SBCKiteboard.com
  SBCKiteboard.COM Twitter SBCKiteboard.COM Facebook

Freak Dog’s Eric Hertsens

May 16, 2008

Author: John Bryja

It all started in the ’70s in a basement on the coast of Belgium. Eric Hertsens was addicted to windsurfing and needed small three-metre sails to ride the North Sea storms. There wasn’t as much equipment available then, so out came the scissors. He started modifying existing sails and boards—at the age of 17. From that moment on, designing became a lifetime quest. He has since custom-built or modified all the equipment he needs to have fun: parachutes, windsurfers, sky boards, snowboards and now kites.
    Hertsens’ kite designs have been used to start up big and small brands over the years, and Freak Dog Kites is the latest addition to the list. In this case, Freak Dog’s kites are produced from the same patterns and fabrics as Hertsens’ own EH kites. Basically, Freak Dog is EH in the U.S.

Ariel Corniel won the PKRA World Cup event in Cabarete, Dominican Republic, on an EH Ripper, or Freak Dog Vicious. How does that kite’s SLE design differ from what other brands are doing?
Just look at them in the sky. You can easily spot an EH design. They are the flattest design out there, with the most projected area for its size. Also, the Ripper is a kite that is easily configured for either pure waveriding or hardcore freestyle. The Ripper is not a kite for the beginner; it starts performing from 14 knots and up, whatever the size. Selecting a size is more a matter of body weight, and with a 15-knot range, you’ll only need two kites to cover most usable winds.

When others were looking at the beginner applications of bow kites, you were exploring pro-level performance. How did that come about?

I have a rule, and that is not to be dictated by marketing. In the end, we go our own way design-wise. In the early bow days I was a nonbeliever. The pulleys and the bar pressures, plus the long, complicated bridle systems, were a big no for me. I could not believe anyone would buy such a thing. Then my distributors and friends pushed me to start working on a bow or SLE. So I started the process, building proto after proto, and quickly learned that to be different I needed to go flat, and to achieve this I needed to get the licence from Bruno [Legaignoux] so I could integrate the concave trailing edge to keep it tensioned and the supported LE to keep it all balanced. Now, two years later, we have three different lines of flat kites that stand on their own in the kite world. This development is far from over. Our last protos have taught us a thing or two on low-end power.

What trends do you predict in kiteboarding over the coming years? Are you planning any specific new products?  
Surf is in. I see more and more people go for the surfboards. Lightwind performance will be a field that I will dedicate myself to now that the highwind Ripper design is finalized. We already have a 13-metre ultra-flat that packs more power than a 20-metre C shape. One thing I’ve noticed is the fact that most people are stuck in what they know about kiteboarding. The old rules do not apply anymore, like with our Eze. You can use a much smaller kite to do what larger kites once dominated, and the need for such a huge board is not exactly what is needed now. With Freak Dog, we put the size of the canopy in a huge print to boast the fact that a 13-metre can do what a 17- or 20-metre can do. Or the way our Ripper/Unleashed handles gusts. The rider can feel much safer controlling a smaller kite and focus on tricks and enhancing their riding styles.

Any specific tuning tips for the 2008 kite line?
Just hook your bar to the kite and go. Then, after about 10 to 20 hours of use, move the rear lines up one knot on the rear leaders to make up for the stretch of the front lines. An EH bar is trimmed right when all the lines have the same tension and the C loop rests against the bar.

What excites you most about kite design?

Lightwind power. I love to see Ariel do double handlepasses in eight to 10 knots. Yesterday was a day like that. A Cabarete guest was trying to get going with a 20-metre C shape, and Louis Perlata was blasting around doing all his unhooked tricks on a much smaller kite.




Gear

Surf Expo - Naish Kiteboarding
Sept 10, 2014
The Naish 2015 kiteboarding product line on display. MACkite drops in for a visit.   The Naish Skater will be available in a 4'8", 5'2", and 5'6". This...
Surf Expo - Flysurfer
Sept 10, 2014
The introduction of the Flysufer Cronix last year earned Flysurfer the award for most innovative kite in the 2014 SBC Kiteboard gear tests. Based in Germany, the brands...
Surf Expo - Nobile 2015
Sept 8, 2014
No shortage of great innovations in the Nobile Kiteboarding booth at the Surf Expo. Nobile is one of the world's largest manufacturer of skis, snowboards, and kiteboards....
Surf Expo - Liquid Force Foilboard
Sept 4, 2014
One of the biggest buzzes at the Surf Expo show on Day 1 was the new Liquid Force Foil that is set to retail for $1,595 complete with board! The shape is what Liquid...
Surf Expo - What is that?
Sept 4, 2014
It's the new Best Rocker Flex Adjuster! Two boards in one! The new Rocker Flex Adjuster helps to stiffen up the board and reduce negative flex. Negative flex...
Surf Expo - Stuff we like - Woo
Sept 4, 2014
Some great new accessories at Surf Expo. Check out this very small action sports motion sensor called the WOO. It's tiny and clips easily to any board. Its tracks your...
2015 North Kiteboarding at Surf Expo
Sept 4, 2014
Surf Expo the annual kiteboarding trade show kicked off today in Orlando, Florida. The first booth we checked out was SBC Kiteboard booth neighbour North Kiteboarding....
2015 Pivot Q&A with Naish Kite Designer,...
Jun 24, 2014
When did development first begin on the Pivot and why? How does it fit within the lineup? We began work on the Pivot (Freeride/Wave) in Summer of 2012 with the...
CARVED IMPERATOR LW
Apr 1, 2014
Hightech meets Lightwind As of now the IMPERATOR is also available in two LW versions. Instead of only cruising the new IMPERATOR LW allows you to perform hard core...
F-One Bandit 7: Raphaël Salles Interview
Mar 28, 2014
Trade Secrets: Raphaël Salles F-One Bandit 7 Interview Raphaël Salles is the owner and driving force behind F-One Kiteboarding. F-One has been a leader in...
[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] > » 

Editor's Video Picks!

 

 

THE LATEST

Video
Buell's Summer Daze
September 30, 2014
Video
RED BULL KING OF THE AIR
September 29, 2014
Video
The epic way of landing a kite
September 27, 2014
Video
Can't Stop Won't Stop
September 27, 2014
[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] > » 

SBC KITEBOARD ON FACEBOOK

What's Hot!!!

 

2014 Kite Reviews
SBC 2014 Kite Tests:...
March 12, 2014
2015 Kite Reviews
2015 Cabrinha Switchblade
August 28, 2014
2015 Kite Reviews
2015 Cabrinha Switchblade
August 28, 2014
Gear
Surf Expo - Stuff we like - Woo
September 4, 2014
[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] > » 

Download Kiteboard Desktop App

Newsletter Signup

 

MOST VIEWED - GEAR

SBCSKATEBOARD SBCSURF SBCWAKEBOARD SBCSKIER SBCKITEBOARD WINDSPORT SNOWBOARD CANADA SBC RESORT GUIDE  CONTACT ADVERTISE