Driving down the dusty roads of La Ventana you’ll pass a seemingly endless line of kite instruction signs that makes it hard to imagine this seasonal kite town could possibly need one more kiteschool. Yet, a quarter mile into town, up the first arroyo and across from Joes’ sits a new compound. Ranch fencing strung with vibrant banners, vertical Airush flags, jet skis and a hand-painted bienvenidos sign marks home for 4 Elements Kiteboarding school. 4 Elements is the brainchild of a youthful Xantos Villegas and while the school is relatively new in the hierarchy of longstanding La Ventana teaching institutions, Xantos himself is no stranger to La Ventana.
Born on Mexico’s mainland in the city of Guadalajara, Xantos’ family relocated to La Paz when he was 8 years old. Following in his father’s footsteps, Xantos first learned to windsurf in the tranquil bay of La Paz, and later spent many of his formative winter weekends chasing wind over the hill in La Ventana.
While Xantos may be late to the kitesurfing party, he’s no slouch. As a teenager, Xantos quickly found a niche in windsurf racing, setting lofty competitive goals to win the Mexican Windsurfing Championships with long term hopes of an Olympics windsurfing bid. Through his teens, Xantos established his own windsurfing school in La Paz, teaching locals the basics of boardsailing with the steady south summer winds. When kiteboarding began taking over the beaches of La Ventana, Xantos’ friends tried to convince him to convert, but it wouldn’t be until a couple years later when he aged out of contention for the Mexican Windsurfing Championships that he would give kites a try.
Under the watchful eye of friend Rico Rodriguez, Xantos quickly learned the basics of kiteboarding. According to Xantos, “From the moment I started kiteboarding I knew I wanted to establish a school in La Ventana.” With seasonal instructor jobs in La Ventana, Puerto Vallarta, and ultimately San Francisco, Xantos perfected the art of charismatic and effective kite lessons.
“From the moment I started kiteboarding I knew I wanted to establish a school in La Ventana.”
When Xantos speaks about teaching kiteboarding, he exudes energy, and gushes about his vision for the broader concept of instruction. “I love teaching; I like the way I can share my experience and knowledge and watch as kiteboarding makes a positive change in people’s lives.” Armed with a degree in alternative tourism from the University Autonoma in La Paz, Xantos has created 4 Elements as the first step in his dream of offering an authentic La Ventana experience that encompasses not only kite instruction but a holistic immersion into kiteboarding as well as southern Baja culture.
Despite the heavy presence of kiteboarding in La Ventana, there have been relatively few young Mexicans embracing the sport. Xantos recalls teaching windsurfing in La Paz. “Ninety percent of the people trying windsurfing were from another state. The people here don’t realize what they have out there: Beautiful water, beautiful wind. They have the best, but they cannot see it. When locals see all these people coming from the US and Canada, they think ‘it’s not for us, it’s only for them, I don’t want to be like them.’ ” According to Xantos, this is beginning to change, as more young local kids are venturing into kiting.
In that vein, with the glaring absence of a kite event in La Ventana, Xantos and his friends organized the La Ventana Windfest as a way to unite the community and motivate the local kids to embrace kiteboarding. With fun contests, tons of prizes, and locals only categories, the Windfest brought the town together once again. Looking back on this year’s inaugural Windfest, Xantos fondly recalls the basic premise. “This community is amazing. There are a bunch of people, we are a huge family here in La Ventana, let’s get together for three days to have fun.” And to Xantos, it was a massive success.
As for the future, Xantos plans to expand his school, build the La Ventana Windfest into a premiere kiteboarding event, and return to his racing roots, albeit with a kite and foil in the hopes that foilboarding will one day become an Olympic sport.
UPDATE: Xantos is one step closer to his Olympic goals! He just won the gold medal for formula kite in the first regional games to kick off the Olympic cycle at the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games held in Barranquilla, Columbia! Keep an eye out for him on his road to the 2024 Paris Olympic Games!