LEARNING THE WAY OF THE WAKESTYLE JEDI FROM GRANDMASTER ANDRE PHILLIP
Wakestyle is as much a state of mind as much as it is to do with ability and in Issue # 84 we set out to find out more. Each issue we’ll be breaking down different elements, from technique to gear set-up to help develop your mindset ready for the wakestyle world. Beginner or bad-ass board slider, we’ll be helping you sort your grinding from your boning.
First up, where else could we start than some general questioning of the original, the don, the master, the legend – Andre Phillip? Anonymous rider ‘X’ sent these questions in… they may sound like they’re from the editor, but they’re almost definitely not…
Dre, how’s it going? Kiteworld has started this column called Wakestyle Workshop. I’m very excited. Does being a good wakestyler really start with having the right mindset? If so, where do we begin?
Kiteboarding is such a technical and expressive outlet that I don’t think there is any one right mindset to have. I think the key is to have fun, be creative and aspire towards doing something that is stylish and difficult. This will help you push yourself and hopefully inspire others.
When did you know you were a wakestyler? Did you know deep down you were somehow different?
I had a background of wakeboarding, surfing and windsurfing when I first started to kiteboard, so as soon as I was able to stay upwind with a kite I started riding my wakeboard as it was familiar to me. Also I could only afford to get a kite, so I was kinda forced to ride my wakeboard for a while. I always saw kiteboarding as a combination of lots of sports. I didn’t really see myself as a wakestyler; I was simply a kiteboarder and always did things in a way that felt good to me, like keeping my kite low to feel gravity more, building ramps and rails and finding natural terrain that I could interact with, like logs, natural waves etc.
Do you think even early intermediates can set their sights on following a wakestyle route in kiteboarding? Or do we need to get through an ‘arm bands’ stage where we pay our dues first? Although I’m a ‘weekend warrior’, I must admit I’m a bit worried about getting hurt and my wife selling all my gear.
Once you’re comfortable going upwind and are in control then it’s time to start challenging yourself with harder tricks as well as increasing the speed and power at which you come into them. You don’t have to go from zero to hero overnight – learn some stuff hooked-in then take it to the next level of difficulty by unhooking. Start with your kite high and bring it down lower when you get more comfortable. Approach each step like a building block and go at your own pace. Kitesurfing can be an extreme sport, so you can get hurt, but if you take your time to progress and don’t push too far outside of your limits and keep your body fit and healthy, then you decrease your chances of getting hurt and your wife selling all your gear.
Obviously I unhook all the time… but let’s imagine that some of my friends don’t. Are there some legit hooked-in tricks they can start out with to help me get into wakestyle mode? I mean help them get into wakestyle…
Everything is harder when unhooked, but I’d say to tell your ‘friends’ to learn the front rolls, back rolls and raleys hooked-in before moving on to trying them unhooked. One key tip for unhooking for the first time is to come off your edge and head towards your kite. This will take a lot of tension out of the lines and allow you to unhook and hook back in with ease. Once you’re comfortable with that, then it’s time to load up your lines and pop into some tricks.
I’ve just got a new waterproof MP3 player. What are your top three tunes to help sink into the right state of mind that will help me find my mellow, steady, wakestyle groove?
Santigold – Disparate Youth
Matisyahu – Close my eyes
The Roots – Guns are drawn
I’ve just watched one of the new Tona videos and I see that the new boards allow me to actually fine tune the shape of the rails myself for even more wakestyle performance. Can you describe some basic rail shapes to follow in terms of shaping a rail and tell me what performance differences I can expect to experience?
Generally speaking a more rounded rail will be more forgiving (slip) and sharper rails will have more bite (grip). I like to round off the bottom side of the rail between my feet so that if I land a bit sideways the board will be able to slide and not catch a rail so easily. Differently, I keep the rails between the feet and tips of the board quite square / sharp so that when I’m edging it has a nice clean bite / grip. The more experienced you are the more you will feel the subtle difference of different rail shapes.
Is there a certain girth that a rail becomes legit for wakestyle? How thick should it be and how will I notice the extra width? Let’s say in comparison to my super thin twin-tip rails?
One of the main differences that will set a wakestyle board aside from the rest is actually the stiffness. For a long time now most kiteboarders have somehow come to the conclusion that the lighter the board is the better. Many companies now build boards that are extremely light, but the first thing that usually suffers is stiffness and that can hurt the performance of a board more than anything, especially if it’s too thin and soft. When you edge into a trick you want the board to have enough stiffness to absorb that load and spring back in the right places to help you pop. This is why you’ll see that any wakestyle board with good stiffness can handle someone putting foot straps on it, but you wouldn’t put boots on any soft boards because the added leverage of boots will easily overpower a very thin, flexible board. I guess what I’m trying to say is that a good board for kiteboarding will balance its weight, stiffness, rocker and outline nicely. So try to pay attention to all the characteristics of a board when you are selecting one and beware of a board that is very light as it may be too flexible and soft. Don’t pick up a board that is light and automatically think it’s a good board for freestyle / wakestyle.
Finally, I’m thinking of making a sticker for my lowered kitesurfing van so that people can recognise I wakestyle. Do you have any suggestions of some good terms / phrases I could roll with on my bumper? I was thinking, ‘Life’s Better When You’re Boning’, but I don’t think my wife will let me have that one.
Live to ride, ride to live.
Perfect decal direction! Thanks for your help Dr. Dre!
No problem. Keep shredding and hit me up on Instagram @andrephillip if you have any more questions or thoughts on kiteboarding. I’d love to discuss!
PHOTO CREDITS: Tona
Video – Tuning your rails
Did you know that you could tune the rails of your twintip, that’s right twintips not just surfboards? Tona board shaper Dereck Camacho walks you through the whys and the hows of tuning your whip.
Find out more about Tona and their product range here
This article appeared in Issue #84. Subscribe to the mag for more awesome content like this!