Len10 on Life, Love and Loops
This feature first appeared in KW #100 in July 2019
Ruben Lenten is kiteboarding’s most well known rider, famed for pushing the limits in the strongest winds and inventing the megaloop. He also instigated events like the Red Bull Megaloop Challenge and drove the return of the King of the Air seven years ago in Cape Town. Here’s his 12 pieces of advice. Enjoy!
01 > You can’t say happiness without saying penis.
02 > Mudita is my favourite word and feeling. It means enjoying someone else’s happiness and is often a reason why I move my energy in the first place. If got a tattoo it would probably be this word and perhaps this will be my new DJ / producer name.
03 > We are all energy, so make it good energy. There’s no time for drama, negativity or shitty feelings. No good comes from it and it’s a complete waste of time. I’d rather focus on shifting perspective and finding the good vibes again, no matter how hard it seems and this is a never ending practice throughout life. The more you practice, the more aware of it you become and the more you find. Good vibes only; positive vibrations are healing vibrations.
04 > A relationship works as long as you help each other grow. If you learn what your own most important values are then you can find other people’s values and make them feel good. We all care about such a different things and have alternate perspectives on everything, so every moment in life is a truly unique experience. One might focus on sound, another on colour, smell, or how the wind blows. Each moment is different, so respect without judgement and support one and other.
05 > Visualising is one of the greatest tools known to mankind when it comes to manifesting exactly what you want. We all have it. Practice, use it and see for yourself.
06 > Every second breath we take comes from the ocean. We breathe automatically, but doing it more consciously and frequently can solve many problems. Wim Hof AKA: the Ice Man keeps breaking boundaries and proving that we are so freaking powerful and in control. I recently got into his exercises and now only take cold showers. I’m loving the health benefits, feelings of relaxation and control. Give it a go! Breathing is free, you just have to do it. ‘Feeling is understanding’, as Wim would say.
07 > Seeing Bertrand Fleury and some other guys doing insane unhooked kiteloops on short lines inspired me to explore loops. I first started kitelooping during a competition in 2003, but not very successfully as the kite kept hitting the water before me. Eventually the kite made it all the way round and it felt insane. That particular kite was probably the worst kite to loop, but when I got different kites and started looping more and more I could take the move to new heights by performing loops in stronger winds, resulting in higher, faster and greater distances. The megaloop was born when I did my first full on kiteloops in a storm. People often ask what the difference is between a kiteloop and a megaloop. A kiteloop is when the kite loops but you don’t go very high, or when the kite spins at the top of the window. A megaloop is when you give it all you’ve got and jump the biggest you can and loop the hardest you can given the conditions. No holding back: that’s basically it.
08 > So, of course now you want my best tips on how to do a megaloop. Start by getting comfortable with kitelooping in slightly underpowered conditions on a kite no bigger than a nine metre. Once you can jump and kiteloop properly, then you’re ready to give it your all and do the following:
1. Scope your playground to see where you’re going to send it. Look far ahead of you and make sure to time all your speed and energy towards that spot.
2. Go full speed towards your take-off and have the kite in the right position in order to jump with full power. Move the kite from 10-11 o’clock just before take-off and make sure you’re holding a solid edge in order to get the most pop off the water. Move your backhand to the outside of the bar for better grip and faster steering.
3. Edge beyond upwind as hard as you can and kick the nose of your board into wind for a really clean take-off while also steering your kite from 11, past 12, to one o’clock. It’s very important to make sure your kite flies at the top of the window and not too much in front you to get the most vertical lift possible. Be careful when aiming to take off from a wave that has the potential to close out just as you approach it with full speed. That can really hurt and break you.
4. Once airborne and you can feel that you’ve had a proper take-off, flying the biggest you can, bring the board in front of you and pull your front knee in to tense your stomach muscles which will help you stay one with the kite. Now you’re going up, up, up and your kite has good speed, so just pull that back hand as hard as you can to make the kite loop all the way through the window. Don’t stop pulling until the kite is right in front of you.
5. Once the kite has made a full loop, sheet the bar out so that the kite flies on the front lines which will make it climb quickly up to 12 o’clock, where it needs to be in order to catch you. You’re going to be falling down while the kite is flying up, so it’s all about timing to see when the kite catches you and how high you still are to know what to do next.
6. As soon as you feel lift you can then decide how you’re going to land. If you don’t do anything the kite may fly over your head until it loses power. To keep tension in the lines you might need to do a helicopter (‘heli’) loop by pulling again on the backhand so that the kite loops tightly directly over head, which will bring it to the right position for landing softly.
7. You must land with your board pointing directly downwind and with the tail of your board touching down first to absorb the impact. If you land fully downwind you can handle any forward speed; just lean on your back foot and ride it out.
