Words by Jessa Steinman
Surfers and kiteboarders have more in common than we choose to admit. We are both adrenaline junkies; our favorite thing to do (apart from surfing or kiteboarding) is to talk about surfing or kiteboarding, and we are constantly itching for the next session, trip or piece of equipment. I’m not a kiter, and although I have friends who have threatened to paddle out with knives when we pass by our favorite spots on windy days and see the breaks scattered with kites, I personally don’t hold resentment towards the sport. I also don’t think any surfer could feasibly catch a kiter; the wind is too powerful a tool. There is aggression enough in any surf lineup which is why I am acknowledging the fundamental differences, but promoting the commonalities that surfers and kiters share; an addiction to exhilarating experiences facilitated by the elements, a love for the ocean and a reverence for natural environments.
After browsing through the latest issue of Tkb, I have to say, the sport looks pretty unreal. I mean getting into a shoulder high barrel over reef takes a ridiculous amount of grit as it is — add a kite to the balancing act and you’re officially insane. The sport certainly creates a whole new definition of the word air. Finally, I have to hand it to the kiters, there looks to be an incredible amount of skill and patience that comes with maneuvering such an unpredictable force as the wind.However, although kitesurfers may have more time standing on a board during an average session, they miss the magic of surfing in glassy conditions. No wind — just clean polished sets rolling in from the abyss. Yes, we surfers spend half or more of our time in the water paddling, duck diving, working against the same force we aim to dance with, but thats what makes catching that wave so rewarding. As a body worker I liken duck diving to a massage; a wave rolling over one’s form strains out all thought and drains tension into the ever receiving sea. There is also magic in the waiting game, the intermittent periods in between sets is when nature reveals some of her most glorious wonders; the wildlife becomes active (hopefully not too interactive) and you get to witness the personalities of the various coastal creatures.
What is more exciting than harnessing the raw elements to produce one of the most invigorating experiences imaginable? I believe the adrenaline and delight I feel when surfing is of the same substance of which a kiter experiences. When I am on the water I feel expansive and powerful, yet minuscule and ephemeral amongst the prodigious ocean and can imagine that kiters feel similarly.
Most importantly, the adoration both surfers and kiters have developed for the sea has inspired many of us to create lifestyles that encourage the natural resources we worship to thrive. This devotion provides an impetus for environmental activism to protect coastal environments and sustain public access. We are all water lovers, inspired by the vast and rugged beauty of the coast, and should be in collaboration as stewards of these habitats, treating them with respect and reverence.