â€œDid you see those guys parachuting with waterskis?! Or where they kayaking with a hang glider?â€
Kitesurfing is a real attention getter, rubbernecker and comment generator. The first time I saw someone kitesurfing a few years ago I didnâ€™t know what to say either, I just knew I wanted to find someone to blurt out some excited nonsense to: â€œI saw this guy and he was doing this thing on the water with a parasail and ripping super fast and flying up in the air spinning and then I donâ€™t know what else but it looked incredible.â€
It may have become commonplace in many coastal towns in America by now, but when kitesurfers are spotted in Alaska they still arouse outbursts of excitement. Lots of people in my hometown have surprised me with descriptions of UFO’s seen last weekend when they were walking their dog on the beach. I usually have the pleasure of asking them if they saw the little floating head with the big camera in the water as well. So far I seem to go mostly unnoticed, or they donâ€™t hear my question because they are talking over me trying to explain this crazy thing they saw.
So what is kitesurfing? Basically itâ€™s flying a huge kite that is so powerful that it can drag you around, up, and down. The kite has 4 lines attached allowing you to control its flight, it has a â€˜control barâ€™ which you steer with, and it attaches to a harness you wear that. The surfing part happens when you get out on the water and stand on your board which is a cross between a wakeboard and a surfboard. The kite then drags you to and fro, lifting you off the water when you fly it certain â€˜zonesâ€™ above you. This tangle of lines and fabric, which easily fits in a backpack, launched into a 15 mph wind will amaze anyone with its Hummer like horsepower. One of the greatest and most magical things about kitesurfing is this incredible power available without the consumption of fossil fuels; a non-motorized sport that can thrill even a diehard motorhead. Kiting brings a whole other level of excitement with itâ€™s reliance on wind, especially when you sense that maybe your not in total control of the situation- similar to riding in your girlfriendâ€™s car when the roads are icy.
These photos were taken in Homer, Alaska; where every sunny summer day brings a daybreeze onshore creating ideal kitesurfing conditions. A growing number of the locals have started making the most of this setting, allowing me some good opportunities to shoot Alaskan kitesurfing photos. We have been discussing plans to pioneer a few of the countless â€˜unkitedâ€™ locations around Alaska, so stay tuned for trip reports from the Kite Alaska team. If you are interested in getting involved post a comment below.