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CreatorsMAIN 1200x800 - The Creators: Dano See &  Jaimie Scott

The Creators: Dano See & Jaimie Scott

With the recent release of North Kiteboarding’s updated Surf range, we thought it was a good time to meet the designers behind the products. Dano See, who has helped develop the latest Carve kite, joined North last year, bringing with him more than 20 years of experience working in the industry. And Jaimie Scott, surfboard shaper for North, has been applying his experience in board shaping to their latest surfboards, including the Cross and Charge.

PHOTOS: Patri McLaughlin (unless specified) / Photos of Jaimie: Graeme Murray
Dano See 2 - The Creators: Dano See &  Jaimie Scott

Dano, we hear Fiji was part of your early kiting journey. How did you first get into kiting and how did living in Fiji influence your kiting style? 

I was lucky enough to be one of the original lifeguards on Namotu back in the late 90s and I saw the early days of two-line kites from Robby Naish and the Maui strapped crew. In the beginning, it wasn’t so impressive to see – most of the time it ended with a rescue. I was happy to just keep windsurfing at the time. There were a few occasions we got to try the gear, and this ended in both good and bad experiences. It wasn’t until I went back to Australia that my best mate convinced me it was the next best thing! He was boosting off waves and ripping, so I immediately made my first purchase of a two-line kite and headed back to Fiji. Being the surf resort Namotu is, I started on a directional surf-style board which was actually a tow-in surfboard. This naturally pushed the focus to jumping and riding waves like we were when windsurfing. Now I make my own boards and still ride surf-style today. The waves and wind in Fiji are so awesome and make it an amazing playground for learning and discovering all types of waveriding abilities…

Kiting went on to become more than a hobby to you. How did your career in kite design start? 

Right from the beginning I always had a fascination with how things worked and were put together. I used to draw my own sails in primary school, hoping one day to make some of my own. It’s just a deep desire to work with the tools that inspired our daily life so much.

From sailing as a kid, I evolved into windsurfing in the 80s when the sport was booming, as my dad had a windsurf shop. I did part-time work in hang-glider and sail lofts at any given chance, gathering as much hands-on experience as possible. Windsurfing in Maui, I worked in numerous sail lofts and saw the very first kites being hand built and adjusted. I was deeply involved in helping with numerous alterations. This is where I learnt the fundamental aspects of a kite and how different they were from a true sail. A kite was its own thing, it was new and who knew of its future? I was really inspired by this new development, and the thirst for future possibilities of this new sport was keeping me awake at night…

Well you’ve certainly helped create new possibilities for this sport. What are some of your proudest moments over the years of working with different brands?

Straight up I would say the evolution of the bow kite. We were right there at the beginning when the concept was first purchased by a few top brands. Each brand took the idea and evolved it into its own brand designs. We learnt so much regarding bridling and the function and role it plays on such a wing. Bow kites really opened the door to the sport for safety and the sheeting depower ability. Waveriding and jumping had a whole new level to be explored. These were the building blocks for the many bridled kites on the market today…

Another would be enhancing the drift attributes of a kite. We first brought a dedicated ‘surf kite’ to market around 2008 which allowed riders to unhook and physically surf the wave while their kite sat still and perfectly balanced until rider input. Still to this day many people and brands are confused about what real drifting is. Most of the latest wave kites on the market do everything you need, like turn fast and jump well, but the minute you’re on the wave and try to depower the kite it just stalls or drags you down the line. Real drift is when the kite is in a position of 45 degrees or higher and it is not pulling, allowing the rider to surf. The kite does not stall or overfly, it balances perfectly downwind with the rider until they choose to power-on or steer. Beware of imitations!

You currently live in the Philippines. Are you there for the waves?! 

For sure waves are my passion and that’s why I live where I do. I was never a wakeboarder or into flat-water tricks. When I ride surf-style I don’t use straps, as my knees don’t appreciate it these days. But I love the twintip for boosting off waves and testing the freestyle aspects of a kite. Waves just add that extra element in a session, which is always unpredictable and sometimes creates a demand on your equipment outside of the norm…

Why did you end up setting up a sail loft there? Does it allow you to prototype on the fly? 

I first came to the Philippines about 10 years ago and started working with local sail manufacturers, Hyde Sails. We set up a division for making inflatable kites and tents. I was island-hopping to Siargao to do my testing, however, this was not an ideal wind location. I’d heard about a place in the north: Kingfisher. On my first trip, we tested every size from 5m to 10m with perfect right-hand waves every day. I had just discovered my own personal paradise! I immediately packed up and moved there, where I remain today eight years later. From my many years of being hands-on working in sail lofts I built one of my own, where we can prototype and quickly make radical adjustments one minute from the beach. This skill set came mainly from the Maui days and working with numerous sail brands. The home loft is awesome for extensive R&D work or quick and easy iterations of designs…

Jaimie Scott by Graeme Murray 1 - The Creators: Dano See &  Jaimie Scott

And it was part of the reason you’ve ended up working with North, right? 

Living in the Philippines I had my own brand, DSD, making kites and boards, and I designed for a few other brands working out of the Hyde Sails factory where I had previously set up the inflatable division. I met Mike and the team when they came to the Philippines in 2019 for a photoshoot. I assisted them with their tour and shoot and got to ride with the team together at my home spot. They saw the gear I was making, then Mike contacted me in 2020 letting me know there was an opening for a second designer at North and asking if I would like to apply…

You’ve been working closely on the new Carve with them. Can you tell us what the design aspirations were for it? 

