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Kiteboarders fly high

Photo courtesy Jasmine Roosendaal

Imagine pulling off the stunts you mastered on a wakeboard 33 feet in the air without the assistance of a boat or a ramp, relying solely on wind conditions and your ability to steer a kite.

For thrill-seekers looking for an adrenaline rush or want to try something new, UM’s two-year old kiteboarding club is open to all students. Kiteboarding is a combination of surfing, wakeboarding and windsurfing.

“The possibilities are endless. You can do huge, 50-foot jumps, ride waves with a surfboard and hit rails,” senior Thomas Fields, the club’s vice president

The sport may appear intimidating and dangerous to some people, but Fields thinks differently.

“Kiteboarding actually is a very safe sport as long as you take lessons from a qualified instructor who will take the time to teach you all of the important safety tips,” he said.

Avid kiteboarders Ivan Zorn, Nico Cuetara, Ian McKeown and Thomas Fields were practicing at Crandon Park during the fall of 2010 when they came up with the idea to start a kiteboarding club on campus.  The club became recognized by COSO in the spring of 2010.

“Kiteboarding can be a relatively expensive sport to learn with lessons in Miami costing upwards of $100-$150 per hour,” Fields said.“We wanted to give students access to one of the world’s most exciting and fastest-growing sports.”

To join, students pay an annual $40 due and attend a mandatory beach day or kite night where they receive a free introductory lesson from the club. After, Students can begin their training  at Kite Shop Miami, which offers lessons for $20 an hour to club members.

The Kite Shop also provides all of the necessary equipment for lessons. However, members are encouraged to purchase their own equipment once they have completed their lessons.  Beginners tend to buy used gear from around $600 to $900.

A common misconception about the sport is the need for muscles and strength to guide the kite, said Zorn, senior and president of the club.

“You definitely should know how to swim, but being strong is not that important,” he said. “You are connected to the kite with a harness that will hold your body weight when riding. All you need to do is steer the board with your legs and the kite with your arms.”

Senior Jessica Reed feels this is important for girls to consider as well.

“Girls always think that they won’t be able to kiteboard, but every girl who has tried it has been able to do it, and they don’t want to stop,” she said.

From these 40 member practices, Fields hopes to make kiteboarding a long-term goal and work with professional sponsors. He is already a professional rider for North Kiteboarding, a retail brand for kiteboarding equipment and apparel.

““Kiting is a major part of my life, and it has given me amazing opportunities,” Fields said. “After I finish my degree this year, I’m planning on working with sponsors to be able to travel the world for a few years, competing on the world tour, writing and being involved with travel magazines, and promoting the sport.

Interested in giving kiteboarding a shot? Check out the University of Miami Kiteboard Club’s Facebook page or send an email toukiteboarding@gmail.com.

September 16, 2012

Reporters

Carly Smith


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