World kitesurfing champ seals deal with local wetsuit maker

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 March, 2009, 12:00am

Kitesurfing might be relatively new to Hong Kong but a local company is among its leaders in the equipment field.

In fact, last week wetsuit maker NPX - owned by the Hong Kong-based Neil Pryde Group - signed the sport's current 17-year-old world champion to wear its water apparel exclusively.

The kitesurfing phenomenon from Maui, Hawaii, Jesse Richman (left, with NPX product manager Terrence Wang) arrived in town to finalise his sponsorship deal and even did a kitesurfing workshop for a few enthusiasts in South Lantau on Wednesday morning.

'First, I really love their suits. The gear is nice,' Richman said about NPX. 'Second, they're a nice cool company with a solid team. When we first started talking I was super stoked.'

For those unaware, the sport is a bit like windsurfing, except the athlete is attached to a giant kite that can lift him or her more than 6 metres off the water for all kinds of extreme flips and spins. Apparently the main advantages of the suit over regular windsurfer suits are more flexibility, cushioning and valves to let water escape.

'I've been kitesurfing for about seven years now but it's still a real baby sport,' Richman said. 'But it is getting huge, especially in Europe ... You don't actually need as much equipment as windsurfing and it's easier than it looks.' Sure, if you're 17 and raised on a beach in Maui.