We wanted to get the Carve back to its roots and positioned as the number one waveriding kite on the market. Freestyle kitesurfing has really affected wave kites these days; they are more focused on jumping and hangtime than agility on the wave. Most of the wave kites on the market do not drift well, turn under slack, or allow the rider to stay in the best part of the wave. Keeping the freestyle qualities and adding proper down-the-line drift were the main focus of the design.

How have you made it suitable for both waveriding and strapless freestyle? 

Balancing the jumping and hangtime with the overall drift and stability of a kite are key elements of what make up the different kite categories. Normally you have a kite designed for freestyle, then a kite designed for waves. The two don’t usually go hand in hand and like everything it’s a balance and working closely with the team we managed to find the fine line between having good freestyle ability while still maintaining a good feeling and less pull on the waves. Bridling was the key element to making the bar stroke handle the power needed for boosting while having good depower while riding the wave… With the ‘23 Carve we had testing right through with the wave crew on Maui: Jessie, Camille and Capucine. These guys are unbelievable freestylers and waveriders. With their testing and feedback, we developed the perfect balance between freestyle ability and wave orientation to bring what we all considered the best wave/freestyle kite to date…

Talk us through the construction details. Have you managed to reduce the Carve’s weight, as is the current trend? 

A wave kite needs to be able to take a pounding, so stripping material weight wasn’t easy, and we didn’t want to mess with the new Dyneema. Reducing the LE size and strut size reduced the overall percentage of Dacron and TPU Bladder material used, and this was a significant weight reduction. Also, there were a lot of Dacron reinforcements within the canopy layout. These we have reduced down a lot without compromising the effectiveness. But the main weight-saving factor was reducing the bladder thickness – this is a huge weight saver on any inflatable, more so than the fabrics. Mostly the lighter products on the market are new materials matched with lighter bladders, giving the perception that the material is the new breakthrough in weight reduction…

Thanks Dano!

Jaimie, like Dano, you also started off working in a sail loft. Why did board design end up attracting you more than sails?

As a kid I just loved boats and wanted to grow up and design them. When I did eventually grow up I did an apprenticeship designing and making sails which I loved, but I got offered a job at a windsurf and surf custom board factory here in New Zealand. My job was to set up a sail loft and develop windsurf sails for the brand. The factory produced windsurfers and surfboards and when the windsurfing boom slowed down, I just transitioned into the board building. I had a heap of experience and understanding through working with shapers in the past, refining surfboards and windsurf boards for my own use. With the skills I had learned through sail making, I figured I could bring a new perspective to the design process. This was pre-computer when curves were lofted out and we built loads of templates, which I was good at. It was always just such a buzz to build my own gear!

I guess the world of water sports has certainly changed a lot since then?

Yeah. Other than all the new sports we are now frothing on, the biggest change was computer-assisted design. Refinements of designs are now literally points of millimeters, and we can reproduce things accurately, with tiny changes, to work toward the ultimate craft for each discipline. We can also overlay and compare one craft to another easily, which is super interesting and helps big time with understanding what is going on.

You’re into surfing, snowboarding and paddle boarding as well as kiting. How does this multi-sport participation influence your board design?

I think the broad range of feels I get from riding the different crafts all relate, helping me understand the important factors for each specific design. We stand sideways and feel the flex, buoyancy or curves as the craft connects with and releases from the medium that we are riding. I guess I am very open-minded and keen to progress or discover new ways to ride, and with a broad understanding can pull ideas from one craft or sport and incorporate them into another for different performance characteristics.

When did you start working with North?

I basically started day one with the new North, before the North jet ski had any logos even! I had met Mike through a friend, and he was looking for a shaper that kitesurfed to design some boards. I suggested we hook up and do a surf trip to discuss the ins and outs, and pretty much did my job interview over a weekend of towing huge waves at one of our premium surf spots during the swell of the year… it was pumping. We hung out for the weekend and at the end of the trip, I was pretty much asked to start designing.

That’s the kind of job interview we like! We also spent a weekend hanging out with Mike and the team this year and really enjoyed riding the new Cross. What did you do to make it such a nice board?!

So stoked you enjoyed the new Cross! This board was designed for any rider, pro or bro, to excel with ease. It has all the design attributes I have collected from doing the other models and refined over the last three to four years to build into a very balanced easy-riding performer – nothing overly radical or new, just really honed and refined. Construction-wise we have used a bamboo composite construction to make the board light and responsive as well as very durable. We are very happy with the overall effect as it has given the new Cross a very lively and comfortable feel, two factors that are not always easy to combine.

And how did you update the Charge board for this year?

Small refinements and lots of discussion with Jesse and Camille! The Charge is a weapon already and I am just working through the very fine details and trying to make micro improvements in the right direction. The design brief for this board hasn’t changed – we wanted the ultimate waveriding board powered by a kite. Our team riders love the Charge, they understand we are fine-tuning and give me great feedback on the subtle feelings. I also like to collect feedback from average riders as they make up a lot of the market. They ride in average conditions and sometimes the gold feedback comes from someone you don’t expect!

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