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RISE OF THE PHOENIX: Building a board for a Champion

Having a custom board built by good friends and hand-delivered by her dad to her in Marseille is just the most recent display of commitment and support by the community that has been behind Moroz for as long as she has been on her journey to the 2024 Olympic Games. With the start gun for the first-ever Olympic race in Women’s Formula Kite Foil less than eight weeks away, there wasn’t a moment to lose when last month Moroz knew she needed to switch out the boards she was using in favor of a design that promoted a more stable board. She asked her dad to reach out to Kenny Adgate, a Bay Area family friend whose wing foil boards are renowned among the worlds’ best wing foilers, to make her a board. The project became a family affair with Kenny’s wife Judie stepping in to color the board.

Loving her new board, Moroz has her sights set on the 2024 Olympic podium.

“I thought it would be a cool thing to do and we’ve come up with a significantly more stable board for Daniela,” Adgate said. “ A more stable board will offer her a less turbulent feeling and hopefully improved mental confidence as far as going faster – she’ll be feeling less vibration, it’s less input to your body which is sometimes better in certain situations.”

Kenny started making boards after his friend Mike Zajicek, owner of Mike’s Lab and another well-respected designer and manufacturer of foil systems who also resides in the Bay Area began making foils for kite foiling. Back then Zajicek’s foil systems utilized tuttle boxes which few board companies were using so Kenny decided to make a few boards that could use Mike’s foils, referring to them as pocket boards – very small boards – for kiting. When winging developed (Adgate, Johnny Heineken and Zajicek were among other San Francisco Bay kiters and wingers who lead the charge globally on the nascent wingfoil sport some six years ago), Adgate started building wing boards.

“We were using three-fin race boards when we all started winging and decided to make wing boards to go with Mike’s foils – it became more of an addictive hobby more than anything,” Adgate laughed. The time was during Covid, so Adgate had plenty of hours to experiment.

It takes about twenty hours to build a board from beginning to end although technically it is longer because there are a lot of different drying times with epoxy; it takes about twelve hours for the epoxy to cure. But, more than that, in the instance of Moroz’ board, the process was nerve-wracking, Adgate admits with a smile; after all, it will be the board that she races on in her first Olympic Games.

Adgate and Moroz have ridden a lot together, so he had an idea of what she wanted, and Moroz was able to give Adgate a board to base off in terms of what she liked.

The Phoenix underway in the Adgate’s garage.

“We’ve made enough race boards in the past so we have a really good idea of what they should ride like and be shaped like. It did help to have something that she preferred so I could take some measurements off that and make sure that the length and width were really similar so it would feel natural to her when she hopped on it for the first time, and it sounds like it was! Nonetheless, it was more about just not failing for her,” Adgate acknowledged. “I was really stressed out about making her a board which she would really like. There were a lot of WhatsApp messages back and forth trying to get everyone on the same page!”

Adgate got Heineken involved to help with the decking and foil box locations.

“Johnny has so much knowledge with that kind of thing which really helped make sure measurements were correct; the right height of the board is really important for racing,” he said. “There are certain styles of racers who like their front foot higher than the back, or level, so there are all different kinds of angles that each rider prefers so getting that measurement out of her team was important. Thinking through the stability improvement was a challenge as the technique I wanted to use was one that has not been done before but it ended up working out really well.”

Dad heads to Marseille to deliver Phoenix 1 to his champion daughter

Vlad Moroz, Daniela’s dad, has been best friends with Zajicek since they found each other windsurfing at Berkeley Marina after immigrating from the Czech Republic in the mid-80s. Zajicek switched to foil production ten years ago and Moroz has won many of her six World Championship titles using Zajicek’s foils.

“Being involved in this has been especially important to me because she is the daughter of my best friend,” Zajicek said. “I’ve known her since she was a baby, I watched her learn to windsurf – which she had no interest in – but by the time she was ten, kiteboarding did interest her. This board is special because she was able to get exactly what she wanted from Kenny, and yes, we were messaging many times a day while he was building it!”

Adgate added, “It’s awesome to have Mike to call on as far as the construction side goes, like what to reinforce for example, to make sure he thinks it is going to work.”

Mock layout before paint application.

Judie did the color for the board; she suggested a patriotic design incorporating the stars and stripes and colluded with Moroz on design.

“We went back and forth on different design ideas then I got to work on the coloring to get it to as close as I could to what Daniela wanted – thankfully I hit the nail on the head!” Judie smiled. “I used primary colors and sometimes it is challenging using ombre (the art of blending one color hue into another). Daniela wanted to go from a very light blue to a very dark blue on the board. It’s all hand-painted – I mix the colors and when it’s time to apply the epoxy we put the epoxy into the actual paint. It’s very time consuming and you have to be quick – you have about 15 minutes to put it on the board otherwise it turns to gel, and you can’t ombre it – if only you could have heard Kenny and I anxiously trying to get it right!” Judie laughed.

Moroz was thrilled when Kenny agreed to make a board for her, trusting that he would do an amazing job, so it felt like the right decision to try one of his boards, which she has branded the “Phoenix.”

“My gut feeling was really pushing me to try something new with the design that had never been done before and Kenny, taking all of my preferences into account, executed it flawlessly! And then riding it for the first time and seeing it actually worked – it was incredible.”

To have the opportunity to build boards for Daniela at this point in her campaign is pretty special, Adgate acknowledges.

“It’s an honor for sure, it’s so cool, to have her on something that she wanted to ride, and I was able to build it in my backyard! A lot of really talented people ride my boards and it’s an honor every time I see someone on one of my boards.”

And, just this week there is a second Adgate board on its way to Daniela in Marseille (she had to return the boards she was riding to her former board sponsor in June). The second board is designed with different specs to accommodate a different foil set – it’s a completely different board shape in terms of the rocker side of it, Adgate noted. He got all the necessary specs from Moroz, Heineken got involved again on calculations, and board two was delivered to her training partner Evan Heffernan in Santa Barbara just days ago who will fly with it this week when he travels to join Moroz in Marseille.

Moroz’ board crew celebrate the completion of Phoenix 1. Center with board Kenny Adgate, to his left Mike Zajicek, seated in red is Judie Adgate.

“It must have been a difficult and huge decision for her to switch out boards at this stage of the game as the sponsor provides up to three boards a year for free, but in her mind, it was the right decision,” Adgate said. He continued, laughing, “I want to say she’s probably going to call me again to get another one – I’m on board production standby! But anything to help her out, her family and the supporting crew around her. It’s an awesome place to be around here when so many people want to help her so that she has the best opportunity to do her best.”

“My team (Chris and Tucker) also worked with Kenny, Johnny, and Mike on these boards,” Moroz said, adding, “They’re the best in the world with this stuff and to have a board that was designed and made at home in the Bay Area feels really special. It just means the world to me to have all of their support behind me going into the Olympics and I’m really proud to be able to represent the Bay Area in this way.




Michelle SladeRISE OF THE PHOENIX: Building a board for a Champion