Last time on Sessions we explored Key West and the Canary Islands with our team rider Blake Olsen. We were filming for our kiteloop playlist and just enjoying the islands with good friends. It was so much fun visiting what has become one of my favorite cities for kiteboarding in the USA. The only downside was that I had just injured my knee snowboarding and I had to sit out on most of the riding on both of these trips!
Testing the Liquid Force NV V9
Getting back on the water
A few months later, my knee is mostly healed and I'm ready to get back on the water. Just in time too, as we're making our way back to Portugal for what's becoming an annual trip for me. We're going to be linking up with Christophe Tack from Red Bull and Liquid Force Kiteboarding for a session as well. Needless to say, I'm stoked about this episode.
My main goal over the past year has been to progress my freestyle and park style riding. There's nothing more inspiring than seeing the best of the best up close on the water. It's easy to get comfortable with your current level unless you have others to push your riding to the next level. Even just riding with your local crew makes a huge impact. After watching Christophe, I realized how much of an impact grabs can make on even the most basic of unhooked tricks.
As always, a huge part of this series is testing new gear and sharing what I've learned with all of you. This year, Liquid Force loaned me a demo NV V9 so I could compare it back-to-back with my favorite freestyle kite, the Cabrinha FX. When I first got my hands on the NV, I felt it was very similar to the Cabrinha FX, yet I had the feeling there was something completely different about it from the other freestyle kites. Two weeks of back-to-back riding and I've started drafting up a comprehensive review comparing these two kites as well.
Back on the water after 5 months
Portugal round two
This is my second time visiting Portugal and it's a become a trip of reflection for me. Last year I had a major refocusing of my life here. I had just filmed my second video log and started my transition from working at a desk editing to progressing in my kiteboarding. Needless to say, it's a special place for me.
Sentiment aside, this country is the perfect blend of good conditions, amazing nature, culture, history and great food. I mean, really great food. I've visited a lot of kiteboarding locations the last few years and this has to be one of my favorites, mostly because it's not an over-populated destination geared towards kiteboarders like Cabarete. You won't feel the presence of the industry here or a massive sense of kiteboarding culture. Just a handful of locals doing their thing and space to focus on your own riding.
The Lagoa de Albufeira doesn't have the smoothest wind or the warmest water. In fact, condition-wise it's a lot like my home slick, with the exception that it's far more consistent regarding wind. The thing is, I've come to really appreciate imperfect things. Spending more time on the water and pursuing active goals, I've come to realize that nothing is what it seems in your mind. Sure, it's hard to beat the perfect warm, smooth winds of Brazil, but the real fun comes when you learn to progress when the wind is punchy.
In the first Portugal vlog last spring, I mentioned I would start sharing my progress, and that was the plan for the year. To progress and eventually make an unhooked trick tip playlist. Things were moving along smoothly for the first six months. I was traveling more, riding lots of cable, and pushing personal boundaries. That is, until I injured my knee snowboarding. Five months later and I'm finally back on the water and ready to move forward. It was the best feeling in the world to boot up in my favorite lagoon.
Having been off the water so long, I spent the first two weeks simply re-learning all my tricks. It would be easy to feel frustrated, but during the last five months I gained a lot of perspective and gratitude for water time regardless of circumstances. In fact, I now look forward to new challenges like gusty wind or learning new ways to do things.
After two weeks it was time to visit another lagoon I've come to appreciate, the Lagoa De Obidos. Back in November I was visiting Brazil where I stopped by the kite mansion to check out the Kite Park League. While there, I had a chance to meet many of the competitors, including Christophe Tack. I learned he was moving to Portugal and that he also appreciated everything this region has to offer. Naturally, a part of this series is sharing the stories of other kiteboarders so we made plans to link up and film a session here.
Christophe Tack ripping on his new Radnium Board
Christophe's style is powerful, aggressive and highly technical, yet somehow he manages to bring a great deal of style and fun to the water. You might think his personality matches that aggression, yet on the beach he is a laid-back, fun-loving dude. He's easy to approach and genuinely stoked on being outside and kiteboarding.
- Rider Profile: Christophe Tack
- Style: Freestyle / Park Style
- Home Spot: Peniche / Lagoa de Óbidos
- Current Gear: Liquid Force HiFi X , NV & Radnium
Christophe Tack is a Red Bull Athlete, the 2014 PKRA World Champion and a team rider for Liquid Force Kiteboarding. Aside from being insanely skilled, he has a fun, light-hearted vibe on the water. He also manages to make very technical tricks look stylish and easy.
Sponsors: Liquid Force, Red Bull
Check out Christophe's gear
The HiFi X
A no-compromise competition C-shaped freestyle kite. I don't have a link to this kite as MACkite does not carry it. In fact, it's hard to come by in the States. The HiFi X is designed for competition freestyle. In our experience, unless you are doing double handle passes, the crossover kites are a better choice for most riders. You will progress much faster in freestyle on kites like the NV, the FX, the Dice or the Dash.
Aside from the HiFi, Christoph also uses a quiver of NVs when the conditions call for it. This is most unique-feeling crossover freestyle kite available. It's characterized by exceptionally light bar pressure, the smoothest pop of the freestyle kites, and is potentially the most user-friendly. Much like the Duotone Dice, the NV also performs well in the waves.
Liquid Force has been producing wakeboards since the mid-90's and kiteboards since the late 90's. Needless to say, their boards tend to stand out. The Radnium is a fast, locked-in, and flat freestyle board. This means it will be explosive and powerful on the water. You'll have an advantage with unhooked riding as speed and control are required for advanced freestyle tricks. Unlike more rockered wakestyle boards, you will have an advantage riding back upwind or in lighter winds on this board.
Christophe Tack kiteboarding in Portugal
Lessons from a champion
While speaking with Christophe, I got to know him and what he's about. Being a world champion is no small feat. The time, the sacrifice, and the single-minded discipline it takes to accomplish that is difficult to comprehend. Fast forward and it seems he's gained some wisdom from the experience. It's easy to think that happiness comes from achieving our goals, visiting new places, or prestigious titles. The truth is, happiness is a mindset and a choice. With this in mind, he's moved to Portugal where he can spend more time on what matters most: doing the things that he loves and maximizing his time just having fun on the water.
As kiteboarders, I think we can all appreciate this sentiment. I'm sure you've felt the stoke on the water when you learn something new, be that your first water start, your first jump or the excitement of landing a new unhooked trick! Progress is happiness, and failing is part of progress! What's important is getting out there and having fun with whatever you're doing, regardless of the discipline that drew you to kiteboarding. Waves, big air, freeriding, hydrofoiling... it's all about spending time in nature and moving forward wherever you are at, be that a new rider or a world champion. The stoke is the same.
If you want to see more of Portugal, I'll link in that video log from last spring. No doubt you can expect a Part Three next year from this amazing location.
Kiteboarding in Portugal 2018
Next time on Sessions
I've a few trips lined up with Blake for the summer, from the Florida Keys, to Tarifa, and eventually Dahkla. Chances are we'll do an episode in the Keys and maybe an episode here in our home spot with the MACkite crew. Stand by next week as well. We'll be releasing a new Versus video comparing the Liquid Force NV vs the Cabrinha FX.
Ryan (Rygo) Goloversic
Just a dude from a kite shop testing all the gear one session at a time.
Many people dream of quitting their job, traveling the world and pursuing their passions. Rygo is one of those people who pulled the trigger. A few years into a postal career, he decided to change everything and travel as a kiteboarder, freelance videographer & writer. His mission is to help people and share the stoke. Get out there and kite!
Producer of: Ride with Blake I Sessions I Versus I Destinations I Foil Fridays