Watch: Keahi de Aboitiz // Tunnel Vision

Stu Nettle
Reels

“Kitesurfing is a pretty diverse sport and people get into it for different reasons. Some people are more into cruising or jumping, but there are also surfers who kite.”

Keahi de Aboitiz is the latter, a surfer who kites. He looks at the conditions the way a surfer does, picturing certain moves in certain places, noting the lip that’s looking for attention, the wave that's doubling up, or the wide section that’ll allow a full-blooded carve.

Make no mistake, Keahi has a surfer’s eye.

The difference between you and I, however, is that the kite allows his eyes to roam much further. Wind power shrinks an expansive lineup. Allows him to join distant dots.

“I've always seen it like driving your own jetski in a way,” says Keahi of using a kite while surfing. “When the current is too strong to paddle, or you're dealing with wash throughs, a kite is an amazing tool to have.”

“Also, in shifty, heavy waves you can position yourself exactly where you want to be before it breaks and you're already on your feet to navigate steps or heavy drops too.”

Born in Noosa to Hawaiian parents - well, Mum was Hawaiian while Dad was born here but raised there - Keahi’s first love was longboarding. Unsurprising, with the soft-topped peelers of the Noosa points on tap for six months of the year.

And for those other six months? Keahi stayed wet by kiting, using the conditions to his advantage. Through his teenage years he increasingly concentrated on kiting, and this had the about-face effect of getting him into shortboarding - fella likes to go fast on small equipment.

 “Generally, anyone riding a surfboard is looking for that same feeling,” says Keahi, “but adding a kite gives you an extra dimension. You can hit a section with added power or use the wave as a ramp.”

Look down and you’ll note Keahi is often riding what looks very much like a surfboard. So what’s the difference between his kiteboards and surfboards?

“It depends on the waves really. In less powerful surf and for airs, something shorter and wider works, but in bigger slabs something more pulled in and a touch longer works too - I guess you could say it's similar to a small wave tow board.”

“With the added power you can get away with the volume you always wanted to surf,” says Keahi, adding, “that’s means a few litres less for me.” 

“And extra glass is needed since you're always on your feet and boards don't last that long otherwise.”

So in short: Similar shape, less volume, more strength. 

Anyone who’s seen Keahi surfing Boiling Pot at size, or watched his Wave of the Winter entry at Backdoor, knows the old boy goes OK in the barrel. So it should surprise no-one that he’d push kitesurfing in that direction. Yet that kite? Those lines? How does it work..?

“Although it comes with some challenges, it's a lot more possible to get barrelled than people realise,” explains Keahi about getting barelled on a kite. “Sure, you can't get a ten second barrel but you can get a lot deeper than you think.” 

“For the most part, since the lines are thin and tight they actually just cut through the lip - though longer barrels or thicker lips can create a little bit too much drag.”

“The biggest challenge is finding the right wind angle and keeping your kite positioned in the right spot so that it doesn't hinder you too much. It’s a crazy visual watching the lines slice through when you're getting barreled!”

Questions about which equipment he’d prefer to get barrelled on cause Keahi to shake his head. It’s just not how he looks at it. Says Keahi, "all I want to do is maximize my time in the ocean and get the same feeling in different conditions.”

“Kitesurfing doesn’t replace surfing, but in the right conditions it’s the perfect extension of it.”

Comments

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg commented Wednesday, 24 Jun 2020 at 11:43am

That was impressive. Those bottom turn/gaff combos he can do at speed are insane.

I'm not cheap,
But I'm free.

BBrowny's picture
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BBrowny commented Wednesday, 24 Jun 2020 at 1:38pm

Wish I got into it earlier.

ojackojacko's picture
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ojackojacko commented Wednesday, 24 Jun 2020 at 1:54pm

faark. can surf

Lukas_Z's picture
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Lukas_Z commented Saturday, 27 Jun 2020 at 10:32pm

Not sure what year but he won the best backdoor barrel, I think same one in vid 4:20

Someone, somewhere

boxright's picture
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boxright commented Wednesday, 24 Jun 2020 at 2:06pm

He's got an incredible knack to power off and let his board run back against the wind, like those quick stalls at the right slab.

offshoreozzie's picture
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offshoreozzie commented Wednesday, 24 Jun 2020 at 2:25pm

The guy rips and holy crap has he seen some incredible barrel vision!

