Marc Jacobs has carved out an impressive career in the world of kiteboarding. A regular feature on the PKRA podium he has now progressed (along with a number of other riders of his generation) very firmly into the world of Big Air. And having taken out the Biggest Air award at this year’s KOTA, he is now very much one to watch when it comes to those 30 knot+ hold-on-to-your-hat days…
Photos: Courtesy North Kiteboarding
// Hey Marc, thanks for taking the time out to talk to us. So you have been on the scene for some time now – can you talk us through when and where you began kiting?
My kiteboarding journey began in 2015 when I came across Dave Edwards [also known as Mad Dave!]. I watched him over the years which motivated me and inspired me to take up kiting. After saving for three years and working as a paperboy, my mum and I went halves on my first ever inflatable kite. I always remember my 15th birthday as an important milestone. I rode on the beach with my mountain board and would jump off sand dunes practicing flips and rotations until my 16th birthday, when I got my first board. From that day on I knew this was my passion in life and it became my full focus, to be the best.
// How is New Zealand for conditions – we have seen some epic shots over the years but do you spend a lot of time waiting for the right conditions and driving around?
New Zealand has pretty amazing conditions for kitesurfing. We have a lot of epic spots where it's just you, the ocean and no one else. But I normally stick to my city spots which aren’t too far away and I have plenty of options to head to depending on the conditions, the direction and the tides. The wind here is normally pretty decent all year round. February to May tends to be not as good as the winter/spring season, but you can always find wind in Wellington NZ, even if you have to chase it.
// Tell us about your dog, Ace.
There is quite a funny story behind Ace, she was actually my flatmate’s gift to his girlfriend. However, he got deported when Ace was six months old. Ace was left at our flat with no one to care for her, so one day I thought I should take her to the beach kiting to see how she would react. From that day I knew she was meant to be mine. She leapt up on my board and into my arms, so excited she could barely contain herself. I would kite up and down the beach and she would chase after me barking, wanting to jump on again. I never had to train her, it was like fate all along.
// Can you take us through your time on the freestyle tour?
The freestyle tour was an amazing experience. I learnt a lot about competing, and riding with the pros really helped me reach my full potential. I still love competing and pushing my freestyle, but now I really want to push my Big Air riding and I’m fully focused on pursuing that.
// You have always seemed to be a rider who gives 110% and likes to inject plenty of power into their riding – do you always have this mind-set when you are on the water?
I feel like this is a part of who I am. I always give 110%. Not just in kiting, but in everyday life. I always want to push myself and go harder every time and make each session count.
// At KOTA 2019 you blew a few minds in the kitesurfing community – can you take us through that event and your trick selection?
2019 was the year I really pushed my goofy stance and focused on new tricks. I thought that bringing new tricks to KOTA would give me a good chance of winning. But I learnt that doing tricks coming towards the shore, not out, wasn’t going to be rewarded as much as going out and using the waves as kickers. So this year, I fully focused on my switch tack and learnt all the moves switch. It definitely paid off. I feel I need one more solid year to get my switch riding level higher and closer to my goofy tack, and feel I will have a good chance to win.
// The guys now at the top of the pack in KOTA and other Big Air events seem to be – to put it politely – a little more ‘mature’ than the guys shredding on the freestyle tour! Why is this do you think?
I think that having KOTA as the only proper Big Air event, it makes it hard for up and comers with no competition experience. A lot of people, including myself, have folded under the pressure of this event. There is so much hype around the event, and only having one chance to prove yourself, there is no room for error. There are a lot of good riders who can land all the tricks, but if you don’t have the mental state to handle it, you don’t have the mind to perform. State of mind is everything in an event like this and is what a lot of riders are lacking experience in.
// So how do you train for the event?
It has been my biggest dream to win a KOTA title. But it also has been very frustrating as I’m such a dominant goofy foot rider, I don’t get the chance to show my full potential in a favored regular foot forward kite spot for this event. In the past, when we had the Big Air Tour, I showed that I can come out on top in other kite spots. I just really hope one day we get a Big Air Tour again. But until then, I will continue to improve my switch skills and push myself to achieve my dream.
// Can you take us through your experience at this year’s event?
This year was new and exciting for me. I trained very hard in order to do well, not just physically, but mentally. This year I worked with a mental coach who helped me feel very relaxed and in control. I was able to enjoy every moment of it on the day. I felt like a new improved rider, and it seemed to pay off.
// You joined North recently – as a kiwi and with a lot of the team based over there, was it an easy decision and how did it come about?
Yes! I joined forces with North kiteboarding in August. Their office is based in my home spot in Auckland, New Zealand, so it made sense for both of us. I couldn’t have been happier to sign with North. I love riding and pushing my limits, but I also love being involved testing and developing the new gear. With the amount of hours I spend on the water, I feel I fit this role perfectly to truly test all the gear before it hits the market.
// What other sports or cross-training do you do when you’re not kiting?
I do a lot of gym work. I hate being injured so I work very hard on being well balanced with no weak muscle groups to prevent getting injured. I also do a lot of cable wakeboarding on the no-wind days and I feel it helps my kiting as well.
// Have you ridden all of the kites and what is your preferred set up?
I have ridden all of the gear apart from the wave kites and boards. For freestyle, I love to push it on the Pulse kite and the 141 Focus Carbon board. If the winds get over 25 knots I then prefer to train for Big Air, so I switch to the Orbit kite and 138 Atmos Carbon board. I am very stoked with my current set up. It gives me a lot of motivation to push my limits even further!
// So, KOTA is done – what are your plans for the rest of the year?
I will continue to train and perfect my switch tricks for KOTA. I’m also considering trying the Red Bull Megaloop Challenge this year, if I get in by video entry. And of course working closely with North on all the new and upcoming gear. Exciting times ahead!
This feature originally appeared in TheKiteMag #36. To subscribe, head here.