How has Hiss-Tec’s roots as a high-end custom board builder transferred over into the CORE brand vision?
Back in 2001, our founder and CEO, Bernie Hiss, introduced the world to Carved Customs kiteboards. The 100 per cent carbon fiber kiteboards were a run away success the moment they hit the water. It was only a matter of time before his innovative approach to building boards would lead to kite production. After many years of R&D, Bernie released his first kite under the Carved Customs brand in 2005. Yup, it’s been that long. The Carved Unit was a highly specialized kite designed for a niche market.
Over the next two years, Bernie and his team focused their attention on designing state-of-the-art kites for everyone. They had to be all-rounders with personality and super powers, so to speak. Since Carved Customs wasn’t a natural fit for the new kites, Bernie debuted them under the CORE brand in 2007. CORE Kites quickly became known for their innovative designs, build quality, and proprietary fabrics like CoreTex.
Relentless material innovation is well established in our history. When Carved Customs couldn’t find the right carbon fiber to build our boards, we made our own proprietary 30 degree biaxial fiber. The same philosophy applies to CORE. If we can’t source kite parts up to our standards, then we will make them ourselves. Good enough doesn’t fly at CORE. ExoTex is an example where we couldn’t find a better leading edge material. So we partnered with the leading Dacron manufacturer to design a superior material for leading edges and struts. We call it ExoTex, and the no-stretch Dacron improves airflow, flight stability, and rider feedback.
With different demands of kite performance required for different disciplines, what are some of the most challenging performance attributes that you have improved upon?
One challenge when developing powerful, athletic kites is to make their high-performance easily accessible to all. What use is a big air kite if it requires expert hands? When we designed our brand new big air kite, the XR5, we incorporated features like Intelligent Arc so anyone can control its immense power.
Another challenge is serving the needs of single discipline versus multi-discipline riders. Some kiters prefer surfing while others travel with both their twintip and freestyle surf board. We solved this challenge by organizing our kites under two banners: the Specialized Series and the Universal+ Series. The Specialized Series is for kiters who want to be their best in one riding style. For example, our Specialized Series Section 2 is designed to maximize your wave riding experience. Every component of the Section 2 is optimized for surfing, so it’s unlikely you’ll find it at your local kite park.
The Universal+ Series addresses riders who want a kite that is strong in all disciplines yet supercharged in one. A kite that can do it all but is also exceptional in one discipline. Like the Universal+ GTS4 which is loved by riders for its freestyle mastery. It’s quite likely that you’ll find the ubiquitous GTS4 just about anywhere because its mega looping pedigree makes it pretty good in waves too.
Are there too many options for the average kiteboarder as far as number of models and options in today’s kite lineup?
Choice is a good thing. And the web does a good job organizing and ranking the many choices kiters have. Here at CORE, we have simplified kite selection. Ask yourself, “am I looking for a single purpose, specialized kite?” If yes, then check out our Specialized Series of kites. Under the Specialized Series banner, you’ll find the Section 2, wave only kite and the Impact 2, our wake style monster. If you answered no, then head over to our Universal+ Series of kites.
Three kites complete the Universal+ Series of all rounders. We use the term all rounder reluctantly because these kites are so much more. The GTS4 is our undisputed mega-loop champ that can do a lot more than just unhooked freestyle. For some, it’s their go to wave kite. The XR5 is our power freerider with superpowers in big air. And the Free is our wave-inspired shredder with the comfort of your favorite freerider.
Is yellow and white still your favorite color of kite?
Good question! You’ve likely noticed that our kites display less yellow. Our visual language has evolved and represents a more technical and futuristic direction. It’s funny though that the prototypes on our computers are always yellow and black.
How has the new ExoTex construction changed CORE’s kite designs?
ExoTex allows us to increase air pressure and reduce diameters in some of our LEs and struts. Higher pressure, reduced diameter LEs and struts improves airflow, flight stability, and kite rigidity. An ExoTex kite feels more direct when steering, maintains its shape better and is more durable. The high performance we’ve extracted out of the new Section 2, for example, would not have been possible without ExoTex.
CORE has embraced a unique product release cycle. Tell us more about it, and why CORE does it this way?
Here at CORE, we release new product every other year because we want to ensure meaningful improvements are thoroughly tested. A longer R&D cycle allows for even more prototyping, more on-water sessions, and improved durability testing. We pride ourselves on quality, workmanship, and durability, so it’s important to us not to rush R&D. We feel that this approach also improves your kite’s resale value in the long run.
What are your goals in performance improvement for 2018? In what areas?
CORE’s iterative approach to performance improvement has served us well over the past 11 years. And we’re pretty sure you’ll agree if you try one of our new kites. But don’t believe everything you read, check out a new CORE kite or board yourself and let us know what you think. As for new upcoming product, there is always something in the pipeline. Gear that will incorporate innovative never-been-done-before elements that will get everyone pumped. And when we are ready, we will let you know. But for now, ride on. And ride happy.