BACKSTORY: Core

CORE have a reputation for meticulously engineered products, but they’re also a patient bunch, having kept their powder dry as the foil and wing world underwent explosive growth. Since their first wing and foil launch in 2022, they are now building out their line up further with the benefit of hindsight and learning from the strengths and pitfalls of others…


CORE has a solid history in the wind and water sports realm. Tell us first how the brand began: who started it, where it was based, and what was the first product to roll off the factory floor?

It all started when CORE's founder Bernie Hiss built his first kite prototypes and twintips on the Baltic Sea island of Fehmarn, at a time when only a handful of crazy people on Maui had just founded the sport. The Carved Custom board production began in 2001 where, as early pioneers in the field, we handcrafted twintip masterpieces with the highest quality materials and innovative board-building processes. The success of Carved led to the birth of another global brand, CORE Kiteboarding in 2007.

At what point did foiling land on the CORE radar? I guess it was kitefoiling at first given the brand’s origins? 

As with any other uprising trend, we kept an eye on hydrofoiling from the very beginning. Being the water sport enthusiasts we are, we have tried many different types of kite foils, however none quite met our expectations or the user-friendly experience we promise our customers. Hundreds of front wings, stabilizers, shims and therefore endless potential combinations flooded the market – forcing the user to basically try many different setups and experiment with different combinations to eventually find the solution that suits him or her the most. But we believe in simplicity and performance.

Before we launch a CORE product, we have to ensure that its use is straightforward and delivers an instant feeling of performance and quality once used by the customer. That being said, the goal of our first foil was a product that is simple in its use and at the same time perfectly balanced to instantly have a good time on the water. With the introduction of the SLC foil in 2020 our customers received a very accessible yet high performing one-does-it-all-foil that was incredibly smooth and silent. Our first step that marked our debut into the world of foiling.

And then how about wingfoiling? When did you first consider getting involved in this? 

Just like our approach to kite foiling, we've been keeping a close eye on the wing sport since its very beginning. Given the structural similarities between wings and kites, we knew that we could apply lots of our kite knowledge in wing design. However, crafting a good wing requires time, and in a rapidly evolving sport, where innovations were happening so quickly, we decided to be patient and develop a grown-up product. So to ensure a product that stands the test of time, we took almost three years to design and launch our first wing range which was released in 2022.

Yeah, I’d say there’s an impression that you’re a brand that has a reputation for biding your time and then hitting the ground with well-thought through products. Would you agree? 

That is very true. It may seem like we’re sometimes late to the party, but it's more of a promise we make to our customers. All products we offer come with a certain maturity and therefore the guarantee that the riders will have long-lasting fun with it. Our R&D process is meticulous, with a focus on performance and quality that meets our strict standards. We don’t chase trends; we observe them closely. We take our time to build our own prototypes and carefully work out our own way to a mature product. For us, it’s not about being first, but ensuring top-notch performance every time.

“We are still based on the Baltic island of Fehmarn where it all started. We and the brand are deeply connected with this place emotionally and practically.”

 

That first range of wingfoil products were really well received by our testers. Given you entered the market a little later than many of the larger wind sport brands, did you get a chance to test what the competition were offering to feed into your own R&D?

When we’re talking about observing trends, we certainly do not do that only from the beach! Understanding how our competitors' products ride, feel and behave is a crucial part to find our own niche. Certainly, you can somehow describe how a wing or a foil feels, but you have to get it under your feet or in your hands to feel it. Work out what you like, work out what you don’t like and eventually strive to develop a solution that not only fulfils our requirements but, more crucially, captivates our target audience.

What would you say is the most challenging product to build: the wing, the foil, or the board…

In my opinion the biggest challenge is finding the perfect harmony between all three. You need a wing that matches the speed of your foils. And the angles of your foils need to match your board. And all of that somehow should be an easy plug-and-play solution, so our customers do not have to worry about the right trims, positions or shims, but have the best time on the water from the very first session.

The most important part is that throughout the last few years we have managed to significantly speed up our prototyping work. For the wings it’s obviously a huge benefit to have a partner at our side with whom we’ve been building kites for almost 20 years. All processes and details are very well set up so we can get new iterations of a product very quickly. Since foils and masts usually require a mold, this involves a more intricate construction approach, demanding additional time and resources for the development of a new prototype. However, our team has found very smart and efficient ways to even build foils and masts within a couple of days on Fehmarn – where we also can immediately put all those products to the test.

Tell us about the more recent additions to your foil line up – what’s the latest there… 

The Halo Pro is an uncompromising high-performance wing. The airframe has remarkable rigidity, thanks to Aluula, and paired with a flat high-speed profile, allows for an unexpectedly sporty riding style. You will experience the perfect drift and maximum control, thanks to its low weight and intuitive controls.

The Roamer S is the sporty pinnacle of the board range. With a volume of 45 or 38 liters, it allows a maximally agile riding style. The surf shape-oriented outline promises maximum freedom of movement during radical foil maneuvers. The high-quality construction “Made in Europe” not only gives the board a particularly low weight with maximum rigidity, but also that outstanding finish it deserves. We are looking forward to extending that range with two bigger sizes this spring.

The Vert foil system elevates your session to new heights. We've revamped five key components, featuring three high-aspect (HA) front wings, to create a meticulously engineered setup that enhances your experience. Symbolic on top of everything is the new carbon mast, designed for a thinner profile and tapered depth. Less resistance – more speed!

So how big is the company now, and are you still based in the same location? 

We are still based on the Baltic island of Fehmarn where it all started. We and the brand are deeply connected with this place emotionally and practically. As one of the water sport hotspots in Europe, we have very good test conditions year-round. What has changed is the number of our staff and partners. With our 50 employees at CORE on Fehmarn we supply a network of over 700 dealers and 80 schools worldwide.

The wind and water sport industry has seen quite a turbulent time post-Covid. Is this something you feel you’ve weathered well? And what’s your outlook on the coming couple of years?

The turbulences since Covid with all its different characteristics and challenges have been heavy and we are definitely not over it yet. But yes, we are weathering it quite well. Our management team and core staff have been with the company almost since the very beginning and they have jointly worked through many different challenges before. We do not deviate from our basic principles such as price stability, we’d rather act cautious than risky and strengthen our long-lasting relationships with our suppliers and partners. We expect that the foil market, with its more than 100 players, will most likely consolidate like the kite market once did. And we are certain that our high demands in quality and performance will engage even more customers in the future.

So along with Fehmarn, where are your other top locations for testing prototypes, and who would you say are your main test riders?

Yes, being based on Fehmarn means we are lucky to be able to test our products right on our doorstep. That allows us not only to be very fast, but also to gather many different opinions from our team. However, especially when it comes to bigger waves or stronger winds, we are happy with our international network of professional riders. No matter if it’s Mauritius, Cape Town, Brazil or you name it – we have people everywhere, ready to put our products to the final test at all of the best spots in the world.

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