Big air equals big thrills in this new extreme water sport

-- by Jeff Hoxtell

Kiteboarding or kitesurfing, if you don't already know, is like snowboarding on water. This, behind a boat, is called wakeboarding. OK, now forget the boat and add a giant kite for the power source. The kite is controlled or steered using a control bar in the hands of the rider. The kite can be flown is specific patterns to generate greater power, or can be used to jump or fly through the air. We are not talking about little hops either; you can really get up and float for some serious air time. The power is directed to a harness by "hooking in"; this takes the load off the arms which helps reduce fatigue. Kiteboarding is the fastest growing water sport in the world, and for good reasons.

The freedom of jumping 10, 20, 30ft off the water, without the necessity of a wave for a ramp, means that people who live near lakes can still fly through the air. Snowboarders love it as a summer alternative to riding on snow, not to mention there's no lift ticket to buy. Windsurfers love it because you can kiteboard in less wind, and the gear fits in a economy car, instead of the truck, or trailer. Surfers can get out on the water when the surf is too low or blown out. Wake boarders are forced to rethink what big air really is, plus saving all the gas money they were putting into their boats every weekend. People who have never tried a board sport at all are getting into kiteboarding.

Ideal learning conditions include warm, flat and shallow water coupled with consistent wind. Being able to stand up after a gulp of water or a head first plunge is not only convenient but comforting. Having a boat right there where you need it saves time, as the beginner will end the kite surfing lesson far down wind from where he or she started.

Taking lessons with a qualified instructor is a must. The best thing to do first is to buy or rent a trainer kite, and watch an instructional video to get the basics down. Next, is the first three hour kiteboarding lesson, in which you will learn the safety issues and systems, setup of the kite, launching and landing, the wind window and power stokes, water re-launching and body dragging. From there you can continue with lessons or go practice on your own. The cost of equipment has come down over the years; a beginner setup will run $1000-$1500 for everything. Unlike many sports, such as snow Skiing, kiteboarding is not something you should expect to be able to learn in an afternoon. Once you get it, you'll be hooked.

Captain Jeff Hoxtell Air Padre Kiteboarding 5709 A Padre Blvd. South Padre Island 956-299-9463

About the author:

Captain Jeff Hoxtell is a certified kiteboarding instructor and has been teaching kiteboarding for 4 years. Check out the student testimonials at his website www.airpadrekiteboarding.comor email him at



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