“It’s just you and the wind.”
I wish I could spend more time doing the sports I love, but even more so, trying the ones still on the “to-do” list. Lately kite boarding or “kiting” is piquing my interest. Why? Because a few months ago, new business associate, Todd MacSween, walked in the Old House front door and put his laptop in front of me, suggesting I check out his latest kite boarding video. This sport is just completely amazing to watch. The pure beauty of kite boarders sailing on water and air, strung to kites of purely awesome designs, is mesmerizing. As Todd puts it, “It’s just you and the wind. If you love flying, this sport is for you.”
To my surprise, I found out I could see a world-class kiting show at Comox’s Goose Spit on most days when the winds reach 20 knots or more. In a matter of minutes, kite boarders come out of the woodwork, park their cars on the beach and greet each other. It’s such a close community they don’t even have to share phone numbers or emails… they just show up (and share Gladstone beers later). Up to 10 kiters can be on the water while twice that number might be hanging out on the beach awaiting his or her turn (and there are a lot of “hers” out there too!).
I’m told not everyone — or really anyone — should learn the way Todd did. He confesses, “As a young guy in my 20’s, I carved a piece of plywood and added some leather straps to secure my feet and took on ‘The Spit’ with my handcrafted, and slightly laughable, board.” He survived learning at this spot known for its flat waters, (which are hard to come by) and also for the offshore wind which isn’t ideal for beginners (translated: if you get into trouble, you could be in for a long swim).
Todd, a competitive kite boarder who has taken his sport all over the world advises that anyone wanting to learn has many options, “If you want to learn in the summer, this island is a great place.” The summer winds at Nitinat Lake (west of Cowichan Lake, on the west coast) are much more consistent with at least 80% of summer days suitable for kite boarding. In the winter, the options are fewer, so many head to warmer water and gentler winds.
If you’re a kiter from Vancouver and beyond, you can visit Goose Spit without dragging your equipment! It’s possible to test fantastic boards and kites from manufacturer, Ocean Rodeo Sports, based in Victoria, BC — they’ll ship new gear up to the Old House. The local kiting community has a webcam that can be found at www.bigwavedave.ca under “webcams,” though trying to predict wind too far in advance can be a futile effort.
I like watching this sport from my screens and also am heading out to Goose Spit next time I get a “thumbs up” from Todd, that boarders are flying. In my dreams, I am grabbing my kite and board to sail with the pack. Next time you’re at the Old House, and the wind is right, check it out.
All photos and videos were created and contributed by Todd MacSween Photography.