February 08, 2011
Interviewd By: Chad Beery
The top news that's buzzin' in the kneeboarding world is that there's a brand new top-o-the-line kneeboard available from HO Sports! Yes, you heard it right. The all new Agent. HO has invested in our sport, big time. And, who better to talk about the new Agent, and about what HO is up to, than the man behind the development of this new kneeboard- Frankie Panno.
KW: Frankie, tell us about it.
FP: First, I want to take moment to give a shout out to everyone out there who has expressed their opinions on what I have been up to with the new board. Now, let me start out by telling you the whole story of how everything came about.
Over 2 years ago I reached out to Teddy B in regards to trying to find some boards, and that if none were available, would I be able to purchase the mold from the Trident from back in the day. I had, at that time, just gotten back out riding after taking 10 years off. My style was always suited for the Trident, and it was the board Teddy originally put me on. I fell in love with everything about it from day one.
KW: I can see a lot of the good things about the old Trident that carried over to the new Agent. Were you able to find the old mold?
FP: I had discussed with Teddy where I could find the board mold, but we couldn’t find it. So I reached out to my friend Anthony, at Performance, knowing he had a connection to Straight Line and they were the last company out making it. After a few weeks and them looking through the storage where they thought the mold was, it had turned out that it had been tossed because of too much damage to it.
I had been riding old boards that I was getting off EBay and they were breaking all the time, so I was on a mission to find a new board. I talked to Teddy and got on the Rush but it wasn’t suited to my style, not that the board doesn’t rip. It’s hard when you have been used to a board and then try and move to another once you’ve built your style around it.
KW: So, how did you convince HO to produce a board for your style?
FP: During that time, I started doing pics of some crossover stuff I was working on and got the chance to be in Wakeboard Magazine. While my pics were being posted on the wall at WBM before print, my friends, Greg Nelson from HO and Jason Bingham from WBM, saw them and said, “You have to see Frankie ride on some video I have!”
It was at that point, that Greg mentioned to Jay about them looking to rebuild their kneeboard end of the company and that they thought I would be a good blend for what they were looking to do. So, Next thing I know, I get a call from Greg and he explains what they were looking to do, and that they thought this would be a perfect fit.
KW: Wow! Full creative license to build a kneeboard to your liking. What challenges did you run into?
FP: Right out of the gate, I wanted to put a whole new board together. But after calculating the expenses and other details of what it would take to bring a new board to market, I found that it would probably have meant this project could have ended as soon as it got started. So, I had mentioned to HO about the board I used to ride, and that it had been out of production for over 10 years. Of course, they knew all about it.
It was at that time we started to work on bringing back what was always a great design. I see plenty of people still riding that board today, like myself. I know people think we just brought the exact same board back, and to some degree we did, but we have also added a lot more of today’s technology to this board that hasn’t happened in quite some time.
KW: Give us some examples of the new technology?
FP: It looks similar, but the head designer for HO ski’s, Dave Wingerter, and myself worked hard on perfecting the bottom of the board to give it hard cut and pop with no drag that was missing from the old design. It has newer core materials, wakeboard sublimations, dual footman loop positions and a soft landing spine. I can also tell you we are working on a bunch of other great new stuff, and that these new things will compliment the sport and the Agent.
KW: Come on, spill the beans!!
FP: As soon as we are ready to go to market, I’ll fill you in. As for things I see many of you discuss on the Kneeboard World forum, like pad comfort, how the board rides, straps and all that. I get it, and am working on all of those things to make this a much more comfortable sport for us all.
KW: So, how do you view the future of kneeboarding?
FP: It’s going to take all of us to help push the limit of what companies will do in the kneeboarding market. We have to start somewhere and HO is willing to get behind us. I’m happy to say, HO and I have signed up for a multiple year commitment to help improve everything about our sport.
KW: That's awesome! Any last words?
FP: My hope is that people will feel I’m doing my part to help raise attention, and if it starts with bringing The Agent out first and working from there, then so be it. Since I have the opportunity with HO to develop things for us all, I will continue to listen to all your comments and thoughts and do my best to try and find a way to help bring a better working product to the market. It’s been a long time coming for kneeboarding, and we all have a chance to help push it back to the forefront of tow sports.
So, on a final note, thank you to everyone who has purchased a new Agent board and thanks to all who have tried it, even if it’s not for you. It’s a great start and there is much more to come.
KW: And here at Kneeboard World, we can't wait for what's to come! Thank you , Frankie. You're definitely doing your part, and then some.