Jason Slezak here, just checking in from the 2011 Liquid Force European Distributors meeting and product line introduction from Egypt. Each year all of distributors from around Europe gather together to go over the new product and make a game plan for the following product year.
This years Liquid Force European Distributors meeting was held in the far off land of Egypt. I was honored to be invited to present my completely redesigned pro model, the 2011 Influence, along with the rest of the 2011 board line as both a team rider and R&D representative. All while getting to do some daily shredding with the LF crew in attendance. We spent the majority of our time in Zaafarana where the Gulf of Suez meets the Red Sea with presentation meetings in the am and kiting sessions each day from around noon until 7 or 8 pm.
The water color of the Gulf of Suez and the Red Sea is absolutely amazing!! A electric bright blue in the shallows that quickly transitions to a warm deep blue if not almost purple as the water depths increase. The colors are not that different than those of the Caribbean Sea yet they appear so much more vibrant against the overwhelmingly drab tan surroundings of the Eastern Egypt Desert. All of our sessions took place at the Ibi & Friends Kiteboarding Centers’ Zaafarana location, which was very accommodating providing gear storage, a staff to launch and land our kites, rescue boats, and most importantly shade structures to escape the relentless desert heat and sun!
We had kiters from countries such as; Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Australia, China, Russia, UAE, Greece, Cyprus, Austria, England, USA, & Canada just to name a few giving a truly international representation of our great sport! All of the riders, both guys and girls, were able to ride all of the new 2011 gear to get a feel for the great product that is about to be released in months to come! Most days the bigger guys (like myself, and Motya from Russia) would spend our time on 11m HiFi Comps, 10m Havocs or 9m Envys, with even a few 8m Havoc sessions, while the smaller guys and girls were lit on 7m HiFi Comps, 8m Havocs, or 7m Envys. There was no shortage of riding and at the end of each day we were all ready for some food, rest and relaxation at our Hotel.
On Monday, July 5th a small group of us; Gary Siskar (LF Kites brand manager), Kevin Klein (LF International in house sales), Fishman (LF Control System production manager in China), and myself headed into Cairo to celebrate LF kite designer and team rider Julien Fillions’ birthday in the big city! Cairo has a population of over 23 Million people and it is amazing how much ancient history and culture exists there. We checked into a hotel with a view of the Pyramids and proceeded to explore both Giza and Cairo for the day with Jullien and crew. That evening we all took a sunset dinner cruise on the Nile river getting to see the two cities (Cairo on one side and Giza on the other) from a different point of view. Our last adventure of the day took place on the rooftop bar of or hotel with a surprise birthday cake for Julien complete with the local Egyptian band that was playing, breaking into a spontaneous “Happy Birthday Song” for him as the cake came out. We all sang and the others on the roof cheered as Julien blew out his candle. The day, and our Egyptian adventure, ended by quietly sipping some nightcap cocktails, listening to the local musicians and smoking shisha (a fruit flavored tobacco and molasses mixture smoked in a hookah style water pipe) with the dimly lit pyramids in the background.
It never ceases to amaze me the spots in the world where kiteboarding has taken me and the wonderful people it has allowed me to be fortunate enough to meet along the way! I will be heading off to Hood River, OR in just a few days for this weekends Kiteboarding 4 Cancer event where our REAL Watersports team, the REAL Wind Ninjas will be taking part in a wonderful event to be able to help raise money and give back through a sport that has given so much to all of us!