2008 Team Rider Update: Catching Up with Go Pro Joe Ruscito
When Andy Hurdman moved to Virginia in late 2007, Joe Ruscito suddenly found himself bumped into the position of Best Kiteboarding's Resident Video Talent. While continuing to pursue his Mechanical Engineering degree at Florida Tech this semester, Joe's been doing the two-hour commute to Delray every weekend, waiting for wind to shoot video, or travelling around to various local races and events, establishing himself as the ever-helpful, stoked-on-kiting, up-and-coming American face of the brand. Here, Joe talks about what he's been up to so far this year, and about his plans for 2008.
P.S. Check out Issue 7, page 123, for Gavin Butler's story and pictures of their Statue of Liberty photo shoot in www.iksurfmag.com! (Right click and open in new window, so you can still keep this page open.)
So that was quite a little Help Joe Go Pro campaign we had going there. I'm sorry that it didn't work out. Perhaps we owe your public an explanation.
Haha, ya that was fun. Too bad it didn't work out. And thanks to everyone who tried to help. But when it came down to it, it seemed like, at least for now, school was the way to go, so maybe next year!
So now we resort to Plan B. What exactly is Plan B?
PLAN B ... well. I'm going to try to pick up Andy's Trick Tips Series and try to fill his shoes ... Steve and I have been working on a trainer kite video which SHOULD be done soon. There's one or two parts that need to be added in, but for continuity, we're having to wait for the same wind direction and lighting we had the first time around, which hasn't happened. And hopefully soon we'll get working on more advanced tricks and tips. Otherwise, Im going to school, kiting all the time, and trying to get to as many local competitions as possible.
You recently competed in two races. The back-to-back Naples 26 mile Downwinder and the 60-mile Jupiter to Ft. Lauderdale Race. Let's talk first about Naples.
After weekend upon weekend of going into and out of the holding pattern for the Naples and Jupiter races, it ended up that they both were set to go off on the same weekend. Kind of intimidating, considering I had never done a race like these before.
What was the vibe like before the race?
The conditions weren't looking too promising: a lot of fog and no wind. But people started showing up, and the sun came up and burned off the fog, and then the wind started to kick up. I met a bunch of really cool people and we got to take our time setting up boards and stuff for the race. It was really nice to just relax and wait for the race to start.
What kite did you ride, and what factors went into that decision?
When the wind started to come up I pumped my biggest kite ... my 06 17m Yarga and figured it would be perfect. But as everyone predicted, the wind started to shift around and pick up to about 20 knots. Right before the race was going to start, I saw that Stacey was lit on her 13, so I put up my kite and went out to check how it felt. In my mind and at least for this race, in this direction (directly downwind), my strategy was to put up a bigger kite than I'd normally be comfortable on, and the 17m was it. BUT, of course something had to go wrong at the last minute, and a strut went on my 17 so I was forced to steal Stacey's 13 and she pumped up her 12. If I didn't steal her kite she probably would have won. SORRY...
I don't think she would have won necessarily, so it's ok and she forgives you. How did the start go?
It was a water start, and I got a really good start, hugging the border between being disqualified and not. And I was out a head with the top guys for most of the race.
Anything bad happen?
I wouldn't say anything bad happened but right off the bat, Damien shot out in front and stayed about a mile ahead of the four of us that were behind him. It was like one minute I was next to him, and then I blinked and he was gone. A real demoralizer. But I was ahead of Will (Caldwell) so I felt pretty good, haha.
Naples was your first big race ever. I believe your words were something like this, "It's going to be fun. It's going to be easy." Did you feel that way during the race?
At the beginning, it was pretty fun, although I had to really push it all the time because I was on a twin tip and the guys around me were on directionals, but like everyone had said, there were times where it just SUCKED. I kept saying to myself, "This isn't worth it ... I'm never doing this again! ... what a waste of good wind" ... but in the end finishing felt good.
How do you think it would have been different if you'd been on a directional?
I think I would have fallen a lot more. I was on a twin tip because that's what I am comfortable on ... but for next year though I'm going to start practicing riding a directional so I can be a little more relaxed and not powered through the whole thing. It seemed like I was fighting the whole time, while the guys on directionals were mored relaxed but going just as fast.
What were your goals going into the race?
I just wanted to do well. In my head I was thinking: "Ahead of Will = good, Top ten = Great."
How did you finish?
I ended up finishing 5th which was better then I thought I'd do, but I was still a little disappointed because I felt if I had my 17m I could have done a little better. But everyone had a lot of fun and the party after was really cool. Thanks to Enrique and Kelly and Windstalkers Kiteboarding.
So you had one day to rest, and then Monday was Jupiter.
