Kiteworld chief tester Chris Bull explains the addiction he’s been through as he chased down his own personal 20 metre Woo height challenge this year, and reveals the performance freeride kites that have helped him get there.
Issue #80 excerpt
Like most kiteboarders I have been asked many times how high I jump? For years, before tech like the Woo Sports and Xensr devices came onto the market, I have enjoyed telling friends, family, colleagues (whoever would listen) that my big jumps were well over 20 metres. I often look down at other people’s kites when on the water, so believed that my big jumps were well in excess of 20 metres. To be honest; more like 25 metres in my head! It was almost a standard reply, “Yeah, 20 to 25 metres normally on a good day.”
In Cape Town January 2015 the guys at Woo Sports gave me one of their devices to test and so began my love affair with the Woo. In many ways, and like most relationships, it has its good and bad days.
Now, we all know that good, boosty conditions are synonymous with Cape Town. For me it’s perfect; the wind blows very hard from the left at Blouberg and is really good for jumping because it’s so solid and dense. There are very few places in the world that produce such good jumping stats. All the wind combined with regular, decent swell, I was definitely excited about getting some great stats this year.
Last year my best jumps were 16 to 17 metres, which I have to admit felt a bit disappointing. Over the last 16 years of kiteboarding I had assumed I was jumping much higher, but it’s a standard reaction; everyone who initially owns a Woo feels a bit disappointed with their first results, however – it’s not the device’s fault; it’s just that in our heads our jumps always feel higher.
After a year of owning a Woo I was looking forward to returning to Cape Town to get the illusive 20 metre jump after spending all year trying to get there, going out in insane storms, staying out longer and longer – ‘Just a couple more jumps, just in case I get it.’. I regularly jump 15+ metres at home, but without the waves and with the wind instead coming from the right (which is weaker for me) it never seemed to happen in the UK.
It becomes an addiction… I wanted that 20 metre goal!
Last year Aaron turned up at the beach in Cape Town and we ended up chatting about the Woo. I suggested he picked one up and give it a go. An hour later he turned up with a Woo, went out and smashed over 20 metres! Of course Aaron Hadlow is an alien / freak / kite god, but it demonstrated to me that 20 metres is possible if you send it huge out the back on a decent sized wave.
Arriving in Cape Town at the beginning of January I was really ready to ride after back-to-back months of storms in the UK; I felt fit to boost to the moon. As one of the testers for Kiteworld I am very lucky that I get to ride lots of new equipment. In my head I already know which kites boost really well, and look forward to getting those out on the right days to get those uber Woo stats I craved.
We had some great testing conditions this year, the Suunto image of stats from my watch below shows the amount of testing sessions we had in January alone. The few days off I had were due to niggling injury.
My top scorers for height this year were the F-One Bandit, Liquid Force Envy, Naish Park and Ozone Edge. Essentially, most of the all-round kites on the market can get you jumping big, although some kites are easier to boost higher and some kites definitely give you more hang-time. To me, the differences are the conditions and your technique. No doubt, the windier the better, but I think control and timing are vitally important. I hit 20.1 metres on a nine metre in powered but comfortable conditions. On the 20.1 metre day the swell was superb with a long wave period and clean lines. This allowed me to approach the take-off with more speed, choosing the section I wanted to hit whilst still being able to control my edge. I discovered that it was more important to have speed and control with a clean kicker, being prepared to reach downwind to choose the perfect spot on the ramp with speed allowed me stay in control and load the kite smoothly, instead of just hurtling into the kicker at Mach ten and edging like hell to control the power.
Here’s Bully with the rest of the Kiteworld test team running through some highlights from testing in Cape Town:
Commitment is everything, I jumped higher this year because I was prepared to hit the biggest waves I could without compromise. Fitness helps too; the more time you spend jumping big, the stronger your core becomes, which is essential when riding hard and fast.
Practice makes perfect, check my overall stats for the Woo device; I’ve logged over 12,000 jumps.
If you want to go higher check out the Kiteworld articles in previous issues from Coach Crathern. Equipment does make a difference, but not as much as technique and good conditions. Let’s see what next year brings. Good Luck!
Get the full skinny from the Kiteworld test team on all these products in issue #80, out now:
Kites: CrazyFly Sculp / Cabrinha Switchblade / RRD Vision / Naish Park / Core GTS / Ozone Enduro / Airush Lithium / Starkites Taina / Boards: Airush Apex / RRD Bliss / Liquid Force Legacy / Wainman Cruzer / North Select / CrazyFly Raptor / Axis Vanguard / Shinn Bronq / Vanhunks Bucca Carbon.
And coming up in issue #81, released mid-May:
C Kites: Naish Torch / North Vegas / Airush Razor / Liquid Force HiFi / Cabrinha Chaos
Wave kites: Airush Wave / RRD Religion / North Neo / Ozone Reo / Peter Lynn Swell / Cabrinha Drifter
All-round kites: Slingshot RPM
Big jumping freeride kites: Core XR4 / Ozone Edge / North Rebel
Twin-tips: Vanhunks Manakel / Naish Monarch / Axis LTD / CrazyFly Addict / RRD Poison
Surfboards: North Pro Series and Pro CSC / Slingshot T-Rex / Airush Compact and Cypher / Axis New Wave and more!