Kitesurf pioneer Elliot Leboe about filming Cabrinha's 2019 collection

Elliot Leboe is one of the names that falls when you hear stories of the early kitesurfing days. Being a pioneer of the sport, Elliot has a long history with Cabrinha and is well-known for his cinematographic talent and filming surf sports all over the globe. It's no surprise that our paths crossed again. For this year's new product range, Elliot shot our team riders on fresh 2019 gear. We talked to him about his memories of the good old days and what he thinks of where the sports is at now.

Hi Elliot, how was it back with Cabrinha and shooting kitesurfing again? 

Well, I have a long history with the Cabrinha brand - almost 20 years - from both a riding and filming perspective. My involvement progressed from riding professionally into the filming side of things. For this shoot it was refreshing to reunite and shoot with a whole new crew of younger riders. I was truly impressed at the level of riding and the chill positive vibe everyone had. Makes for easy filming when the riders are on point, and it's a relaxed atmosphere.

You shoot a lot of surfing nowadays and work with some of the best surfers - How do the kiters compare?

Yeah, I have an interesting mix of being able to shoot some of the best surfers on the planet here on Maui, as well as some of the best kitesurfers. Through the years I have always had a somewhat critical eye on the comparisons of kitesurfing and surfing. In the past, riders were riding waves and doing airs with kites, but a lot of images you would see would be guys with not much style, barrel shots where the guy was 'kinda' getting under the lip on the shoulder of the wave, but not really deep enough to be considered a legit barrel in the surf world. A large part of the progression on the kitesurfing side of things has happened with equipment innovations, kites that fully deposed when you need it to, boards and fins have become more refined and controllable, to handle the higher speeds.

After working with Keahi de Aboitiz and Matt Elsasser for this last shoot I'm now convinced that kitesurfing is as close to surfing as ver, note on a performance and style level. You see full rail carves in the hook with a relaxed style, and some of the footage of Keahi pulling in deep into barrels on Oahu was absolutely mind boggling. It is now to the point where you could photoshop out the bar and lines and couldn't tell if the guy was kiting or surfing. 

15 years ago, you were on of the first ever guys to try foiling with a kite. Things have changed a bit since then, right? 

For sure. I love the whole foil movement but I never thought I would see it get to the level it is at today. Pete Cabrinha and myself began foiling back in 2003 with kites. We were using modified aluminum Airchair foils attached to custom board and snowboard boots and bindings. It was so much fun to ride but not so fun to be in snowboard boots at the beach with a heavy boat anchor attached to your feet! Now I am blown away at what the guys are doing now on foils. The composite and aluminum technology plus weight savings of the new foils has aided in the radical performance gains of the foiling you see today. 

What was the best thing about the shoot? 

Mostly just the relaxed atmosphere everyone had. It really helps in capturing those natural moments which aren't forced. I loved shooting the foils underwater - such a great angle - as well as any time we get wave action. I always prefer to be swimming in the water shooting because when you're done you feel like you've shared the session with the riders. It was really inspiring to work with the younger generation of riders. They all have a great work ethic, are super positive and are knowledgable about how to line up to get shots. Even when we had mediocre conditions, everyone stayed motivated to shoot.