Sicily calling: The 2018 Cabrinha Rider Academy

Earlier this year, Cabrinha's top freestyle riders met in Italy for the Cabrinha Rider Academy; an event focusing on content creation, product testing, training, photo shooting and media networking. Held at the famous Pro Kite Alby Rondia in Sicily the riders put the new 2019 gear through its paces. The riding was on another level, with an atmosphere intent on progression. We talked with Cabrinha riders Therese Taabbel, Lucas Arsenault, Alex Maes, Lauren Holman, Jonathan Isselstein and Anja Fuchs about the first Cabrinha Rider Academy.

Hi Team, you just returned from the Cabrinha Rider Academy in Sicily. What are the conditions like at Pro Kite Alby Rondina?

Anja:  It was my first time in Sicily and I had heard a lot about Lo Stagnone before. So of course I had a certain imagination in my mind how it would be to kite there. But to be honest, the reality was way better than my expectations! The lagoon is huge and surrounded by beautiful nature and lots of salinas which makes the place look a little bizarre (in a good way!). Some spots make you feel like you’re somewhere in the Caribbean - white sand and crystal clear water. Gorgeous scenery for pics and footage guaranteed! One thing is for sure: If you’re a flatwater addict like me, Lo Stagnone will put a huge smile on your face. It’s the perfect place to work on your tricks and to progress in freestyle. Additionally to the lagoon with its butter flat spots you’ll find some proper surf spots around which makes the place an ideal combo for water addicts.

Alex:  Pro Kite Alby Rondina has it all! From your first waterstart to setting up the gnarliest rail this place is a kitesurfing paradise. You’ll be able to stay right in front of the spot and eat the best pasta while waiting for your next kite session. The pro kite team sure know how to take care of their guest! It’s great to have such a world class spot so close for us Europeans! So if you haven’t been to Sicily yet make sure to cross this spot of your list and go check for yourself the Dolce Vita!

Lauren:  Sicily is one of the few spots I've been with so many perfect freestyle spots. At times, the water was so flat you could literally see the reflection of your face... this, paired with consistent wind conditions, makes Sicily one of the best spots I've ever travelled to.

Therese:  The spot itself is huge and has so many possibilities. You will never get tired of riding the same place. It is shallow, which also makes it very flat. For my preferences that is one of the most important things and it diffidently ticked that box. As for the wind, never doubt the thermal wind, because it will surprise you each day.  

What memory stuck to your mind the most about the Cabrinha rider academy?

Jonathan:  When I got the invitation to this meeting, I was super happy about it. When staying in contact with your sponsor, it’s good to know them well like a friend. Like this it’s more fun and easier to work together. First, I was a bit cautious because before the week I just saw all these other riders in the magazines. But when I arrived I directly realised that all of them are super friendly and open like me and just want to work together, have fun on the water and have a good time at Prokite Alby. During the day we mostly tried to find some magical places for shooting and worked on new footage. When we finished the shootings all of us went out back on the water for more sessions and riding.

Therese: I loved sharing my sessions with everyone. And it was exceptionally cool to see everyone with their own personal touch to their riding and discipline. All from rail riding right at the centre, to cruising around finding the best spots for freestyle. To me it was very special to share a trip with everyone, and getting to know everyones stories. But most of all it was inspirational to ride and just get inspired by the rest of the team.

Alex:  Well, with a team like that you're never short on good memories! My two best memories were the new haircut of my good friend Lucas Arsenault and my last day at pro kite. For my last day, the wind wasn’t suppose to be very strong and I had to leave the next day to compete in the Triple S invitational, the wind still came through in the afternoon for a 15m Contra session so we put in place a kicker to rail transfer.  It was my first time trying something like that in kiteboarding and I had no idea if it was going to work! Doing transfers kiting, you never really know the speed you are going to have and the distance you are going to travel! It can all result in some painful crashes haha! At the end of the day we ended up with some nice photos and videos, so all worth it!

Anja:  For me, it was great fun to spend some days at the Rider Academy with the Cabrinha team. It feels awesome being with people who spread so many good vibes all day long and to finally having time to talk to each other as nowadays a lot of interactions only happen via Social Media. Of course it was also super exciting to see the new Cabrinha 2019 equipment in action! The Rider Academy is a perfect opportunity to get the Cabrinha team members together, to strengthen the bonds between everyone, to share experiences and to create heaps of great content. 

