Testing is where the magic happens
At North Kiteboarding, we have an array of specialists that make up a Team responsible for the creation and evolution of our innovative and high quality products. So when it came to testing this year, we took everyone to Cape Town. Flying in from all over the globe -Maui, Germany, Sri Lanka, Brazil, New Caledonia, UK – the key players met to make a plan of action for the next 10 days of testing.
Cape Town is a great destination for testing thanks to its reliable and variable conditions. Days often start with light winds, ideal for testing the lower end performance of kites, those bigger sizes and efficiency of our boards. In the afternoon the 'tablecloth' can be seen covering the iconic Table Mountain, from where the Cape Doctor delivers the much loved, and strong South Easterly winds. These conditions are exciting yet tough, but ultimately they are optimal. We really need to push our kites and boards to their boundaries, and it is here that we develop them to retain high performance characteristics, even on their limits.
At North Kiteboarding we rely on customer and rider feedback in order to reach our goal of giving every rider what they want. It is because of this value, that we put a lot of emphasis on the design team working intensively with a handful of Team Riders. Sky Solbach (Rider) and Ken Winner (Kite-Designer), and Tom Court (Rider) and Ralf Groesl (Kite-Designer) are perfect examples of how these longstanding relationships and open lines of communication between the duos, have had a huge impact on the products of today.
Sky and Ken focused the wave riding and foil test days, choosing a variety of spots along the coastline to test all aspects of the wave riding products. Meanwhile, Tom and Ralf headed up the freestyle, wakestyle, freeride and big air disciplines, where they were joined by Aaron Hadlow, Tom Hebert, Reno Romeu, Craig Cunningham, and Colleen Carroll, collectively more feedback helps to further refine products.
Other than developing existing products - often one of the biggest challenges as it is hard to improve on already high performing gear – it is motivating to see innovation brought to life. For 2015, the Vegas concept changed, a specific wakestyle bar was brought to market, we introduced Hadlow's 6 line setup with extra trim options, new materials were sourced and implemented into our products and the POP Boot evolved and continued to be successful. Now if I was to tell you that these products were tested, tuned, tweaked and finalised in Cape Town last year, can you imagine how excited we are for next years gear!?
It's hard to not go into too much detail as I don't want to spoil the surprise for you, but for those 10 days of testing it was inspiring to see visionaries, great minds and talented riders come together, to pour knowledge and passion into the same thing; now that really is True Kiteboarding.
The true hero of kiteboarding, Hadlow takes the 2015 Red Bull King Of The Air Title
Red Bull King Of The Air 2015, is one of the most exhilarating kiteboarding events on the calendar. And we're proud to announce that Team Rider Aaron Hadlow took to the podium and claimed the throne!
The Red Bull King Of The Air kicked off once again in Cape Town, and following its huge success in attracting the world's most extreme riders and action – think Ruben Lenten, Gianni Aragno, Tom Herbert, Kevin Langaree and Jesse Richman – there's no doubt that it gains massive media attention, big sponsors, not to mention a mind blowing 17,000 excited spectators over the course of the three days.
For the third year, the King Of The Air competition was not blessed with the extreme conditions Cape Town usually provides, and are needed to run the competition. After all, a steady 20-25 knts isn't the ideal platform for mega loops and huge hang time, in fact it become dangerous in marginal conditions. So, the two week holding period was used to wait for the 'Cape Doctor' to deliver the optimum and trademark 30knts+ for the show stopping action to get started.
North Kiteboarding had a fantastic presence in this prestigious event, with the Vegas, Evo, Team Series and Gamblers being the products of choice. International rider's Gianni Aragno, Reno Romeu, Aaron Hadlow and 'New Cal style' Tom Herbert wowed the crowds with individual flare and style, however is was Hadlow that shone bright.
Aaron Hadlow doesn't need an introduction. Whether you've heard of him, met him, followed him online, celebrated his wins or empathised with his losses, this guy oozes professionalism and talent. Over the last 6 weeks in Cape Town, we've seen many sides of Hadlow and watched him draw on everything he has learnt throughout his kiteboarding career that lead him to take the title of 2015 Red Bull King Of The Air. In addition to winning the 2015 Red Bull King Of The Air title, Hadlow was also awarded the ‘Mystic Move of the Day’ for his legit Megaloop KGB! King Of The Air Runner-up Langeree, claimed the ‘biggest air of the day’ with 13,5metres recorded by WOO Sports.
For a rider who admits that the Big Air is a discipline is not his main focus, it’s something that he always has in the back of his mind. His performance was solid and consistent throughout the competition and he certainly put in the performance of the day in the semi finals and finals. Having had the pleasure of catching up with him numerous times at the water's edge prior to his heat, he said “I know this event will grow the sport of kiteboarding. The atmosphere here at Big Bay is like nothing else - the crowd loves it. It's the one event in kiteboarding that really is for kiteboarding and I’m so happy to be part of it, and on top!”
