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Slider Nation

Dec 19, 2008

Author: compiled by John Bryja

From Hood River, Oregon, to Shippigan, NB, kiteboarders are building and riding more kickers and sliders than ever before. This issue we take a look at just a few of the unique ones being ridden this year.

Logs, Stumps and Driftwood
Back to Nature in the Gorge
Koudele photo

The Gorge kite community is pushing boundaries. Whether it’s Tonia Fairman and KB4C raising nearly $100,000 for cancer research or Alex Peterson jumping a 200-foot cliff (twice), there is no other concentrated place in the world where kiters are looking to see what can be done next more than here.
     The Inept crew is no different. Escaping the madness of the sandbar, the crew assaulted a desert island by boat for several days to construct a slider built entirely of driftwood.
    Joby Cook initiated the design with a mock-up on the island with twigs. Using a sledge hammer, handsaw and a few nails, the group built the slider piece by piece with what they found, costing us only a couple dollars’ worth of nails and the gas to get to it. Not bad considering we had to build it twice.
     Not even a day after the first one was up, some British tourist idiot tore down the structure with his rented Jet Ski. In his defense, he honestly didn’t know what it was and claimed it happened to be in the way of his kids learning to kite.
     So ironic that, given the scale and size of the Gorge, even in this remote place we faced exactly the kind of kookery we were hoping to escape from during peak season at the sandbar.
     The next structure carried a menacing “No Trespassing!” sign just to be safe. But still the island wouldn’t let us have it easy. A leaking boat, motor issues, stranded equipment, flashes dropped in the river—every step proved a challenge.
     In the end a serene sunset with steady wind made it all worthwhile. Pushing the slider movement deep into Mother Nature, logs, stumps and the driftwood structure were sessioned and the stoke was rich. One day was all we got. No one saw it save for us and the eagles overhead and fish jumping in the river. That, however, made it that much more special. Those who say sliders have no soul never saw anything like this.  —Lance Koudele

Smith Limo
Hood River, Oregon

Rico photo

Davey Blair hits the Smith Limo Slider in the Gorge. Henry Rico photo    
The Smith Limo is a monster truck. No, really. It would give the original Grave Digger a run for its money. The Smith Limo was built from scratch from the ground up. It cost a sum of $50,000 to complete the project. The limo is owned by Smith Optics and operated by Zach Horwitz. Building it, he had one thing in mind: not getting it stuck. The limo frame is welded to a truck frame and then lifted onto 37-inch Super Swampers. It’s powered by a diesel engine. No normal diesel, it has enough power to run a small town. The diesel engine gets 14 miles to the gallon and runs on bio fuel.
    “The thing will not get stuck. If it did,” Zach says, “you would need military helicopters to get it out.”
    It weighs in at a macking 13,000 pounds. The inside is lined in leather with Smith logos embroidered on all the seats. The tunes are pumped out of four 12-inch subs. Pimp is all I can say.
      The concept behind the Smith Limo was to have a new portable (move it where you want it) snowboard rail. The limo has been to all the major snowboard mountains for snowboarders to slide. Jason Slezak and Sam Bell were the first kiteboarders to ever slide this beast in Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, last year. It was super sketch because they had to send their kites to get on top of the limo.
    One year later, Jason and Zach made a plan to bring the limo to Hood River, Oregon. The boys involved with Inept and Slider Project made a perfect up-ramp to the top of the limo. This allowed for the sickest session in kiteboarding history to go down. That day we tied kiteboarding directly to snowboarding by sliding the same rail snowboarders slide. This day will always be remembered as the day kiteboarding became legit. —Davey Blair

Pool-Gap Slider Over Ground
Gauvin photo
Julien Fillion slider over ground. Gauvin photo
For the past three years Julien Fillion has had a dream: build and ride a pool-gap slider. Being part of the Liquid Force family, he sees wakeboarders hitting rails over ground from pools all year long. Traveling the continent, he has kept his eyes open, looking for the perfect place to build his dream setup. When he made his first trip to Shippagan, NB, he knew this would be the perfect location.
    When he first mentioned this project to me, I was more than interested in capturing this new kiteboarding adventure on film. The project seemed simple at first, but after some preparation we realized it would be more work than expected. The only easy task was finding the perfect place to build the pool and sliders. Shippagan was the right choice for it. All around the island you can find kiteable spots for every wind direction and, more important, the offshore riding spots needed for this kind of rail.
    Looking carefully at the wind forecast, we headed to the area’s famous flatwater spot of Chiasson Office. This place is awesome; you almost have 360 degrees of rideable wind. The local girls can even use the water as a mirror to put on makeup in 25-knot winds. The water is that smooth.
    The massive sandbar is owned by most of the local kiteboarders. With that in mind and with their help, we weren’t worried about being pointed at while building a 30-foot-long pool and a massive one-foot-wide-by-48-foot-long slider.
    Julien started building the slider off-site with the help of his girlfriend. I couldn’t believe all the work they had done. With only four hands and not much time, over 40 sandbags were filled up and the slider was almost complete.
    The next step was to get the setup to the riding spot. The one way there was a sandy road, which only four-by-four vehicles could get through, and then we had to carry the gear on our shoulders for 2,000 feet. I’d like to call it a good get-ready-for-the-kite-season workout.
    On the second day it was almost complete. We were stoked to have the wind blowing in the perfect direction, too. We started to fill the pool, and it was full just before sunset. While getting the kite ready for the first session, the wind gradually vanished with the sun.
    With all the hard work of the setup behind us, Julien decided to ride it anyway. After a couple of test runs in the short pool, he started hitting it more confidently. As the wind continued to drop, he had a hard time reaching the end of the rail. His board was totally destroyed after falling several times on the rocks. Fortunately, Julien was not scratched up like his board. We were happy to get some great sunset shots, even if we only had 40 minutes of lightwind riding.
    After that short success the wind switched for the next few days. We waited on the beach for a better wind direction, but then decided to move all the gear to another spot. Luckily, we had the help of the local kite community. L’Association Windsurf-Kiteboard Shippagan-les-Îles president Jules Desylva lent us his ATV for the rest of the week, and his generosity was a reflection of Acadian culture.
    Local young rippers John Robichaud and Frank the Tank came to give us a hand. Eric Girard, owner of local kite school Club Wind & Kite, also joined in. We borrowed the second water pump from him because we drowned the one Pascal Blanchard lent us. Julien had one hell of an electric shock trying to save it when it fell in the water. Pascal is a kiteboarder and owner of the famous local club Noroît, where you’ll have the craziest night in town.
    The new pool received wind from the right direction, but we didn’t know big tides were coming. The low tide created a 10-to-15-foot gap at the end of the rail that made it impossible to use. We had to wait for the tide to come up. When it did, the wind system switched. It was disappointing, but we managed to have fun chilling on the beach and riding around the area.
    Lobster and crab boats passed through the channel all day long. The guys had fun hitting the enormous waves these boats created. We were worried when the Coast Guard passed by our crazy pool-slider setup on the beach. I’m not a lawyer, but this kind of thing may not be legal in some areas. However, the guy just looked at it like there was nothing there.
    We had to leave a couple of days later, so we removed all the stuff from the beach. When we were done, the wind finally blew stronger and in the right direction. It may sound like a cheesy movie script, but it really happened. We had no time to rebuild it, but we still left with smiles on our faces. Even if we didn’t have all the riding time we wished for on our pool and slider, we were proud to experience something new in kiteboarding. —Patrick Gauvin