Jonathan:  The best part of this week was definitively the vibes in this team. There was no stress and everybody was just happy!!! 

What did you learn at the rider academy?

Alex:  I learned so much during the first Cabrinha riders academy! I learned to work with mags and see what they were looking for as well as helping wherever I was needed during the shoot. It’s not always about the biggest trick but also making yourself useful to the whole team. This trip I have also learned to work with different people and focus more on photos.

Lucas:  The riders academy was a great time to catch up with other riders and learn from each other. We also had Rou Chater from IKsurfmag with us. He was very helpful in providing some useful advise to improve our content and make things easier both for ourselves and kite magazines. Overall, Sicily and the rider academy was a huge success. We all came out with some insane content. 

Jonathan: During the Week in Sicily we had the chance to get points of view of the Brand managers. We got information about how to present our equipment at its best. Every year we need to create great photo and video content. I learnt that it’s not always about the craziest tricks. Sometimes to get a good shot it's more important to perform a controlled trick with emphasis on style and to combine with nice background landscapes. When people read articles, they need to get a wow feeling. Therefore, you need to create something new and not always the same shots of the gnarliest tricks in the same scenery. Furthermore, I got a view of it, how a big brand like Cabrinha works during shootings. Everybody has his task to do and the riders are also involved in the work behind the lens. 

Lauren:  Our time spent in Sicily at Alby's centre was such a valuable experience overall. Not only did we get the chance to get to know fellow Cabrinha riders, we also got to explore our potential in front of the camera lens and create some pretty cool content. For me, it was a huge learning experience. Going out to shoot is totally different than just going out for a free ride session, and it was great practice getting more comfortable in front of a photographer. It was also a perfect opportunity to practice tweaking out new grabs and simple, but photogenic, manoeuvres. I will definitely keep in mind everything I learned in Sicily to create some more unique and different content in the future. The spot also provided epic conditions to shoot. There was a different location to kite in every wind direction, and every spot had its own beautiful back drops, colours, and characteristics. In the end, I was very happy to have had the chance to be a part of the first ever Cabrinha rider's academy. It was a very productive and motivating week for us as riders and is hopefully an event that is continued on in the future. 

Therese: Cabrinha is a family and I am happy to be a part of it! 

How was it to shoot photo and video compared to just a training, freeride session?

Therese:  It is very different and takes more practice than you first think. It is a lot about repetition. But when the trick, the light, the backdrop and the photographer comes together it is like magic. I love mixing up my kite sessions, and shooting is a big part of the sport too!

Alex:  Filming and making photos is a very important process as a rider, it’s great to be able to look at clips/photos at the end of the day to see what you can do better! It’s very different to a regulafreeridede session, you basically try to do your tricks the best way possible and as perfect as possible during a freeride session you usually always try something new!!

Jonathan:  I really liked it that we were not only the guys who do all the tricks in front of the camera. We were also involved in the work behind the lens. Helping with the flash, giving the mates ideas for a nice perspective so that the pictures are even more sick was fun. 

What was fun to do outside of the water?

Alex:  We did a bunch of activities and visits around pro kite. I love this spot because there is so much to do and so many different spots to discover around the island. It was great to get to know the team better while eating pasta and drinking wine!

Anja:  Enjoying your morning coffee at Alby’s station with an awesome lagoon view, followed by some flatwater kite sessions and delicious italian food like home made sicilian pasta creations ... well, in my opinion this makes a perfect happiness recipe!

Jonathan:  I explored the area around our house, and for sure the fitness courses from Therese. Super hard workouts!  

Therese:  Probably all the gelato that I ate. Still dreaming about it at night. Think we all can agree on that, right team? 

What was the most memorable session during the rider academy?

Alex:  That’s a difficult one! We had so many great sessions! I would say the day the whole team came down to help put the sliders in good shape as the wind picked up for an epic sunset session. Everybody was so happy to be able to ride and I was stoked to see them all try to hit the kicker and sliders sometimes for their first time. The vibe was all time!

Therese:  Riding all the way upwind of the lagoon, only to discover this amazing stone wall, with perfect glassy water and amazing backdrop for shooting. Memorable and So fun.

Jonathan:  The downwinder from the top of the lagoon back to Alby and the nice Park setup were the best!! Super flat water and nice wind. There are so many nice places to explore and many different conditions. You have the flattest lagoon and next to it you can send it in the waves. 

Thanks team and see you at the next Rider Academy!