top of page

Exclusive interview: Ewan Leslie-Donald Jaspan.

Old matey spent four months living up on the sunshine coast of Australia and without a specific plan in mind came out with a really solid edit. Now he's off to Hawaii or wherever the Rona takes him. We talk big boards, kota, what makes or should make Kiter of the year, his addiction to the pump, favorite tricks, and more in this very exclusive interview with sr Ewan Leslie-Donald Jaspan.

Donald! How have you been matey? Living that free island life!

Howdy Rowdy. Been well, actually had a great year being in Aus for 12 months straight and had a different year from the ushe. It’s been good to have a year break from long haul travel and constant cops on the bap. I’ve learnt to surf and also foil surf, which has been fun, and the last two or three months I’ve been kiting a lot too which has been good to get back to some freestyle. We just had the Aus nationals which I won as well, so feels like it’s been a positive year. I’m about to fly over to Hawaii to work with Naish for 3 months and then see where the rona takes me.

So tell us how you got the nickname Donald (or Donny as I like to call you).

Growing up in Scotland, Trumps were the slang word for fart, which of course we found very amusing when President Fart came into power.

This video came together pretty well, I feel it might have slipped under the radar a bit?

Yeah it did slip a little under the radar. It’s so hard to know how to release a video these days. It was part of a video series we did with Naish surrounding the photoshoot and a trip to the Whitsundays for some foiling. It also got uploaded to about 4/5 different places which is never good for the algorithms.

Are you going to take up a spot on the Knot Future editing team? The pay is pretty good.

I’ve heard so, this edit was part of my internship, which has been pretty good. Most internships are unpaid so I’ve been stoked to come away with 6 figures for this one.

What’s the song? The punters are asking.

If the punters need to ask who did the song, they probably haven’t watched enough of our/my vids. It was a free demo from King Gizzard that they released. It’s a pretty different vibe to their usual stuff (actually I think that’s what they usually aim for) but it worked really well for an edit, with some good beats and parts to cut to. The song is called BITBITBIT

Talk to me about your inspiration lately I saw you doing a few funky carves - trick on that video... Well, I’ve started surfing (finally) in the last year so naturally watching a lot of surf videos. Nothing special yet but I’ve been having a lot of fun playing around with some carves now and different butters etc. My new board has also inspired me to work on some of this stuff, as its shape really lends itself to a good old carve.

What’s the story behind this edit? 4months in this social media age sounds like a pretty long time to film an edit, were you happy with the end result?

I mean it was 4 months of filming, but in possibly the most windless place you can film for 4 months. I remember getting to about two months in and having filmed so many underpowered slogging 14m sessions that I think we really gave up and only even bothered if it was absolutely prime (which was about 2 more days). The video probably only has shots from about 4 or 5 sessions in it and some of them were less than ideal (if not all). So I really wasn’t expecting to be able to get an edit out of the stuff, but with all the different angles it made something pretty fun and different from a lot of the freestyle edits around at the moment. I would have liked to push it a bit harder, so maybe with the Knot Future following we can give it one last spurt of life.

I’d have to say it was a pretty frustrating period as a filmer, but you can just add that onto the previous 12months and it’s probably right on the money hahaha.

Yeah it was a pretty tough time for sure, I guess we were even lucky to be able to film this and shoot some stuff for Naish. If it wasn’t for the gear just turning up on time we would have had nothing. Really hoping things can get back to something resembling normal times soon.

Do you think we are ever going to get the chance to ride and film in a park or an easy location again? Feels like it’s been forever.

Yeah, it’s getting hard and planning things for anywhere past next week is a nightmare. I will hopefully get over to Hatteras in May and would love to shoot a park section there. It’s been way too long and I think the people want park riding. After that I’m also hoping to do a summer in Hood River again and put in some park time there. The year off has really sparked some fresh motivation to go hard in the park again.

"The year off has really sparked some fresh motivation to go hard in the park again."

You got into that Foilsurf life on the Sunshine coast due to the lack of swell or wind, are you still on that program back in Victoria?

We did get pretty addicted to the pump, though I feel most of that stemmed from having no wind and no waves haha. It’s pretty crazy what can be considered good conditions for foil surfing, and we definitely had a great spot for it in Maroochydore. Since coming back to Melbourne though I’ve only really had a few sessions, during summer the wind is always onshore and the waves are hard to pick for a good day. I live an hour and a half away from the ocean here, so I only really go down if it’s an epic day for surfing at the moment. Otherwise I’ve just been kiting. We also had a wave pool open only 20 mins away from my house, and I’ve had three sessions there which have been good for my surfing.

