My brother bought a foil. I'm not exactly sure why he bought it, or what gave him the idea, but there it was a symphony 2.3. I watched him fly it and then I flew it, and I was hooked! My first thought was, "I wonder if I could make something like that." He bought a phoenix, and an addiction which I prompty broke while practicing multilazies, which was the first trick I really started to learn. It went from there with GREAT obsession, flying everyday from dawn to dusk for months.For me there was one kite the expanded my ability - the Mullin Area 51. Sadly I sold it last year, but strangely I now mostly fly Andy Preston's Tribal a kite from the same era and the same design school. Is there a particular kite that influenced your flying and later designs?
Absolutely. The Level One Genesis and the L'Atelier Transfer Xt.s. I've put a lot of time on the Genesis. I stopped counting after I hit 1500 hours on my main Genesis! It was flown literally everyday from dawn to dusk for 6 months. I used to go out to the park and bring my laptop to abuse the Wi-fi. I would fly then hop onto one of the major forums during a break and go back to flying. When I received my first Xt.s I became enamored with multilazies and related tricks. I remember a few days of flying well into the night working on them. Man I love that kite! You can really see the influence of the Genesis and Xt.s in our designs.
There was a period of time where I flew the Sea Devil a lot too. I really did get bored with it though, and honestly, I can't really manage to put it in a category of kites that influenced me too much. It was a tool for me, and a good one at that.What was it that made you want to jump the gap between flier and designer?
I tinker with everything. My main attraction to flying was the idea that I could make one myself. I figured I needed to learn all the tricks first in order to be able to move on to design, but I jumped the gun a bit haha. I can't help to tinker with everything I find.Even some of the big name manufactures have problems with quality, yet people keep coming back for more. Is there still a market for Workshop built hand crafted kites?
Previous to this I ran a pretty successful recording studio, and all I ever did in my spare time is tinker. I've built my own guitar amps, mic preamps, a 1176 clone, and various other things. I also released a few VST plugins for audio recording software as well. I collect video game consoles, as well as play them constantly, and I love to tinker and mod those as well. Right now when I'm not working on kites, which is pretty rare, I've been working on converting some of my VST's to LADSPA, though with little progress so far.
There will always be a market if you create it. We offer a complete warranty on the sail including user damage. If someone is not fully satisfied we have little problem with giving refunds as well. Anyone can make a sport kite, and anyone with a good amount of spare time and a few brains can design a good one. The difference is the level of assurance and service they get. We're always working on it and feel we're doing good. I know our orders are starting to go over our capacity to produce and ship them!How do you feel about the myth of the 'Polyvalent'; the idea of one kite that does everything well?
I don't think it's a myth if you quote the idea properly. A polyvalent kite is a kite that can do everything, not necessarily well. I just don't think that a push towards that is what is going to push the kiting community forward. I think it makes products bland and somewhat watered-down. At some point if you want to impress the idea of performance upon people you have to create a product that excels in one area at the expense of others. When that occurs, someone will see the bar set higher and create a NEW breed of polyvalence that pushes everything to that new level. Right now I think too many companies are afraid to push the bar out of fear that they wont be the ones to come up with something that exceeds that new level of performance.
We notice that your website offers the most comprehensive
performance break down for kites we have ever seen. I tried this in a
limited form way back in the dark ages of kHiTe, but I kind of gave up
because reviewers could never quite work out what a perfect 540
actually was. What was the thinking behind your breakdown?
I figured something along those lines would occur, so we decided to break it down into "ease" and "beauty". The idea is that a trick that is particularly easy may not look particularly good, and vice versa. The definitions are based on what I feel is common sense. A 540 is impossible to really do a clean 540 flat spin on a kite. The kite will enter and exit earlier than 540. It is really just a loose descriptive name because the trick closely resembles it. I think a good 540 starts flying down, exits nose up as late in the spin as possible, and the belly stays parallel to the ground for the entire spin. Someone else might think differently, and that is fine with me.I reckon there is a big difference between Freestyle and Technical Trick flying. Freestyle for me is more flowing, more horizontal, less predictable, more reactive, more oldskool. True freestyle kites have that sort of feel to them that they might surprise you from time to time. It is more a scale than a fence to be either side on. As a flier and a designer where would you find yourself on the scale?
There are some tricks like the multilazy that I think are fairly loose in terms of beauty. A flat multilazy maybe theoretically nice looking, but Mayet doing a multilazy on an Xt.s is anything but "flat". It is absolutely one of the nicest looking things I've seen a kite do though. There are a lot of instances like that in which I think the person doing the reviewing has to buck up and just say what they think regardless of what someone else may say.
I think it also helps that my brother and I are the ones who design the kites originally. We know everything the kite was made to do, and we have more flying on the kites than anyone else. We outsource some of the rating occasionally to some of our sponsored flies and "local" fliers as well who get to fly kites constantly during the prototype phase.
Hmm. Im certainly right in between. I am concerned with the ability to do tricks "on demand" and little more. How I fly depends on the wind and what tunes are playing through my headphones. Some days I might combo for an hour without breaking into flight, and some days I might not do a trick except every few minutes. I really don't care much about style though, I'll leave that to someone else to figure out.Your new kite - where does that fit in the marketplace?
I guess it's not so much "new", as redone. The Mohawk has been available for a while now, but we took all the feedback we received from the first incarnation and made a new kite with the same concepts. The mohawk is a trick trainer. It is a kite made to help fliers learn the 'latest' and more modern tricks easily. With the new Mohawk we made it perform some of the old school stuff much better and be a bit nicer in general flight.
Simply put It is just a trick kite. Placed in some sort of scale of style of tricking you can put it completely opposite of wherever you put the Jest of Eve Trident. I have a funny feeling that the new Mohawk will be the exact same in regards to the new Jest of Eve Talon as well, but I haven't had the blessing to fly one yet.
The new mohawk will have a slightly different name as well, that we have not decided on yet.
And what were you looking for performance wise compared to your previous designs?
It needed to pull more, cascade well, wapdowap and fly well in low winds above everything else. I guess essentially we took the old Mohawk and added a teaspoon of Benson Deepspace, sauteed it in some Nirvana UL and served it on a plate of Kick-Ass.Last question. If you had one piece of advice for any kite flier what would it be?
That was really cheesy. Dont hurt me.
We also focused on making the crazy copter spin much easier, quicker pitch, better axels and more well-suited to multiple yo-yo's.
Don't care so much about what other people are doing. Too many people are concerned with being on some sort of level as other people rather than enjoying kiting for what it offers and developing their own style and derive their own type of joy from it. Kiting would move forward so much quicker if people stopped focusing so hard on learning how to comete and perhaps learning to do a trick that is really more interesting to themselves.
Thankyou for your time Robert.