Most kiteboarding schools start instruction on the beach and then move to deep water – a slow, and often dangerous way to learn. Not only are their obstacles to dodge, including rocks, people, and umbrellas, but there's a risk that you could fall or be dragged across hard surfaces. Trust us, that's not very fun. This environment puts yourself in danger, poses a risk to beach goers, and potentially puts the sport at risk in your community. Perhaps even worse than a bruise or scrape, your learning progression is much slower out of the water. This means that you'll spend much more time learning the basics than you will flying around the ocean on your own.
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In the months since we’ve opened our second location in Stuart, FL - we’ve done as much community outreach as possible! Not only do we want to broadcast the news that we’re here, but do so by hosting events where clients can get on the water with us as a complimentary service and have some fun! One of the facilities we’ve teamed up with down here is Sailfish Point Marina and Yacht Club in Stuart, FL. In the past, we’ve hosted on site “Intro to Kiting Events” but this day we took members out at our teaching location to try wakeboarding and kiting all in the same afternoon.
Before the guests arrived, our staff pumped the kites we’d need for the day and got all gear in place so we could start seamlessly once our guests arrived. From the dock we split up into groups and began shuttling out to our spot at the Stuart sand bar. Everyone was excited for the afternoon to come. The kids were asking a million questions that came through their heads, and parents almost nervously observed as things played out. We got everyone fitted with their harness or foot straps and dove right into our separate activities. One group went wakebaording, while the others took turns flying real inflatable kites with our pro coaches, Jake Hoefler and Emily Reich.
It’s a process getting the concept of kiting out on the table. It can be a little wordy and conceptual to start, but the best way to understand it to just do it! For us coaches, it’s really exciting when what you just explained is finally experienced when those kids - young and old - hook in and feel the kite on their bellies for the first time. With wobbly skills, students took turns hooking into the kite and practiced flying the real thing. They moved the kites in a figure 8 motion up in the sky, practiced bringing it to the side of the wind window, and inevitably practiced relaunching too! The group was so fascinated and excited by this new sport they were trying out, the energy remained high throughout each flight. About half of our students that day were younger kids and weighed next to nothing. For those small enough, instead of having them body drag on their own, a lucky few got to hold onto the back of our coach’s harness and go for a little ride! This resulted immediately in squeals of laughter and excitement. This is exactly what we’re here to share: the stoke for this sport. And it was working!
With a relatively tight time frame between each group, we had to be pretty smooth with our time management. We needed to balance the big group before they swapped activity and also make sure everyone had plenty of time during their turns. It’s so important for our students to experience a feeling of progression even in a short time because it leaves them with a feeling that it’s something they truly can do, with just a little instruction and focus! A lot of the moms in attendance seemed as though they were there for their kids and document with pictures. But we suited them up and they got to play too! Again, that feeling of surmounting a mental hurdle is key to everyone having fun! That’s because we’re stoked to see our clients make a tiny step forward, and they are stoked to experience the joy in these sports for the very first time! The “Aha” moment!
It seemed as though it was a huge media event for everyone in attendance, including us. The parents loved taking pictures of their kids having a total blast, and we had one of our coaches dedicated to just photo and video. Our pro coach and in house media rockstar, Mark Cafero, swapped with the groups and took close ups of the lessons by hanging around each party to follow what was happening. These kids didn’t seem shy - I think they were having too much fun to even care about the camera. With the huge body of his film camera, Mark captured our entire afternoon. When he had plenty of ground footage, it was time to put up the drone. The overall aerial view of drone footage speaks more than words can to help fully express the nature of the event. Our location is so ideal for both these types of lessons and the drone overhead portrays this perfectly!
Wakeboarding and kiting are quite different in they require different muscles groups. With our wake groups, only one person went at a time to ensure the quickest progression and for safety purposes too. Our coach and owner, Jon Beery, drove the boat while he took one volunteer to be the “spotter” keeping an eye on the rider. The hardest part of wakeboarding, especially for beginners, is doing the water starts before actually towing behind the boat. More often than not, it requires a few adjustments from how students naturally would go about it, but then they get up and finally get riding! Again, because there’s a level of difficulty in trying this for the first time, it’s so fulfilling to see new students succeeding and progressing. Their faces look almost shocked when they ultimately get going but then that shock shifts to one of marvel at how new and exciting this is for them.
With a taste of saltwater and the sun on their skin, our students were having an absolute blast. Because the group mainly comprised of families with young kids, their body temperatures started to drop from the breeze just as our event finished which meant perfect timing! Each student got a little taste of the sports we were sharing that day, and a taste just enough to leave them wanting more. It truly was a perfect afternoon.
To conclude the day, we deflated our kites, put away the boards and started to pile back in the boats. This was not before the parents arranged the kids around our coaches for a last minute picture in an attempt to make this a memory they’ll keep for a long time. It’s exactly the effect we’re going for.
We are a growing company and recognize how important these types of events can be. They hold possibility to build relationships that will continue to expand and contribute to our kiting community for years to come. Not only that, but we are doing exactly what we love: and that’s sharing the joys of these sports with anyone who’s up for it! If you or your company would like to participate in an event like this please never hesitate to call us up and get the conversation started.
A huge thank you and shout out to Sailfish Point ownership and their members. It was truly our pleasure hosting you guys for this awesome Kite and Wake event!
See you on the water!
On Saturday, February 24, 2018 Next Level Watersports ran its first First Tracks Kiteboarding Event down here in Stuart, Florida at the US Sailing Center of Martin County run by myself, Jon Beery, and our pro-instructors Mark Cafero, and Justin Bruns. We had sunny skies and 12-18kts SSE - AKA perfect conditions for learning to kiteboard!
What is a First Tracks Kite Event you may ask? We had over twenty people young and old come our and test their hands at learning what kiteboarding is all about. Participants got to learn the basic theories behind how and why a kite flies the way it does and how to generate incremental, appropriate, controlled power through kite control. After doing an introduction and reviewing the theory, we walked out to knee deep water just in front of the Sailing Center to get a clean breeze approach. Everyone within the group got to rotate through and go from basic to intermediate skills of flying a trainer kite to begin understanding how a kite works. And best of all, feel the power of a kite! But whatever you do, don’t crash and get it wet…..
We wrapped the event by going over how to rig up a 4-line kite, showing the group how the safety systems work, and explaining the various different board types and their application. Most importantly we reviewed the process and theory of learning how to kiteboard safely. And we can’t wait to see some from the group out on the water for kiteboarding lessons!
A big thank you to the US Sailing Center of Martin County for allowing us to host the event. They are an incredible resource for the Vero, Stuart, Jupiter, and West Palm area with professional, talented staff and we cannot thank them enough. If you have ever wanted to learn to sail (Which we also highly recommend), give them a call.
If you are interested in booking a First Tracks Kite Event please refer to our brochure and email us. It is perfect for birthday parties, team building events, youth groups, after school programs, and more - Let us teach you how!
NLW Pro Tip - If you want to begin kiteboarding, a trainer kite is a great resource to learn the basics safely. Buy a trainer kite (We do sell them!), search youtube for wind window concepts and how to fly a trainer kite, and get out on the beach. Just be respectful of other beach goers and be sure to learn your safety systems prior to flying your kite. And feel free to give us a call if you have any questions! Best of luck!