I was born and raised on Hatteras Island and have been kiting for 11 years, more than half of my life.When I was in my early teens I started to hit a wall with freestyle. Looking for something different I started riding a skimboard. It reinvented kiting for me. The skimboard was so much fun I started riding my surfboard strapless, and everything just kept going from there. Over the years with the support of Hatteras Island Surf and Sail and Airush, my quiver of boards and kites grew to what it is today.
Kites: 12 meter Wave, 10 meter Varial X, 9 meter Wave, 8 meter Varial X
I ride the same kites for flatwater, strapless freestyle as I do for waves. The Wave’s turn really, really fast, drift great, and have solid power but are not too grunty and don’t pull you off the wave, which I found especially common for 12meter kites. The Varial X’s are a little higher aspect, super solid in the sky, and are fun for freestyle and riding waves. The Varial sits further forward in the wind window and is just a really fun high-performance kite for whatever you’re trying to do.
Boards: Compact 5’9 Active, Slayer V3, Converse 5’11 bamboo, Starboard Hybrid 6’1, Airush Wakeskate, Cobalt 9’8
The Slayer V3 has been my new favorite board to use on the sound and in small waves this year. It’s like a mutant child of a skimboard and a surfboard in all the best ways. Practising and learning new strapless tricks on this board is just crazy fun, from riding upside down to trying finger flips and varial flips. It is just really, really fun.
The Compact 5’9 Active Carbon is my go-to board. It works for flatwater freestyle and head high surf. It has a super snappy skatey feel to it and the flex with the active carbon stringer is awesome.
The first Airush directional I ever bought was a 6’0 Converse and I loved it. Three years later I have the 5’11 and it’s still amazing. It’s great for drawing clean top-to-bottom lines on the wave and holds in any size. The rocker really lets you go for big sections, steeper waves, and saves you whenever you’re in a rough spot. It works really well for big northeasters in Hatteras.
I got the Starboard Hybrid this year and love it for surfing. It has similar technology to the Active Carbon directional’s in Airush’s surf range. The flex of the carbon makes it lively under your feet and still has good float for an easy paddle.
I first learned how to do Kickflips and Varial Flips on the wakeskate before I tried them on the surfboard. I started hitting rails with it this past year and it has been really fun and challenging. It really adds a new element to strapless riding that is completely different, but definitely more painful at times.
For waves that are thigh-high and below I take out my longboard. In the past I just borrowed the rentals from the shop, but this fall we were longboarding so much I grabbed this 9’8 Cobalt off the rack and am really happy with it.
Bar: Airush Smart Bar
I use the Airush Smart Bar, which has two different ways of adjustment giving you lots of size options (62-55-52-45cm) in just one bar. Lately, I have kept it on the giant mongo setting of 62cm. I know it is ridiculously large but I got used to it on the 12 meter and the faster turning speed is always a bonus when riding waves. I tried to get through security in Cabo Mexico with it in my carry-on and they made me go back and check it. I was temped to shorten it down to 52cm and try to go back through security, but I thought I would draw too much attention to myself adjusting it there, so I figured I wouldn’t push my luck.
Harness: Dakine Pyro
I’ve been using the Dakine Pyro for the past year and really like it. The memory foam molded back is super comfy and really locks it into place.
Wetsuit: Prolimit Evo 5/3 Freezip
This winter I’ve been using my Prolimit Evo 5/3 Freezip. It’s super stretchy, warm, and dries fast. Nothing more to ask for.
My necessary friend and companion for all activities and adventures.
This article originally appeared in the Summer 2015 print edition of Kitesurfing Magazine.