by the sun and oceans energies.
What was the main thing you learned about kiteboarding gear during the test week? Holy Crap Batman — there is a lot on with the arms race to make kites easier to fly, better efficiency and lighter and stronger with simpler tuning and rigging systems. The Duotone Click bar is fantastic, the rigging simple. The boards I used were all twin tips; some worked greater for staying upwind, some sucked, some footstraps were awesome (Duotone for example with and without booties), some such as Cabrinha gave me emotions of rat f***ed (Editor’s note: in fairness to Cabrinha, the team later discovered that there were additional levels of sizing adjust-ability to the H20 footstrap that Cam was not aware of at the time) — maybe it was my newness to the gear yet I want to go places and not just MOW the lawn — so upwind performance is one BIG goal and it will probably require foiling skills to get there.
What kite and board would you want to purchase for yourself and why? I have a good kit right now (2019 Duotone and Ion gear) and the test reinforced that I made good choices. But the surprise of the week in kites was on the island day 1st run. I am a bit competitive and oftentimes first to rig big and get out early in the building breezes every day. So I rigged up the big 19 Contra from Cabrinha (which gave me pause as there was really no rescue squad and I had a few early days swim back 15 years ago with a big old North 15 that would not relaunch in light air) I grabbed a board I trusted for good upwind, the Duotone Jaime 139, and headed out. It was a super fun and really ego boosting kite; as the wind came up from 8-10 knots, I was zipping around in complete control and making upwind gains with ease and had fun with quick downwind rippers along the beach with easy jibes. I worked the bars and lines, used the depower features and had a blast. I should have stayed out longer to test the upper limits of my ability to use it but did not want to be a kite hog that morning and thought to offer others the use of it.
“I sit at my desk all day dreaming about kiting. When the wind blows and I am at work there is definitely a lot of envy for those who are out kiting! In the summer kiting is on a lake with occasional trips to the Pacific Ocean; winter involves snowkiting on skis or trips to Caribbean destinations. I would say I am an intermediate rider who enjoys getting out and riding. I’d like to boost higher and learn to ride surf and foil board. Ambitions are good and give reason to get out for another session.”
Weight: 215 lbs.
Experience: 5 years
From: Sylvan Lake, Alberta, Canada
Personal gear: 2018 RRD Obsession MK10, RRD Poison and BS45
Riding style/home conditions: All-around freeride, low altitude boosting and learning basic tricks.
Local spot(s): Sylvan Lake, Gull Lake, Keho Lake and Oldman Dam. Conditions range from light wind in central Alberta to gusty high wind, 10 to 40 knots gusting to 60!
Favorite pro kiter / most impressive kiter / most influential / sexiest kiter / your personal kite hero? I have met Lewis Carter at Squamish Spit, such a smooth rider!
What was the main thing you learned about kiteboarding gear during the test week? I learned that there are many different styles of kites and you need to adapt your riding style to the kite … and I only have one style and I need to learn different riding styles to become a better more efficient kiter!
What kite and board would you want to purchase for yourself and why? I would purchase a 3 strut kite … I really enjoyed the Duotone Dice and Evo kites with Click bar and the Duotone Select board. I can’t really explain why I liked the kites other than their smooth power, predictable handling and good bar feedback — I always knew where the kites were. I liked how the Select was stiff and handled the chop well with minimal spray, held an edge and its good upwind ability. The Cabrinha X-Caliber board came in a close second when the footpads were adjusted properly. It was similar to the Select; it had a slightly softer feel in the chop but still had a firm feeling. I found that once Cabrinha’s 360 degree Velcro attachment point under the H20 pad was adjusted to my liking, the footpads became comfortable because of the neoprene-lined fit. It was snug but allowed for flex depending on how tight the footstraps were adjusted.
“Admitted kitesurfing addict who chases the wind around the world. Will work for kitesurfing.”
Weight: 185 lbs.
Experience: 19 years
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Personal Gear: North/Duotone Dice 2015, F-One Diablo 2015-2017, Duotone Jaime, Slingshot surfboard, Mikelab foils
Riding style/home conditions: Mainly foilboard racing with some occasional surf and twin tip action; lighter wind, flatter water with occasional waves.
Local spot(s): Leadbetter Beach, 10-15 mph fairly steady wind, flat water/small swell.
Favorite pro kiter / most impressive kiter / most influential / sexiest kiter / your personal kite hero? Sorry, too busy progressing to follow the media buzz on who’s who. I’m usually just jealous of who’s already out on the water while I’m on the beach.
If you were going to be reincarnated as one piece of kite equipment what would it be? A super comfy harness because I’m hooked.
What was the main thing you learned about kiteboarding gear during the test week? Foil kites don’t work well for freestyle moves because the lines go slack when you load and pop. A fast turning kite can always be slowed down with adjustments/bar/lines, but a slow turning kite can’t be sped up.
