Last time on Sessions, we were in Portugal catching up with Christophe Tack in his home lagoon. It's been a busy summer since then. Blake and I were able to check out the 2020 Cabrinha products in the Florida Keys. From there we made our way to Spain with Duotone and eventually Morocco for the new North product release. Normally I'd release our Sessions chronologically but I wanted to introduce a couple of new faces to the team.
This week we're visiting the heart of North American kiteboarding, Hood River, Oregon. MACkite has two new riders joining us, Tye Kowalski and Chris Bobryk. Tye is a local street snowboarder who recently started kiteboarding. Chris Bobryk, also known as the American Sledgehammer, is a Slingshot global team rider and a onetime MACkite instructor. In fact, he actually taught me how to kite years ago.
This series has sort of become like a video journal for myself and our team. Most of the other videos we put out are educational, like trick tips, gear reviews and a travel guide. I do enjoy sharing our stories with you and, in a way, keeping a snapshot of our sessions and the good times we share.
If you follow this vlog, you know that in the spring I had just recovered from a knee injury. My goal has been to improve my riding and spend more time on the water rather than just behind the camera. Last fall, I did a segment on the Kite Park League in Brazil and it really got me stoked on park style kiteboarding. It also got me thinking about my kiteboarding and what I want to work on. I decided that I'm going to put in the work and compete in the 2020 KPL open events. It's a little weird for me to put this out there. My mantra is talk less and work more. But I figured why not hold myself accountable and share it in my vlog.
My kite skills have grown a lot the past two years but my rail and kicker game needed some serious work. This past summer, I took up cable boarding at our local spot, Action Wake Park. It's been amazing getting a couple hours of water time daily after editing. This is where I met Tye. After a few conversations I decided to invite him to Hood River. He's new to the kite, but I figured with his boarding background he would be able to handle it.
We booked some tickets and made our way out west.
Working on that frontside boardslide
Riding the kite park
We arrived in Hood River and made our way over to the Liquid Force headquarters to pick up some gear we had shipped out. We met up with Blaine Baker and set out for the park right way.
Blaine is a rider for Liquid Force and a sales rep. He gave us the rundown on how to ride the park and what to do. It's actually different than freestyle. You don't want to load and pop. Instead, it's about holding a mild edge and keeping the kite under control while unhooked. You ride downwind at the feature with just enough line tension to ollie and a trajectory that will keep you inline with the rail or kicker.
The first hit and I was hooked. We spent that afternoon riding until sunset. Chris Bobryk joined us on the water and Tye hopped on the camera for a sunset session. Rather than reading about the session, give the video a watch and see it for yourself!
Chris Bobryk Nose Pressing the Duotone Slider
As of now, this is the only free-to-the-public kitepark in the United States. I've got to throw out a huge thanks to Rich Sabo and the Slider project for this huge contribution to the kiteboarding community. Park style is just a tiny niche of our sport, but something tells me it's going to continue to grow over the next couple of years. When I learned to kite, the idea of wakestyle kiteboarding was huge. Riders were trying to blend wakestyle into their riding and we saw loads of high energy content. Then something shifted. Much like snowboarding, unhooked riding become completely unrelatable to your average rider. The wakestyle movement was overtaken by freestyle riders who were throwing insanely complicated tricks.
Of course I'm not disrespecting these athletes. Their accomplishments are amazing! On the flip side, in a way, it creates a wall between your average kiteboarder and this fun aspect of our sport. What I mean is with some work, most riders could learn how to land an unhooked front roll to blind in a couple seasons, while the competitive level would require someone to train almost daily year-round and risk massive injury. Yet for some reason, all unhooked tricks are seen as crazy.
I'm amped to see a third wave come back in the form of parkstyle riding. Hopefully more people will give wakestyle a try and see how much fun the unhooked side of our sport can be. You don't necessarily need features, but they do bring a fresh perspective to the sport. Sometimes, trying air tricks or massive jumps can get a little tiring. Even at the cable park, I have days where I'm not feeling hard landings so I focus on the rails. It's nice to try something new on the kite!
The American Sledgehammer
Meet Chris Bobryk
Chris and I go way back. He used to instruct for MACkite; in fact, he taught me how to kite. In the weeks following my lesson we pretty much rode every windy day that year. Eventually, I quit my job and started working as a freelance videographer. We got our start together making some edits and touring the USA and eventually Brazil.
