Charles Brodel has been a top-level rider on the F-ONE international team for quite some time! While he still maintains his status as one of the most talented kiters in the world, especially on a foil, he's also got the job title of Kite Designer! We put a spotlight on his role in this interview…
What is it like making the step up to join the R&D team? What is your official role at F-ONE, and how long have you been in this position?
Joining the R&D team at F-ONE made me fulfil one of my dreams: becoming a kite designer. I have been a member of the R&D team since March 2022. In the beginning, my role was to learn to design kites. Now, I am responsible for the development of the TRIGGER V2.
Have you still been able to participate in competitions and events? What is it like balancing your aspirations as a pro kiter with your job behind the scenes?
Besides my work, I have managed to continue participating in events and competitions. The TRIGGER is a big air kite, so I can train a little while working. It's difficult to link the two activities because I often change kites, and therefore, I have to get my bearings again each session.
As a family-owned business, F-ONE has a unique approach to product development. Can you share some insights on what that process is like?
At F-ONE, we develop products that we love to ride. We do not develop with the idea of producing for the sake of producing. If we don't like a product, we won't sell it, and we will wait until we like the product first before we put it on the market. The levels in the companies are very homogeneous, but everyone finds products adapted to them, which means that we have a very wide range of equipment for all levels. During tests, we are very demanding of the expected performances, and we stop developing as long as the performance does not meet our expectations.
The R&D team has a few members on it - including Raphael Salles himself - who have been on the team for a long time. What is it like working with designers with so many years of experience?
Working alongside Raphael is something extremely enriching. He is probably the most passionate person about R&D that I have met. Being passionate, he likes to talk about it, and he is meticulous in his settings, allowing me to learn many things very quickly alongside him. It's the same with Robert, who is just as passionate about design. This knowledge is exceptional, and during a simple discussion, I learn so much information. I am truly lucky to be able to be trained by these two great designers, and that is why I give my all to each drawing I create in order to show them my desire to progress and my potential to maybe one day, be as good as Robert and Raphael for the design.
Does having ridden at a professional level in kite foiling, including big air and freestyle, change how you approach kite design?
When developing a kite, you don't just have to want to make it a competition kite. I would personally like to make the most efficient kite possible for competitions, but that is not what should be done. First of all, you have to say that the kite must be able to be used by intermediate riders as well. It's quite the opposite; when I go to a competition, I look at the design of everyone's kites while looking for solutions for ours or look at the negative criteria of others so as not to reproduce the same mistakes.
We know you've been hard at work on the development of the TRIGGER, the big air weapon in the lineup. Rumour has it that a V2 is coming out very soon; what can you tell us about the V2?
Indeed, the TRIGGER V2 will be released at the end of the year. We have improved many points on this version, such as lift, speed of loops, and a better recovery after kite loops. We have also gained in stability and high range. We also put the HITEX material from the new wings on this kite in order to gain rigidity on the leading edge.
Can you share any stories from the design journey so far with the TRIGGER V2? Any big wins or big challenges that you have been able to overcome?
My first prototype was disastrous; it didn't work at all, but I gained a lot of information from it, which allowed me to learn much more than when prototypes work well straight away. Missing this first sail taught me that even with a sail that does not meet our expectations, it has good points and plenty of information to create our next prototypes. I think that in research, there is no victory or defeat.
What are you most excited about for the release of this kite?
What motivates me the most in the release of this kite is that it is the first sail that I have developed, and I really want to show F-ONE and the riders that I have developed a product that will please everyone and on which pro riders will be able to perform in competition.
What other products and projects are coming up with F-ONE over the next several months that you are stoked to be involved in?
For the moment, I am focused on the development of the TRIGGER V2, and we will have the product released in the next few months. I would like the team to like this kite so they can trust me by giving me more models to develop next year. I also have many competitions coming up and I would like to perform with this new kite in order to show its capabilities.
By Crystal VenessEditor at IKSURFMAG, Crystal Veness hails from Canada but is based in South Africa. When she isn't busy kitesurfing or reporting on the latest industry news for the mag, she is kicking back somewhere at a windy kite beach or working on creative media projects.