Isle of Plenty

Planning a photoshoot in the far reaches of Scotland’s Hebridean island chain was unquestionably a ballsy move on the part of Cabrinha’s Marketing Manager, James Boulding. Open to the full spectrum of wild, North Atlantic weather, the odds that an autumn tempest would move in and ruin everything were certainly high. But the pay-off if it didn’t meant it was worth the gamble…

Intro / Photos: James Boulding
Words: Alby Rondina & Henrick Lopes 


In Autumn 2023, Cabrinha’s international wing team convened on a tiny little island in the northwest of Scotland. As photoshoot destinations go, this wasn’t in the usual brand playbook, yet for everyone other than Alby (traveling from a slightly longer distance of 1500 miles, from Sicily) the location was within 90 minutes flight time of everyone involved. For myself, the longest journey would be the drive from my home in the south of England up into Scotland followed by a ferry out to the Hebridean islands. It wouldn’t have the world class perfect waves some lucky riders in the industry can call their local break, yet it was an adventure that perhaps is more in line with what the general water sports enthusiast entertains and would put the team to the test in a place that was out of their comfort zones. As adventures go it had everything, and where better to put a full new product range of wings and foil boards to the ultimate test than an island with a population of 500 that you can drive around in under an hour. Two weeks of island isolation would certainly separate the men from the boys and put the gear to the ultimate ‘real life’ test.

 

Alby.

Alby Rondina, left his tranquil flat water paradise of Pro Kite Alby Rondina, on the northeast tip of Sicily and made the short hop over packed with plenty of cold weather gear and thick DaKine wetsuits…

The trip was super fun! I was a little scared about the temperatures, coming from summer in the south Mediterranean. I was actually rather surprised though and we were met with really nice weather. We had quite a few nice sunny days, with some amazing waves that wrap around the different bays of the island. The scenery of Scotland is really what you expect from the movies. Beautiful forests, lakes and mountains, amazing nature all over the place and very down-to-earth and friendly people.

The island is very small, with only around 500 people living on the island, and by the end of our trip we most probably had met them all… Two pubs, one supermarket, and one policeman. What more do you actually need?! The cool thing of being on such a small island is that for conditions, depending on the wind directions, you can easily drive around and within a few minutes you can find wind and waves coming from whichever direction you prefer. This is something I’ve not really experienced before and is pretty dreamy, especially when you want to put the gear to the absolute test in a multitude of conditions. Hanging out with the whole team is fun wherever we are anyway, being such a diverse group of people. Everybody has their own style and differences, but all are stoked to get out on the water. We did enjoy having a few pints and for me it was my first time drinking the famous Guinness. I’m sure it won’t be the last.

It was really cool to see the younger generation pushing the limits in each discipline.  It’s fair to say I’ve been around for some years now, and I really love all the sports, wing, kite and foil. Some of the guys are fully dedicated to their specific craft and watching them throw down is truly inspiring. Titouan has the most elegant and smooth style out there, I think. He can get going on a really small foil in marginal conditions like no-one I’ve seen. I guess his balance and technique is unbeatable and it’s something that competing on the world tour race scene has helped develop. Seeing him on a wave, it kind of looks like a butterfly just enjoying the flight.

Hendrick has a more classic Cape Verdean look but with a super refined and clean style, which maybe shows off his half-Swiss personality. Watching him ride on the waves, it really impressed me how his timing was always impeccable, hitting the lip in the most critical spots, throwing the foil out off the lip and into an air, with massive sprays and always with amazing control. It’s so fun to watch!

Benji is the new kid on the block and going to blow up the whole wing scene in the next few years. He’s just a kid at the end of the day and is just having fun out there and enjoying his winging to the max. It’s pretty crazy for me to see these really young kids that are starting directly with winging as their first sport. He’s just insane to watch, considering his weight and body size, he can boost huge and spin incredibly fast. I cannot wait to see him grow, improving through maturity and coming up with his own new tricks. It was super fun to have him around, with all the energy that comes with him.

After two weeks of solid riding I had plenty of time on all the gear. The standout for me are the new Vision wings which I feel have set new standards in light wind conditions. I just know whoever I put on them in light wind, they will get on the foil and have fun! They just have the easiest and most forgiving pump out there. With a generous dihedral, they have a very intuitive and easy pump that helps you gain speed and get on the foil with ease, as well as a very soft and nimble feel on the arms.  The shape plays a really important role especially on the big sizes. The lower aspect ratio compare to the Mantis and the wider wing tip, makes the wing shape more compact, so a lot easier not to hit the water even when using 7m or 8m! The other very important feature is the amazing depower the wing has in the high end. If the wind picks up during your light wind session, you can easily handle the Vision, as the wing tips open up just enough to give you that nice soft feeling on the arms. Freestyle kids like Benji are loving the speed you can rotate with it, it’s helping them turn single and double spins into triples and multiple flips.

Hendrick.

For Hendrick, it was his first international shoot with Cabrinha, and although born and raised in the hot and seemingly always sunny Cape Verde, he now lives in Switzerland, so no stranger to gearing up with a thick suit and getting out in freezing conditions. That said, he certainly didn’t seem to do it so willingly at first on the cold days! Turn the wave machine on though, and suddenly he’s the first one in the water, absolutely tearing it up…

When I first got the news I’d be going to Scotland, my first thought was, are there even waves in Scotland? And how cold was it going to be?! Well, we got there and of course it was just amazing and sunny. I found it pretty amusing how many cows and sheep there were. What I found fascinating was how everyone knew each other and somehow they all knew that we were there on a photo shoot! As for my highlight, well there was this one bar we went to and there was a wedding party taking place. Everyone was dancing very traditionally, and I started showing off some Cape Verdean dance moves and suddenly we all started dancing together creating some sort of hybrid style dance moves. I’ll always remember that night, an experience where cultures came together and new friends are made. If only we didn’t have to have the sore heads the next morning…

I’ve felt connected with Cabrinha since the first day I joined and being able to go on a shoot with the team was just a dream come true. It was all about a group of people with the same passion coming together to have fun and live in the moment, to share a real-life experience. We met so many British and European kitesurfers, wingers and surfers all just on their own adventures, passing by as we enjoyed our one. Everything was just so natural and fun. I think it’s the best way to enjoy the sports we do and connect with other passionate water sport enthusiasts.

For me, the standout was the new Swift foil board.  I couldn’t believe how easy it was to takeoff in the lightest of conditions, yet how fun and maneuverable it was still.  It was really fun in flat water, but also performed in the waves. A lot of time when it was cross-off the wind was sketchy and having a board that got you up in the slightest gust really helped keep you riding the majority of the time.

The Mantis is definitely my wing of choice! I like the combination of its lightness, stability and rigidness with the handles, and that gives the most direct feeling through the arms. Due to how powerful the wing is I’m always able to go one size smaller than everyone so I’m able to maximise my performance in the waves. There’s no better feeling than taking loads of speed down a wave, bottom turning up and airing off the lip. It is something I’ve brought over from kitesurfing, something that I love doing on the waves I grew up kitesurfing on in Ponta Preta. 

 

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