Sept 23, 2009
Author: As told to John Bryja Photo by Lance Koudelle
Who’s the most accomplished American kiteboarder of all time? While Dave Tyburski’s name might not jump to the top of most peoples’ minds, it should. After completing his MBA he started one of Hood River’s most successful kiteboarding schools. When the opportunity to turn pro presented itself, Tybo rose to the challenge, winning the prestigious PKRA event in Cabarete. This past year he has become the product manager at Airush Kiteboarding. The future looks bright for this All-American Kiteboarder.
Full Name: David Charles Tyburski
Nick Name: Tybo, most common with many variations depending on the person.
Date of Birth: Jan. 12, 1970
Place of Birth: Canton, Ohio
Favourite Saying: “Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.”
Sponsors: Airush, Dakine, Prolimit Wetsuits
When did you first get into kiteboarding and how did it come about?
I got into kiteboarding around 1998 after a brief stint with windsurfing while I was in school in Northern California. The gear was very rudimentary and the learning process was really slow. I picked up a 5.0 Wipika 2-line kite and taught myself at Big Lagoon in Humboldt County and Floras Lake on the Oregon coast. I put some inserts into an old boxy-railed single fin surfboard and slowly figured it out. It was a lot of swimming between the riding back then. I didn’t become proficient until I moved to Hood River in 1999. Flying 2-line kites in the Gorge was always an adrenaline rush and the real progression didn’t come until the 4-line kite entered the market. Then things got really interesting.
You have an MBA, started the Gorge’s largest kite school, and then turned pro? That’s backwards isn’t it?
I guess it is, but I’m really glad that it happened that way. I’ve been able to accomplish much of what I’ve wanted to, and at the same time take advantage of some really great opportunities that I really never saw coming. Even though I’ve always been an athlete, I never imagined a career as an athlete in the cards. Through kiteboarding, I have learned a lot on both a personal and business level, I’ve also made some incredible friends.
I feel fortunate that the majority of the travel and experiences I’ve enjoyed through kiteboarding came at a later stage in my life. Had I been younger, I don’t think I would have been as appreciative, and I think I would have benefited less.
Looking back at your very successful PKRA freestyle days, is their a time or trip that really stands out.
Definitely my 1st Place in Cabarete in 2002 stands out because I beat the two prior years world champions and received my 1st place trophy from Bruno Leganoux. I think it only stands out, however, because it is kind of supposed to, or it is something that you get reminded of as an achievement. I think that some of the most memorable days and trips of my PKRA career were just the times spent with friends on the road and the side trips and sessions that happened before, after and in between events. Numerous stays in Brazil and Dominican Republic over the years are quite memorable. Returning to the same place year after year really ingrains the memories of the place and time versus when you visit a place only once, regardless of how incredible the experience may have been.
Has being a pro lived up to your expectation, how has it different from what you expected as a teen growing up?
I never really thought of what being a pro was like when I was a teen so I never had expectations. When kiteboarding came on, I was just going with the flow not quite sure where it would lead. For sure early on in my youth I though of being a pro-skateboarder but I never actually thought about what it was like to be one, it just seemed intangible. I think that I just dreamt about doing something that I love for a living. I had never even thought of a wind sport as something that one could have as a career.
It is definitely never as easy as it seems being a pro athlete. Being an athlete is like running your own business and you are the product, so you really have to sell yourself and be a good self-promoter. I was never really good at self-promotion and the “Why I’m awesome” sales pitch is quite awkward for me, so I tried to let my riding, and interactions with others speak for me. I’ve always tried to work with companies that have substance and see the value in a person for what they are not just from what they can do in a narrow circumstance as a rider.
What advice do you have for up and coming riders that want to turn pro?
Well if you want to do contests, my advice is to be humble and to open your mind to riding styles that you may not be into. Compete in as many contests as you can for experience and train in less than ideal conditions because most contests are held in places that one wouldn’t normally choose to ride. And lastly, you will have to be as much of a mental athlete to make it through pressure of competition. Spend time preparing mentally before training as you would before a heat if you are serious about competing.
