Dano See has been a big part of the Aussie (and international) kiting scene since day 1. Some newer to the sport may not realize the hand he played in bringing the bridled kites you’re ]using to the market or several innovations on bars and throughout the products we use that have been integrated to the leading brands’ products including Slingshot, Cabrinha and BWS (who Dano has worked with throughout the years). Failing that you may have been to the Mambo and come across some of Dano’s antics around Merimbula.
If all that STILL doesn’t ring any bells you can look forward to some exciting new products showing up at your local bearing his name in the near future. We tracked him down deep in the Philippines dodging hurricanes and finalizing plenty of new products. Here’s what he had to say:
FKM: Give us an overview of your background…
Dano: Sailmaking from high school focusing on windsurfing in the waves. Traveled and competed in some very windy places with windsurfing, which are now today’s top kitesurfing destinations. Namotu life guard from the beginning of the resort and lived on Maui working at Neil Pryde as kitesurfing evolved. Head tester and product guy for Cabrinha from 2000, heavily involved with the bow kite revolution and product development/manufacturing. A few years as product manager for Slingshot until joining forces with Ben Wilson to create BWSurf. Started a small assembly factory in China as a sideline and this has now evolved into making kite bars for BWS, GIN, Ocean Rodeo, Takoon…. just to name a few.
FKM: Tell us, what have you been up to for the last 12/18 months?
Dano: After living in China and dedicating my life to manufacturing for the past 5 years i decided I needed to spend much more time for myself on the water and developing products I enjoy and am passionate about. For the past year have been searching Asia for a perfect wind and wave location to better my products and my lifestyle. I’m now very content living at a new undiscovered location in the Philippines. Since moving to the Philippines many new doors have opened and I have setup a high quality, low volume production facility making kites and accessories, as they say one door closes another opens!
Among other things i really wanted to pursue my own factory direct manufacturing with kites and boards. So DSD-INTEL was born. This year with the help of Ian Alldredge and Karl Vannerem we have kicked off the brand with a new board, the ‘Stallion’, which we consider the ultimate all-round kitesurfing machine!
FKM: And when are you heading to market?
Dano: We had so much trouble producing boards in China and have since teamed up with a micro manufacturing facility in Holland – Apple Tree. They have a revolutionary construction that we can not seem to punish. Ian is the best tester of any board and he has broken everything we have ever given him to use. The Apple Tree construction is the only thing he can not snap, crease or even put a heel dent in!! Since production is out of Holland we are hitting the market slowly as volume is not high. We should see boards land on the shores of Australia by end of October/November.
FKM: What were the insights that started this direction?
Dano: There were a few factors as to why we started. Firstly there was a lot of hype around the Firewire boards, these are dominating the market and getting really good feedback. Seemed everyone else could not follow suit very well and most of what they produced were bad copies missing the points to why the Tomo designs worked. We were most eager to ride the Firewire Boards and dissect all the marketing hype.
Another factor was Ian continuously destroying every board we gave him. Sometimes he didn’t have boards and had to borrow from lack of equipment. He looked to outside sponsorship from other board manufacturers and kite brands but he simply didn’t like the brands, shapes, constructions and most of all the money they were offering. He even talked to Firewire about his own pro model but was simply not happy with the feeling of the boards, mainly due to the construction, they are too stiff… strong, but built like a brick shit house!
I really wanted to see what all the fuss was about so I organized a trip with both Ian and Karl to come to the Philippines and bring a bunch of boards they really liked and sold well in the market. Karl brought the best selling Firewire boards; Vader, Vanguard & Evo. Ian his Signature Rawson TDZ model and myself a few creations from China. One in particular was my first attempt at a NO-NOSE shape based on what I knew worked and feedback from Ian & Karl. At this point I had only seen pictures of the Tomo’s, never touched or ridden one before. It was all based on old school tech and what we knew worked over many years of Kitesurfing.
To be honest (and not to sound like a dick) the Firewire Tomo’s were a disappointment for me to ride, with all the hype i expected so much more and really didn’t find it in their product. The Vader was for sure the board that shined but the thickness and parabolic outline did not work for us kitesurfing. These are surfboards designed for surfing!! For sure Tomo has done a really great job evolving the sport and I mean no discredit, but let’s face it, surfing and kitesurfing are two different things and require different tools for the job!
This is where the inspiration was born and what we saw lacking in the industry was dedicated ‘kite’surfing boards. Not for cross over, not for surfing, just powered up lip smacking with a kite!
FKM: How do you hope it will benefit the overall product situation in the industry? What specific area are you improving?
Dano: We are just sharing a Product we enjoy that works for us. Nothing more, nothing less. The industry is bombarded with a lot of creations that simply don’t work. We hope people see the light with our designs. I mean, who doesn’t want to ride like Ian Alldredge? These boards make you feel like you’re Ian off the top in every turn!!
FKM: And who are you working with?
Dano: Working side by side with Ian Alldredge and our contact on the ground in Europe pushing the brand and sales is Karl Vannerem. Karl is working close with the Apple Tree manufacturing handling production and orders. We are looking for a keen individual to help push the product into Australia…
FKM: How much scope do you have with this? In the long run are you aiming to diversify or stick to surf style boards or???
Dano: DSD-INTEL is years of experience of products and riding. We have ridden it all over the years through the sport’s maturity. To stop at one product would be the end of the brand, like those songs you hear on the radio, one hit wonders. Through our years of experience we aim to produce high quality, less fuss direct manufacturing of all kitesurf products. If there is a market for it, I’m all for giving it a chance. Look at the hype on foiling right now. I like to sit back, let it evolve and think of progressive ways to improve it. Let’s see where the wind & waves take us!
FKM: What else do you see in the industry inspiring in the design space? If not kiting what else out there gets you fired up?
Dano: I always love new designs, there is nothing better then hitting the surf with a new kite or board and fine tuning it, cracking the code on bridling and learning new things every session. I’m more excited to ride something new than to ride at all. I don’t see a lot of inspiration in the industries designs as it’s the same thing year after year. Most companies change the panel layout and bridle and call it a revolution. For sure it’s a tough industry to come up with something new. Nothing has really changed in years. I hope to introduce some new concepts using new materials not recognized in the industry. There is a lot to be learned from sailing and the millions of $$ spent on their R&D…