The MIDdleman.'s picture
The MIDdleman.'s picture
The MIDdleman. commented Wednesday, 24 Jun 2020 at 2:52pm

Such a whole new perspective.
So many different possible lines.

And this blokes clearly a genius.
No straps.
How in the flaming hell is he doing that.

Signature.

The MIDdleman.'s picture
The MIDdleman.'s picture
The MIDdleman. commented Wednesday, 24 Jun 2020 at 2:52pm

Such a whole new perspective.
So many different possible lines.

And this blokes clearly a genius.
No straps.
How in the flaming hell is he doing that.

Signature.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Wednesday, 24 Jun 2020 at 3:01pm

Love the Skeleton Bay footage with the cam in the lines like a low-flying drone showing the distance he covers on the bottom turns, and also gives a close up of his barrel style, of which I see three diferent versions on the one wave: regulation, grab-rail, and layback.

dumpy's picture
dumpy's picture
dumpy commented Wednesday, 24 Jun 2020 at 4:23pm

beats a jetski

on usenet my friends .sig was "leave only footprints" but if you do that some one will follow.... :D

Ray Shirlaw's picture
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Ray Shirlaw commented Wednesday, 24 Jun 2020 at 4:25pm

Are you fuggin kidding me? Um...you've set the bar pretty high there mate

Keahi's picture
Keahi's picture
Keahi commented Wednesday, 24 Jun 2020 at 5:40pm

I've always had fun mixing it up with the different sports and showing whats possible with a kite in the right conditions. Definitely a great tool to have in the arsenal at windy locations. Thanks for sharing guys and stoked everyone liked the film!

ojackojacko's picture
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ojackojacko commented Wednesday, 24 Jun 2020 at 7:43pm

mate you are a legend. i’ve enjoyed other clips of you and your partner too but this was something else

indo-dreaming's picture
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indo-dreaming commented Wednesday, 24 Jun 2020 at 6:03pm

Okay that was pretty impressive, how talented is this guy maybe I've been living in a bubble but ive never seen anyone surf a Sup or kite like that.

That last wave was sick too.

I dont get this whole kite thing, like how the cord goes through the barrel or when they fall off or what happens if they get tangled up with each other?

stunet's picture
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stunet commented Wednesday, 24 Jun 2020 at 7:12pm

Two seasons ago I was out at Himalayas and snapped my board. Didn't want to take sets on the head but also didn't want to get sucked out behind Laniakea, so I came in across the inside section, and by chance got to see a bloke on a big ol' SUP destroy an end section bowl from mere feet away.

Quite a sight!

I then sat on the bonnet of the car and watched the same guy do it over and over again while waiting for my mates to come in. Sometimes huge open face roundhouses into foam blasts, on a big board on a big wave.

When my mates finally came in, one of them who's a keen kitseurfer was wigging out cos 'Keahi' was out there.

Same guy.

drodders's picture
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drodders commented Wednesday, 24 Jun 2020 at 6:42pm

Um, I hope the SUP crowd here never get that talented!! That was extremely impressive, he is amazing at everything.

northeasterly's picture
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northeasterly commented Wednesday, 24 Jun 2020 at 6:44pm

Really liked watching this. So many skills at play. Incredible surfing on all the different equipment he was using. Pulling in to big kegs with all those ropes flying around is gutsy. What happens to kite surfers when they get thrown around under water? Do they get tied up? I don't even want to imagine.

ringmaster's picture
ringmaster's picture
ringmaster commented Wednesday, 24 Jun 2020 at 6:47pm

That bloke is one multi skilled mutha!

Never seen vision of someone performing at the absolute elite level on such different equipment. Kai Lenny maybe?

