Let The Kite Fly You For A Change

kite surfer
It's a hybrid between wind surfing and parachuting--popping up along coastlines from North Carolina to Hawaii. Enthusiasts say it's the next new thing, bound for the X-games and likely to land at a beach near you. In any event, it's an extreme sport that's putting a whole new spin on the phrase "Go fly a kite."

It's so new, they haven't even settled on a name for it. Some call it "kite surfing"; others, "kite boarding"; even "kite sailing." Many prefer just plain "kiting." But, whatever you call it, it's a sport that seems to be taking off.

Its origins aren't entirely clear. The French are taking credit for it, and Hawaii is fast becoming its capital. But even on the Jersey shore, it has some serious fans.

"It's amazing. It's a sense of freedom, so little equipment, just flying across the water. It's something that's kind of spiritual," says Darwin Reid, who works for Ted Smith, the owner of Wind Surfing Bay Head. Smith has set up a school and sells everything a kiter needs.

"To start off," Smith explains, "you need your engine, which is a kite. We have what's called an air ram kite."

If the kite is the engine, the steering wheel is the control bar. Next, there's the line that connects the control bar to the kite, and the harness that connects you to the control bar.

Of course, you also need a board.

The whole kite surfing package will run you somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,500. But dealers and manufacturers say that's a small price to pay for a feeling that's like no other.

Ty Luckett, who works for F One, one of the big equipment manufacturers, explains, "It's kind of like flying. But, flying, you're always up there, so you kind of get used to it. But having the rush from being on the water and then looking down at people, it's, like, instant. That's the adrenaline part of it. One minute, you're at water's level. The next minute, you're looking down on a house. It's pretty neat stuff."

Ty and Darwin grew up wind surfing. But what about the rest of us? Can anybody do it?

Says Ty, "Your average fit person can do it (and) have a really good time. We've taught 65-year-old people."

And what does the future hold for this sport?

"I'd like it to be safe so it grows," Ty replies. "If everybody's trained properly, it should go to the ends of the earth."

Or, in Darwin's case: "If it all works out, I'd like to become like Ty and kite sail for the rest of my life."

While people like Darwin and Ty make kiting look like a breeze, they are the first to point out that the way to learn is by taking lessons.

For more about kiting, try visiting The Power Kiting Page, or The Power Kite Site.

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