11 October 2015
The State of Wave Riding
Interview with Stance Magazine
This interview appeared in Stance Mag a while back but I thought I'd share it here as well.
How long have you been riding waves?
I’ve surfed since I was a grom and have been kiting in waves for the last 9 or so years
Why did you choose waveriding instead of freestyle and wakestyle? How did you get into it?
I grew up surfing so it has always felt natural to me.
Is there a big difference between waveriding in competition and just freeride?
Yeah, I think competition requires a lot more discipline while free riding allows more experimentation and creativity. It’s not a completely different mindset but a different approach.
If you need to choose, for a session, do you pick surfing or kiting?
Surfing to me is absolutely the best thing when the waves are perfect and you’re out there with a couple of mates getting barreled. Those moments happen so rarely you could almost count them on one hand so for everyday consistency, I’d choose kiting because I can have fun in a wider range of conditions.
Is the wave riding spirit different than in other disciplines like freestyle? Is it closer to surfing?
To be honest I wouldn’t be in a position to comment because I don’t really get involved in freestyle anymore. But I think kitesurfing is now more like surfing was in the 70’s. Surfing these days can be really overcrowded with a negative energy whereas you’ve still got more space to yourself with kitesurfing.
What do you like the most about wave riding, and riding strapless?
The freedom. The kite is your own personal jetski to take you wherever you want to go except you don’t have to rely on anyone else. The reason I love strapless so much is because there’s no room for error. Doing an amazing air strapless is so much more rewarding than with straps because it’s so much more challenging.
What kind of direction is strapless waveriding taking? Where do you see this aspect of the sport in the next couple years?
I just see more and more surfers getting into the sport and it developing a stronger foundation. Surfers with different experience will help the sport evolve and bring it to the next level.
Is wearing straps against your religion? Would you ever wear straps?
It’s not against my religion, I wear straps when I’m towing in with a jetski or in really big waves. There are heaps of people who rip with straps but my personal preference is without. It just feels better for me.
In what type of conditions do you not go? Are you fans of big wave riding (and when we say big we mean... BIG big)?
Yeah, I’m a fan of big wave riding.
Are you a full time pro rider? Do you consider it as your job? Do you have something on the side?
Yeah. It’s what I do.
What do you think of the KSP and PKRA riders?
I think there are some amazing riders on both those tours but I think there are a few important changes needed to move it into a more sustainable direction for the athletes and the industry. I’m also realistic and I know they have to start somewhere. I hope there’s some long term planning in place to ensure it develops and becomes a sustainable tour.
Big strapless airs are very trendy right now. It's practically a different sport. What do you think of it, personally? Is it more technical than wave riding?
Personally I think the strapless aerials performed on flat water are more freestyle than surf. I’m into seeing an air that comes off a wave and back onto the same wave, in a similar style to surfing.
The question of airs came up this year at the Triple S Invitational. Guys were judged as much on their air tricks than on the waves they took. Do you think it's fair to judge both altogether? Do you think there will be a division in the future between waveriding and strapless freestyle?
I’d like to see an air done on a wave so it’s like surfing. That’s what interests me.
Another aspect came up : frontside vs. backside. Obviously, the frontside riders were able to throw much more spray and do much more aggressive maneuvers. Should backside be considered equally?
Both are equal but I absolutely disagree with front-side being more aggressive. I actually enjoy watching backhand more as the body is more open which allows more creativity with body position and style than front-side. I don’t like watching people who switch stance. In my opinion watching someone with a great backhand style is really pleasing to the eyes.
What's your reaction when surfers hate on kiters? Do you understand them, shut up go somewhere else or do you stand up for your sport?
I think surfers hate on kiters mainly because when kiter starts tearing around the lineup and cutting them off it can be quite dangerous – an frustrating. This is what gives us a bad name and as kiters we need to give surfers the right of way. Personally, I would never put myself in a position where I had to “stand up for my sport”.
What about unhooked wave riding? Do you think it should be a "must" for legit waveriding? Do you think it's an aspect that should be considered Or is it just a question of conditions/wind angle?
It’s just a question of conditions. I think it’s really important to be able to do everything, including unhooking when the conditions are right. It’s great to unhook because it opens up the body and feels most like surfing.
Anything else you would like to add about the state of waveriding in kiting? Feel free!
There’re more and more surfers getting into waveriding which is exciting as it will influence the face of kitesurfing, bringing more talent and a different style and perspective to the arena.