If you aren’t into contests and just want to be a video and photo pro, focus on the tech, but concentrate on your style. Style is the body’s interpretation of how to execute a trick. Go through things in your head and visualize and try to feel what you want it to look like. Be friends with every photographer and videographer and spend equal time getting your photos and videos out to the media as you do on your riding and don’t forget, you are the product- represent on the beach in a positive light as much as on the water.
After your freestyle career you, got really involved in judging. What is that like?
Judging at the World Cup level is pretty cool. We get treated really well (better than the riders do) and we get paid regardless of how we rode that day! But the truth is that judging at this level is extremely demanding and difficult. Difficult, in that you have to critically watch heat after heat for sometimes more than 5-6 hours in one sitting. Demanding, in that some heats are so close that you have to be so intense and focused on all the details of the riding and sometimes it can still come down to the style that you prefer. With two riders on the water at the same time, it is inevitable that you will not be able to see and record every grab and move, so a lot of times you are the fall guy when a rider doesn’t advance and feels that they should have.
Tell us about your new role at Airush? How did the first year go?
The first year is going great and it has been extremely busy. We have brought about some big changes in the brand and the product line for 2010 and I’m really excited about it. We have developed some innovative concepts in kites and introduced 2 new lines to the range. In boards, we’ve developed new categories and are pushing the sport in new directions in surf, freeride, race and freestyle, I even got to develop a skim board for 2010! Also, we’ve added a technical apparel line that is pretty insane so there is a lot of energy being put into the brand and it just perpetuates more energy. As product manager I have my hands in all of the product development, planning, production and marketing of the entire product line. It is really exciting working with such a growing and progressive thinking brand that has such a long history in kiteboarding. After being involved with a number of companies in the industry, I couldn’t imagine a better brand and group of people to work with, as everyone involved is extremely passionate about the sport and equally passionate about creating the best products possible.
What are your goals for the brand in the coming year?
As product manager I would say my goal for the brand is to create innovative and smart products for people passionate about the sport that inspire and engage the riders to get the most out of kiteboard experience-however they choose to ride. Ultimately, I have many goals for the brand and will continue to set many more. Being based in Hood River for the summer, one goal for sure is to increase the Airush brand awareness here in N. America and turn people onto to our diverse product line as it is one of the deepest in the industry.
What mark would you like to leave on the kiteboarding world?
I would like to just leave an impression that a kite and the wind can take you great places. Without kiting, my life would be very different. I hope that others have the opportunity to get as much out of kiteboarding as I have. Not just on the water, but from the lessons learned and the enjoyment that comes from finding a sport that enriches your life and opens your eyes to new people, places and experiences. More significantly, the kiteboarding world has left its mark on me.
Looking ahead, I am really looking forward to being involved with the innovation and creativity that will be infused into the sport in the years to come. There are so many great ideas out there, with so many dedicated riders and burgeoning fanatics, that there will always be room for improvement and new developments in the gear. Personally, I am just grateful that I can continue to work in an industry that I love. The evolution of my professional life has been an exciting one, and knowing that I can still kite, travel, and have even a small amount of influence in the sport allows me to be happy with where I’m at and where I’m going.
Anything you would like to add?
Just the chance to thank some people for helping me over the years in my kiteboarding endeavors. I’d like to say deepest thanks to Brad Duffy, Bill Morrissy, Cory Roesler, Chris Tonolone, Shanti Berg, Steven Whitesell, Mauricio Toscano, Ken Winner, Mike Foy, Mark Shinn, Darren Porter, Lance Koudele, Rod Parmenter, Toby Bromwich, and all the great friends that I’ve made over the years.
Dave Tyburski - Joins Airush kiteboarding
2009 Kiteboarding Buyers' Guide
Bridge of the Gods 2007