Part surfing, part paragliding, and all about flying a kite, kitesurfing has carved an extreme niche in the water, and the sport's increasing popularity is making waves. Breezy as the pros make it look, newbies shouldn't just throw caution to the wind; they should throw it to Captain John of Treasure Island's Kite the Bay. John has been a kitesurfing instructor for the past eight years and offers an innovative approach to his "Fly & Ride Intro" lessons.
Dry-land lessons are ditched in favor of getting straight out onto the water. Hop onto his boat, the Windseeker, strap on a board, and hook into a custom-made Kite-Pole. With the Captain steering, you'll coast alongside the boat, shredding calm cove waters and building confidence. (Snowboarders and skateboarders typically learn the skills quickly.) That's the easy part.
After Captain John drops anchor in a prime spot, find a perch on the back of the boat and take the reins of a 12-meter foil kite. Experiment with a full range of control skills, and attempt to avoid kamikaze nose-dives. You won't be pulling any 15-foot grabs under the Golden Gate Bridge your first time out, but before you know it you'll be gone with the wind.
"The rush is unlike anything you'll experience in your life," he said, describing his midair magic once he was back on land. "All the sounds go away, and it's just silent up there. You really feel like you're flying."
Welcome to the world of kitesurfing, a fledgling sport that adds a dimension to ordinary surfing and gives new meaning to the phrase "hang time." The sport, sometimes called "kiteboarding," burst onto the scene in 1999 and has grown gradually and quietly since then.