May 14, 2009
Author: as told to John Bryja photo by Richard Hallman
For the last nine years, Dimitri Maramenides, has been one of the most
visible kiteboarders on the Outer Banks in North Carolina. A former
professional windsurfer, Dimitri is one of the East-Coast pioneers of
the sport of kiteboarding. His high-flying antics and crashes have
graced him with more mainstream media coverage than any other rider on
the U.S. mainland. He recently co-founded Eclipse Kites with business
partner Chris Cousins. SBC Kiteboard caught up with Dimitri in Kill
Devil Hills, North Carolina, to find out about his past, present, and
Nickname: The Greek
Date of Birth: June 11, 19......
Place of Birth: Athens, Greece
Weight: 175 LBS
Sponsors: Eclipse Kites, Hyperflex Wetsuits, Dakine, Zealoptics
In the beginning there was no one around. It was just me and a few other guys playing with kites and getting dragged all over the place. OBX has always been a huge destination for windsurfing and a lot of these guys started to try kiting. This quickly evolved and out of demand for instruction, along with perfect teaching conditions, Real Kiteboarding, Windsurfing Hatteras, and Kitty Hawk Kites started schools. A ton of people started flocking down to learn kiting and OBX quickly turned into a major kite destination. It continues to grow every year. Fortunately, we have tons of open space so it’s easy for everyone to find their own wave or patch of flatwater.
In late 2005 my friend and current business partner Chris Cousins was trying to create a distribution company. Chris decided that if he was going to invest the money he might as well go the extra mile and create a new brand that he could have control over and make into something great. Chris and I then started working on Eclipse. By late 2006 the kites were on the market. We started to work on new and exiting gear that was not available. The ’07 Nano was the first SLE wave kite, and the Thruster started a new high-performance hybrid kite category. Chris and I work very close with our core customers: schools, shops and end users. We feel they give us the best feedback and help us immensely to create the products we have. Pro riders have helped us push the limits of our gear and discover weaknesses, which in the end help us make an ultra-performance product with a broad appeal to lots of riders.
We also wanted to offer great customer service, so we created a totally new concept: the bullet proof warranty. Anyone who has had a warranty situation knows that it’s a pain with the traditional system. Chris figured why not just take the dealer and Eclipse completely out of the warranty equation and let the pros at Airtime [the world’s No. 1 kite repair facility] handle any warranty repairs with no questions asked. Customers felt safe buying the kites knowing they would be repaired if anything went wrong, and we saved a lot of time for us and our dealers. The customers loved this and so did the dealers and it became a huge selling point.
In 2009, things have come a long way: we have a big office on the water in one of the world’s best kite spots, six reps selling our gear, a great designer, growing pro team and an amazing production line.
Life as a Pro
I have a new perspective on team riders after dealing with them on the other side of the equation as a manufacturer. A lot of guys feel if they can do some technical Handle Passes that makes them a great team rider. A great rider does not equal a great team rider. A great team rider has a good personality and works hard to push the brand on the beach and is respectful to fellow kiters and is an example to all. My advice is to become friends with your local shops and riders on the beach. If you’re doing something good a brand will hear about you and be in touch.
A lot of people probably think that my worst wipeout was that house I crashed into last May. I wish I could say that was the worst. My kiting career has included a lot of hard hits which include: breaking my back twice, breaking four ribs, both my heels, paralyzing my arm and fracturing my pelvis. The worst hit of all was during a photo shoot on the Greek island of Paros. I was trying to do a board stall off a branch of a tree. I nailed it a couple times and the third time I did a Kite Loop by accident. This was a windy day with a C kite, so the hit was very hard. I smashed on the street, and broke my heels and my back. That was a bad day. What I learned from all this? If you make a risky jump twice, don’t try it a third time. I’m probably better off sticking to soft objects—but that doesn’t get on Discovery Channel.
I started teaching my son Cameron when he was about two years old. He was flying a trainer kite and riding on my back and between my legs. Now Cameron is six and has been kiting longer then most adults. If you have kids I would not push them to kite, they need to want to learn. It’s a slow process...don’t use a harness and I think that around seven to eight is a good age to start. Kids don’t understand the power kites can produce. You need to help them respect the kite’s power. It’s also hugely important that you have gear you can trust. This is not the type of sport that you can give your son your old 2003 kite with a crap quick release. I will start to offer a kids’ clinic this summer in the OBX. We are also thinking of making a video, but that’s news for another day.