Flying kites of any kind in the sky, along the shores of Bellingham Bay is a great way to spend time. We often go to Zuanich Point- set upon a “bluff on the bay” to fly kites over the open lawn. There’s good wind and it’s a great setting. It’s relaxing and a fun experience for the family. I bought my first stunt kite in 1992 and have been flying, when I can, ever since. Why? Because it’s fun.
Before you go any further, please understand that this is not a tutorial for you to learn how to kiteboard. It’s about my experience as I go through the process.
I’m known for taking things to the next level. I’ve wanted to try kiteboarding ever since my friend Eric Due told me his stories about the sport in 2002. He has stuck with it and continues to travel the world for fun and competitions. He has picked up capturing the images of the sport too and sharing them with his “friends”. Please understand, He’s a total speed freak, so his photos are of other thrill seekers around the Bay Area where he plays and “works”. This is one of his latest shots:
2013 North American Kite Racing Championships
Needless to say, I’ve had my eye on the sport for a while. This isn’t a sport that I wanted to just go “try”. It requires instruction. As the Recreation Capital of the Northwest, Bellingham has a solid base of shops, outfitters and instructors for all your sporting needs. So I called the guys up at Bellingham Kiteboarding and started the conversation with DJ The Destroyer. “Hi, my name is Todd and I’d like to learn to kiteboard” It was all downwind from there.
There are 3 main lessons that I will be going through.
Lesson 1: Fly a Kite, standing on the ground to demonstrate proficiency.
Lesson 2: Shallow Water, get used to being hooked to the kite and in the water
Lesson 3: Deep Water, strap it on and head out across the bay.
He explained to me the progression of steps and how once you’ve been able to fly the kite upwind, a whole new world is unlocked: The World of Kiteboarding! Without the ability to fly upwind, the sport is 1/2 kiteboarding and 1/2 walking back on the beach (aka, the walk of shame) . When you can fly out and back to where you started, then you’re in: A Kiteboarder!
I scheduled an appointment to get my first lesson. When I arrived, we hung out in the shop and DJ explained how Bellingham Bay offers the best conditions in the Northwest for learning. He took the time to sketch out the lessons that I had ahead of me on a piece of paper.
Flying the Kite- 4 Step Process
Step 1: Finding the Wind Window and running the kite “through the gears”
Step 2: Picking corners on each side and flying figure 8s back and forth
Step 3: Power Strokes
Step 4: One handed flying
I was all set to go out and put the kite and myself to the test. Unfortunately, I was headed out of town for the weekend. Coincidentally, I just happened to find myself in The Gorge and with my trainer kite in hand headed down to the beach. All of the signs pointed out that the wind was kickin’ out there. Needless to say, we spent a little time on the shores of the Columbia River to see how I could perform on my quizzes with the kite. Enjoy the photos:
Here I am trying to hold steady while an experienced kiter gets ready to launch. The wind was really tuggin’ on me and trying to pull me down the beach. I got quite a workout and quit while I was ahead and looked forward to being back in Bellingham, where the wind is a bit more forgiving and appropriate for my introduction.
I put my kite away and grabbed the camera to capture the radness of the dude out on the water ripping it up. Stunts are built into the river and this guy was taking full advantage of it. It sure was fun to watch. I have no interest in this type of flying, but good on ya, bro! He put on quite the show.
There are all kinds of things you can do once you’ve entered the world of kiteboarding. I’m looking forward to the experience and sharing my story with you along the way.
Bellingham Kiteboarding aka Kite Paddle Surf
2620 N. Harbor Loop #18, Bellingham, WA
Photo credits: April Claxton, Eric W. Due and Todd Elsworth.