Dakine’s kitesurfing designer Chris Gilbert speaks with Kitesurfing Magazine about the biggest gear trends for 2018.
Kitesurfing Magazine: You’ve been involved in the kite industry as a pro rider and then as a designer since the very beginning. What have been the most important design innovations in connecting our kites to our bodies in that time?
Chris Gilbert: My kiteboarding career started as a designer, then pro, and now full circle as a designer again. The first innovation I was involved with was the kite leash. This was super important, it not only kept your kite from flying away in a crash, but it gave you a way to stop. Flying a two-line Wipika kite was like having a monster take you along for the ride; stopping was not always easy.
Most of the early day connection innovations came directly from windsurfing. The harness, footstraps and harness lines crossed over easily. It was very convenient to use what was already available. Of course, this was also the launch point for Dakine to focus on the direct needs of kiters. New designs became more kiteboarding-centric. The first ever dedicated kiteboarding harness was the Dakine Pyro. Some of the features unique to kiting were the handle, leash attachment points, and hook knife. The Pyro was also made with a unique construction of thermo-formed EVA and a marine-grade vinyl covering. Over the years this has become a common construction across all brands due to its unique properties. The materials have evolved making harnesses stronger and more supportive. Dakine has two composite materials that have taken this to the next level. Our Adaptive Fit Composite is rigid enough for maximum support, yet soft enough to form to the rider’s body over time creating a custom fit. The Curv Composite is more flexible, giving the rider extra freedom of movement.
Both the C-1 and Pyro harness feature a hard shell composite back panel with Texon stiffeners that forms a custom fit. How should kiteboarder schoose between the two models?
The C-1 and Pyro have a completely different feel. The C-1 is low-profile, relatively firm. Its minimal design gives the rider plenty of mobility. The Pyro has a wide back panel and softer, wider sides proving a massive amount of support and comfort at the same time.
The new Hardshell Renegade is a distant relative to Bauer’s top-of-the-line hockey skate. How did that come about?
The Dakine 2018 Renegade, Fusion, and Wahine harnesses are built with Curve Composite. Curv is a self-reinforced polypropylene composite that is incredibly light, strong with the perfect amount of support, while still being flexible. Bauer Skate uses Curv Composite for the same reason as Dakine: harnesses and hockey skates both need to be supportive yet comfortable to transfer forces. Curv Composite is perfect for this.
The current market is dominated by waist harnesses. Who does the Fusion, low-profile seat harness appeal to?
Some riders prefer to have the forces from the kite down low on their body; it’s a leverage advantage for cruising and racing.
Our 2018 Fusion has a mid-range hook height: this should appeal to even the diehard waist harness users looking for more leverage to control the power of the kite.