Jan 6, 2009
Author: words and photos by Jason Wolcott
I hand my iPhone to the overconfident 12-year-old surf grommet with a smirk on my face. He has just finished telling me how lame kiteboarding is. As he settles in to watch the three-minute YouTube clip of Ian Alldredge, I see Dane Reynolds, arguably the best surfer in the world, casually paddle out for a midday surf. I watch my little friend, the kite hater, start to get excited as he watches Alldredge bust big frontside strapless airs and even an Air 360 on the grainy little screen.
He yells to his friend, who is watching to see what Reynolds does on his first wave: “Hey, you gotta see this. This kite guy is killing it. He looks like Reynolds, but he’s a kiter. That’s so sick. I wanna do that.”
I laugh and grab my iPhone back from the now-amped grom.
“Nobody surfs or kites like Dane, but he does have a little bit of that smooth, explosive Dane-like style in his kiting,” I reply.
I’m sure in your life you have looked at something you thought was amazing and aspired to be like that. Surfing is the root of all boardsports, and the other boardsports have been created with the aim of emulating what surfers do in the water. Of course, after time the sports become their own, with tricks and styles that don’t even look like surfing.
Kiteboarding still borrows heavily from surfing, and Alldredge is at the cutting edge. Alldredge doesn’t look to other kiteboarders or videos for inspiration. He watches his favourite surfers at his local beach and in their high budget, globe-trotting signature films, trying to imagine a way to hit the lip like Bobby Martinez or do airs like Reynolds or link fast, technical combos like Nathaniel Curran. You can see this in his riding. It doesn’t hurt that he rips at surfing, too. Alldredge was a competitive surfer growing up, surfing against many of today’s top up-and-coming pros. There is much to learn from watching the best.
“A lot of guys from the surfing world get me motivated and inspire what I try on the water,” Alldredge says. “I’ve always looked up to Dane Reynolds, Nathaniel Curran, Mick Fanning, Bobby Martinez and Josh Mulcoy. After watching these guys in the water, it brings me new ideas to try to develop into my riding and helps me put things together.”
Alldredge’s riding is starting to turn heads in the surf world, too. It has even impressed Curran, U.S. Open winner and current No. 1 on the WQS surfing tour.
“Ian has a really good bottom turn and does a good hook. He really throws a lot of spray. He has the technical airs down and does some good combos,” says Curran. “He makes it look cool.”
When strapless kiting on a surfboard, you can use the kite to help obtain the speed only a surfer of Reynolds’ ability can generate and hit the lip in a way that unless you’re, well, a surfer like Reynolds, you never could. As a result, kiteboarders are making the crappy surf days look great.
“The future of strapless kitesurfing has so many possibilities. It’s hard to predict where it’s going to go, but I think there is a good chance of it moving closer into the surfing industry,” says Alldredge. “With the new technical flip tricks, huge airs, and stylish carves and gauges, I can honestly say that the sport is progressing. There are still a handful of new things yet to come trickwise, and I can’t wait to see what it will look like.
“After watching Julian Wilson’s part in Quiksilver’s Young Guns 3, it’s easy to say the future is progressing in surfing as well. I try to base my kitesurfing on movies like Young Guns, Trilogy, First Chapter [Reynolds’ movie] and Mick Fanning’s movie. In my perspective, everything evolves into something eventually, and I think surfing and strapless kitesurfing will hopefully meet somewhere along the road in the near future.”
I have been shooting both kitesurfing and surfing for a while now. That several of the world’s best surfers live in the town I live in and a kid who is pushing strapless surf-style kiting to the next level is living in the same town is no fluke. Growing up surfing around this area opens your eyes to what’s possible in the water. One thing about Alldredge’s local spot is that there is no shortage of bored surfers sitting around waiting for the damn wind to die so they can surf. It’s not uncommon to hear them compare the way Alldredge attacks every section like a certain famous local surfer.
So what does Alldredge think about being compared to Reynolds and Curran?
“I really trip on that,” he says. “It’s crazy that people would relate me to not only two of the greatest surfers, but someone I also look up to. Those kids are out of this world. It helps a lot to see a lot of the new things that they are trying. I get new ideas from watching their ideas, and sometimes everything comes together and you find something new that no one has ever seen before.
“I think it’s crazy that those guys think of me like a Dane or whatever kitesurfing, but I guess they notice something that’s different about how I ride. Maybe it’s the no-strap thing. I have no idea, but, yeah, I’m stoked on that. It just gives me more motivation to try new things with my kitesurfing.”
Quotes and Captions
“Ian makes [kitesurfing] look cool. I’d be worried about flying into the ocean and never coming back if I kited.” —Nathaniel Curran
“Ian’s style is full surf. He reads the waves like a surfer and does the same turns he would do surfing” —Ben Wilson
“Ian is damn good. He rides like a surfer, and there’s not too many people who do that. On top of that, he is doing crazy airs that you don’t see other people doing kiting.” —Josh Mulcoy
“He looks like he would surf really well, too.” —Keith Malloy