Canada is more than likely not the first thing that comes to mind when most people think about dreamy kiteboarding destinations. As surprising as it may sound, Canada delivers world class kiteboarding that often flies under the radar. PEI is a film about kiteboarding discovery. Lucas Arsenault, Canadian freestyle champion, has lived on Prince Edward Island his entire life, perfecting his trade throughout the years at his local spots. It wasn't until he was joined by Cabrinha's youngest team riders Tom Bridge and Theo Demanez that he unlocked the full potential of an island rich with kiteboarding possibility. The team set out in search of new locations to film and ride whilst experiencing day to day life of PEI. Read on for a good glimpse of their special trip to PEI.
PEI is way out on the Eastern coast of Canada. What are the conditions we can expect on the island?
Lucas: PEI is a highly underrated kiteboarding paradise and is high on the list when it comes to kiteboarding in Canada. The island is approximately 220km long and has a population of about 160.000 people. Over 1000km of coastline surrounds the island, mostly varying from sandy beaches, red cliffs, or large sand dunes. The Island delivers countless untouched spots and downwind opportunities, possible from every wind direction. You can chose between flat water or waves, shallow or deep... anything you could possibly search for to kitesurf. The endless exploration is what makes this island special and unique. Uncrowded sessions with your best mates are a frequent occurrence.
Tom: This was my first time to Canada and it was absolutely amazing! I was actually shocked at how big the island is, there is so much space and most of the island seems fairly empty. Its a perfect destination to go kitesurfing as there is nowhere you can’t go kiting. If there’s wind and there’s water, you can go kiting. It’s very unique and a lot different to many other places around the world.
Theo: The special thing about PEI is the possibility to find some of the best flat water spots to kite, no matter the wind direction. With no one around, just driving from one side to the other, we always found the spot and conditions we were looking for. One spot in particular was a spot we named ‘Lighthouse’. The best part of this spot was to have flat water and the ocean separated by rocks. Lucas and Tom were ripping on their freestyle set ups and a few meters upwind of them I could find a perfect playground with kickers and waves to smash on my strapless board. Coming from the Caribbean with only a shorty wetsuit in my bag, the temperature worried me the most but at this time of the year the outside and water temperature was still really nice.
Lucas, you grew up on PEI. How was it to have a crew of fellow riders, videographer and photographer at your home spot?
It has always been a dream of mine to bring a group of professional riders along with extremely talented photographers to the Island. Finally, we made it happen and we scored big time! I consider myself extremely fortunate to have grown up kiteboarding on Prince Edward Island. From early on in my kitesurfing career, I knew this spot had tons of potential. The more traveling I do, the more I realize how lucky I am to call this place home. I feel that people don't truly known how good kiteboarding can be on Prince Edward Island.
The film definitely shows what PEI has to offer! Who was on the team that made this happen?
Lucas: Our videographer, Vincent Bergeron was insanely motivated on this PEI project. Coming from Montreal, he’s been to the Island a few times but never for a video project. As Vinny landed, he started talking about kite spots for every wind direction. I think he had been analyzing google maps for every creek and sand bar around the entire island. His creative approach really adds to this video on a higher scale than just riding. Besides Vinny, James Boulding covered all photography and filming.
Theo: I really enjoyed the team we had here, it felt really complementary with each rider having a very different riding style. I was really impressed to see Lucas and Tom riding at such a high level. Lucas does really powered handle passes with so many different stylish grabs that are always really smooth. Tom was so impressive when he was freeriding, creating unique new school tricks with his own style, while you could be sure that Vinny inexhaustibly captured tricks and moments for the video and James was always there to get the perfect shot.
You successfully shot in 12 different spots, varying between ocean and flat water lagoons. How did you find the locations?
Lucas: 10 out of 12 I had never ridden before. Google maps seemed to be our most visited website. Our goal was to avoid the same spots, but instead explore new angles and varying backgrounds in new spots. We chose spots based on scenery through the online satellite view and we also considered easiest access for shooting. Everywhere we went was fresh grounds. No other kiteboarders had ever published content from those spots.
From your perspective, what were the challenges you encountered during the shoot?
Lucas: Finding a balance for the photographers and riders can be difficult sometimes. The riders want the best riding conditions, and the photographers want the best foreground and background possible. It can be quite tricky trying to make both of these work. Often, the best spots have pretty dull background and can be crowded with people. One of the reasons we scored on PEI was exactly that. The balance between the right shots and the perfect riding is relatively easy to find on the Island. I think all the boys would agree we didn’t have to sacrifice good riding for a great shot and vise versa.
Tom: I’m not used to working with a professional videographers and photographers, but working with James Boulding and Vincent Bergeron has been super fun. It’s very different to what I'm used to with my brothers at home, where we tend to just go out with a GoPro. You can’t do tricks whenever and where ever you want. Working with them definitely opened my eyes to what it takes when making a video and getting the best out of conditions and locations.
Lucas, how are the locals reacting to the sport and is there anything you should keep in mind when exploring the various spots on PEI?
Lucas: We are quite lucky on PEI, generally people are very friendly with the sport. Often, kiting in new spots unless you're in a provincial park or directly on the beach, you find yourself in private property. I usually approach land owners asking if it’s OK if we set up in their yard. Mostly people are thrilled and I’ve even had some people offer post session beers. I think it’s important to be respectful of the launching areas, which might result in you getting to kite anywhere we want :) There are no bans against kitesurfing and ideally we keep it that way forever.
What was the best thing about this trip?
Lucas: Looking back, it’s mind blowing how much happened during this shoot. As a local, I discovered more kite spots and local activities during this shoot than I have discovered in the past 21 years living here. I’m more than thrilled to show the kiteboarding world our secret paradise and to share the stoke us locals have been enjoying here.
Tom: Seven months ago I had surgery on my knee and have not kited properly since then so it felt great to be back on the water. I recently joined Cabrinha and the new gear felt perfect. The FX felt easy and with the amazing flat water spots it was a dream trip.
Theo: Coming to Canada on a kite trip was such a unique adventure, discovering these places unknown to me and the rest of the kiteboarding world. Prince Edward Island surprised me in so many ways compared to what I was expecting before actually going. An incredible adventure with the team!
PEI is a film by Vincent Bergeron with additional footage of James Boulding and Furrow Creative. Special thanks go out to Prince Edward Island Tourism for their support.
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