For all of you who have known kitesurfing since the start , you will remember Marcus â€œFlashâ€ Austin.
Hanglos offers you an exclusive interview with the Man himself.
Marcus â€œFlashâ€ Austin starts in Florida. This is the story of a kid who loves to play with his skimboard and his kite whilst dreaming to surf real waves one day. A few years later, the story comes true. Flash become a real showman and his a superstar in the kiting world. From one competition to another kitesurfing festival he travels around the world all year around.
1.Hi Marcus, what are you up to?
I have been enjoying living and kiteboarding on the north shore of Maui Hawaii. Hawaii is a great place to live for anyone who loves the ocean and doing water and wind related sports.The North shore of Maui has been renowned for many years as the windsurfing capitol of the world, due to the consistent trade winds and big winter waves. For someone like me living here is like a dream come true. Both "Ho'okipa" and "Jaws" are located here just a few miles east of where I live, and "kite beach" is just a few miles west. Maui is also known as "the pearl of the Pacific" and the entire north shore is a real gem for even the most advanced or dedicated waterman. On just about any given day the conditions can be just amazing. The great thing about living a life dedicated to surfing and kiteboarding is that you become real connected to the power, beauty, and lifestyle of the ocean.
2. Are you still kitesurfing as much as you use to?
OH yea, my whole world revolves around going surfing and kiteboarding. I'm definitely an avid surfer and kiteboarder. I usually go surfing for sunrise in the morning and then kiteboarding all day. I never get bored with kiteboarding because it is such a dynamic sport, there are just so many possibilities and combinations of things you can do. Even after kiteboarding for more than 13 years I am still as excited to go kiteboarding today as I have ever been. Kiteboarding just gets better and better all the time. It almost seems like it is limitless in the things that you can do. When you live somewhere that you have such awesome conditions almost everyday of the year, I think that after awhile kiteboarding becomes a very creative sport, bound only by your imagination and ability.
3. What is your opinion on the current strapless movement?
It is really great to see everybody enjoying that aspect of kiteboarding. What I love about riding strapless is that, even though at first it seems like it would be difficult to stay on the board, with a little bit of practice you realize it really isn't that difficult, and in actuality can offer a true sense of freedom. The other day I was riding on my regular 6'6" surfboard doing some Ollie's, carving, and riding waves, and I didn't even notice that there weren't any straps.To me strapless surfing has very pure style, and epitomizes free-riding in kiteboarding.
4. Considering, that you were known as one of the most extreme kitesurfers, I was wondering if you were now into megaloops?
Sure, megaloops are pretty sick, but they can also be very risky depending on the circumstances involved, as it is with many things. My concern with some of the more radical tricks is, that I would hate to see anyone get hurt trying to do something just because it is a popular trend. I guess that it depends on how well you know your ability, your equipment, and the wind conditions you are riding in. Megaloops are one of those tricks that require full commitment, you would not want to do it half-way or else it can go terribly wrong. Even if you do it just right, it still involves a bit of luck and chance. Either way, with stuff like that there can be little margin for error, and it can mean the difference between pulling off the trick, or maybe getting really hurt trying it. I think that people should keep it in mind that sometimes "discretion is the better part of valor".
5. A young rider that inspires you?
There are so many, I really see so many young kids, boys and girls out charging it, that it would be really difficult to boil it down to just one. I am happy and inspired for all of them. It is really great to see these kids out there with so much enthusiasm and agility, and I think that it is a good alternative to digital age, like just playing video games all day.
6. What do you think of the progress in kite design over the last few years?
I think that it is great, considering how good the kites are today compared to what we were riding back in the beginning. The kites today are a lot more safe and user friendly, back in the old days we didn't even have any safety systems - we were pretty much just flying by the seat of our pants regardless of the risks. I think the progress in the gear and safety is exactly what the market needed. I am deeply distressed when I hear about people getting severely hurt or dying while kiteboarding. I have serious emotional scars and deeply regret the accidents that have happened in the past, that may not have happened if we had had the gear and safety systems that we have today. I wish there would have been something we could have done about that sooner.
7. We have seen over the last few years a lot of riders from the early time creating their own brands (Best, Wainman, Eclipse, Variâ€¦). Anything planned for you?
Yea sure, if I find a financial backer willing to make that vision of kiteboarding into a reality, then that would be great. I would be very excited if people wanted to ride the Flash brand, and I think that competition in the market place is a good thing.
8. Over the years, we have seen some different movement, like big air, wakestyle, strapless, un-hooked. What could be the next Kiteboarding new school movement?
