Windsurfing on Cape Verde
Paddleboarding on river Socha
Hello Aleš, can you please introduce yourself at the beginning? Where are you from? Where do you currently live? What are you up to?
Hi, my name is Aleš Kuchyňka, I'm from Brno and I've been doing board sports all my life. I live in Brno, but I try to travel as much as possible. My dream is to spend as much time on the waves as possible and connect my work with what I like the most. During the summer I work with paddleboards, I founded my own paddleboard brand Kiboko, I really enjoy it at the moment and I devote myself fully to it.
How did you find your way to board sports?
I started with a snowboard at first. It was still at the time when we were thrown out of the slopes and they didn‘t want to take us on the lifts. Today it sounds like the retirement's story, but that's how it was. But it was great anyway. Then I tried windsurfing, but planning a windsurfing trip was much more difficult back then. But over the time, my love for water sports has definitely won over. I prefer water in the liquid state, not in the frozen state.
So you're more of a summer type of person.
Yes definitely. When it's powder, it's great, but you can't be everywhere and you can't do everything at some decent level. So now I focus more on summer sports.
Chill on paddleboard
I know that you are doing paddleboarding, surfing, windsurfing and also yachting, is that right?
Yes, I started yachting when I was 6 years old, that's where my journey to water sports started. After a while, I stopped enjoying sitting on a yacht, so I switched to windsurfing. And from windsurf it was again just a step to surfing. Paradoxically, I got to the paddleboard through windsurfing. It happens that I go somewhere to chase the wind and it doesn't blow at all - then the paddleboard can save it.
So you usually travel with windsurf, surf and paddleboard?
Yes, that's right, I have this triple combination and it allows me not to miss a day on the water. It's either action or it's relaxing, but I always enjoy the water.
Which of the water sports do you do prefer the most? Which one do you like best?
At the moment, I probably prefer surfing - the pure one, without a sail, on the waves. However, it hinders me when more people gather on the line-up, there is a crowd, arguments and aggressive reactions. Then joy becomes frustration. There is no such thing in windsurfing. The wind spreads us across the ocean, no one steals waves from anyone and there are no stressful situations. Therefore, windsurfing is an excellent relaxing activity. And the most beautiful thing about paddleboarding is that there are several types of it. It can be ridden on waves, on calm waters, on rivers. Various paddleboard races are organized. And that competitive atmosphere creates a different ride feeling. What I wouldn't normally enjoy, I suddenly really enjoy at the competition.
Surfing on Cape Verde
Secret spot on Cape Verde
Paddleboarding has several disciplines, in which discipline do you race?
Yes, paddleboarding has a few disciplines - wave paddleboarding, flat water paddleboarding, white water paddleboarding. In our country, the main Czech Cup is run in long distance discipline - 10 - 14 km at speed, then sprint - the track is about 200 meters, sometimes it is with a turn, sometimes without a turn and then there is a technical race - technical competition around the float marks and this one is probably the race I enjoy the most. It's nice and I think also audience attractive. I think, this competition could eventually appear at the Olympic Games.
Where do you train for competitions?
Mostly i train at the Brno lake. There we also have a Kiboko store and a rental shop. That's where it all started. I started renting paddleboards, and I found that I was still missing something. For our customers, we needed to design and shape the boards a little differently. And so we founded the Kiboko brand.
When did paddleboarding become so popular in the Czech Republic and Slovakia?
I think his popularity has been growing since 2015. I first spotted it in 2011, in South Africa. I saw paddleboards at windsurfers who had them from sponsors and promoted them around the world. At that time, they were still hard top boards. When the inflatable paddleboards arrived, it began to spread widely. They were more affordable, cheaper and more storable.
3, 2, 1 jump!
What is it like to own and run a paddleboard company. Did it give you more freedom in your lifestyle or vice versa?
Well, that's a good question. I have to admit that it absorbs me more than I would like. However, this is difficult to prevent, because if you want to do it well, you have spend time on it. And if you spend time on it, you don't have that much time left to ride. However, I can often defend trips to the sea as a business trips on which I test, ride and train. And that's the more interesting part of my job.
How often do you manage to get to the ocean?
