2018 was huge for 425pro. The Tahitian brand ramped up their business strategy and made big investments in all of their products. So it is this season that we will see the fruits of their labour, we saw a small glimpse of this hard work with the recent release of the SUP paddle The Weapon, which created a stir for its attention to detail and high-performance design. Now, owner Jerry Mihimana has turned his attention to unveiling a series of SUP race boards that will excite all the 425 pro fans! On the back of this news TotalSUP interviews Jerry to find out the what is exactly in store for 425 pro.
Hello Jerry, 2018 ended on a high. Can you review the past year for 425pro?
Yes, we had a really successful year for the brand. It was pack full of action and success, which ended with recent 425pro recruit Bruno Tauhiro winning the title at the Watermana. Bruno Tauhiro joined our team in Autumn of 2018, his success was a beautiful symbol of success which showcased all the brands strengths. It was really great to see a Tahitian waterman win SUP, prone and va’a events with boards and paddles from 425pro.
However before the Watermana victory 425pro celebrated Olivier Darrieumerlou’s record in the SUP 11 City Tour Non-Stop. Then there is Georges Cronsteadt who remains amongst the world elite paddlers after a strong race season. Another 425pro rider is Enzo Bennett, who has just turned 22. Enzo had some great victories, he made a huge jump in the SUP Racer / Paddle League rankings finishing 14th! But we can not forget the prone paddlers! we have athletes like Ricky Aitamai and Heilani Cronsteadt, who really deserve to be amongst the best internationally. Our performance at the 2018 Pacific Paddles Games saw more than 15 of our riders rewarded with podiums. Plus we had success on the national scenes, especially within France with many local and national podium finishes.
425pro finished 3rd in the 2018 Paddle League standings, a position that has not yet been announced by the Paddle League itself, as it has not yet updated its results. That is 3rd behind Starboard and NSP at the end of a whole paddle season. A result which is “not bad” for a brand that is less than 2 years old. Right now we are in the process of consolidating our team. In France we have just recruited Fanny Tessier, who is starting to post some very good results in SUP racing, Fanny comes with big ambitions. Then we have Matthieu Aguirre, who at 16 is already a big wave SUP surfer and really has a complete waterman profile.
Many 425pro fans have been waiting for the arrival of rigid SUP boards, can you tell us when a large scale production will take place?
Yes, we have established a presence in more than ten countries. Our inflatable range and paddles have been selling well for over a year. As for the rigid series, we were not entirely satisfied with the original suppliers, so that caused us to miss the entire 2018 season. We were able to produce quality boards in small quantities, but in the last year we really focused on the search to find the perfect manufacturing partner. The search was not in vain, so the good news is that we found a partner! Meaning that our 2019 SUP raceboard series will be available in the shops at the end of February – beginning of March!
What’s happening on the paddle front?
The 425pro paddles are a major axis of our development. As you may or may not know, my previous job was making va’a paddles. So these paddles are the result of several years of R & D. We have developed the Paddle Weapon (developed with Georges Cronsteadt), which has a phenomenal weight ratio, it has great power and really great paddle sensation, compared to the best out there without naming names.
Referring to the Weapon we have been so focused on producing it that we failed to develop a more recreational paddle last year, however this has all changed and in 2019 we are adding the “3 piece paddle” to our family of paddles.
425pro has a new logo. Can you tell us about this makeover?
Yes, I thought we needed an icon to complete the 425pro text. We opted for two arrows which symbolise performance and speed and are inspired by the shape of the island of Tahiti. With Tahiti Nui, the location of Pape’ete combined with Tahiti Iti, (sometimes referred to as the the peninsula) this is where Teahupo’o is located. I felt it is really important to remember where the brand was born, so with this icon we will never lose sight of the fact that 425pro is “The Tahitian brand”.
Watermana 2018 has just passed, and 425pro was one of the main sponsors. Can you tell us about this new collaboration?
Great point. I would like to thank TotalSUP for creating this bridge between Kainalu XT (editor’s note: “waterman” type event organizer in Polynesia) and 425pro. These two companies are among the most active companies in radiating the Polynesian paddle and waterman culture. It was an easy fit because we have these values in common. The collaboration for the 2018 Watermana was an excellent prelude to the 2019. Our partnership will continue and extend to all KXT SUP events and concepts in 2019 including: the Waterman Tahiti Tour, the BIG SUP Explorer and the Watermana 2019.
For the Waterman Tahiti Tour, we are collaborating with KXT to launch the 425pro SUP Race Series whichs means we will be doubling of the number of SUP races in each of the 5 WTT rounds. At the end of the season, we will reward the best athletes of the various categories with a ticket for the Pacific Paddle Games 2019. Furthermore we are sponsoring the Air Tahiti Nui Paddle Royal Race for the second year in a row. The 2018 event was a huge success thanks to the investment of our waterwoman Maeva Hargrave and Air Tahiti Nui. These Tahitian events will run from March to December 2019 the events will have great media coverage and quality, which we saw at the Watermana last month. These events are an opportunity for many to come to discover the beauty of Polynesia from far afield!
Finally, can you list the projects and goals for 425pro in 2019?
There are so many, I am not sure whether I should reveal everything now. We have all the deadlines that you have with a start-up in full growth. Our first deadline is the marketing of our 2019 collection. We have just launched a very ambitious project that focuses on a precise method of sports training and monitoring, led by French paddler Olivier Darrieumerlou. The paddle calendar and forth coming events of our team is also integral and an important goal for. We are also in the process of launching a regional 425pro ambassador program at an international level. We are also expanding our dealer network, this is one of our top priorities. The Tahitian events that we sponsor and support in 2019 will also keep us busy! So we have a lot going on!