International Liquid Force Team Rider Jason Slezak has toured the globe riding every condition imaginable. For Fall 2006 through Spring 2008, Jason and kiteboarders across the world have teamed up with John and Alexis Bilderback to shoot the first ever High Definition kiteboarding film. Here's what Jason has to say about the new project.
“While shooting for “Lines” in Western Australia, JB had been contacted by a friend, television producer Brian Lippy. Brian informed JB that a high-definition television series titled “Nomads” was looking for some kiteboarding content and that joining us for one of the “Lines” shooting adventures would be a perfect fit. “Nomads” is an original series for a network called Rush HD, which is part of a larger family of networks called Voom. As soon as JB told me about the possibility of getting involved with “Nomads,” the brainstorming began. JB had been dreaming up locations that would fit our needs, and we weighed out all of the possibilities. We had narrowed down our choices, and it looked like Fiji was going to be the call. The crew would be JB, Lex, Kristin Boese, Sky Solbach, and me. As we were all still in Western Australia, there was a lot of travel in store before we would all meet up again.
“I flew from Western Australia back to Hatteras, JB and Lex to Oahu, and Sky and Kristin to the Gorge so that we had some time to unwind. Once we made it back to our respective homes to regroup, the plans began to change. JB contacted me one afternoon with what at first sounded like bad news. He said that the boat captain in Fiji was second guessing what his boat could handle both based on the size of our crew and the demands of how close the film crew would want to be to the action. Given these considerations, he was pulling out – no boat for us! Like I said, at first, this sounded like bad news. However, JB had already been looking into other alternatives and had his sights set on the shallow reef breaks and beautiful blue waters of Tahiti! This new plan would alter our dates a bit, but would also allow us to add fellow Liquid Force team rider, Tahitian local, and long-time friend Moehau “Moe” Goold. to our crew. JB informed me that a travel company would be in contact and that we soon would be on our way to French Polynesia in the South Pacific!
“Flying to Tahiti was much easier than I thought it would be. I had luck on my side and ended up with a non-stop flight from JFK in NYC direct to the island of Tahiti. So after a short flight from Norfolk, VA and a quick change of planes, I was in my seat, cocktail in hand, on my way to a Polynesian paradise! I arrived in Papette just after midnight local time. After meeting up with two of the camera crew while going through customs, we gathered our mountains of kite gear, surfboards, and camera gear and hit the street to try and find our ride. Once you land, there’s still a three-hour drive to get to Teahupoo. The flight arrived a bit late, so the driver was ready to go! But on the road, everything mellowed out, and we listened to reggae while Carl, the Tahitian-born, but Australian-raised driver, told us about growing up in Tahiti and how the times had changed. Carl pulled up to the water’s edge at around 3 am, allowing us to get our first sight of our boat and home for the next two weeks, the 64’ Cascade. We thanked Carl and boarded the boat. The sound of the powerful surf could be heard rumbling in the distance. None of us knew what we were in for when we awoke!
“The breakfast wake-up call was made at around 6 am. With only three hours sleep, it was hard to want to get up until... I looked out my cabin window only to see Teahupoo exploding on the shallow reef a short distance from where the Cascade was docked. The surf our first day was amazing! The Billabong Pro surf contest at Teahupoo had ended the day before, but the surf just continued to increase in size. Many of the top pros such as Kelly Slater, Bruce and Andy Irons, CJ Hobgood, and a few others were in the lineup as we pulled up in the channel to view the action. It was almost sensory overload trying to take it all in. The sight of the gorgeous, lush green Tahitian mountains with their jagged peaks jutting straight up out of the most beautiful, deep blue water was a constant distraction. That is until a set would roll up onto the reef and explode, creating one of the most perfect barrels as it unleashed its energy. I can’t recall exactly who spotted our Tahitian friend, but suddenly Moe came paddling up to us from a neighboring boat in the channel. He said his hellos and then charged into the pack at Chopes. Moe is fearless when it comes to barrels; I was more than impressed to see his comfort in the heavy situation that each surfer puts themselves into while riding Chopes! He charged just as hard as anyone else out there, scoring flawless barrels backside at that!
“After most of the pack cleared out of the water for the day, Sky and I decided that it was our turn. That first session at Teahupoo for both of us was less than successful, but extremely memorable. We surfed Chopes the following morning with a little less size and much more success! The magic of the lone shallow left breaking reef pass cannot be denied. All anyone has to do is sit safely in the comfort of the channel to experience it. I could not wait to attempt to ride the wave with a kite! We ended our surf session with smiles, knowing that our real journey through Tahiti was about to begin.
“When we cruised back to the Cascade in the tender, the crew was ready to shove off. The plan was to start out our journey heading east to a remote bay that looked like the best spot for wind from the forecast we had received. Also, we needed to stay close to pick up one remaining cameraman who was working on another shoot locally for the Discovery Channel. We motored out through the channel in the Cascade and off we went. We arrived at our destination just before sundown. After a quick swim and the first of many gourmet meals prepared by our amazing chef Johnny, we all turned in for the night ready for the wind forecasted for the morning and our first kite session of the trip.
“The next few days were spent exploring. We kited the shallow waters surrounding the small motus (small islands) and did downwind coast runs passing caves, waterfalls, rivermouths, and even a few hidden black sand beaches that looked like paradise! Gear for the downwinder was my Liquid Force 16m Assault and LF 144 Mission. In my opinion, the ability to explore on a kite is one of the greatest hidden benefits to kiteboarding. We further extended our exploration by motoring in the Cascade to the neighboring island of Moorea.
“The crossing to Moorea was short, and the island provided what became the one and only wave kiting session of our journey. We took all of our gear and crew to a small motu off of Moorea. This motu was a sea life educational center where people could visit to get hands-on experience of the life surrounding them in the ocean. We spent the morning swimming with sharks, sting rays, and countless other species of fish in the shallow, clean waters of the center. As we took a break for lunch, the wind filled in. Moe, Sky, Kristin, and I were stoked to see whitecaps and waves together! We quickly pumped up and sessioned the fun, shoulder-high left just off the corner of the island. Until, like a switch, the wind shut down and left us all swimming.
“The remainder of the trip was an activity-filled adventure! We did a long fifteen-hour overnight crossing to the island of Taha. There, we spent our days either flat water kiting, surfing, exploring the islands, snorkeling, and even on a moonlit night spear fishing and lobster dive with a few locals that we had met. All in all, the trip was one of the best of my life! The best part is that it was all documented and captured in HD and can be seen an upcoming episode of “Nomads” on Rush HD and as a section of the spring 2008 Bilderback Productions’ release “Lines.””
Coming Soon: REAL Kiteboarding proudly presents Bilderback Productions “Lines”