Flyin High

Kite flyingPhoto by Michelle Day

'LET'S GO FLY A KITE' -- John Arthur, PASA-certified kiteboarding instructor, is shown "flying a kite" over Kailu Bay, Hawaii. The hottest sport sweeping the globe is kiteboarding, also known as kitesurfing.Young and old alike are lining up to take lessons, so they can add this thrilling new sport to their weekly list of adventure activities.Are You Ready?

By John Arthur

The hottest sport sweeping the globe is kiteboarding, also known as kitesurfing.

Young and old alike are lining up to take lessons, so they can add this thrilling new sport to their weekly list of adventure activities.

Simply put, kiteboarding allows a rider to harness the power of the wind using a specialized kite to pull himself across the water on a modified surfboard or wakeboard reaching speeds between 15- 25mph.

He then uses the kite to lift off the water and into the air to perform aerial maneuvers so breathtaking and graceful, everyone viewing this air show screams out, "Did you see that? "I ve got to get one of those!"

Kiteboarding was, until recently, an experimental sport for adrenaline junkies toying with various kite and board designs. Prior to 1999, it was limited to small sized kites (3-9 sq. meters) useable only in higher wind environments similar to that on Maui.

With the advent of better materials and larger kite designs (10-16 square meters) the sport went mainstream and light wind riding became a reality to virtually everyone daring enough to challenge the wind.

"The sport is not difficult to learn, however, lessons are a must to ensure a safe and successful experience with such a powerful piece of equipment," says certified kiteboarding instructor John Arthur, owner and chief instructor of Manta Wind & Water Sports in San Diego, Calif.

"Kiteboarding can be performed in winds ranging from 10-25 mph for entry-level riders and up to 45 mph for advanced level riders. Kiteboarding is a perfect sport on its own, or it makes a great companion sport to other watersports where wind is normally the enemy.

"When the surf is to blown out for surfing or the lake is to wind chopped to ski or wakeboard, kiteboarding is at its best. Just pull out the kite and take your riding to the next level."

Arthur is quick to mention, "You must be in good physical condition and know how to swim to participate, but it doesn t require a lot of strength, if done properly it s mostly technique. Remember, control the kite, and don t fight it.

"Make it do the work, so you don t have to. " This is why the young people (11 years +) and even the young at heart older crowd (60+) are participating in this sport, with the highest percentage of riders between 25 55 years or age.

"Most people learn enough with four-six hours of private instruction to get started in the sport. Supplemental lessons are usually recommended but not always required.

Private kiteboarding lessons cost about $260 for four hours; use of the equipment is included during the lesson. This isn t cheap, but quality instruction with a certified kiteboarding instructor will more than pay for itself by setting the ground work for a dramatically higher learning curve, increased safety and a greater sense of confidence," says Arthur.

A set of kiteboarding equipment (kite package, board and harness) will run you, $1,500 - $2,200. Novices and pros alike should wear a life jacket and helmet when riding.

Equipment should only be purchased after consulting with your kiteboarding instructor to ensure it is the proper size and type for safe and successful operation in the environment you intent to ride.

"The best thing about this sport is you can take it to whatever level you desire whether it is cruising slowly back and forth using a small kite with a large board or performing high flying aerial flips and spins 30 feet above the water on a larger kite with a smaller board.

"You can ride like a wakeboarder on the lake with high-speed technical tricks or a pro-surfer in the ocean by dropping into big waves and launching off the wave faces. You ll blow minds with your aggressive riding style It s all good," says Arthur.

"One things for sure, you ll go from watersports enthusiast to kiteboarding fanatic after one lesson."

John Arthur is a PASA certified kiteboarding instructor and has been teaching safe and enjoyable kiteboarding to hundreds of students from around the world since 1999.

For lesson info, you can contact Arthur at Manta Wind & Water Sports in San Diego, Calif. at or call (858) 692-0300.

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