8. Some people get off balance during the loop, so I suggest you focus on always looking in the direction of flight; downwind. If you look elsewhere your body will start rotating.
9. Adding rotations to your megaloop is really fun. Just make sure to use your head to start and stop spinning and pull your knees in to be at one with the kite to absorb any yank. This way you can then also extend your legs to help stop the rotation.
Fack! Writing this makes me want to kite, but I still have a couple months to go before I can send it again, so enjoy it for me in the meantime!
09 > Injuries are never dope, but realising things can always be worse keeps my head up. Making the most of time off is something I recommend. Don’t feel sorry for yourself; see it as an opportunity to grow and learn something new. Life isn’t over, so don’t pull that face. You’re going to come back stronger but you’ll have to work for it. Be grateful you CAN work. Rebuilding the body and mind is great and a never ending process. I really grew to love exercising and yoga because of my injuries and it’s something I’ll enjoy for the rest of my life. I have also become good at meditating and I always say life is one big meditation. Whenever I have a moment I try to go to my happy space place. No thinking, just being, with a smile. Try it.
10 > If I look back at my life I can see that my biggest challenges gave me the biggest growth. My first big challenge was when my parents got divorced. I hated life at that time, I was six and it was a mess. What eventually came out of it was that I spent my time on the beach feeling free, playing with a kite. My parents promised me a present to make up for their break-up, so I chose kite gear. It was the biggest gift in my life – wow!
The second big challenge was when I damaged all the ligaments in my ankle two weeks before the 2006 World Cup season. I was second in the ranking in 2005 and wanted a shot at the world title but saw the whole year collapse in front of me. All the training, hard work and preparation had all been for nothing. In the end of course it made me who I am today; a free rider throwing the biggest megaloops. The time away from competing meant I had time to do what I felt like doing – riding hard and flying high, inventing the megaloop and shooting content. I’m not sure what would’ve happened if I hadn’t got injured at that time, so I’m grateful for the challenge and the benefits.
The third big challenge was my encounter with a gnarly cancer tumour. A 9×9 centimetre ball inside my chest. Lymphoma. WTF! It was scary as hell, but from the start I took a lot of positivity from being in the hospital where I saw it could always be worse. I watched a bed get pushed by with a human being on there that looked more like a horse. I thought my head is still on, so I’m stoked. My roommate in the hospital got the terrible message there was nothing more that could be done for him, whereas my treatment still had to start, so again I stayed stoked. Fighting off that disease together with so much love and support from the kiting community made me feel so strong, cared for and loved. It was a feeling so strong that I’ll never forget and made me feel more one; more whole. Surviving that ride gave me so much perspective and freedom for which I’m eternally grateful. Rebuilding my body, my mind and my career – what a blast. I’m not saying it was easy, but it was a blast.
11 > Now, shattering my ankle into 20 pieces, not knowing what the outcome may be can’t knock the smile off my face or dent my positive energy. From the first second I’ve been taking it like a man with a smile because I know that it brings beautiful moments, people, things, adventures and feelings on my path, setting me up for the next chapter in my life.
12 > I live life free and to the fullest. Life is all about growth, which happens through challenge and support. Grab your chances and live the life you truly want. Be the person you dream of being. Start now. Do you realise your dreams? Nothing is what it seems. Go get it. Ride hard and fly high.
Although currently recovering from a heavy ankle break sustained in Spain during a megaloop session, as you can tell, Ruben is a powerful bundle of positive energy and truly one of a kind. Having overcome Lymphoma and a huge cancerous tumour in his chest in 2017, he was back riding soon after thanks to his dedicated approach to health and nutrition which helped him quickly get back in shape. Just ninth months later he was back competing in the King of the Air.
Ruben was a regular podium finisher on the PKRA world tour in 2005 and 06, but unlike his good friend Aaron Hadlow, didn’t enjoy the technical confines of freestyle formats at the time. Taking a step back with injury allowed him time to re-focus. Free of constraint, in the ensuing few years Ruben created a high wind style of extreme kiteboarding that we see many riders following today.
Ruben now offers full package places on his Len10 Experience trips to various epic kiting locations, that involve participants joining him for a no holds-barred week of clinics as well as VIP nights out and more in the clubs that he DJs in.
Passionate about music and good energy, Ruben is also a DJ and dance music producer under the name Len10. For kiting, he is sponsored by Ozone, Mystic and Bunq.
Born close to Noordwijk in Holland, Ruben is now more or less constantly on the road with his wife of 18 months, Nikki, who also helps him run Len10. He is 31 years-old and going strong.
Find him at len10.com