Since then, Chris has become one of the hardest-charging American riders, aptly nicknamed the American Sledge Hammer. While he is one of the second-wave wakestyle riders, he's really grown into an all-around rider. He likes to treat the world and the natural elements around him like a kite park. If you watch his videos, you'll catch him grinding trees, docks, roofs, piers... pretty much anything near the water he can jump onto unhooked, or hooked in if the obstacle calls for it.
He really sees the world around him differently than most. A boulder in the water becomes something to grind, a wall of sand on the shore gets treated like a wave. If there is a small pond nearby you can bet he's going to jump into it and throw down in inch-deep water. With most competitive kiteboarding being so locked in on a handful of spin-it-to-win-it tricks, Chris' style and outlook brings a whole new fun, albeit crazy, perspective to the sport!
I think part of the appeal of kiteboarding is how limitless the sport feels and the level of creativity a kite brings to riding. I like to think of it as the future of all board sports. In a way, Chris embodies that creative potential we all see when we first get a kite in our hands.
Chris is one of the most creative riders out there, from wild stunts to finding new ways to interact with the spot. If there is an obstacle in the water, you can bet he's going to find a way to incorporate it.
Rider Profile: Chris Bobryk
Style: All Around / Park Style
Home Spot: South Beach Miami
Current Gear: 8 10 12 14 Slingshot RPM, 12m Raptor, 147 Refraction, 143 Misfit
Chris Bobryk is a Slingshot Rider and a former member of the NA Blend. The second wave of wakestyle riders in the USA. In 2019 he’s joining the MACkite team moving forward. You'll be seeing a lot more of him in future episodes. Follow the adventure on social: #ChrisBobryk
Sponsors: Slingshot, Soflo, Brunati, MACkite
Check out Chris' gear
The RPM is one of the most unique kites available. Technically, it's an all-around kite. It has a good wind range, and the relaunches are effortless. The kite since 2019 has great low end and jumps much easier than the 2018 and earlier models. Yet, of all the all-around kites, it's still the best performer when it comes to unhooked riding. Not quite a true cross-over kite and not quite a true all-around kite, the RPM stands in a category of its own. If you're an all-around rider who likes to be unhooked, you will be amped on the RPM.
The 147 Refraction sounds like it would be a light wind board, yet it's anything but. We've seen the trend for years. As kites can now depower adequately, boards are getting bigger. So is bigger better? It depends who you ask! If you like to hit features or practice unhooked freestyle, yes, absolutely. Bigger boards are more functional and they actually look better for style. They get you through the lulls in the wind, have softer landings and give you more pop.
Now if you're just into big air or you want something light and poppy, the Refraction probably isn't the best choice for you. The Refraction is one of the best cross-over boards available. In 2020, they have reduced some of the rocker making for a faster board that rides upwind better. Suited for powered riders, kiteboarders who are rough on their gear or anyone who wants one board for kiteboarding that they can use at the cable park, this is the board.
When conditions call for footstraps, this is Chris' board of choice. Fast, efficient, stiff and loaded with a ridiculous amount of pop, the new Misfit is a solid choice for big air riders. Paired with footstraps, Chris rides the 143 as he doesn’t need any more board with this outline.
When the wind goes off, Chris switches things up and gets sendy with the Raptor, a fast-turning kite that feels at home throwing kiteloops. It's made to ride powered up and is a top notch big air kite if you like to go big.
Joining the MACkite team.
I'm stoked to welcome Chris back onto our team. We're cooking up some new projects for the channel and planning out some trips for the near future. Stand by for some fresh tutorials, Sessions videos and adventures to come.
Trying a layback
Next time on Sessions
Hood River was one of my favorite trips of 2019. That's saying a lot since I spent almost as much time traveling this year as I did at home. I have my reasons of course. Every morning, we woke up around 8 am, drank coffee and made a healthy breakfast. Around 11 am we made our way to the park where we kited with friends until dark. The evenings we had a meal, hung out and went to bed. Rinse, wash, repeat. This is my idea of the perfect kite trip. Time on the water and just recovering while off.
This winter, I'll be making my way back to Florida. The game plan is to get as much cable time as possible and to visit some friends who have kite features set up on the Gulf.
I know most of you follow our YouTube for education content so I don't do too many Sessions episodes. If you do enjoy these adventures and rider profiles, let me know in the comments of the YouTube video and I'll put more time into producing more of these.
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