Armin Harich, probably the best-known name in FLYSURFER history, studied physicist, paraglider and canoeist, was the first to recognize the potential of foil kites. Driven by his ideas and the pursuit of adding value for customers, he never stopped believing in the concept of foil kites. The product lines PSYCHO, SPEED, VIRON, SONIC and many other creations come from his pen.
When did you start kiting?
At that time, I already knew Robbie Naish’s first kite photographs. When I founded the company, I also started kiting. After all, someone had to test the kites and I volunteered for that right away. As an old canoeist and paraglider pilot I thought it was great to combine the sports. With the first board I bought myself I went to the lake to try it out. Barely a second on the water and the board suddenly went under. The dealer had sold me a “sinker”. I raved. These were the first kite attempts, with boards that didn’t float and 4.8m2 kites. As soon as the kite dropped into the water, there was a 50/50 chance of being able to relaunch it again. I often called it kite triathlon: kiting, swimming and running to get back on land.
How did you come up with the brand name FLYSURFER?
For me, surfing and flying have always been what kiting is all about. Since we built products with a lot of hang time right from the start, I found that FLYSURFER was a good fit. The name describes the sport very aptly: the flying surfer.
How did the development process of the first foil kites go?
It was definitely a wild time and everything was tried out. As is often the case, a lot of things didn’t work straight away initially, but of course I stuck with it. As most of you know, there were only very few foil kite manufacturers at that time. Thanks to additional development power, we managed to bring the system to the level where we wanted it to be. It wasn’t easy, but we firmly believed in it. With the advent of bow kites, which were a huge innovation in kiting, we could have been a lot worse, but we still managed to develop systems that ultimately kept us afloat. After the first developments we came up with some ideas on how to optimise the system and so we started to producing bigger kites. We designed the first kites by hand with CAD software.
How many prototypes have you built?
We are talking about a three-digit range here. Basically, I’ve always tried to get by with as few prototypes as possible, but with which I could try out as many changes as possible at the same time in order to generate knowledge. I then incorporated this know-how into the next generation of prototypes. In the early days, the most important thing was to first complete a size that flies very well and then go one step further from there. Today we take a multi-track approach and develop several sizes at the same time. It’s possible because the design software now supports us much better and of course works much faster.
What is the best moment for a developer?
Every time the product is finished, you can hand over the first kites to customers with happy faces and receive good feedback, for me that’s always the best thing. It’s like a baby that you give birth to. Sharing this joy with our customers always gives me a great feeling.
FLYSURFER Founder, Research & Development, Partner Skywalk GmbH & Co. KG