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With the recent release of their recent film, De Havilland Beaver Part 1, the guys at Duotone took the opportunity to catch up with team riders, Tom Hebert and Reno Romeu to recount their memories from the epic adventure in the Canadian Chilcotin mountain range.

Hi Tom and Reno. This was the last time you guys did a trip together, how have you both been and have you been missing each other?

Reno Romeu: Yeah I miss Tom a lot, he’s a good friend and it’s always very fun and nice to travel with him, we are a pretty good duo. We help each other and try to push each other. I hope the world gets back to normal soon so we can travel together soon and get back to exploring the world!

Tom Hebert: It’s always good to travel with a good group of friends and work crew. Our team is such a good unit, everyone understands each other, there are not many conflicts and I think we do a good job. Everytime we go on a trip we score and bring home a lot of footage. With Reno and myself we are not too concerned to ride in difficult and sometimes less than ideal conditions. We go to these beautiful landscapes and with our versatility in riding, we can do almost every trick and riding style, maybe not the latest triple handle passes, but with this versatility, you just need to bring just the two of us and we can cover almost everything.

The De Havilland episode was shot on location on the West Coast of Canada in the Chilcotin range, how did this trip come about?

Reno Romeu: Shayne (McAuley) is a pilot friend of ours, he’s a passionate kiteboarder himself, we were on a trip with him in New Zealand flying us to secret spots in the middle of valleys down on the south island near and around Wanaka. He moved to Canada for the summer to fly the Havilland Beaver planes and during his workdays, he discovered some really incredible lakes. He called us to tell us about these lakes that had been getting wind conditions and told us we had to come. So many different lakes we can land on with the plane and kite. His level is good and he knows what we are looking for, so that’s how the trip started to come together, so we packed our ten board bags and went there!

So what were your expectations going into the trip? After such a great trip in New Zealand, they must have been high. Did you do any research into where we were going?

Reno Romeu: We knew we were going to the Chilcotins and we knew Shayne was there and had been scouting the locations. I don’t like to check spots out too much before I arrive, I like to arrive and see with my own eyes and see how it is in real life and have this kind of surprise. Everything came to my expectations. The only thing I wished we had better luck with was the wind conditions, it was really hard to kite in the really light wind and always looking for the wind all the time, I think the only thing I would change would be more wind.

Yeah, when it’s light wind it’s definitely more of a challenge, how was it for you Tom?

Tom Hebert: Yeah, I’m similar to Reno, when I go to new places I don’t research too much where I am going and I like to discover it as I go.  For sure it was tough to follow the wind and make it happen. It was good to go on a quest and most of the time we are lucky with that. But when you talk about Canada, that’s what we got, wild forests and things like that. Overall I was happy with the trip, like usual we did a lot of driving and try and discover it all in a short amount of time. I think we did it right, especially with the place, we could maximise the locations visited.

When we arrived at the location for the start of our trip, the hotel had misplaced our booking, tell us a little about that story.

Tom Hebert: Before I talk about the hotel, I need to mention the drive because it was so long! We took a “long cut” haha, it was such a mission. When we finally found the hotel it was such a Redneck town it was crazy! As you had driven for so long and we were all so tired, so to arrive and for them to say the kitchen was closed and they didn’t have our booking, we just wanted to go to sleep. The owner gave us the house up the hill, it was so dusty that Toby had to sleep in the car! In a way, it’s funny as it’s what makes a trip and is funny to tell your friends and laugh about it later. I think also that’s what is great about this crew, no one would say something or cause a fuss saying that they don’t want to sleep here, everyone said this isn’t ideal but it’s what we have and we’ll make it work.


You also spent a spectacular night in a cabin that was hand-built by the owner Dale, how was that?

Tom Hebert: The craziest thing about it is that Dale brought all the tools and wood mill by plane, chopped down the wood and built the entire place by hand himself! I was really impressed as it was really well built and there was a lot of things there they had made. I was imagining Dale landing on this lake and thinking about building a cabin there.

Yeah, it was amazing, how was it for you Reno? Were you concerned with the wildlife?

Reno Romeu: No, I love to be outside and have experiences like this, being far away from civilization, it’s what I love the most. There was lots of protection on the windows so the Grizzly Bears couldn’t break in and you could see all the marks from their claws, so you know you are sleeping in their territory. If they show up, you are in their home, you have to be conscious, it’s the same as being in the ocean and seeing a shark, you shouldn’t be scared as this is their habitat. I remember a funny story, we were talking about bears so much, Tom had a nightmare where he thought he was being attacked by a grizzly! In the middle of the night, we woke up at 3 am to Tom screaming!

What would be the stand out memory from the trip for you Tom?

Tom Hebert: I think it was this night, with the Cabin in the woods. We woke up in the morning with the plane right in front of us in the lake. It reminds me of how we camp in New Caledonia on the islands with the boat parked in front of us, it was like this, but in the forest! I love this kind of adventure where you go somewhere where there is no one, you can make a fire. It was so calm, the reflections were so cool, something that is very different to home for me.

How about for you Reno?

Reno Romeu: I think the camping was amazing as you are so connected with nature. You’re in the middle of nowhere, we were in a big valley and I remember the silence was insane! We live in a world with a lot of noise all the time and there it was so peaceful. You could really notice it. We were in this huge valley that echoed, which was really amazing. I was shouting for about twenty minutes and you could hear the echos going forever! But I think the highlight for me is always the challenge of going and trying to score a cool session and to make everything work, as we are travelling to the other side of the world, we put so much effort into the trip, so much arranging the logistics and equipment so when you have the opportunity to go there and be the only people who have kited in these locations, this for me is the biggest part of the trip. Once I’m there I really want to make it work, and after trying so many times and having problems with the wind, when it finally comes in and you are able to make work what you need to accomplish that is where the satisfaction comes in.

That was the trip we all did together since the Pandemic and the last trip you two have done together, have you kept in contact with Shayne and when’s the next trip with him planned?

Reno Romeu: Yeah I talked to him, after he left Canada he went to the Maldives and I myself had a trip to the Maldives but not the same island, he was flying for private hotels and guests. Right now he’s in Bahrain and the wind has been really great out there, so I’m hoping to go and visit him soon.

Well, great guys, it was good to catch up and I look forward to seeing you both on a trip again soon!

Tom Hebert: Thanks a lot, it was good to hear from you guys! Reno Romeu: Yeah! Same, I hope sooner than we realise we’ll be back together!


This article first appeared on the Duotone website here.