Big Black
Miami, Florida

Kraft photo
Dre hits Big Black in Miami. Kraft photo
Full props go to Josh Noe, North America brand manager for NPX. He put blood, sweat and tears into this kicker, beating out a tight deadline for the NPX international team photo shoot in Miami, Florida. Towards the end of the building process, he got great help from NPX team riders Andre Phillip, Jon Modica, Damien LeRoy and Julien Fillion, as well as videographer Elliot Leboe and Garry Menk (a guy with a great set of tools).
    The kicker got her name because she’s really big and painted black. As with any project, Kent Marinkovic had his hands in. Much happened at the last minute to pull it all together, and there is an element of ghetto style that separates Big Black from her peers. Kent and Garry christened Big Black at the Coconut Grove marina by spraying a shaken can of their favourite beer, Milwaukee’s Best, down her silky PVC decking. A kicker was born.
    The NPX photo shoot featured Big Black in several famous locations such as the Vizcaya mansion and Stiltsville. She has since made appearances at Crandon Park and at Matheson Hammock Park for good times among the locals.
    For about six months, Big Black sat in Kent’s backyard and then his front. The neighbours loved it: a spray-painted ramp fixed to a beat-up, tagged Hobie Cat hull on a trailer. Dogs seemed to like her, too, as they often used the trailer’s tires as their personal fire hydrant. She’s now resting comfortably, and with more esteem, in front of Adventure Sports Miami, waiting for the next windy day. —Todd Greaux

The Stoke
Rio Vista, California

Thym photo

Eric Reinstra in Rio Vista. Thym photo
The kicker was originally called The Stoker Ramp. The ramp is a springboard in a couple of ways. I wanted to bring a quality kicker for my homeboys to ride. I wanted to see the stoke in NorCal riders’ faces with some new-school toys to play with like our buds back east have had for years. And second, the ramp is an actual springboard, as in a progressively loaded springboard to maximize pop
    For me, the biggest hurdle was dealing with the liability factor. How did I do that? I said to myself, Is it worth it? Well, I’ll put it this way. I drew up the first sketch about three and a half years ago. Then one day I said to myself, Screw it. If they want to get you, they will. And I just went to work. —Greg (L.M.G.) Boyington

Da Bar
Oliphant and Lake St. Clair, Ontario

Bryja photo
Sam Medyski his Da Bar in Oliphant. Bryja photo
Hitting sliders isn’t all that hard. Depends on the slider, I guess, but if you can unhook, park your kite at 45 and claim some basic wakestyle tricks, you’re ready for some rail hits. That’s the easy part. The challenge starts with what type of slider you want to build, where you can put it, where to build it, and how to pay for it. Thanks to SBC Events, Smokey and I scored some HDPE (sheet plastic) from the demolition of the famed Titanic Wakestock slider. This saved us serious cheddar. Smokey came up with the design of Da Bar, the mandate being friendly, fun and long.
    Better to pick some no-wind days for your build. Cold beer helps, as do good friends living near your new park who are willing to let you rip wood and shoot screws in their yard (thanks, Mitch and Harm). Not sure how we named it Da Bar. Could’ve been a crack I made: “If it doesn’t work, then you got one hell of a bar.”
    Keep her away any non-kiteboarding locals, or else your new slider can quickly become an easy finger-pointer to those who would like to jeopardize your access to dope flatwater spots. Build her strong so she can withstand scenarios like rednecks chaining it up and ripping it apart with their pickups.
    In the end, all your efforts will be worth it. You’ll see riders in their 40s getting hits, and young guns pressin’ and stylin’. We set up four features at the Lake St. Clair annual event Kitestock this spring, and many riders got their first hits, Da Bar being the crowd favourite. I was blown away by the riders who were super stoked on the setup and how they gave personal thanks to the slider build crew. Don’t get too hung up on design. Just build it and get some hits. —Rob Vanyi

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