I don't go on short trips anymore. I usually spend summers working in the Czech Republic or nearby, and from September to February I try to be somewhere by the ocean. We go to Cape Verde, where we already have a lot of local friends , there are exclusive waves and not many people go there. It is already our second homeland. In addition, we go to Morocco when we can, and we also like Portugal. I'm a bit sorry that I'm missing winters, but I can't sit on two chairs at once. You can't be by the ocean and in the mountains at the same time. Unless you are born in France.
What can't be missing in your summer outfit, since you basically have a whole year of summer?
I actually live in boardshorts. This is the most important piece of wardrobe for me. I love boardshorts, especially those with big pockets where my cell phone can fit. I wear Horsefeathers boardshorts now, and I'm happy to announce that my giant phone fits in, so I'm happy about that, haha. Plus flip flops. I can destroy 3-4 pairs a year. And sunglasses, which I always scrape off in three months and then I blame myself. Now I have one from Horsefeathers which are in a stronger cover, so I hope this one will survive, haha.
So the most important thing on good boardshorts are big pockets.
If you want to literally live in them, yes. It is no longer possible without a phone today. My friends wouldn't forgive me if I went to a spot in the morning and I didn't write if it was good.
What's your favourite model from Horsefeathers?
It is the Nimbus model, which has classic large pockets. I usually put some money, car keys and a phone into the boardshorts and I wear them all day long. No backpacks - just a T-shirt and boardshorts. If I can fit my stuff in the pockets, I'm happy. Then I also like Gus model which fits perfectly and got side pockets.
All year round in boardshorts - that’s the dream of summer enthusiasts!
Aleš's summer choice
The Horsefeathers and Kiboko paddleboards competition is taking place until the end of this month. Could you tell us a bit more about the paddleboard that is in the competition? Is it suitable for beginners, or even advanced riders will have fun on it? For example on river or waves riding.
It's a paddleboard model that I would buy myself if I had to choose one universal paddleboard on which I would ride everything. It is a Safari 250 model (the number means a discharge in liters, it can handle about 150 kg) and you cannot step aside with this board. For me, it‘s also the best board for white water, I rode it on the river Sochi, for example. It‘s shorter, maneuverable well and fits into narrower riverbeds. However, it is also suitable for complete beginners.
Is paddleboarding also suitable for children? When do kids usually start with it?
Paddleboarding is a wonderful thing for kids. They are good in it very quickly. They have a lower center of gravity, so they can balance on the board very quickly and paddle surprisingly well. Under the supervision and with a vest, they can paddle alone approximately at the age of 6.
I know you have small children aswell. Do you think they will be board sports enthusiasts?
Yes, I have a daughter who is 2.5 years old and a son who is 9 months old. And I think they will be. I believe that children want to do what they see around them. We try to show them how it’s possible to live and that the best times are by the water.
Do you chase waves with them?
Clearly! In winter, they were both in Cape Verde. The older one was with us in Portugal, when she was less than a year old and had already been to Cape Verde 3 times. She is already used to the travel lifestyle.
You can win this paddleboard - model Safari 250
Relax after paddleboarding
Do you have a dream place where you would like to ride, whether on paddleboard / windsurf / surf?
There are many places. If I had to pick one, maybe Hawaii. It's the cradle of windsurfing, paddleboarding and surfing, so probably there. In addition, I would like to see Australia or Peru. There is one long beautiful wave - great for paddleboarding. At the moment, however, I mostly travel with my family, so I choose places that I know and know that they are safe.
With Kiboko you organize camps, river descents, lessons and the like. What do you plan next and what would you recommend that paddleboarding enthusiasts shouldn’t miss?
I would definitely invite everyone to the continuation of the Czech Cup in Brno, which we are organizing and will take place on August 1-2. There will be an accompanying program, testing of paddleboards and paddles and the possibility of consultation with top riders from the Czech Republic. Information about camps, expeditions and paddleboarding trips can be found on our website https://www.kibokoboards.cz and Facebooku.
Aleš, thank you for the interview and I wish you a lot of success in your personal riding, in the competing and also a lot of success with Kiboko.
Sunset on paddleboard