Upon collecting his trophy, spraying champagne, revelling in the cheers from the crowds and dealing with the press, Aaron had half an hour to get to Cape Town airport to catch his flight. Now that's a true professional...Congratulations Aaron!
1. Aaron Hadlow (GBR), 2. Kevin Langeree (NED), 3. Jerrie van de Kop (NED), 4. Jesse Richman (USA), 5. Nick Jacobsen (DEN), 5. Steven Akkersdijk (NED), 7. Ruben Lenten (NED), 7. Sam Light (GBR), 9. Antonin Rangin (FRA), 9. Billy Parker (USA), 9. Lewis Crathern (GBR), 9. Tom Hebert (FRA).
Tom´s kitchen III
Welcome to the team Manuela Jungo!
We're excited to introduce you to Swiss rider Manuela Jungo. Adventurista, and regular fixture on the PKRA Tour, she is our latest edition to the North Kiteboarding International Team of influential riders and sophisticated women.
From: Düdingen (FR), Switzerland
Riding: Since 2006
Other sponsors: Traser H3 Watches, HFVESA.CH, TUBEForce, Rip Curl, Makulo, SWOX
Manuela, what's your history with Kiteboarding?
The first Kiter I saw was at Kailua Beach when I was in Hawaii for a language trip. I was fascinated by how a rider was able to move on the water with the kite flying in the air. At the time I was already a passionate snowboarder and loved the feeling of freedom that being on the board gave me. Kiteboarding was something I had to try!
I went to Maui for a week with some other Kiters, and although it was too windy for me to learn, I knew that I had to use my next University summer holidays to learn - that’s exactly what I did. I went to Cabarete where I worked half days at the Sea Horse Ranch as a marketing assistant, using my afternoons to learn to Kitesurf. It was a hobby for many years as I didn’t have enough time to ride or improve much until I stopped working to travel and Kite in September 2010. I wanted to take a break of 1-2 years from my job and I have been travelling ever since. I've been at it for 4 years now and competing for 3 years on the PKRA World Tour.
Congratulations on becoming part of NKB International! What are your thoughts?
I am very excited to be part of and work with North Kiteboarding. It is after all the biggest brand and organisation in the Kiteboarding Industry and I think we can do great things together! North Kiteboarding offers premium quality products for every rider, and has a great reputation for innovative product development, distribution and sales. As a market leader, NKB is really motivated to drive the sport forwards. It's exciting!
Tell us about which NKB products you're using and how they suit your style.
I will use the Vegas with the wakestyle bar. It’s a direct kite that allows me to generate pop and the necessary slack to perform my tricks. The 135cm Team Series is my choice for freestyle as it’s the perfect size for me and delivers the pop and control I need to improve. I also like that it has a bit more rocker. The Gambler will also travel with me because it has a durable construction and performance that I need to hit obstacles and use at the cable park.
As a women, style is important. What is your style off the water?
It’s very important for me that my clothes match on and off the water. Most of the time I wear shorts or jeans with a shirt and flip flops. But I also like to dress up and add a little glamour with a nice dress and high heels. As you can imagine, I can’t bring many shoes with me when I travel but I love shoes, I can’t have enough.
What are the 3 beauty products you can't live without?
Sun, salt water and travelling take a huge toll on my hair and skin.
1. Eight Hour Cream by Elizabeth Arden is great for everything. It is a protectant and treatment all rolled into one.
2. Suncream is a must-have for me, and SWOXis just great! It's water resistant with natural zinc and titanium blockers. Not only that, but it contains Vitamin E, which is an antioxidant and regenerating pro-vitamin B5.
- Hello Hydration Hair conditioner by Herbal Essences, is ideal for giving my dry hair a drink. The Hawaiian coconut and orchid make it smell delicious too.
Any musical influences?
I just go with the flow with music, what I listen to depends on how I feel. I appreciate tips and influences from friends. I sometimes ride with music as it helps me to stay motivated when I am riding alone.
Fitness is an important factor in Kiteboarding. Do you have a regime?
I do Pilates, Power Yoga and I work out with the TRX to stay flexible and strong. Besides that I like to go running or mountain biking to improve my endurance.
What about your diet?
I like to eat and love cooking myself. What I eat is very important for me, as it influences my performance and how I feel. That’s why I try to use fresh produce and Superfoods to stay fit and healthy. I can’t live without chocolate though, dark is my favourite.
You, 2014 and the PKRA?
I have been competing on the PKRA since 2012 and I am incredibly proud to be ranked 5th for the last three years. It was great to make it on to the Podium in Leucate, France 2014.
What's in store for your 2015?
I will keep on competing at the PKRA World Tour and I will aim for an invite for the Triple S this year.
I will keep going on adventures, push my riding and see what life has to offer.
Stay up to date with Manuela via her social media: