The Founders Kite Club (FKC) is an organization started in Europe devoted to bringing together a network of successful entrepreneurs for events center around meeting new people, gaining new perspectives, ripping it up on kites, along with a moderate to heavy dose of partying. Next Level Watersports was proud to participate in the FKC’s first event in Tulum, Mexico as they expand into North America. We helped by assisting with logistics, providing group clinics, private kite lessons, and generally helping participants get on & off the beach safely.
So what were the highlights? There is a saying I learned on this trip, “Be careful meeting your heroes, they may no longer be your heroes.” That saying was far from true in this scenario. I had the opportunity to meet and hang out with Jake Kelsick (@jakekelsick) and Nick Jacobsen (@nick_jacobsen)– Two professional kiteboarder’s who, when I was sitting in a cubicle in my suit and tie, I would watch their videos longing to do what they do (And pull off what they can do on a kite). It was somewhat surreal in that, now, I am actually doing what they do. I got to meet and ride with both and can confidently say they are as chill as they seem in their videos and my respect for them runs deeper than ever.
My personal favorite part of the trip started as many of my crackpot kiting adventures normally do: Over a few beers at dinner, looking at a forecast on an iPhone with my friends, with a big picture vision in mind. This “board room” meeting involved Jake, myself, and Heli creative director Taylor Fischer. We were all talking about how we needed to get the shot of kiting in front of the Mayan ruins just north of Tulum. That’s when the mission clicked. The forecast showed breeze all night into the morning, dying off throughout the day – The lighting and wind would be perfect. Now we just had to figure out logistics.
We quickly wrapped dinner and went on a late night scout mission driving down pitch-black roads using Google maps that would not load to understand the spot. The ruins are located in a Mexican National Preserve and flying drones inside the park boundary is outlawed. Wanting to follow the rules (and avoid Mexican prison) we found a tiny parking lot that let us access and film the spot without ever hitting a no fly zone. On that note, the decision was made – Wake up at 5:30, ride to the ruins, pump up, assemble foils, and, in a term we love, go “get the shot”.
We pulled into the parking lot in our large, stereotypically American white Suburban packed to the brim with filming and kite equipment before the sun was in the sky. We were the first people in the park and a sleepy seemingly confused Mexican walked out asking for money to park as we offloaded piles of gear. Foils were screwed together, drone batteries were checked, and cameras were clicking as we prepared for the mission.
Kites were tucked into harnesses and we walked down to the beach. We methodically pumped up our kites and finished connecting our lines just as the sun peeked into view above the horizon with a fiery halo of orange brilliant light shining in the clouds behind it. This, is what life (And kiting) is all about.
I have never seen a Mayan ruin before in my life outside of a textbook or photo. Jake and I waded into the water together with a mix of excitement and nervousness. The large seaweed patches felt like brillo pads wrapping around our legs. Go time baby! Both of us made it past the dense seaweed, hopped on our boards and, with one quick pump, started flying along silently. We shot just a half mile or so north and before we knew it we were both flying along in front of a monument of brilliance and history.
We were doing what we love, watching the light shine through the small windows within the monument with the faint hum of the drone above filming the adventure. To be honest I felt like the Mayans, who worshipped the sun, would have been proud. It was a dream come true.
When the drone batteries gave out and we could confidently say we got the shot, Andy Culp and Brandon Darnton from team Heli pumped up and joined Jake and myself. The 4 of us continued to session the ruins area for about 20 minutes and then we set off on a 3 mile downwinder in front of all the hotels of Tulum. The primitive (looking) architecture and beach front cabanas dotted the white sand beach. We flew over reefs, dodged clumps of seaweed, and were all cheering with enjoyment. Wild action at its finest!
From foiling in front of ruins to circumnavigating islands, to chasing water taxis by kite, to coaching from a Mexican fishing panga and sacrificing my cell phone to the sun gods – The trip was a resounding success.
NLW Pro Tip: When you are foiling in dense seaweed areas, a great means of clearing the weeds off your foil is to come virtually to a stop while still standing on the board and pump the front foot down to make the foil go backwards through the water. This clears the weeds off mast and lets you pop right back up and keep riding.
By: Jonathan Beery
Co-Owner Next Level Watersports
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