Well it really is hard to say, not only are the tricks getting more complex, but also the sport has a unique ability to diversify. So I think it is both, not only will the tricks get more and more complex, but also people will be very creative in evolving their own unique style. There are so many styles, that offer so many different possibilities, and on so many different levels, that it is difficult to define. Kickers and sliders will probably become more prevalent I am sure, but who knows maybe people will go back to free-riding on a mono-ski like Cory Roeseler used to as-well. I think as people start to care less about what is trendy, that a lot of people will prefer to be unique and ride with a different style than everybody else around them. So in that way, I know that kiteboarding has an innate ability to keep re-inventing itself.
9. What are you up to when not kiting?
I am probably going surfing, here in Maui when there is no wind it is good time to go surfing. Surfing, skimboarding, and skateboarding are some of my favorite cross-training sports that I can easily do here in Maui. I am a pretty dedicate water guy, so needless to say my life can resemble something like a circular paradox, surf, kite, eat, sleep, and then get up the next day and do it again. After I go kiteboarding I like to hang out with friends and watch other people kite and just do whatever. Sometimes in the evening you can find me on the couch feeling like road kill.
10. 13 years on, would you do it again?
Of-course, not only has kiteboarding changed my life, but it also fulfilled a lot of my childhood dreams. Kiteboarding has been like a great gift to me and in my life, as it probably is for anyone who (like me) has an unquenchable desire for kiting, surfing, or any kind adrenaline or free-riding type of sports. Some friends and I were talking about it the other day, and we came to realize that if I tried to compile that amount of time I have spent catching air, or flying through the air, or even just riding waves these last 13 years of kiteboarding, it would really add up to a lot. Living a life as a kiteboarder/kitesurfer has truly made me a richer person on the inside, and given me fulfillment and an appreciation for the things that I truly value. After a day of kiteboarding my priorities can shift, and some of the problems that I had taken so seriously before, seem to be somehow more or less trivial. It's just that good, I call kiteboarding one of the greatest gifts of my life.
11. How's the kiteboarding scene on your home spot ? Do you ever wish beach where un-crowded as they use to?
Sometimes it can be a little difficult to find a parking space, but that's no big deal. I am thrilled that kiteboarding is access-able and been able to touch to so many people, in so many places in the world. When I started kiteboarding, it was several years until I heard of anyone else doing it. There was probably just a few kiteboarders spread out in different parts of the world . For a long time, I really just wanted to go kiteboarding with just even 1 other person. Back then I could not have imagine that there would be as many people that are kiteboarding today, much-less kiteboarding becoming a legitimate sport. What was at one time like a distant dream, today has materialized beyond my wildest imagination. And so I am thrilled that it has reached so many people. I talk to people for hours, time and time again about how kiteboarding has influenced them and made their life a richer life. I kinda' think that in some way, in some really good way we have changed the world.
12. Did you ever had a session on an old kite and board over the last few years? ( I mean like a proper 2 lines Wipika Classic and a modified surfboard)
Yea, from time to time I try an old board or kite. I still have a lot of the old gear we used to use, and it always a offers good perspective to how far we have come. And it makes me wonder, if we have come so far in such a short time, then how much better it will be in the years to come.
13. Anybody you would like to say thanks to?
That would be a really long list, my successes have been realized by the giving and support of so many people, I can't even begin to describe. Of course first would be my mom. For so many reasons, some of which as single parent raising two kids she not only worked really hard to provide for us, but she also made sure we lived on the ocean and had all the skateboards, surfboards, skimboards, and everything that helped build the foundations of my waterman lifestyle of today. I tell my mom all the time that I had such a great day today surfing and/or kiteboarding, and that it was made possible because of the way she raised me as a child to have that kind of connection to the ocean. Second would be my mom's friend Bruce who taught me how to surf when I was young, he was such a great inspiration and a mentor. Then there's my friends Chuck and Robin for all their help and stoke in the early days of my kiting. They really believed in me and in kiteboarding way before it was an actual sport, I owe them so much as-well. My friend Joe Kool, not only because he believed in me, and in the sport back when people said that it would never go anywhere, but also because of his devotion and vision of kiteboarding, one day becoming one of the greatest sports. Just like Jeff Timpone of Timpone surfboards who shaped some of my first kiteboards totally for free, completely out of the goodness of his heart. He donated his time and money to help me and the sport, at a time when there was nothing to profit form it, even in the slightest. I meet people and get e-mails on almost a daily basis, of people telling me how much they love the sport of kiteboarding, and telling me thank you for my contributions to the sport. So I want to say thank you to them for that recognition, it is really nice that people don't forget that in the early days it was not so easy. We were creating something new and had no instruction manual or anything like that to tell us how to do it or what to do next. I wouldn't want to forget all the other people that supported me and the sport when it was nothing but a distant vision, like Roberto Ricci, Uwe Sasse, Don Montague, my friend Bare and Green Horn. The list of people I owe mountains of gratitude to, goes on and on... it would be difficult to do it justice in a single page.