Chasing the Next Dream
Santa Barbara, California
I can get out on a fart,” says Hunter Becker with a grin, commenting on the legitimacy of his light wind skills. Santa Barbara born and raised, Hunter’s kiteboarding career has been defined by lackluster wind, yet this significant limitation has in no way diminished his obsession with the sport. “You do what you can with what you have,” and in his case, that translates to big megaloop airs on his foilboard in just about every condition imaginable.
Baked into his tall, muscular frame is a fearless approach to just about everything. Hunter’s first stroke with kiteboarding started when he watched a couple of YouTube videos, bought a kite on the beach for $400 and proceeded to rig it onsite. The seller protested and then watched in horror as Hunter stumbled through his first go at kiteboarding. In fact, most of Hunter’s progression has followed this ill-advised trial by fire method. Faced with Santa Barbara’s elusive winds, in his first year, he went straight into foilboarding with a terrifyingly advanced setup. If the normal kiteboarding flight path starts with a twintip, followed by some time on a surfboard before freebasing with a hydrofoil, Hunter took the direct route, eventually landing his first backrolls on a floating pogo stick rather than the typical twintip.
Like many of us, Hunter’s discovery of kiteboarding didn’t start at an early age. Having spent the bulk of his young adult years working construction and laying the foundation for a commercial pilot’s license, Hunter landed his dream career flying airplanes at the age of 19. Flying required long hours and a set schedule which was fine until he stumbled upon kiteboarding and the annoying discovery that the pilot gig never seemed to line up with good wind. With kiteboarding having set its addictive hooks, Hunter left aviation behind and returned to a flexible construction job that allowed him to take off at a moment’s notice to the beach down the street or off to La Ventana or Hood River when iKitesurf said it was time to go.
For the last few years, Hunter has been completely obsessed with the sport. During the learning process, he spent hours flying his kite on the beach in Santa Barbara’s frequent marginal conditions. With his kite constantly on the edge of backstalling, he taught himself advanced moves on dry land, mastering dry foil tacks in both directions before ever trying one on the water. An admitted kite kook, Hunter recalls, “I used to run around the beach with my harness on, pretending I was riding toeside, trying to tack and figure out what my lines would do over me, then figure out where my kite would have to come out of the tack to ride away without stalling.” Hunter stuck with the versatility of foilboarding and quickly progressed into boosting big jumps, air-style board-offs and tic-tac flips with his foil. “It’s pathetic,” he says. “In Santa Barbara, we’re all frothing on 15knots””but it’s made me a really good kiter.” With so many light wind days under his belt, when he gets to visit windy places and fellow kiters are complaining about the poor-quality wind, Hunter is stoked despite the gusts because it’s always windier than his typical sessions at home.
Having shadowed Eric Rienstra on Core’s West Coast Demo Tour this summer, Hunter ended up in Hood River in September. Following the AWSI tradeshow, Hunter crossed paths with the bulk of the Airush team at the Stevenson launch. He remembers this session for its incredibly light wind and a particularly memorable backroll kiteloop that he landed with an impeccably clean foil re-entry. Hunter hit it off with Airush’s Sam Medysky and brand manager Clinton Filen and signed on for their West Coast tech rep position. Loaded with an arsenal of gear which includes a fresh quiver of Ultra Team edition single-strut kites built out of high-tech Ho’okipa cloth, Hunter now has a solid excuse to drive around the west looking for wind. In the quiet moments of his new occupation, Hunter sometimes reflects on his decision to put aviation on hold. Turning his back on a privileged career can seem selfish, yet as that chapter comes to an end, the door to a new dream job is opening with an expanding view of the kiteboarding horizon.
This article was featured in our winter 2022 issue, Vol. 18, No. 4. To read more, click here.