Thursday, May 18, 2006

Kiteboarding with Shannon Best

The early years of kiteboarding were dominated by athletes who crossed over primarily from windsurfing & surfing - these were the people that best understood the riding techniques and innovation in board and 'sail' design required to do something that mattered in the beginning - to be able to get upwind enough to finish a session at the same place one started.

Once this seminal milestone was accomplished, along with better kite design, the sport added subtle elements of 'paragliding' and the sport took on the term "BOOST" - big jumps on both waves and flat water.

Shannon Best at Kite Beach, Maui showing off the Waroo Pro - due out later this year I was honored to meet and kite with Shannon Best on this recent visit to Maui's Kite Beach. When Shannon crossed over into kiting in 2002, he represented a BIG new influence from a new breed of waterman.

As a professional wakeboarder for 18 years, Shannon and others like him brought a new style of riding to the sport - edgy, aggressive spinning jumps and tricks, combined with big jumps and wave riding.

He is a man who pushes the sport - the riders (he spent many years as a pro wakeboarding coach), the equipment, the technology (he holds a number of patents on innovations that have hit, and are still to hit the market), and the industry - in the process, he has earned a reputation as The most LOVED HATED man in Kiteboarding. I think he is great, and great for the sport. My wife and I have both been using his DVD's as instructional guides since they were introduced by in 2003.

Shannon Best and Natasha at Kite Beach, MauiNatasha, Chris and I hooked up with him at Kite Beach, Maui to talk about his new line of gear. His line of gear includes kites, bars and boards. I'm convinced that I need to try out his new line of bow kites - the WAROO 9 in particular - in decent kiting conditions.

The kiting in Maui this week has been up and down - too light (12 - 15 nominal) early in the week, and super windy and gusty (25 gusting 35) at the end. While we were able to put Rob on a WAROO 7 to body drag in extremely high and gusty wind (it handled well) I did not get to try the 9.

Shannon Best and Bill Tai at Kite Beach, Maui I'm definitley looking forward to trying it out -- Shannon believes the 9 in particular is in the "sweet spot" of his line. I've been told that the reviews on the Waroo have been positive and that it has both the stability of the Cabrina Crossbow (really stable, high bar pressure required all the time) as well as the responsiveness and light bar pressure of the GK Sonic (light and responsive, but a bit 'touchy').

Really looking forward to trying it out.


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