Can't believe he's relatively unknown.

tsunalu's picture
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tsunalu commented Thursday, 25 Jun 2020 at 7:48pm

Kai and Keahi are both multi-sport athletes. Be great to see them hang out and surf/kite/sail/wing etc.
Don't know if Keahi has done any channel crossings and suped chopes, pipe and jaws to the same level as Kai, but hey these blokes are multi-rippers.

derra83's picture
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derra83 commented Wednesday, 24 Jun 2020 at 6:55pm

No straps! You're a gluefoot KdA.

Can't believe those spins.

Casp's picture
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Casp commented Wednesday, 24 Jun 2020 at 6:58pm

insane!

Kalito's picture
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Kalito commented Wednesday, 24 Jun 2020 at 7:48pm

The best

Westofthelake's picture
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Westofthelake commented Wednesday, 24 Jun 2020 at 8:30pm

That was freaking incredible Keahi.

You make it look so easy.

Absolutely enjoyed watching and listening. Great vid all round.

Be great to see more of ya in the future.

Stok's picture
Stok's picture
Stok commented Wednesday, 24 Jun 2020 at 9:14pm

Highly recommend all surfers consider adding a kite to their quiver, unless you live somewhere with no wind.

Aside from the obvious - it opens up a whole other perspective on windy/cross/onshore days - The hacks you can do being pulled by a kite are insane - image laying into a huge turn at speed but also having a bar to hold onto to stabilise yourself, and stop you from falling.

Also, wave count becomes very high - kite out the back, take a wave in, repeat.

It's not hard to learn either.

Yendor's picture
Yendor's picture
Yendor commented Thursday, 25 Jun 2020 at 7:42am

That video had me looking at second hand kites. He's a freak. Josh Mulcoy has been preaching kites for surfers for ages.
Some of that end footage was looking very Snake like. If not the same place then the same coast I'm guessing. I've heard kite surfers were the first into that joint too. They get around. Lots of kiters round Lakey's in the windy months.
Bit of an expensive entry fee for kiting. Round here it's mostly corporate he -man types, puts you off a bit. If I could only convince the wife and kids i need to take even more time out.......

Island Bay's picture
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Island Bay commented Thursday, 25 Jun 2020 at 8:07am

I'll join you, Yendor. I'm sure we can find some cheap 2nd hand gear. Where I was surfing yesterday gets very good for kiting.

Not The Snake, btw. That long righthander, and the slabbier peak, are on an island.

mibs-oner's picture
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mibs-oner commented Thursday, 25 Jun 2020 at 9:09am

The water view from the donkey is the most incredible vision I’ve ever experienced. That vid makes me wanna go back. This dude is a beast

Nigeisblessed's picture
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Nigeisblessed commented Thursday, 25 Jun 2020 at 1:54pm

That was awesome, absolute charger in big waves too! Love how the kite gives him time to get out in front of a section when the wave breaks down in front then just pick a spot to come back into it. Hookin' too, how fast was he goin' in Skeleton?!

I have one question that's not rhetorical, if you get wiped out in big surf is the kite a hindrance or a help? I can imagine it acting a bit like a sea anchor and releasing you from the wipeout quicker - or the exact opposite, doesn't let you get deep and so held in the washing machine for longer.

Keahi's picture
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Keahi commented Friday, 26 Jun 2020 at 10:27am

Thanks mate, its definitely an amazing tool to have and opens up a lot of possibilities at certain waves.

In answer to your question, it can be both. If you're comfortable and you keep the kite flying its a huge help in wipeouts as you can use it to pull yourself through the back of a wave and save yourself going over falls. I actually prefer it when testing out sketchy slabs as I can pick and choose waves better and pull the eject button when needed.

On the other hand, you do have to be a little careful when the kite goes down as it can be a secondary hold down skull dragging you through the water when a wave hits Once you're comfortable though, its pretty easy to avoid these situations and you can eject the kite pretty quickly with the quick release too. Most situations where I let it go down, it falls out the back of the wave either into the channel or it does give you a little time to get it up or ditch the kite if needed.

