Jul 6, 2009
Author: John Bryja, photo by Stephen Whitesell
Past, Present and Future: Three Time World Champion Martin Vari
Full Name: Martin Vari
Nick Name: Tino
Date of Birth: 27/2/82
Place of Birth: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Weight: 160 Height: 5’9’’
Sponsors: Vari Kites
Martin Vari became world champion at the height of trick innovation on the PKRA World Tour, winning the overall in both 2001 and 2003. Vari was one of the first to push wakestyle tricks to the forefront in a contest environment, integrating both old school and new school into his repertoire. With two world freestyle titles under his belt he passed the reigns to current world champion Aaron Hadlow. Vari moved onto new challenges and became one of the sport’s surf pioneers and won the first ever PKRA surf contest in 2007. Now in 2009 he has embarked on his biggest challenge yet, his own kite brand, Vari Kites. —John Bryja
In 1998 I went on a windsurfing trip to Maui. I saw a few two-line kites out, and the only person making it look good was the master Lou Wainman himself. It definitely got me wanting to try it out. The next day I took a lesson, but didn’t quite like the feeling. I guess the kites were too primitive. The two lines got all messed up and I was learning at the same time as the instructor. [Laughs]
A few months went by until I got a kite in my hand again. It was in Margarita at a windsurfing contest, Chip Wasson was there with a Wipika four line kite. I begged him to let me try it. It felt much better. I was hooked. I ended up buying a F-One foil with my uncle and spent all summer doing down-winders. Two months later I moved to Hawaii for school. Those were amazing days. I spent every afternoon at the beach. I was seriously hooked.
PKRA Magic Moments
The whole period between 2000-2004 stands out. If I had to pick one moment, it was in 2003. At the time we were filming Space Monkeys 2, starting to get into the waves, and at the same time really pushing the freestyle. At the time the moves we were doing were changing month-to-month. There was a tight group of friends that were pushing each other. That summer was the standout for sure. I won most of the events I went to... plus finished filming Space Monkeys 2 in epic Indonesia. That year we also scouted One Eye, which was mind blowing to finally realize that wave riding with a kite had serious potential. Those were the first barrels kiteboarders were pulling into. Then we ended up in Indo, just us: Jeff Tobias, Will James, Jaime Herraiz, Ben Wilson, Bert Fleury, and Marc (Marley) Ramsier. A super cool crew, and we were all experiencing something that changed the way the sport would develop.
All of a sudden I got sucked into the surf side. I was working for RRD, and they really wanted me to follow the freestyle tour, but I was so focused on riding waves. I signed up with Slingshot and was able to focus with Jeff Tobias and Ben Wilson on developing the surfing side of the sport. I think when we filmed Spare Change, that was a defining moment for the future of kitesurfing.
Our goal was to explore what was possible with a kite in the surf. It was clear in our heads that the possibilities were endless. It was only a matter of time until the kite world would realize how fun it was. At the time my ultimate goal was to be able to get a clean barrel with a kite. I did quite a bit of traveling to find the right conditions. I spent two years of my life looking for the perfect wave. Today my goal is to create products that will help more people get involved in the sport. Creating products that are easy, durable and simple to use.
Vari kites was an idea that I always had in my mind. The company has evolved really fast. But we don’t rush things. We give each phase its natural development. We are here to create smart products. That have a true purpose, are high quality, and simple to use. We are enjoying the ride.
The cool thing about Vari is that it’s the riders working in the company. It’s me going around meeting distributors and helping the shops promote the brand. Or it’s Jeff Tobias answering the phone calls of dealers, and visiting them making sure they have all they need. We are creating a very tight relationships with our dealers. We are here for the long run. And we are only working with people that feel what we are doing.
The Perfect Day
My perfect day starts with an early wake up. I love to wake up in a quiet place and have my time to really wake up, grab some fruit and check the surf. If it’s perfect I can’t help but swim out. If it’s not that great, I sit down on the computer, go over my daily list and start replying to e-mail and phone calls. I have to say that I actually really enjoy this part. I spend around three-four hours on the computer until I do a noon break for going over the latest prototypes, or go to the beach and test any new products. Ideally there are waves and wind and I can go shoot some video and photos. Right after I get back to do the second computer session, Finish up replying to e-mail. If I didn’t get enough water time I go to yoga class and cook dinner with my girl and or friends. After that, getting some action doesn’t hurt right? [Laughs]
I want to continue to help grow the sport. I was always driven by the innovations. Along my pro career I was into tricks, innovations and pushing the limits of what was possible with a kite. The only way to innovate is to not follow the rest. And I’m stoked at what I accomplished.
Now that I’m on the other side of the industry I have the same drive. I want to innovate and do what others don’t, by pushing the kite designs in different directions, not necessarily making a kite that will jump higher or turn faster than the rest, but one that is more efficient. We made a kite that is as good as any other kite with the purpose of having two kites to cover any condition. I basically use two size kites and I can travel the world. Waves, flatwater, snow, windy, light winds. All I need are two kites. So that is one innovation. Efficiency of the kites. Now riders are sure to be covered with only two kites. The next step in the future will come soon! It’s going to be very exciting.
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