Wakeboarding keeps getting more and more popular in Europe – especially cable parks. The lack of suitable places to own a boat and high cost of ownership and the lack of an all round season make that less popular. Cable parks have the advantage of having permanent park set ups however and can invest in great features.
In kiteboarding the wakestyle movement has continued to gain momentum with riding in boots now at an all time high. People are riding larger boards too which is directly linked to this trend. The pro rider videos regularly show them riding kickers and rails. In the UK in particular – we are lucky to have some of the biggest names globally pushing this style of riding hard. Think Aaron Hadlow, Sam Light, Tom Court and James Boulding.
So where does this leave the quest for a board which does both well? A few years ago now we looked at kiteboards vs wakeboards – things have gotten a lot better. More and more brands have jumped on the bang wagon and have kiteboards in larger sizes, with more rocker and durable slide bases using the same materials as wakeboards. The compromise is a lot better than it used to be.
The truth is that these things are still a compromise – and not one we personally are willing to make. The boards are great for hitting features whilst using the power of the kite. They are better than ever at this element. The increased rocker however makes them a little sluggish for day to day riding. The slide base also makes them a little heavy.
At the cable park – they still lack the level of rocker seen on a wakeboard, so feel skatey and fast. The bases dont take the same level of abuse as wakeboards. They are often more expensive than wakeboards too. All in all – we will continue to buy dedicated boards. That said – if you are into this style of riding and traveling – carrying extra boards is a hassle so it could work.
If you are looking for one of these hybrid boards – check out the AXIS Bootleg, Billy and Tranq. If you are looking for a kite too we suggest the Ozone C4.
Hey Tom, are you back in the UK now?
Hey, yes i have just got back to the UK after doing some great trips to start off the year!
Who are your sponsors right now?
I am currently sponsored by, North Kites, Animal Clothing, ION, TryMax, GYBE and Wightlink
How did you get into kitesurfing?
I first started in about 2000 when I was about 11 or 12, so i have been doing it for a while. I guess it was probably by dad that got me into it as I windsurfed a little bit before i turned to kiting. I first saw the sport when I was in Maui, seeing Robby Naish and Lou Waiman throwing down at kite beach in the early days was enough to make anyone want to learn!
North are your main sponsor – what is your role within the North team? Do you get involved with R&D much?
Yea North are my main sponsor and I am on their Global team. I guess my role on the team is to push the more ‘core’ side of the sport, I only ride in boots now and do alot of events that involve wake style riding and hitting rails etc. Like the Triple-S or the WONW jam in the Philippines.
I have been involved with a bit of R&D in the past and I help to test the Vegas kites and also any equipment that that are targeting towards the more core market. However my real passion lies with making videos and filming wherever i go.
What kit are you riding at the moment?
I am currently riding the 2011 Vegas (7,10,12) and the 135 Team Series finless with Ronix One’s. Loving the setup.
Besides your kiting equipment, what other gadgets and cameras do you travel with?
Normally on most trips I travel with a Canon 7D, MacBook Pro, Tripod, Dolly, 5 lenses and a few other little bits and pieces. However it depends on the trip alot of the time. If i am going to a competition, i tent not to take too much otherwise i cant concentrate on the event
How do you feel about the KPWT and PKRA world tours? Are you still interested in competing?
I will be doing a few PKRA’s this year for sure, I like competing alot but I find other events alot more rewarding most of the time. The world tour is fun when you can just do a few of the stops. Competing in all eleven events is a big commitment.
Like a few of the other UK riders such as Sam Light and James Boulding you have been riding in boots a lot and pushing that side of riding. Do you feel this is the way kiteboarding should move?
I dont think it is for everyone, but there is definitely a great aspect of kiteboarding that lies in boots and the more wakestyle side of riding. In every sport there is a place for people to be ‘core’ and progressive and I think that boots changes the way you think about throwing tricks on a kite. I dont ride anything else at the moment and im pretty sure that Sam and James are the same after just spending two months with them out in Oz this winter.
What is your opinion on other disciplines such as wave riding, course racing, speed racing and even old school?
I am a pretty old-school kiter myself, i have been doing it since the beginning and I have learned all sides of the sport. That is what I like so much about kiting is there is almost endless freedom to do what you feel like wether that is riding waves, jumping high or going fast, it is down to the riders enjoyment. I just get most of my enjoyment out of pushing myself to progress the tricks that I am doing at the time.
Which events do you look forward to every year?
It changes most years as some events dont happen and new ones start. However the last few years it has been events like the Triple-S, Core Jam (no longer happening), the BVI jam and some of the cooler PKRA stops like the DR and Fuerte.