What kite and board would you want to purchase for yourself and why? Airush Union was the kite I had the most fun on. It had the most pull for size while still having a wide wind range and was fast turning with good responsive control. The Duotone Dice was a close second, but I think the Union jumped a bit higher. For boards, I would choose the board I currently have, the Duotone Jamie. This board has such good edge control and pop — you don’t even need fins. The FCD 5’2″ was incredible — definitely my pick for a strapless board if I’m going to throw down the cash. It was so lightweight with a great shape: was super great at pointing upwind while still feeling loose and carvey through turns. We were worried about it getting destroyed during testing being so lightweight but it seemed to hold up well with no dents or dings.
“I’m a Southern California native that loves the outdoors and adventure sports. I’m an outgoing software engineer that can’t wait for his next windy day off.”
Weight: 180 lbs.
Experience: 6 years
From: San Diego, CA
Personal gear: 2015 LF Envy, 2014 LF Overdrive, 2014 Slingshot Rally
Riding style/home conditions: Freeride with a bit of surf.
Local spot(s): Silver Strand and Pacific Beach Drive. Light wind in the ocean with closed out waves.
Favorite pro kiter / most impressive kiter / most influential / sexiest kiter / your personal kite hero? I have to go the sappy route and say that my personal kite hero is a fellow member of Tkb’s test week, my dad. He is the one that got me into kiteboarding and is still riding strong. He has been an amazing role model and I look up to him, even if he won’t try a kiteloop. It’s either him or Kevin Langeree, because of a mid-air selfie pizza bite.
If you were going to be reincarnated as one piece of kite equipment what would it be? I’d be a center strut, gazing down on the world and soaring through the air.
What was the main thing you learned about kiteboarding gear during the test week? I learned that gear varies largely and can be tailored to your specific preferences, but at the same time all of the modern equipment will work and can let you have a fun session on the water.
What kite and board would you want to purchase for yourself and why? I’d choose the F-One Bandit 12m and the Ozone Code. I had one of my most fun sessions on the water with this equipment. The kite was very responsive for a 12m. It boosted well, had great turning speed and the timing of everything worked well for me. The board had a great combination of flex and edge hold that allowed me to ride with a carvey style as well as pop well when I wanted to get some air. As far as surfboards go, the Duotone Whip was my favorite. It instilled a lot of confidence and allowed me to progress my skills quickly while still being nimble and fun to whip around.
“Just today I launched a 44.3-foot jump. HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY! I really like to travel to European kiting destinations as well as the Caribbean… life is good.”
Weight: 180 lbs.
Experience: 19 years
From: Pompano Beach, FL and Wheatley, Ontario
Personal gear: 2018 Clouds, 2018 Core XR5, 2018 Soul, 2018 Carved Imperator twin tip, 2015 Aviso surfboard, 2016 Slingshot Angry Swallow surfboard, 2018 Moses foilboard and wings
Riding style/home conditions: Surf, all-around, foiling.
Local spot(s): NE 16 St. Pompano Beach in winter, Rondeau Bay, Lake Erie Canada in summer. In Florida waves up to 10 feet, winds 10 – 30 mph; in Canada, choppy or flat, winds 10-30 mph.
Favorite pro kiter / most impressive kiter / most influential / sexiest kiter / your personal kite hero? Don’t really have a hero but most impressive I would say is your very own editor, Brendan Richards!!!
What was the main thing you learned about kiteboarding gear during the test week? Keep an open mind, think outside the box.
What kite and board would you want to purchase for yourself and why? I really liked the Blade 10m and Cabrinha Drifter as well as the Fletcher Chouinard (FCD) surfboard. The FCD surfboard was extremely light, perfect for smaller to medium size waves and was good in choppy conditions. In larger waves I would want something more sturdy and heavier. I use Boardriding Maui Clouds for foiling and have a 4.8m, 6.2m 8m, 10.4m and 13.4m. The Clouds are considerably faster, but the Souls have definitely a wider range e.g. the 6m Soul could replace three Clouds, my 6.2m 8m and 10.4m. I would NEVER use Clouds on a twin tip, however, I will certainly use the Souls on a TT — they deliver high and lofty jumps (the company’s heritage is producing paragliders). I don’t think I would use the 10m Soul with a surfboard though; too slow. Maybe the 6m and surfboard, but only if the waves are smallish — a LEI kite will most certainly relaunch MUCH easier.
JEFF ‘EL JEFE’ WALDBERG
“I came into the sport in my 50’s without a surfing or windsurfing background. Saw some kiters out and knew I had to do this. I’m older but still active with mountain biking and running and some snow sports. Kiting has become my number one passion and I/we as a family try to go to spots where there’s wind (Hawaii, Turks & Caicos and Mexico).”