Yeah, we showed up at Jupiter with the whole crew ... Video Steve, Will, Stacey, and Sean Reyngoudt. I
was feeling good. Even after not getting much sleep the night before I was pretty confident. I wish I
wasn't, because the wind was freaking howling, but I went with the same strategy I used for the Naples
race, and figured bigger was better. I pumped up a 13, when most people were on 9s ... BIG MISTAKE.
When did you realize you'd made a mistake?
At the start, I didn't know how bad a mistake this was. I got out a bit early and felt lit, but alright. But even if I hadn't been feeling alright, there was nothing I could have done about it at that point - it was too late to change kites, since there was only about 20 minutes until the start of the race. So when the flag went down, I took off downwind, which was actually more crosswind ... one tack the entire way, which you don't need so much power for. I started skipping off the water and realized how much this was going to suck. Right away I got way behind due to the fact that every couple of seconds I had to buttcheck to avoid yard saling. Even with the kite straight above my head, it felt like I was going about 100. It must have picked up because I was way overpowered.
Define "yard sale" for people who might not know what that means.
Yard sale: to fall and scatter your equipment, body and other objects across the top of the water. You know, like when people have a yard sale: crap scattered all over the yard.
So then what happened?
After I passed the Delray Checkpoint, it all went downhill. I was riding with my eyes closed most the time because the salt had gotten so bad, and one time I even got dragged all the way up in the beach. Right before the Pompano Lighthouse (about 10 miles from the finish line in Ft. Lauderdale), I got ripped out of my board and broke my leash. I tried and tried but could not get to my board..... like when your really lit and the ONLY thing you can do is slow how fast you get dragged down wind.... then I lost sight of it and it was all over . I got dragged into the beach and sat down and got real disappointed in myself ....while being bombarded by the usual questions from the innocent bystanders. "Is that hard?" "Is this a club?" "You came from where?"
Here's what some people would have said, and reportedly did say, "What do you think, Einstein? You think I'm laying here washed up on a beach like a drowned rat without my board because it's freaking EASY?" But what did you say?
Every thing I would normally say ... "No, it's not too hard ... you could do it" and I tell them to check out www.bestkiteboarding.com ... and good thing I did, because they let me use their phone to try and call Neil ... but too bad his number, which I "permanent inked" on my arm, had worn off ...
How did you get back to Ft. Lauderdale, since you did not listen to Neil and carry $100 with you for a cab ride?
I was really lucky ... Kent from Cabrinha had to land on the same beach after his board fell apart, so I got a ride with him. After I got my board from a lifeguard down the beach, Kent and I sat down and discussed how much not finishing sucks.
How much does not finishing suck?
When I showed up at Ft. Lauderdale I was pretty mad. It's embarrassing not finishing. I don't really want to talk about it. But I learned a lot for next year, even though the whole time I told myself I would NEVER EVER do this again.
What did you learn for next year?
WEAR GOGGLES!! Put up the right kite. My "go bigger" attitude only works if you're going STRAIGHT down wind ... newbie mistake. And have a better board leash ... the one I had was made from a trainer kite leash just before the race. But the whole thing went off really well ... Neil did a great job .... thanks, Neil!
The next weekend was the Jupiter Invasion. Your first round, you got stuffed into a pretty tough heat with Damien Leroy. How did that go?
I thought I did really well ... the whole time I was watching Damien thinking he was the guy I needed to beat and by the looks of it I wasn't doing all that bad, although I did miss a pass at the end of the round and got screwed up in the shore break. When I got in everyone congratulated me on how well I did, and a few people said they were surprised I didn't pass through. But I guess it wasn't good enough ... I got beat ... oh well ... I rode well and feel good about that.
What happened in your second chance round?
My head just wasn't in it. I rode ok but made some mistakes I shouldn't have.
So, what's next? Got any trips planned
Ya, actually I'm going to Aruba with a bunch of friends and some kiters from Connecticut the first week of March.
When can we expect to see the first Go Pro with Average Joe Instructional Series video and what will be first in the lineup?
Give me a month ... we're working really hard to get these things out but with me living up in Melbourne and Best (and Steve) down in Delray (a good hour and forty minutes south) it's pretty hard to get everything coordinated. It seems whenever I'm there, it's not windy and whenever I'm not it is ... but we're trying and I'll get them out as soon as possible. As for what's in the line up, I'm thinking of picking up where Andy left off ... maybe tantrums, raleys, surfaces passes, 3s, and slowly getting more advanced.
How is it to work with Steve Jones?
It's pretty fun. It can get pretty hectic though when things don't work out and everyone gets really uptight and nothing seems to run smooth, but Steve definitely knows what he's doing. "ITS ALL ABOUT THE PRE PRODUCTION," as he would say and he's right. It's amazing how much time actually goes into these short videos.
To read more about Joe, visit his Team Rider