It was so hot out and the AC was on the blink so we headed out to Ft Desoto on the southern tip of Pinellas County to catch a breeze. LOTS of kites were in the air. We could see them the moment we crested the bridge leading into Ft Desoto Park. We hung a left at the flagpole heading for the East Beach
Watching the kites boarders is always fun and any breezy day one will find a few out there, but never had we seen the number present on Sunday. It looked like it might have been a contest. We parked right on the water, facing the Skyway Bridge, to watch the action.
The guys and gals out there were riding faster than the wind, with long flying jumps, flips and spins. It was spellbinding. I grabbed a camera and started taking some pictures of the action. It looked like a blast.
When a kiteboarder exited the water close by we had to ask him, “whats it like out there?” We were lucky in that we happened to ask an experienced kiteboarder, Scott Fears. Scott has been kiteboarding since the sport began around 10 years ago. He learned in St Augustine Florida on the East coast. The love for the sport shows in his eyes as he talks about it. He also loves kiteboarding at Ft Desoto. “Its a great place to learn,” he says, “because the water is so shallow. If a beginner gets into trouble and falls, he can just stand up.” It was very different for him, learning on the East coast where the water is over ones head. He says Ft Desoto is one of the best places in the country to kite board.
The area is unique in that there are miles of “flats,” coastal waters that don’t get much deeper than 3 feet or so. Ft Desoto at the east end is also perfectly positioned for kiteboarding because it works for so many wind directions. Winds can be ridden from the South, Southeast, Southwest, West, and Northeast.
The kite is controlled by this trapeze type bar attatched to the kite. The other end attaches to a waist type harness. The assembly is kept light by using Kevlar cables that look far too small for their 800 lb test strength.
When another kiteboarder came in Scott showed us an actual kite. The framework is made from tubes of air, blown up by a bicycle pump. Deflates just by pulling a plug. The entire assembly rolls up and can be transported in the trunk of a car. Pretty cool.
Definitely a great day of watching Kiteboarders in action. Not sure if I would try it, but it is tempting.
Bestkiteboarding.com has a great array of products if you want to learn more about the equipment boards etc. Their logo is so perfect: a flying fish.
Scott tells us that many pro kiteboarders practice at Ft Desoto. One of the best known pro’s is “Billy Parker” check out this video of Billy Kiteboarding during a tropical storm! Crazyyyyyyyyyyyy
As always, Have an interesting day!