Weight: 160 lbs.
Experience: 12 years
From: Oak Park, CA
Personal gear: 2017 LF Envy, 2010 Cabrinha Switchblade, 2018 Airush Ultra, Ocean Rodeo Mako, 2009 Underground 132 twin tip
Riding style/home conditions: Freeride mainly but getting into strapless surfboard.
Local spot(s): Leo Carrillo, Zero’s. Some flat if there is kelp but can get waves and occasional chop. Spring and summer is when it gets warm inland and this produces the needed wind. Being a twin tip guy I need 15mph and up to get out using my 12m.
Favorite pro kiter / most impressive kiter / most influential / sexiest kiter / your personal kite hero? Favorite kiter would have to be Francis Osorio Rivera who is an amputee. Being a physical therapist I can really appreciate the hard work that she had to do to get to this point. She inspires and exemplifies how anyone can become part of the kiteboarding community.
What was the main thing you learned about kiteboarding gear during the test week? That it’s like the “blind men and the elephant.” Each one feels something else depending on where they stand. Depending on ability, type of riding, and type of equipment you have previously used, you are going to get something slightly different from each kite. I just wanted to have other slightly older, intermediate level riders get a sense of what’s out there for them.
What kite and board would you want to purchase for yourself and why? I just purchased the Airush Ultra after trying a few single strut kites during test week. I liked the simplicity, responsiveness and feel of these kites and since I both travel with my gear as well as walk long distances from my car to the beach, it’s nice to have a kite that’s so compact and light.
“I’m a full-time rider involved in the local kite community. When I’m not riding, I’m either teaching somebody else to ride or having a beer with buds talking about the day’s session.”
Weight: 190 lbs.
Experience: 7 years
From: Nahant, MA
Personal gear: Ozone v9 Edges, Carved Imperator TT, Lift foil with Slingshot Hypermiler deck, Naish Global surfboard, Woo 3.0
Riding style/home conditions: Freeride flat water and surf. Little bit of everything except freestyle/park features.
Local spot(s): Boston / Cape Cod area — windier than the “windy city”! Side-off smoothness with 2-3ft kickers. 12 and 9M conditions fall, winter, spring. Foilboard in summer.
Favorite pro kiter / most impressive kiter / most influential / sexiest kiter / your personal kite hero? Jesse Richman for being a fearless, fun loving, great guy. You can just see it in the way he rides. Toby Braeuer, Jake Kelsick for doing what they love and passing it on. Nick Jacobsen is a nut!!! There’s really just too many great folks to list them all…
If you were going to be reincarnated as one piece of kite equipment what would it be? I’d come back as Kevin Langeree’s kite. What a blast it would be to mega-loop and watch him go for it. Does he ever crash?
What was the main thing you learned about kiteboarding gear during the test week? Picked up a few foil kite tips. Flysurfer Soul and other freeride foil kites are great for wind range, spinning and sliding. Three strut higher aspect inflatables (Duotone Evo, Airush Union) are great for freeride. Manufacturers seem to have figured out how to keep 3 strut canopies stable under high loads and looping.
What kite and board would you want to purchase for yourself and why? I’d choose the Duotone Evo for its boost and good all-around capability. For boards, the Core Fusion TT for its great grip, pop, and lightness and the Airush Amp II surfboard for slashing the 3-4’ers.
GIUSEPPE ‘PEPPE’ MOLINARIO
“Washington DC area scientist saved by kitesurfing. I’m from Rome originally and have been living in Washington DC. I just finished my Ph.D. in Geographical Sciences, where I studied deforestation and agriculture in the Congo using satellite imagery and maps. Now I’m in between things and places. Some have said I spend more time in a hammock than on the water — clearly not true as proved by me being here, but I do think we should review hammocks next year as well. I once bought a red life vest with a big ‘Real’ logo and returned it the same day after a day of laughter and muffled giggling by my ‘friends’ at the beach. I can proudly say I never had a Go Joe though. I found a band of brothers in the kite crew of DC/Chesapeake area amid all the crazy workaholics and type A shit of Washington DC. The thought of suiting up on a Cape Hatteras beach on a morning with driving freezing rain late in the fall makes me smile. Buying a beat up used van and riding from the Pacific Northwest to La Ventana next winter sounds like a dream.”
Weight: 220 lbs.
Experience: 6 years
From: Rome, Italy via Washington, D.C.
Personal gear: F-One Bandits, F-One Trax LW 144 (2016), Shinn Street 140 2016, Slingshot Celeritas.
Riding style/home conditions: Freeride!
