Team rider, Fred Hope, had a busy summer after graduating from college last year. Team manager, Sam Light, catches up with Fred about his European tour and what’s next on his busy calendar.
SAM: Hey Fred! You just dropped a new video from your European trip last summer, it looked like an epic trip, can you tell us more about Greece and the other countries/locations you visited? Where were your favorite spots? Where do you want to go back?
FRED: Hey Sam! Yeah, this summer I spent about a month traveling around and getting to know the dealers/importers in some of the European countries. It was my first time visiting Europe, having only gone to England to visit family.
I went to four countries. The first was Italy, where I hung out in Gizzeria with the Italian importer and the Gizzeria Kite school. Conditions there were epic. 7m every day and only a few people on the water. The air was hot and the water was warm, making going on the water a way to cool off from the hot sun.
After Italy, I flew to Greece to visit Orestis our importer in Drepano. This was an insane freestyle spot with flat water on the downwind side and riding available in both directions of the wind. Conditions were also 7m every day. After a couple days there I went over to the Island of Kefalonia and kited around there and up to Corfu.
From Corfu, I went to Tarifa, where I met the Spanish importer, Nico. Nico showed me around and put me up for about a week. I kited from Valdevaqueros where there was the highest concentration of people I had ever seen kiting. In Tarifa, the water was on the colder side when compared to Greece and Italy.
After an epic week in Tarifa, I headed to Sankt Peter-Ording for the Kite Masters event. There I met so many Slingshot diehards like Tom and Marius, who run the imports for Germany. Sankt Peter-Ording was the exact opposite of the other three countries I visited, reminding me a lot of Seattle in the winter. It rained a ton right before the event so the whole week was spent drying things out. Luckily this didn’t crush anyone’s spirits, and everyone had a great time.
Out of these four spots it’s hard to pick a favorite. Italy had a relaxed lifestyle while Greece had warm water and beautiful islands. Spain had amazing food and strong wind while Germany reminded me of home. Definitely won’t be the last time I visit these areas!
Did you land any new tricks during that trip? Talk us through what they were?
I did. There were two major tricks that I was able to figure out. These were the Tornado and the Lazy Boy. I was able to land these in the consistent wind of southern Europe. The Lazy Boy consists of jumping on your offside and grabbing the board with your front hand. While doing this you tuck your head for a forward rotation while bringing the kite behind you. The timing of this trick is the hardest part as the kite has to catch you right when the foil hits the water. If it pulls too soon, you get ripped back and spin off-axis. If too late, engagement of the foil happens but there is no pull to keep you going. This was something I worked on for a while in Hood River but only figured out in Europe.
The Tornado is one I’ve been dreaming about for a while. After figuring out the Twirly Whirley, I had plans to take it to the next level, with a whole other spin included. In this trick, the rider enters a tack normally but instead of a normal roll tack, the rider has to spin as fast as possible. Timing is crucial for this trick as well. The kite must continue into the wind while the body must roll exactly on-axis. Coming out of the third spin, the rider must plant their feet in exactly the right position and have the kite begin to pull the other way. This is, in my opinion, the hardest trick to do on the foil. That’s why I was so excited to finally have it completed.
What equipment were you riding and why?
I ride the UFO, Phantasm 102/657/325 foil, and Dwarfcraft 100. I ride this because it is the best. What do I mean by the best? In terms of the UFO, the attributes of a foiling kite include fast response, easy relaunch, lightweight, a kite that sits when sheeted out and lift on demand. For the foil, the attributes I look for are fast response, easy side-to-side railing, the ability to do wing outs galore, decent pumping, long mast, stiffness, and no increase in lift with faster speeds. For the board, high surface area and low volume are the ticket. These attributes can all be found in my setup of choice. That’s why I consider it the best, at least for me.
You now have an official title at Slingshot as the Lead Product Tester. Congratulations! How do you see this summer going down?
I’m super excited for this summer to start and have testing in full swing. 2023/24′ gear is starting to roll through the door already and initial feedback from everyone involved is looking very promising. We will be using both professional athletes and normal consumers to help shape the whole Slingshot line. This will create a more cohesive and user-friendly gear catalog that will allow people to advance their skills without anything holding them back!