Any tricks you were hyped on in the edit, or were they all just standard procedures? I feel like most tricks you do come first try or two if the conditions allow.

Most of it was standard procedure really. It was all very light wind, but I was stoked that I was able to do all of that stuff in the conditions we had. I did land probably one of my better Crail Backmobes, and a few kicker tricks that felt nice too. I wish we had a good 12m session at some point though, as I was feeling up to a bit more. A few more kicker sessions would have been good, we had a couple of good ones after you left, but no filmer around!

I was hyped you did the Krypt Seatbelt Frontside 360 thing I suggested, if I was out there it’s what I’d try haha. That new board is looking pretty fresh, were you on the 152 for the whole video?

Yeah the whole video was on the 152. If it’s flat water or light winds that’s my board of choice for sure. You just get that extra glide and super powerful edging. It also has given my riding a bit of a new look which I’m pretty hyped about. Riding it finless is a really nice feeling also. I can play around with it a lot, but the long rail really sets in well if you want to load it up and pop big.

What do you think about bigger boards in general? Are they something your average kiter should try? Or just for the Pros? It’s something that I think will take off slowly but surely in the industry. It’s really hard to explain to someone why they may want to use it, but really easy to convince them once they have a go. You get; More glide and better low end performance. Much smoother ride. Very soft landings as you glide out of them instead of bogging underwater. Great carving ability, so it’s really fun to ride in waves. Playful feel when you want it, but due to a long rail, plenty of hold if you need as well. If anything, I think the longer board is something more suited to the average kiter rather than the pro’s. I’ve converted so many locals to +6-10cm longer boards than normal (keeping the same width) and they’re loving it. I just hope to be able to travel around more soon and spread the good word!

"I’ve converted so many locals to +6-10cm longer boards than normal keeping the same width and they’re loving it."

Pro Model boards. Congrats on yours its been a year already but its a pretty odd thing these days to get a pro model there arent many at all. What are your thoughts? Do you think there should be more of them? Of course! Thanks matey, it’s definitely been a long-time dream of mine! There aren’t too many riders currently with one so I think of it as a great honour, especially with a long standing highly respected brand like Naish. It would be nice to see more of them, I think it shows a brand truly recognizing your efforts and riding, so it is something I will be ever grateful to Naish for. There have been many across the years, unfortunately, they are usually performance boards, and for some reason in our sport, the majority of people buying boards think that a pro model board will be too advanced for them. This is something I really worked on with the Traverse, I wanted to be sure that it was a fun all around board for every customer. We are working on some promotional videos for it that show it’s versatility and fun ride.

You are someone who is very committed with park and freestyle but also do a fair bit amount of big air. which is something that is not very recognised I think. Lets talk Kiter of the year. There has been a lot of "vote for me" kiter of the year sort of thing. We talked about what makes a good kiter a while ago and you said "someone who always deals with the conditions there are in control" but what makes a ROTY in your opinion?

I mean I always find it fascinating to see who is paid the ‘big bucks’ in KB’in, or who is at least getting good representation at a brand etc, there’s definitely not a clear relation between riding level and sponsorship level. Of course, team riders are supposed to be assets to a brand, and at the end of the day, bring value to the company and create sales. In most board sports, this comes from having the best riders doing the most technical tricks etc, but kiting is a strange one. We are a boardsport, but at the same time we are a lot more than that, we are merging into paragliding, lifestyle, skydiving etc etc and have a very different mentality to most boardsports. In the end, with these factors and the current age of social media, it seems that the ROTY nominations, or winners are often the ones excelling at a new /exciting/trending discipline of our sport, or the ones doing viral stuff for the followers. Nothing wrong with that at all IMO, but I think ROTY should be reserved for the riding level, showing competence across multiple parts of our sport (Freestyle, Big Air, Surf, Park, Foil etc) and obviously excelling at, at least 2. It should show dedication to the progression of the riding level in the sport and filming proper content. Anyway, that’s my opinion, I also don’t think it should be a popularity contest, but judged by a panel of experienced faces in the sport. All that being said, Jesse is a deserved winner of the recent IKSURF mag reader ROTY.

"I also don’t think it should be a popularity contest, but judged by a panel of experienced faces in the sport."

Kota are you still going for it or what's happened there? Yeah I definitely wanted to try it again this year, but unfortunately after being injured last year at the KOTA, and then spending winter in the most windless part of Australia, I wasn’t really able to do much/any big air, let alone film any for a wildcard. That was a shame, but it’s something I’m finding fun at the moment when I get to do it, as I am able to progress most sessions. I also tried to go to Cape Town this summer but of course, that was canceled too.

I saw you’ve been riding regular boots lately? Have you ditched the Systems?