Spotlight

Harnessing the Sky

When it comes to most sports, the power to do that activity comes from your own body. However, it does not have to. In skateboarding, the speed comes from your legs pushing on the ground and in rock climbing, the power and movement comes predominantly from your hands and arms. I must control myself here and not spend the entire article talking about how a good climber climbs from their core and uses their hands or arms to bear equal weight! In contrast, some extreme sports, like kite-boarding and wind-surfing, use the wind to provide the speed needed to begin skimming over the surface of the water.
By utilizing the wind, athletes in these sports are often pulled along at speeds of up to 40 mph—skimming over waves and performing incredible tricks in the air.  It’s hard for much of us to be able to realize the impact of that speed since many of us only experience it in a car. However, the sense of speed an athlete feels when they are down near the water with the kite in their hands and the spray on their face is incredible. Undoubtedly, the hardest part of kitesurfing and windsurfing is mastering control of the sail or kite. Knowing how much power you can get in regard to the wind takes experience, intuition, and a quick mind.
These sports are very similar, yet also very different. A good way to differentiate between the two is that with windsurfing, the sail is attached to a surfboard; whereas with kiteboarding, the kite remains in the air and you are the link between the board and kite. Kiteboarding also takes up more more space. The lines from your bar—where you grab—and the kite are nearly 27 meters long! (For you non metric users, that’s almost 90 feet!)  Interestingly, in higher winds, athletes opt for shorter lines while in light winds, they’ll fly longer lines.
What makes these sports extreme? Like all extreme sports, there is a definite element of risk and danger in these activities. Some might call the risk of a unconsciousness after falling—yes, it has happened—or the possibility of drowning a stupid risk to take. However for those, myself included, who cannot be satisfied by anything but the rush of adrenaline these sports bring, it makes sense. We think, “What’s the point of living if you aren’t pushing the limits of the world and yourself?”
Most begin these sports by renting equipment and taking classes with professionals, however, many have started by getting taught by a friend. Sadly, getting started in these sports is something very few of us will ever get to experience. However, if flying over water and harnessing the power of the sky sounds appealing, I’d encourage you to see how you can achieve this goal.

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