TheKiteMag - English (Preview version) TheKiteMag #29 - English (Preview) - Page 161

D O P R O W E N E E D R I D E R S ? With Sensi Graves Did you have heroes growing up? Posters of Kobe Bryant or David Beckham or Jürgen Klinsmann on your walls? Did you spend hours on the playground imagining you were them? Sports stars and professional athletes have a certain allure. They can be larger than life and inspire entire generations. They break barriers, smash records and push themselves to the limit. Professional kiteboarders are no different and push the limits of what’s possible every day. Yet, pros can be seen in both positive and negative lights. You can either view a pro as inspiring and motivating, or they can be seen as too cool for school and spoilt. In my opinion, professional kiteboarders are necessary for the growth of the sport for two primary reasons. Number one, they push the upper limit of the gear and demand development within our niche. Number two, they push what’s seen as possible within kiteboarding and are invaluable to a brand’s marketing initiatives. What is a professional kiteboarder? The Merriam Webster definition of a professional is someone participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs. The number of actual professional kiteboarders is tiny. Pro riders are at the upper echelon of the sport. Whether you’re talking about Nick Jacobsen who stretches himself with big airs and sends off huge obstacles, or Jalou Langeree who continues to ride bigger and better in the waves, these athletes are working hard to advance themselves and kiteboarding. And in doing so, they demand gear that keeps up with them. They test the upper limits of kiteboarding and enable barriers to be broken. But pros do things the average kiteboarder won’t, making their performances seem ‘out there’ and ‘next level’. Yet that’s precisely the reason we need players such as Jesse Richman. Jesse demands a high performance quiver. Just a few years ago, he did a 240 meter tow-up in the Columbia River Gorge. This was a stunt and no normal kiteboarder would attempt such a thing, but it’s just this kind of dedication and determination to propel the sport that demands the progression of our kites, bars, lines, boards and everything in between. If we don’t have the Jesse’s of the world breaking lines, making innovative shapes and effectively testing our gear, we won’t have performance breakthroughs that benefit all of us. Another such character that pushes development within the sport is Brandon Scheid. One of Liquid Force Kites’ first line of testing is having Brandon see if he can break a board or not. Personally, I’ve never broken a board (unless you count that one time I didn’t strap my board down properly and it flew off the roof of the car and smashed open on the road) and the ‘average’ kiteboarder probably won’t break many boards either, but the extra testing and reinforcement that Brandon provides ensures that every board meets the absolute top end of its limits. 161