Kitesurfing Magazine’s John Bryja caught up with this year’s Wind Voyager Triple-S winner, Brandon Scheid for an exclusive interview about the event and what it takes to win.
What were the biggest changes in the level of riding this year compared to previous years?
Brandon Scheid: I think the biggest change in the level of riding over the past thirteen years has been how good the whole field has become. In years previous there would always be one or two people in each heat that you could expect to breeze through. Hell, when Dre (Andre Phillip) used to ride hard, there was no one that could touch him on the water. Fast forward to today’s contest and there are no easy heats; every rider in the contest can make a big impact on the results of the heats and ultimately the final. I think that we all have been riding a lot together, pushing each other on the water and it is finally showing.
Did you make any changes to your training leading up to the event compared to previous years?
Going into this year’s Triple-S, my regiment was pretty similar to years past. I did however focus a lot on riding my snowboard in the terrain park this spring on Mount Hood. With the temps too cold in Hood River for the features, the mountain is the next best thing. It certainly is harder to get inverted on the snowboard, the rail riding takes a bit more effort and board control. I really think that snowboarding helped a lot going into the kite season. Following that I headed straight to the cable park for a week or so of intensive riding. The cable offers really consistent, controllable, and most importantly schedule-able sessions. This allows me to go put forty hours of time into my rail and kicker riding right before the contest. Finally I spent a month kiteboarding in the swamp of Hatteras at Real Watersports. All that and plenty of organic whole milk.
Tell us about your favorite heat?
For me my favorite heat was the second park sequence in my semi round. The whole event went pretty hard the night before at the amazing Ky-Mani Marley concert, given the wind forecast didn’t look promising for the following day. Go figure, the wind threw the event a curveball and it was blowing south west with the sunrise. Everyone was experiencing a collective hangover, slowing the morning’s rigging and warm up. Since I was in the first heat I was due in the water pronto and I certainly wasn’t operating at 100 per cent capacity. Given the fact that I scored a 0.2 on the kicker the previous day I really needed some big scores to get myself out of seventh place and up into third for finals contention. Wind up, pressure on, ears ringing and it was make or break time. I ended up posting some of the highest scores of the day and moving all the way up into an advancing position. Personally, I was really happy to shake the previous day’s disappointment and vindicate myself. It’s not often that someone can make it to the final with a zero in their score line. It was quite the come up.
What does it take to win?
Winning is all about coming to the finals, or semis, or whatever task you’re trying to conquer with the proper preparation and mindset. Practice–both physical and mental–is essential. Not only do you want to be confident and comfortable with your tricks, but you also want to be mentally prepared to do it under duress and pressure. A winner is someone who can adapt with the situation and continue to find ways to improve their standings. Try to identify your competitors’ strengths and make them your strengths. Finally it takes a bit of luck; kiteboarding is such a dynamic sport that it does matter whether you get the gust or lull. I think the idea is best summed up with an old quote, “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Seneca said that.
How long were you in Hatteras for? Did you arrive early? Stay late?
We arrived about a month early to Hatteras to prepare for the contest. I think it is one of the best places for spring kiteboarding and I can’t seem to miss the wonderful month of May on Hatteras Island. Not only do you get to get adjusted to the location and shake off the jet lag, you also get to practice on the features you’re competing on. I think most of the riders these days show up early. With $50,000 up for grabs, everyone takes it pretty seriously
How has your mental approach to competing changed over the years?
Historically I have been a really smart competitor, always calculating what I needed to do to advance in a heat, or out-score an opponent. I would pay a lot of attention to what everyone else did trick-wise, and constantly adjust my strategy to the riding. However, lately I have been adapting more of a go big or go home strategy. I know what tricks I want to do and I want to do them as fast, big and smooth as possible. This way I don’t have to stress about other people’s scores or tricks, I’m confident that my trick selection and execution will garner high scores from the judges. The only downside is that if you don’t land your tricks because you blow up, you really don’t place that well. So it takes a bit of mental control to be able to try the same hard trick three times, even if you’ve crashed it the previous two. I’ve also tried to take things a little less serious; I find that I ride the best when I’m having fun. So I am always trying to find ways to lighten the mood, and slip into the, “flow state.” That’s when I feel unstoppable.
What gear did you bring to Hatteras? Boards, kites, boots, extra toys for freeriding? How did you get to Hatteras and how did you pack it all?
Everywhere we travel we always seem to bring two tons of gear and Hatteras is no exception. Luckily, Sensi and I share a quiver of kites, so that keeps the number of kites down to just nine. Add in three surfboards, three wakeboards, plenty of kiteboards, foils, bars, harnesses, etc. Luckily I am able to draw on the resources of one of my long time sponsors, Real Watersports for some shipping help. Prior to my arrival I shipped two 100 pound boardbags full of all the toys we would need, allowing us to just bring our wakeboarding gear to the cable prior to going to the island. Shipping is a great way to save on some baggage costs for the traveling kiteboarder.
On the social front, who did you stay with? Any funny stories?
This year with such a long stay we opted to live in a smaller house with some old friends from days past coaching at Real. I think it helped a lot being surrounded by positivity all the time and just easing back into the pace of the island lifestyle. As far as all the pro kiteboarders, we all got really addicted to Mario Cart 8 on the Switch. No wind days were filled with 48 race championships, and tons of banter. We also must have consumed hundreds of burritos from Waves Market and Deli, as well as quite a few acai bowls from the newly opened Hatteras Bowls. It really was an amazing week, plenty of stressful days on the water, lots of late night concerts, tons of Triple-S lager, and great times in the swamp.