I have been dying to learn windsurfing for years, finally got some lessons
last summer and this spring, and got reasonably competent on a longboard in
light winds (9 of 10 tacks, even a few light wind jibes). So, having the
summer free, I resolved to come to the Gorge for the entire summer and learn
When I saw the kiteboarders, I was torn. I was absolutely amazed and
thrilled at the big airs, like the crowd oohing and ahhing and cheering at
the kite competetion in the Gorge games. I had just bought my own
windsurfing gear and started thinking, "damn, maybe I should forget
windsurfing, and switch to kiteboarding, but damn, I've been wanting to
learn to windsurf for so long, and I just bought all this gear." I am also
an expert (16 years) snowboarder. On a snowboard I love quick turns in
powder (vs. say long carving turns on groom). In that regard, kiteboarding
really appealed to the snowboarder in me. I started wondering "is
kiteboarding going to be the snowboarding of watersports, and windsurfing
the skiing? I.e., will kiteboarding take over and be the sport of choice
of younger and future generations as windsurfers slowly age and become passe
relics of a bygone era, as alpine skiers are today (in my view)?
I have given it alot of thought and I think not. As you say, kiteboarding
is not independent. You need at least a buddy, if not a support crew, as
far as I can tell. I like the self-contained, self-reliant nature of
windsurfinng. Secondly, kiteboarding looks alot closer to wakeboarding than
snowboarding to me (even though I saw a guy kiteboarding on a snowboard!).
I tried wakeboarding last summer and with my snowboarding experience, had no
trouble getting up and ripping back and forth across the wake. I was bored
to tears in about 30 minutes and have had no desire to wakeboard again.
Kiteboarding is nothing more than wind-powered wakeboarding, and appears to
be rife with nightemares (tangled lines, downed kites, too much air, knarly
wipeouts, getting dragged. (Any guesses on how soon before we see a
kitesurfer dangling from the bridge in Hood River?)). I also am an
intermediate (boat) sailor and aesthetically, a sail on a board is much more
appealing to me than a kite on strings. Kiteboarding looks more awkward and
contrived to me, where windsurfing seems more natural and elegant. In that
regard at least, aesthetics and elegance, kiteboarding would be a closer
analogy to the awkwardness of alpine skiing and windsurfing closer to the
gracefullness snowboarding. Except for the big airs, kitesurfing looks
about as boring as wakeboarding, with much MUCH more hassle. The big airs
are the only thing that tempt me. But given all the negatives, I'm
comfortable that windsurfing is the wind/watersport of choice for me, for
the time being. And I'm not so sure those big airs would be all that fun
anyway. I'm into all sorts of extreme sports, but hanggliding or skydiving
have never held any appeal to me for some reason. I'd rather be standing
on a board carving turns than floating through the air. Smaller air,
integrated with ripping on the surface, yeah that's appealing to me, but the
bigger the air the less appealing it is to me, and I don't just mean fear, I
just would rather be in the groove than be a projectile trying to look cool
by grabbing my rail or kicking my board to the side. So that realization
reduces the only appeal to me (big air) of kiteboarding.
I see kitesurfing as getting ever more extreme, bigger and bigger jumps and
airs off bigger and bigger chops and waves. I wonder, do they actually ride
waves, say in Maui, like wavesailors? If so, that would be another plus for
kiteboarding. Waveriding on a kiteboard sounds pretty thrilling, and a
little more accessible than wavesailing.
I think kiteboarding is here to stay, and will become more and more extreme
and more and more thrilling to spectators. But I'm much more interested in
learning to windsurf, and I don't see kiteboarding going mainstream, at
least until they make the lines way shorter and the whole thing less awkward
and a hassle. Even then, I think I think a sail on a board is more elegant.
That's my two dollars.
> After hearing the scuttle***from my buddies about the Kiters who are
> taking over the East Point launch at Stevenson, WA. I decided to stop on
> the way home yesterday to see how the Pro's do it.
> I was in luck. There were some hot shot looking young guys that even had
> a film crew (1 little camera in a plastic bag on a tripod). I over heard
> them say they were off to Europe after they were done in the Gorge. 20'
> or 30' of air would be captured of film very soon, or so I thought.
> A sport for independent types this this ain't. One guy to hold the kite,
> one guy to get the lines over the tree, one guy to take the board to the
> water, and the kite rider stud. The wind was swirly on the shoreline and
> the kite flipped over 3 or 4 times. He was finally able to get the kite
> in the air. The board caddy couldn't get the board to the guy cause I
> guess he didn't want to swim it out with his clothes on.
> I left, shaking my head as the guy was being being dragged toward Home
> Valley with no board. I'll save the story about how you can get dragged
> down (like WAY down) underwater when you crash till later.
> I would like to try kiting but it looks like I'll stick to the simple
> stuff. Maybe the wind will be a better direction for them today. I'm on
> my way to check.