Kiteboarders fly high in new club sport

Thomas Fields, vice-president of the kite boarding club, hangs upside down in Cabarete, Dominican Republic. Courtesy Thomas Fields

One of the newest trends to hit the beaches of South Florida is a form of wakeboarding called kiteboarding. The sport began in the 1980s, and really took off in the 1990s.  Kiteboarding had its inaugural year as a club sport at the University of Miami last year.

“This club is young, but it is becoming well known quickly in the extreme sports community,” said Rhonda DuBord, associate director of UM’s recreation programs.

The water sport consists of a board strapped to one’s feet and a kite attached around the waist by a harness. The rider controls where he wants to go with the use of  bar that helps him steer in a certain direction.

Since boats aren’t used to drag the boarder around, weather conditions are important. Wind is the only propulsion available.

Based on wind speed and skills, a kiteboarder can reach up to 20 miles per hour and as high as 30 feet in the air. The more wind, the higher and faster a kiteboarder can go.

“If you like catching rays and being out on the water, this sport is for you,” club president Ivan Zorn said.

The club is led by Zorn and professional rider Tom Fields.

In Miami, kiteboarding can be seasonal due to the minimal wind during the summer months.

“Before class, after class. Basically whenever we get a chance, or when the weather is good, we go out and spend the day at the beach,” Fields said.

The club currently has 10 members and is growing quickly.  There is no experience needed to join the club. Beginners are welcome; in fact, most members had never kiteboarded before joining the club. The team provides new members with gear and the opportunity to take lessons.

A local board shop supplies the instructors and equipment for all beginners.

The club has monthly beach days where members spend the day on the water. These beach days also welcome new members with a shoreside barbeque at the end of the day.

“Our overall goal this year is to expand our team and have a great time out there on the water,” Zorn said. “Hopefully, we can return to the events we went to last year and win a few tournaments.”