CH: Hey Olly, thank you for taking your time, you joined the team two years ago, focusing on racing and help developing the VMG product line.
OB: It’s been a great experience, working closely together with the kite developers and see how my input was used helping to make great products like the VMG or SOUL and the upcoming gear.
CH: After the event in China last year, you are pushing the limits on our SOUL closed-cell foil kite and did an extreme jump over a sand spit. How did that radical change of disciplines happen?
OB: I’ve been nonstop training, traveling and racing for almost 6 years now. Last season the tension between the riders on the course hit a point, where I felt uncomfortable, the pressure was so high and we were shouting at each other, some questionable protest happened and some of us got so lucky, not ending up in a wheelchair or even worse. In short… I needed to take a break and do what it is all about, jumping as high as possible!
CH: The amount of stress on the course and especially at the starting line is probably the most underrated situation by the audience and young racers. For any athlete on the globe it’s hard to stay focused, fit and motivated for more than 6 years. I think it’s a good call to take a break and get back some freedom and enjoy other sports and the variety kiting offers.
OB: Exactly. I met Benni Boelli (FLYSURFER R&D) in Denmark, while he was on vacation and we went paragliding at the dunes and I fell in love with the sport. Now I am a proud owner of a skywalk ARAK wing, so when the wind blows, I’m out on the water, when the air is calm, I’m up in the air.
CH: Sounds convincing to me, saying in general, you like to be as much in the air as possible is this the reason you got addicted to foil kites?
OB: Definitely something both sports offer and I like to show what’s possible on foil kites. I tried my best to enter the KOTA event, to show everybody how massive the hangtime and insane kiteloops can be on my SOULs, frustrating that I couldn’t be there, but I am motivated for next year. My main competition focus remains on racing and I will attend all major events, like the World Championships. I need the thrill and see how the field adapts to be ready for the Olympics in 2024.
CH: Can you explain me, why you prefer the SOUL over any other kite for your record attempts?
OB: Every kite has its purpose, for me the SOUL 10 on 20m lines is the perfect kite for boosting, such a solid and stable wing I can rely on. I don’t think there is any kite out there, on which you go above 24m from flat sections. I prefer the SOUL 8 on 17m lines to do the mega loops.
CH: Loops on foil kite have been there for ages, especially on snow and with upwind. You started to send them hard with technical rotations. I know it’s scary to do them mid air in free fall, how do you practice them?
OB: I practice my “Boogie Loops” and late back rolls on the STOKE prototypes, the new one is recovering very good, afterwards I transition to the SOUL and try them again. It’s also important to have a good board under your feet, especially when you land hard (laughs).
CH: FLYSURFER just won the “The Kite Mag – Best Freeride Board Award” with the RADICAL, but you prefer the RUSH, why is that?
OB: 140cm is my favorite size and I personally like more rocker than the RADICAL offers. The RUSH cuts very good through chop, which is important to hit the perfect timing before takeoff. In the end if you are landing hard (laughs again) a board with good flex helps a lot.
CH: Glad you haven’t been injured, thinking about danger, a lot of people struggle with the idea to use a small foil kite in strong wind, any tips or tricks?
OB: I had to get used to it, but now I am confident like launching the kite in light winds. While rigging, use a lot of sand on the wing so it doesn’t flap, make sure the mixer and bridles are sorted and launch it obviously on the wind window edge. For sure an educated helper is the best thing you can have, but I prefer to launch the kite alone.
CH: You did some gnarly things in autumn like the 200m jump over a sand spit and grabbing the European WOO record. How do you prepare for those record attempts and is there more to come?
OB: Be confident in yourself and the gear, study the weather forecast and hit the right time. That sandspit jump was in my head for years, sometimes you need to stay calm. There is much more to come, but my projects need more preparation time and a good support team. I am ready to send it!