The founder of Cascade Kiteboarding, Tonia Farman, has passed the torch of owning and running the kiteboarding school after 13 years to former employee Katie Noblett and spouse Ty Graves. The details of the sale of the business are not disclosed.
“I could not be more proud and excited to have Katie and Ty take over Cascade. The two bring a great balance of logistics management, customer service and enthusiasm for kiteboarding that will carry on the legacy of Cascade Kiteboarding for years to come,” stated Farman.
Katie and Ty have both worked in kiteboarding in and out over the last seven years. Katie worked at Cascade for six seasons — first as an instructor, then transitioned to admin and reservations. Before Cascade, Katie worked at Kitesurfari in Southern California, before moving to Hood River.
Ty worked at Real Kiteboarding in Hatteras, NC where he actually met and taught Katie how to kiteboard. Katie and Ty reconnected again in Southern California, discovering they lived just 15 minutes from each other, then again in the Gorge after having moved to Hood River separately for different reasons. In 2015, Ty spent time around Cascade Kiteboarding while Katie was on admin, welcoming instructors and students alike.
Farman’s exit from Cascade Kiteboarding will not last long. She is transitioning full time into her hemp food & wellness business she founded with husband and another kiteboarding pioneer, Gregg Gnecco, in 2018. The two founded Queen of Hearts Hemp Foods and Hemp Northwest with the mission of improving the health of people and the planet through the mighty hemp seed.
Farman started Cascade Kiteboarding in 2008 operating lessons by herself with a single jet ski out of Stevenson Washington, about 20 miles west of Hood River. After three seasons of pulling a ski in and out of the water daily in Stevenson, she won a concession permit in Hood River and moved the school to the Hood River Event Site, where the school currently resides.
Cascade Kiteboarding runs about 600 private and semi-private kiteboarding lessons between May and September, pending forest fires and pandemics. Cascade Kiteboarding focuses on private lessons with dedicated jet ski access to a secluded ski-access only location away from the busy Hood River sandbar. More than 3600 students have gone through Cascade’s lesson program, with a repeat student ratio of more than 75%.
Farman has served as a leader in the kiteboarding industry since 2002 when she took the job as Marketing Director at Slingshot Kiteboarding. She went on to do marketing contract work for various brands in the industry while running Cascade Kiteboarding. In 2007 she founded Kiteboard 4 Cancer, which continues to run the largest and most impactful kiteboarding event in North America. Farman handed off her role as Event Director in 2019, but continues to serve as an advisor to the event team.