Letters

Letters 8-18-2014

The Climate Clarified

Climate change isn’t an easy subject. A class I’m taking compared it to medicine in a way that was helpful for me: Climate scientists are like planetary physicians. Our understanding of medicine is incomplete, but what we know is useful...

Beware Non-Locally Grown

The article “Farm Fresh?” couldn’t be any more true than exactly stated. As an avid shopper at the local farm markets I want to know “exactly” what I am buying, from GMO free to organic or not organic, sprayed or not sprayed and with what...

Media Bias Must End

I wish to thank Joel Weberman for his letter “Seeking Balanced Israel Coverage.” The pro-Palestinian bias includes TV news coverage...

Proud of My President

The world is a mess. According to many conservative voices, it would not be in such a mess if Obama was not the president. I am finally understanding that the problem with our president is that he is too thoughtful, too rational, too realistic, too inclined to see things differently and change his mind, too compassionate to be the leader of a free world...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Blown Away
. . . .

Blown Away

Carol South - March 23rd, 2006
Have wind, will soar.
Year-round, kite boarding proponents in Northern Michigan can be found sailing over snow or waves whenever a brisk wind comes up.
Each season has its style, challenges and rewards, but wintertime revolves around a common theme: stay warm as rising wind chills lure boarders to frozen lakes for hours of frigid fun. Even before the lakes freeze, which happened late this year, diehard fans search out promising fields to skim over on skis or snowboards.
Linked via the technology of cell phones and Internet bulletin boards, a rising wind spurs a wave of calls and a posse departs for a promising location. Within 10 minutes of arriving, they can be skimming the frozen surface: no lift lines, no fees and no hassle.

FORUM POSTINGS
“We don’t have a club, we just post on our forum: ‘Hey, I’m going to go here,’” said Brian Buchler, a kite board enthusiast for seven years who owns Grand Bay Kite in downtown Traverse City. 
These traction kites are not parafoils where a rider sits and passively sails through the air, a familiar colorful summer sight on East Grand Traverse Bay. Kite boarders are actively involved in their sport, hooked to kites via a waist harness. Any airborne time on a kite board is deliberate and short-lived, usually after a jump over a wave or a built up snow ‘kicker’ that can send a boarder 20 feet up for some acrobatic feats.
The kite’s control bar clips to the front of the harness and the boarder uses the four lines between the bar and kite to steer. The harness takes the pull off of the arms, making it an easier sport in that way than water skiing or wake boarding. Boarders get a relatively balanced work out, too, as every part of the body gets into the action: legs, abs, shoulders and arms.  
“The biggest thing is to get over the fear and stop hanging on so hard,” said Dave Clark, a kite boarder for three years who teaches the sport and runs h2okiter.com. “You don’t need a lot of upper body strength; you can steer with your fingertips.”


IT’S ABOUT CONTROL
In fact, the key to smooth progress over snow or waves comes down to finesse, not strength -- even in a stiff wind. And speed does not necessarily spell mastery of the sport either, though boarders can easily reach 30 miles per hour. 
“You can definitely go really fast but kite boarding isn’t about speed, it’s about control,” said Keegan Myers, co-owner with his brother, Matt, of Broneah Kite Boarding in Traverse City.
“If you’re going really fast, you’re pretty much out of control, which means you’re not harnessing the wind properly,” he added. “We teach a lot of petite young women who will take lessons and do better than a weight-lifting guy.”
A person’s weight, the season and the boarder’s experience dictate kite size, with a typical size ranging from eight to 17 square meters and an average of 14 square meters for an adult male. If chosen wisely, one kite with gear including board, harness and spar lines can suffice beginners for both winter and summer. 
Many who get hooked on the sport wind up with multiple kites, three being a good number for year-round devotees.  An average customer will spend about $1,500 for a standard package of new equipment, noted Myers. Last season’s or used equipment will run less.
“We’ll find people gear for any price.” he added.
Getting started is more than purchasing the equipment: kite boarders need help learning to use their kites properly so that the experience is both safe and satisfying. Some people start by using a smaller trainer kite flown while they are stationary to get the hang of the wind and kite movement. A better route involves day- or weekend-long lessons or camps that immerse newcomers in the sport. 
“Kite boarding takes a lot of work from the instructor and the student, the student really needs to comprehend what’s going on and there’s a lot to digest,” said Myers, who along with is brother has developed a training program and runs camps both in the region and Puerto Rico. “We’ve seen people learn really quick and others who have taken multiple camps to learn.” 
“It’s not super easy to learn, you need to be fully focused,” he added.
   

 


 
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