Welcome back to the RRD team Shawn Richman!
Hawaiian, legendary style master, Shawn Richman is back, check out this interview to find out more.
Tell us more about your background in kitesurfing.
Good question! Where do I begin? I got involved back in the early days of kiting. My brother Jesse and I started trying to figure out how not to die while being strapped to kites around 2001 to 2002. It took almost a year of being picked up from school by our amazing dad and every day heading to the beach to get dragged around by these absolute bullies of kites to finally stay upwind. We were on 2 line 1.5m, 2.5m, 3.5m and then we had this 4.5 four line. I swear those kites kicked the daylight out of me more than any other kite since!
Once upwind we progressed quite quickly as we were completely addicted and spent as much time as we could on the water. Almost every day! I remember spending a summer out of school and I only spent 3 days not hooked into my kite over 4 months, and that was only because I had such bad harness rash.
Before both Jesse and I knew it, we were sponsored, heading off to contests, traveling solo, winning events, losing events with the desire to win the next one. My family were all taken on this wild ride with us, we were so young and everything continued on from there! Kitesurfing was my childhood, my teenage life, as well as most of my early 20’s. I loved it, and also hated it! As fun as it was, I also found it very difficult. I loved meeting new people, seeing new places and giving happiness to those that enjoyed my style of riding.
I found the politics hard to deal with, the dance monkey dance photo shoots of the same riding spot over and over just on a newly painted board and a mock-up kite. All trying to get the same shot as 6 months ago but with the “New and Improved” gear. I found myself not enjoying riding anymore, not putting the gear in the car, and not being motivated to kite. It felt like a chore and at the ripe old age of 26, I burnt out my stoke for the sport!
It’s been a few years since I put down the kite competitively. I went from riding 300+ days a year to just twice a year. I needed to experience something different, see what else life had to offer. I ended up joining my wife in her wildlife conservation efforts in East Africa. I was waiting for the day that I had that urge to kite again with no expectations and… it finally came and in the strangest place. Anna, my wife was filming a tribe in the desert, we were so far from anything kite related, and I just got that feeling! The next week we drove our landrover ocean bound and haven’t looked back. The amazing thing is I have a clean slate to begin my relationship with kitesurfing again. I am treading with caution, making sure this time that its all about the love for the sport.
I want to ride with good people and for a good brand; I want to be proud to fly their flag! Also, and most importantly, I kite when I feel the stoke, and that is what it’s all about… and with that mindset, I’ve wanted to ride every day since I got back to the ocean.
Sponsorship is like being in a partnership, a relationship, and a family. When I was thinking about who I wanted to talk to about getting back in the sport I thought back on all the connections that I had made in my career, one person stood out that I’ve always had the utmost respect for, and that was Roberto. He was more stoked than anyone on the beach, so genuine and passionate about all the gear that he makes but more importantly how it helps the rider have more fun! He is someone who will take the extra time, put that extra effort in, make the more expensive decision if the result will better the experience for the rider and that is important to me. I sent him an email after not speaking to him in years and he responded within hours being the same stoked Roberto that I remembered.
What I did not expect was who he then put me in touch with, none other than, Alex Vliege! This is a guy I first met years ago at one of my first international contests. A guy that I also respect for his passion and dedication to the sport, so fitting that he is now the International Marketing and Team Manager for RRD. I knew that I had made the right decision, this is the kind of family that will make all the difference as I enter this new chapter of kiting.
What is your favorite gear?
I am absolutely loving my PASSION 7m kite, BLISS 136 board, loving my RRD H FLIGHT FOIL — it is by far the best foil I have ridden and appreciated the little things on my Global Bar. I love how tightly put together the gear feels and how much attention to detail there is. I picked up my gear and within 5 minutes, I felt like I was as comfortable with my gear as I would on a 6-month-old quiver.
Where is your favorite kitesurfing spot?
Kizingoni beach on Lamu Island in Kenya, I can’t get enough of this spot, so much so I have decided to set up shop here! I am currently building a unique kite and yoga retreat and advanced training center. The wind is consistent, the tides are always changing giving a whole new beach each and every day. Warm water, good food and island vibes, you can’t beat it! To wake up in my luxury yet rustic beach cabana and have my kite pumped on the beach as my view from bed… I am stoked!
What are your goals for 2018?
To have fun and share the stoke it can bring. But most of all to begin my journey as a kite educator and pay it forward.
We are still building the retreat but our accommodation is up and pumping. Any and all are welcome. If you want to watch our progress on the kite zone you can follow me on Instagram @shawnrichman