It is a bit of a process to learn kiting, but if you live somewhere that gets a lot of wind or you're looking for a way to escape the crowd, I'm sure you'd have fun with it!

Nigeisblessed's picture
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Nigeisblessed commented Friday, 26 Jun 2020 at 2:18pm

Thanks for getting back to me Keahi, certainly something to look at.

Island Bay's picture
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Island Bay commented Thursday, 25 Jun 2020 at 2:43pm

Keahi, if you read this, I too have a question:

You're obviously stupidly talented, so I'm guessing it's a question of preference, but do you never ride switch going left?

Impressive barrel riding, both surfing and kiting.

Keahi's picture
Keahi's picture
Keahi commented Friday, 26 Jun 2020 at 10:31am

Good question as a lot of people that kite and don't come from a strong surfing background generally learn to go switch. I do it occasionally but since I grew up surfing, I just always loved the feeling of riding backside and its fun to have a little different take on it. Really offshore conditions can definitely benefit from riding switch so you're forehand so it is something I may try push my self with more in the future

The MIDdleman.'s picture
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The MIDdleman. commented Friday, 26 Jun 2020 at 1:59pm

Sorry mate... but I'm calling bullshit on you not being able to ride anything anywhich fucking way.

Signature.

Island Bay's picture
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Island Bay commented Saturday, 27 Jun 2020 at 8:41am

Cheers.

Willyo's picture
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Willyo commented Thursday, 25 Jun 2020 at 7:18pm

Epic stuff. Keep up the good work keahi!
Great vid

Fonzie's picture
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Fonzie commented Thursday, 25 Jun 2020 at 7:24pm

That guy is next level, my new favourite surfer.

Wilbur Kookmeyer's alter ego.

Agitator's picture
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Agitator commented Thursday, 25 Jun 2020 at 7:29pm

Faaaaark!.....this guy is like another Kelly Slater but on a completely different level!

surfinado's picture
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surfinado commented Friday, 26 Jun 2020 at 9:25am

So rad with sick style Keahi! This is as good as or better all around than I've ever seen...I'd watch this any day over the wozzle wannabe air show \m/

Livin large, lovin life

mrkook's picture
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mrkook commented Friday, 26 Jun 2020 at 8:27pm

Amazing, absolute charger and crazy skill. Pulling into heaving cloudbreak on a SUP is super ballsy, you wouldn’t want to come unstuck!

MK

joesydney's picture
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joesydney commented Friday, 26 Jun 2020 at 10:14pm

You can fuck right off with that much talent!

Budda's picture
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Budda commented Saturday, 27 Jun 2020 at 8:20am

Can i please have 1% of this dudes talent. Amazing on all craft

Rabbits68's picture
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Rabbits68 commented Saturday, 27 Jun 2020 at 12:54pm

That was truly incredible! Some amazing surfing, epic footage and insane waves.

Is it possible for one man to have too much fun?

Pristine

Lukas_Z's picture
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Lukas_Z commented Saturday, 27 Jun 2020 at 10:14pm

Positive feedback from a surfing crew! I met Keahi when he came down to Vicco for a SUP at Possos an Kite session at my local bay beach Mentone (sorry we couldn't put better condx on Keahi). A super modest but talented guy and def my favourite kiter to follow.

As a once keen surfer I took up kiting to stop surfing frustration (driving to coast in Vicco takes 1-2 hours) but quickly started playing around with old surfboards in bay waves and having a blast, basically the closest feeling to surfing without hassle of driving, paddling and then crowds. Kept me happy 10 years and hopefully 20 more. Anytime its onshore and howling we're happy. Surf in morning. Kite in arvo.