Like many riders you have taken up the media side of things and started your own media company Ripslix. This kicked off with the very funny mockumentary â€œThe Kite Launcherâ€ for which you have recently released a sequel â€œThe Kite Launcher 2: Relaunchâ€. Tell us more about that.
haha yes, I started a production//media and management company at the start of this year. The Kitelauncher was the first video idea I had really with one of my friends and Susi out in the DR, I wanted to make something funny out of a kiting video as most videos now are a bit serious. It was received pretty well by the kiting comunity and the second video was a big hit too, now I intend to take the ‘Kitelauncher’ idea further and progress it into something more in the future. Wait and see for the release of the Kitelauncher 3 in the summer, big things are coming!
You have spent the winter in Western Australia sharing a house with fellow UK kiters Sam Light and James Boulding. On top of riding loads and having lots of fun you also teamed up with James’ Steez Productions to create an action movie about the three of you. How was it filming and then editing with someone else?
Yea it was a great summer in Perth. Working and riding with those boys was definitely the highlight of my year so far. We are all pretty like minded guys, so sharing ideas and making things happen wasn’t a problem when it came to filming or something for our video or article.
It is the first video project that I have done with a collaboration with Steez Productions and cutting with James, but it definitely wont be the last either. It was a great way to learn for me, although i edited most of the video, james polished it off and fine tuned it. It helps alot to have a second opinion when doing a project like this! Check the video out!
Do you see yourself moving more and more into the media production side of things?
I think that alot of riders underestimate that the ‘media side of things’ is actually and intrinsic part of being a ‘pro’ rider in amost any sport nowadays. Making these videos and producing media is all part and parcel of that, however i do feel like i want to edit more videos in the future and take that side of kiteboarding to the next level!
How many countries did you visit last year? Have you any plans for 2011?
I think i must have visited about twelve different countries last year and I have a full schedule again this year. After Oz i came back and went to Norway for the RedBull Ragnarok and then I hit Tarifa in Spain to test the 2012 Vegas. Later in May I will be going to france for a rail jam and then it is a big US tour that includes the Triple-S and the Rosham Trowdown in Hood River.
When getting started kitesurfing or wakeboarding a lot of people seem to think they can use the same board for both purposes. Wakeboards are typically cheaper and more readily available on the second hand market. Kitesurfers are often keen on giving the cable park a go and want to use their existing board too. Whilst it is possible to use a kitesurf board at a cable park and vice versa it is far from ideal.
The main difference between the two are that wakeboards have a lot more rocker. This in turn makes them sit deeper in the water and they displace more water as they travel. Kiteboards plane better. When at a cable park, you will find a kitesurf board travels too fast especially round corners. When kiting, wakeboards are very hard to go upwind on and you have to be very powered up.
Kitesurf boards have fins on the base to help them grip and track upwind, where as wakeboards have channels. The fins are obviously not great when it comes to switching and hitting obstacles. Without the fins the kitesurf board will feel very fast and skatey due to their lack of rocker. In turn kiting using a wakeboard will make getting upwind hard work as it does not grip so well.
Kitesurf boards are light and designed for riding at speed, in variable water conditions and kite assisted jumps. Wakeboards are heavy to help take the beatings involved with contantly hitting obstacles. They are also only ridden in flat water.
Bindings and straps
Kitesurfers use straps mostly. It provides greater freedom of movement and is much easier to get going with. You can also lose the board should you need to. Unlike wakeboarders, you cannot simply let go. The wakeboarder needs boots to hold more power and to be able to throw his legs back after releasing from the water. Jumping with a wakeboard is strenuous and fast – one foot coming out of straps can cause serious injuries very easily. Likewise kitesurfing with bindings can be dangerous if you get your board tangled in your lines. It is important to be very aware of how your safety system works and what you need to look out for.
As the crossover between the two sports has grown, and the wakestyle movement has gained momentum, brands have started to release hybrid boards. These are kitesurf boards, with more rocker and tougher construction, designed to be ridden with bindings. They work well behind a kite or cable. These often have small channels allowing them to be ridden with no fins or only with small fins too. A few major manufacturers including Liquid Force, Slingshot and Best to name a few have released hybrid boards in 2011.
It all comes down to getting 2 boards really. If nothing else it is a hassle swapping boots and straps round. Even kiteboarders who spend most of their time in boots need a board with straps too. If you are kitesurfing and into wakestyle we strongly recommend one of the new hybrid boards. If you are planning on getting heavily into wakeboarding either behind a boat or on a cable, then get a wakeboard. It will be worth it in the end!