Apr
12

Pro Diaries: Lewis Wilby – Interview – Flexifoil – Landboarding




Name: Lewis Wilby
Occupation: Professional Landboarder / Kitesurfer / Snowkiter
D.O.B: 14.11.1988
Honours: (2007) 1st Best Trick Halloween Kitejam, 3rd Biggest Air Halloween Kitejam, 1st South West Freestyle, (2008) 1st BKSA Barrow, (2009) BKSA British Landboard Champion, 1st BKSA Swansea Pro Landboard, 1st BKSA Barrow Pro Landboard, Jam, 1st BKSA Barrow Amateur Kitesurf, 1st BKSA Blackpool Pro Landboard (2010) 9th World Snow Kite Masters

Hi Lewis, thanks for taking the time to talk to us today. What exactly is Landboarding and what do the competitions consist of?

Lewis Wilby, Landboarding

Lewis Wilby, Landboarding

Hi there, no problem at all. Well, ‘Kite-Landboarding’ is as it sounds; using the wind to power a large kite (between 3 – 20metres) which then allows you to be pulled around on an oversized skateboard. There are three main categories in competition; racing, speed and the most common form – freestyle. The freestyle competitions can be compared to a Snowboard or Skateboard competition; the rider who lands the most impressive/ innovative range of tricks (usually as high and smooth as possible) within a set time limit will come out on top and win.

So, how did you get involved in board sports?

I started Power Kiting in 2002 when I was 13 as my younger brother had just recently started, and it was through him I had my first go on a Flexifoil Proteam 8. I knew instantly it was the sport for me and quickly became addicted. I bought my first board later that year and within hours I was practicing jumps! I quickly progressed and was in magazines the next year before competing in the X-Zone Autumn Games in 2004 and have just continued practicing and competing since!

What will 2010 hold for you?

I’m just as focussed as ever at pushing my limits in Landboarding, but now that I have won my share of the harder competitions on land; I’d like to see how close I can compete to the top guys in Kitesurfing.

Lewis Wilby Kitesurfing

Lewis Wilby Kitesurfing

Where in the UK would you say are the best places for Landboarding?

Frinton on Sea, Essex is the place to go if you want to see new innovative Landboarding tricks being landed by some of the best and friendliest riders in the world!

Blackrock Sands, Gwynedd Wales is next because the beach is unbelievably smooth and there is plenty of space to ride for everyone. You can even drive on the beach which makes your day much easier!

Tibenham Airfield, Norfolk is my local spot and probably unheard of by many but is a mixture of tarmac runways (fun for jumping and speed runs) and grass, which is good to land on and practice other tricks. There is also a great selection of kickers, ramps and rails down there.

Westward Ho, Devon is the perfect place for both Landboarding & Kitesurfing because it has a mixture of hard packed sand for Landboarding, and big waves & flat sections for Kitesurfing.

Hunstanton, Norfolk is my favourite and a place I would recommend to anyone for Kitesurfing. It’s such a great mix of shallow and flat water, and it faces the most common wind direction for the UK. Perfect for learning as a beginner or perfecting as a pro!

What has been your best memory in board sports?

Lewis Wilby Landboarding for Flexifoil

Lewis Wilby Landboarding for Flexifoil

I’d have to say the European Championships in France. Having made the final whilst feeling totally exhausted, I thought I had no chance at all and went back to my apartment. A few hours later I went back and everyone there was saying “where have you been” – “you just won the European Champions and have missed a massive prize ceremony!” I was ecstatic as I’d only competed in a couple of minor competitions before. Luckily they re-ran the prize giving especially for me!

What is your best / favourite trick?

In Landboarding, one thing that will never get old is riding in 30-40mph winds on my smallest kite, looping as high as I can. (A Kiteloop is where you turn the kite 360 degrees whilst airborne, resulting in a sudden pull downwards instead of upwards and hopefully being caught by the kite again to land as smooth as possible)

Over water, I am learning so fast it’s unreal, definitely something I am enjoying – but for now I would say my favourite trick is a Mobe – a bit like what you might see in the Wakeboard/ cable scene.

During my first 3 days of Snowkiting I landed a ‘Kiteloop Slim Chance’ in the middle of my first heat which I was chuffed with as I’ve never seen anyone do one to this day on snow, and it remains a highly scored trick even with professional Kitesurfing – which is miles ahead in terms of tricks.

Have there been any big developments in Landboarding during your time, and do you see any coming in the future?

Kites have changed incredibly over the last few years. We went from kites which were seen as unsafe; especially if someone decided to go out and teach themselves, to kites which pretty much control themselves and do everything you want them to do with barely any input from us at all which allows us to concentrate on our tricks rather than what the kite is doing! I don’t really see a big change in the future because the kites are so safe; all we need to focus on is tweaking them to help gain as much performance as possible.

The Land-Kiteboards are getting stronger and lighter with little changes here and there in the way they are shaped, move and are assembled. I’m sure we will see lots of improvements over the next few years but getting hold of the lightest, strongest materials isn’t cheap so it all depends on how much a customer is willing to spend. That’s got to be the easiest way of making the products better but something the sport isn’t big enough for yet!

What equipment do you recommend using at first for getting started in Landboarding and how much do you think it realistically costs?

I would recommend not spending too much money on your first kite as you are more than likely to grow out of it and want something bigger and better. That is unless you break it and have to replace it anyway, although kites are fairly strong nowadays – I still see people flying them into trees and all sorts!

I would spend good money on a board as it takes years to outgrow. Get something which is around 90-100cm in length and weighs less than 6.5kg. You can always update your components when you feel like it too – a bit like you do a skateboard.

Realistically, it is going to cost £300-£400 to get a decent set up to learn with.

What tips would you advise for people looking to get started?

Lewis Wilby, Landboarding Professional

Lewis Wilby, Landboarding Professional

If you are unsure this sport is for you, then I would take a lesson for sure! Plus there is a lot of stuff which we all need to know to stay safe.

Always stay within your limits, never ride on land when you’re overpowered.

Never ride alone if you can help it as anything can go wrong and it’s always good to have someone who can help out in an emergency.

And what would you advise for learning and improving Freestyle techniques?

5 pointers to improve your techniques:

When learning how to jump and certain tricks, leave your board aside and focus on static jumps first, this will help improve your technique at a slower pace and also prepare you for landing.

Always remember to redirect your kite just before you land. The faster you redirect, the faster you will land in the right direction.

Point your board downwind as you land and remember to bend your knees.

Ride with your mates as they can often watch and offer feedback. I often feel like my attempts at a trick are close, but with that extra input I can perfect them far easier.

If you’re still having problems, film yourself trying the trick – when you get home you can analyse where you’re going wrong and give yourself aims for the next session.

Just want to say thanks for showing an interest in a sport which is still growing heavily, and a big thanks to Flexifoil, MBSEurope and Power Kite Shop for all of their support.

If anyone has any more questions, please feel free to contact me via my website as I do try to reply quickly.

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