Someone, somewhere

Spuddups's picture
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Spuddups commented Sunday, 28 Jun 2020 at 4:54pm

Looks like a heap of fun. Must require a decent amount of natural talent and practice to get this good though aye. A mate of mine got into kiting a few years ago. Gave up after a year or so. Said he got the shits with the arsing around on the beach setting up the kite. I guess that’s the beauty of surfing really, in that at its heart it’s a pretty simple operation. Still, I guess if you have a bit of time on your hands then kiting’s gotta be worth a look. For me though when the waves are no good I’m happy enough finding other stuff to do. Gardening, snorkeling, bike riding with the kids, that sort of thing.

Stok's picture
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Stok commented Monday, 29 Jun 2020 at 9:12pm

Kiting does have a bit more gear to lug around, but it's really no big deal.

Setting up is 5-10 mins, packing up 10 minutes. Once you've got the kite up you can riding waves in under a minute. No long paddle outs and no waiting around for a last wave to take you in. If the peak your riding is crowded shoot down the beach to an empty spot in a matter of seconds. I regularly do quick 1 hour sessions (or less sometimes) as I have little 'uns and can't stay out long.

In some ways you get more stoke than a quick surf session at a crowded spot, where you'll be fighting for waves and may only get 5 or less in 30 mins.

Spuddups's picture
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Spuddups commented Tuesday, 30 Jun 2020 at 5:12am

You put forward a compelling case. Might require a re-think on my part.

Lukas_Z's picture
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Lukas_Z commented Tuesday, 30 Jun 2020 at 8:40am

Kiting (like snowoarding) is a lot easier than surfing, but surfing has more rewards. A lot of ex-surfers who kite say surfing is overrated. Can't really compare the two, surfing gives better stoke but kiting gets you out on the water more often especially in summer. Wind can be pretty fickle and unpredictable, ideally need at least 20kn, ideally 25kn but not 40. Most kiters are not surfers, but many are moving to strapless boards as its the trend atm.

Someone, somewhere

Spuddups's picture
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Spuddups commented Tuesday, 30 Jun 2020 at 2:48pm

One thing I like about surfing is sitting out the back in the sunshine having a bit of a natter with my surfing buddies as we wait for the sets. That's something that kite-surfers miss out on I reckon.

warddy's picture
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warddy commented Monday, 29 Jun 2020 at 3:59pm

That was next level apart from Jaws over to you Kai
Round 3

Bnkref's picture
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Bnkref commented Monday, 29 Jun 2020 at 6:00pm

Wow. That was brilliant. Loved it.

Incredibly talented on all craft and a great variety of waves.

69longboarder's picture
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69longboarder commented Monday, 29 Jun 2020 at 8:35pm

This bloke has more skills in his big toe than I do.
Impressive to say the least.

THuffam's picture
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THuffam commented Saturday, 4 Jul 2020 at 6:43pm

To those considering giving kiting a go...do it. It does not have to be expensive - start with a 2nd hand surf kite ($300) a 2nd hand harness ($50) and a cheap 2-line trainer kite off ebay ($30 and ditch the handles and tie lines to a stick 1.5feet long). And thats it - use an old 6ft surfboard. I taught my son - took only 2 hours and he was riding strapless on a surfboard (he's a surfer - 18 year old). Couple of tips to get up and going that quickly: 1) Start with a big kite ( 9-12m - depending on your weight and local wind conditions) as they move slower and more power makes learning easy and you shouldn't go out in over 20knots when learning. 2) Start with a regular surfboard - no foot straps! Trust me this is the easiest and quickest way if you (like my son) are only interested in learning to ride waves (the usual progression is twin-tip with straps for a year, then surfboard with straps then strapless on a surfboard - waste of time!). Do not try kiting without lessons though!! Start with a trainer (how quick you learn is 100% in relation to you understanding how to fly a 2 line kite with a bar). Once you are hooked -buy the same gear as Keahi .. it'll make you that good ;-)
Oh.. and WRT too much gear and hassle setting up... nonsense. I walk or cycle to the beach for a kite (kite, harness and pump in kite bag on my back & board under arm). Takes 10 mins to setup and 5 mins to pack up - if you take longer, you're doing something wrong.