Local spot(s): Outer Banks, Cape Hatteras. Chesapeake Bay. Lewes, Delaware, Assateague National Park and Porto Pollo in Sardegna, Italy. In the Chesepeake Bay conditions are typically in the mid-teens to upper 20s mph, and choppy, thermal wind except for northerly fronts. In the Outer Banks it’s more frontal and steady and winder, with the epic days over 30 mph, especially closer to the winter and the best seasons being spring and fall. The entire mid-Atlantic wind dies in the summer except for storms, and the foilers get all the action during other times.
Favorite pro kiter / most impressive kiter / most influential / sexiest kiter / your personal kite hero?
Ruben Lenten for straight up madness in the Stormjees video, Kevin Langeree inspires me to go to the moon, aka a few feet, Mitu Monteiro riding at One Eye or Teahupoo and that new Cal style guy doing ridiculously giant old school trickery.
If you were going to be reincarnated as one piece of kite equipment what would it be? I want to be a strapless surfboard (without a leash.)
What was the main thing you learned about kiteboarding gear during the test week? One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. There’s something for everyone and a lot of people ride gear that doesn’t help them progress.
What kite and board would you want to purchase for yourself and why? The Ozone Alpha, impossibly small with that nifty compression bag instead of a normal kite backpack (all kite bags should have compression straps). Despite being a single strut this kite had my screaming like a little school girl as I jumped over the back of wave after wave on a strapless board that was glued to my feet. Unexpectedly it was stable and turned responsively. The strapless board is the board I’d keep for myself: the Duotone Whip Pro was stuck to my feet, felt smooth and absorbed all the chop. It made me feel way better than I am, giving me the most confidence-inducing surf sessions I’ve ever had. I feel like I gained 20 sessions of strapless practice in one.
“I am a former windsurfer who started kiting 2 1/2 years ago. I started foiling about 3 months ago. I am a communications professional who has been working for a kiting retailer for almost a year. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, but I call the East Coast my home now.”
Weight: 130 lbs.
Experience: Two and a half years
From: New York, NY
Personal gear: 2019 Duotone Rebels 7,9,12 and Ocean Rodeo Prodigy 5m
Riding style/home conditions: Freeride on ocean waves in New Jersey and flat (ish) water on Long Island, NY.
Local spot(s): NJ: Sandy Hook, Kite Island. NY: Oak Beach, Plumb Beach, Great South Bay, Napeague, Coney Island and Tobay Beach. Fall, winter and spring are the best for our area, but the winds are typically gusty. Waves and chop, with some slicks in the GSB. Average 20-25 knots. Summer is the lightest season, but the wind is smooth. The average wind speed during the summer is 12-18 knots.
Favorite pro kiter / most impressive kiter / most influential / sexiest kiter and/or your personal kite hero: My favorite pro kiter is Moona Whyte because I hope to be a great wave rider someday.
If you were going to be reincarnated as one piece of kite equipment, what would it be? A Control Bar. I think it’s the most important piece of equipment for kiting — the piece that makes it all possible. The kite and board are important, but without a bar, it’s not possible to kite. A good bar provides safety and control for a kiter at any level.
What was the main thing you learned about kiteboarding gear during the test week? I have tried a lot of equipment in the last year, even some of the equipment that I tried during the test week. The main thing that I learned is that kiting equipment performance can really vary depending on the conditions that you are kiting and your own level of expertise. As I improve my kiting, I want different things from a kite or board. Now that I’m foiling, I look at wave kites differently than I did when I was using a TT in the waves. Although most kiting gear now is good across the board, I definitely have more specific needs from different kinds of kites now that I can kite different conditions more comfortably.
What kite and board would you want to purchase for yourself and why? I would love to purchase the F-One Pocket board, Mirage foil, and Cabrinha Drifter or F-One Breeze kites. As a new foiler, I was able to make real progress in a couple of days on that equipment, much more than my own gear. The other light wind kites and foilboards and foil that I tried were not as ‘fun’ for me. Although I like my current gear, and the gear I tested, I definitely felt like the F-One board and foil, and the Drifter and Breeze, would be the equipment that would help me progress faster.
For the eighth year in a row, Tkb conducted the largest and longest standing consumer review gear test in the kiteboarding industry. With an army of testers and the biggest arsenal of products, the Tkb Freeride Gear Review team put over 70 products through the gear review wringer with comprehensive analysis from an obsessive team that reflects rider experience from industry insiders to retail experts and most importantly, the end-user/consumer. With the help of 14 testers from all walks of kiteboarding, Tkb’s staff assembled detailed gear reviews with objective performance criteria of the latest 2019 kites, twin tips and foilboards all packed into one neat and tidy 180-page digital package. Get all the reviews in convenient digital guide here: https://www.thekiteboarder.com/product/2019-freeride-gear-review-guide/