As Matt Sexton’s roommate at Eckerd College, Oli Berlac helped found the Collegiate Kiteboarding Association (CKA) after first trying to learn with a 12m kite and no harness. After finishing school, Oli moved to Brazil for a few years and is now the resident coach living onboard Meercat, the Zenith Ocean Voyages catamaran.
While today’s kites are much more durable than the ones built a few years ago (just ask someone who’s been kiting for more than five years how often they had to repair bladders in the past), a damaged bladder is still a fairly common problem.
With their new Bamboo Tech construction and progressive shapes and styles, North’s Sky Solbach feels that they vastly improved the feel of their 2011 boards and tells us what we can expect from their new surf line.
Snowkiting is not much different than kiteboarding on the water, but a new set of rules needs to be adapted for a different environment. Much of the standard kiteboarding gear can be used and the same skills and techniques directly apply.
For 2011, Flexifoil focused on integrating new construction techniques and materials to produce a stronger, more refined product. Operations Manager Martyn Hogg helped us find out more about what you can expect from the 2011 ION.
On kite trips, sometimes you get lucky with wind and sometimes you don’t. From June to December, 98% of the days in northeastern Brazil have 15+ knot winds, so we knew from the start that no luck was necessary for “kite-‘till-it-hurt” riding every day of the trip.
At the beginning of the sport I became completely absorbed in kiteboarding. I had the opportunity to be a team rider for Flexifoil and to work closely with the international team and designers. Everything just sort of evolved from there.
The RPM is Slingshot’s most tuneable kite for 2011 and features a three-strut design built on an Open-C kite platform. Designer Amery Bernard tells us more about the RPM, now in its third year of refinement.
Through team rider Bertrand Fleury, they heard that their good Maui friend Sean Ordonez was enthusiastic about cooperating with the brand. As Sean had already shaped many sick boards for Lou in the past, the ideals and philosophies of surfing and kiting they shared resulted in the birth of the partnership.
Once up and riding, the F-One Trax is a fast board that feels light and responsive underfoot. As you edge harder, the Trax feels like it locks in and never gave us any signs that the edge was about to slip or chatter.
We tested the big boy of the 2011 Litewave Wings, the 161. This is a light wind specific board and it stands out when compared to other twin tips. The board features wide tips, a reverse sidecut outline, and a very deep tip to tip single concave. There are two fins on the heel edge and two near the tips of the board close to the centerline. This board has more rocker than last year’s model and is fairly flexible.
The 2011 RRD Obsession looks similar to last year’s model, but there are a few obvious differences. The trailing edge is now all Dacron and the graphics are actually made of fabric sewn onto the kite as opposed to being screened on, a feature that RRD claims adds more rigidity to the canopy.