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.
“Shortly after REAL Kiteboarding's BVI '07 sailing excursion in late January, I went in for minor knee surgery. I did this because I was no longer willing to deal with the pain of my badly torn meniscus. It was a tough decision to make after committing to being a featured rider in “Lines.” But I knew that after putting the surgery off for a year, I would not be able to last another full year until I got it done. While I was busy doing rehab, JB and Lex were making plans for their first major travel leg of the “Lines” journey. I continued to go to physical therapy and get into the gym to strengthen my leg as much as possible. After reaching a point at which I felt that I would be able to get back on the water, I booked my ticket to the city of Perth, in Western Australia (WA).
“JB and Lex had traveled to WA with their neighbor on the North Shore, and fellow Liquid Force team rider of mine, Davey Blair. Those three also were joined by CJ Jones, a Liquid Force rider from the Sunshine Coast on the central east coast of Australia. The foursome (adding me in as a fifth) had scheduled our time in WA to coincide with the North Kiteboarding R&D team of Jamie Herraiz and Sky Solbach, who have been spending a few months each year in WA for kite and board testing because of the consistent winds and pumping swell. Sky was accompanied this year by his girlfriend Kristin Boese. Kristin rides for Best and is the two-time kiteboarding female world champion! To round out our filming crew were Margaret River local rippers Drew Beavis and Chris Ross, both former professional surfers turned FULL-time kiters. If you ask Drew if he wants to go surf, he will just laugh and with a smile tell you that there is no need to sit in a crowded lineup with grumpy surfers when he can catch more waves and have more fun in less crowds with his kite!
“Knowing who was already there and hearing the stories of epic surf and wind I franticly did my knee rehab here on Cape Hatteras to get in shape to go! I set out on my journey from Norfolk, VA and after thirty-two hours of flying and four flights later, I was safely on the ground in sunny, HOT, Perth, Western Australia! The house that we rented was located in the village of Prevely just south of Margaret River. Margaret River is the epicenter of the surf and kitesurf paradise that WA has to offer. The town is located in the middle of two capes on the Indian Ocean. The approximately 110 km coastline is almost totally undeveloped and is the home to countless surf breaks. There is everything from point breaks, reef breaks, beach breaks, rivermouths, and even a number of off-shore outside breaks that are referred to as “bombies.” An aerial view of this coastline looks like something from a surfer's wet dream! The best thing about many of these breaks is that every afternoon, almost like clockwork, the wind kicks in with any variety of side-shore type wind (side off, side on, straight side) from the left.
“After arriving in Perth, there is a four-hour drive south to Margaret River. The long flight combined with the car ride put me out! I woke the next morning to a beautiful blue sky, WA day. The wind was filling in earlier than usual which meant that it was on! I built out my Liquid Force 6'0” Surfboard and tossed my 12m and 14m Liquid Force Havocs and 6m and 9m Liquid Force Assaults into the van and off we went. The crew took me to a spot called Lefty's which, you guessed it, is a left. JB, Lex, Davey, CJ, and I were met in the car park by Jaime, Sky, Kristin, and Drew. There was excitement in the air and everyone was ready to ride. This was my first session on the water since surgery, and I was a bit nervous, yet the knee was feeling strong. I pumped up and ended up having the first of MANY sessions with the boys (and girls) in epic WA!
“In the month that I spent in WA, we took kite sessions every day except for five days. And a few of those five or so kite session-less days still were ride-able, but we just needed some body recovery and time without sun. I was amazed at the quality of the conditions. Many of the spots were a bit difficult to get to; they were more of a mission than just driving to the beach. Having everything from beachfront carparks where you can pump up right next to your car all the way to spots that require four-wheel driving or even hiking in with all of your gear make for a great variety of spots, conditions, and crowds. From the easiest and most popular spot, Main Break in Prev, you can surf the long, reeling left or the shorter, faster right in the morning. As the wind starts to fill in from the left, the kiters and windsurfers paddle in over the shallow reef and begin to rig up for the second session of the day. Some of the more remote spots are a full-day commitment to get to, session, and get home . . . however, they are worth the effort. A remote and radical spot that was put on the kiteboarding map by kiteboard wave pioneers Ben Wilson and Jeff Tobias is a break called the “Zoo.”
