It's 11.23am and my glazing over of an inbox that has suffered a lack of monitoring over the last few days has been disturbed by the sudden pick up of wind, rustling the palm trees outside my hotel window. This is day four of the F-One dealer meeting in Le Morne, Mauritus, and this is how the previous three days have panned out.
F-One organise a two week trip every year in which they invite their biggest distributors from each country, alongside the kiting media, to come and try out all the new gear for the coming season. It's one of those trips where, on day two of being in paradise, and after being able to finally ride a wave front-side instead of having to hack away backside as I do at home, that you have a few moments to yourself and mutter away as you ride, 'Jim lad, this ain't half a bad ticket.' And with glee, you tuck into a few more pitchers and peelers breaking out on the reef before retiring to tuck into your third huge and delicious buffet meal of the day. You pinch yourself again at the dinner table, but this is as you're loosening off your trousers to allow room for one more pudding. Gluttons for punishment we are.
I can report so far - with the forecast looking good for the remaining two days too ? that Raphael and his team have come up with some lovely refinements on an already outstanding range. Turning up to the beach in the morning and grabbing whatever gear takes your fancy is an unbelievable privilege as a kiteboarder. From 128 twin-tips in the form of the sporty white SK8 ? which makes a welcome return this year - through to the sleek black and white Trax and TX3s, the board range is extensive. I'll be surprised if there's not a board for you in the 2010 line up. My personal favourites are the bamboo surfboards, crafted to an insanely high standard with the most comfortable (but not too soft for a surfboards) pads and straps, with plenty of sizes in that range too.
The Bandit 3 is the star of the show though, having undergone a little tinkering and some considerable changes and improvements as well as the rudimentary refinement. Four days on the 9, 10 and 11 metres and these kites just won't back out of the sky... no matter how much I try to fly underneath them! I will persevere!
Look out for the full report on the gear, the team and the incredible Mauritius in the next issue.
Right, quick buffet, then kite! Hope the office is OK back home KW team! ;)
F-One are at: www.f-onekites.com
Check out the gallery of Jim's time away here