“As a kiteboarder, I have dreamed of seeing the Zoo in person since the first time that I saw the pictures and footage. The Zoo has an amazing mystique to it. Just getting there and finding it is the first battle. Once you are there, you notice that there is no cell phone service, no development of any kind, and it is at the end of a long, dusty, dead-end dirt and sand road, so there is not even any other people or passing traffic if something were to go wrong. The wave is heavy, and the consequences are high. Just standing on the beach you can sense the power and energy that the shallow break delivers. Davey had been in WA for about three weeks before I arrived and had been sessioning the Zoo solo the entire time. I was getting photo updates from the “Lines” crew while rehabbing in Hatteras and was frothing to join Davey at the Zoo!
“Though we would make the long trek to check the Zoo any day that looked remotely possible, my first session there did not occur until two weeks into my stay in WA. That first day on the water was shared with Davey and two other riders that had recently arrived from Hawaii to do some filming for the “Lines” project – Jimmy Lewis team rider Niccolo Porcella, and Naish team rider Reo Stevens. The four of us were stoked and even though it was a smaller, more playful day at the Zoo, each of us could still feel the power that this freak wave has to offer. On that particular day, I watched Reo get one of the most legit kiteboard barrels that I had ever seen! He executed a perfect bottom turn followed by setting himself up in the pocket and getting completely shacked and coming out dry! Reo showed what his Naish Boxer and SS 5'10” could do! That session was the perfect setup for the larger days that followed.
“The sessions continued up and down the cape as the weeks followed, and we rode some epic beach breaks and even some flat water inside of a river mouth on the south end of the cape. But one thing was clear: our main goal was to score a big, solid session at the Zoo! The opportunity presented itself just a few days before Niccolo and I were to leave WA. We awoke on April 11th to coffee and an early morning surf check just like any normal day. The thing that was different about that morning is that it was already windy at 7 am. This was not a regular occurrence and the direction looked perfect for the Zoo! Davey, Niccolo, and I franticly gathered our gear for the day as JB and Lex prepared all of the camera gear and loaded up. As we drove up the dusty bumpy road to the Zoo, the excitement could be felt in the air. As we approached the ocean, we could see the lines of swell rolling in larger and more organized than what we had recently been seeing. Also, whitecaps were present as far as the eye could see. It was on!
“That April 11th session will go down as my favorite session of the trip as well as one of the most memorable sessions of my life! I think that the photos and footage from the Zoo will speak for themselves, but being able to ride out there on a kite is amazing! It is not a wave that you would choose to surf, windsurf, tow into, or even body board. However, the extremely dynamic way that kiteboarding works allows riders to get on to these hydrodynamic mountains created by the abrupt shallow shoreline that the Zoo explodes onto. Davey, Nicollo, and I traded off waves for hours with everyone charging harder with each passing set. Davey was fearlessly hucking himself off of the tops of closeout bombs and pulling in to heaving barrels on his Liquid Force 5'8” Surfboard and 8m Havoc. Niccolo too was putting himself in as deep as he could get on his Jimmy Lewis 5'8” Surf before the Zoo would explode onto almost dry sand! My session took place on a Liquid Force Havoc 10m and Liquid Force 6'0” Surfboard with footstraps. I know that all three of us were changed that day; the Zoo is like a drug and the buzz can last for days!
“Nicollo and I drove to the airport a few days later still on our high from the Zoo. As we drove, we reminisced about the month that we spent exploring WA. Once we checked in and parted ways, I settled into my seat for the first leg of my thirty-six hours of flying that it would take me back to the east coast of the United States. That's when it all started to sink in. I had shown up in WA less than a month and a half out of knee surgery not knowing what to expect, and was now leaving approximately 30 days later, healthy and after having some of the greatest kiteboarding adventures and, hands down, the most memorable session of my life while in WA. But I knew that this was just the start beginning – Bilderback Productions' “Lines” will continue production for the remainder of 2007. And I can't wait for the new adventures that lie ahead!”
Coming Soon: REAL Kiteboarding proudly presents Bilderback Productions “Lines”