Wind and water – TRENDSPORT :: Article from SRQ magazine by Brittany Mattie


Paddleboards and kayaks allow you to use a paddle to move through the water. The hip hydrofoils are fitted with a fin with wings to allow surfers to fly over the surface. The boats cast a line to pull wakeboarders behind at top speeds. Then there are particular water sports that rely less on the power of electric motors or a bladed pole, and more on your own wits and muscles to propel you through the water.

Water enthusiasts channel the winds to guide them. From Hobie Cats and single sculls to wing surfing and kitesurfing, people want to rely less on man-made tools and more on the direction of the wind for a thrilling, hard-to-control ride. With much more experience needed to read and navigate pulling force and wind physics, many instructors for these activities require lessons on land first before even getting in water. The more mph in the air, the more lift, agility, and speed you get. The direction and strength of the winds determine your experience, and the control you have is maneuvered through the belt and handlebars of your kite. While more complex, dynamic, expensive, and harder to find in terms of ideal weather conditions for riding, that doesn’t stop people from wanting to learn.

Local kitesurf instructor and “professional waterman” Drew Christianson says he’s getting more calls than ever from people wanting to get into the sport. “All of my lessons are taught in shallow water areas with the best wind conditions,” he says. “Most of the lessons will be conducted on the Sunshine Skyway, where we can sail in all directions from the wind through waist-deep water.” The compulsory introductory courses cover all the basics of becoming a self-sufficient kitesurfing, including wind theory, equipment anatomy, equipment setup, and safety options.

“These 1,2,3 are easy before entering the water and flying the kite in a controlled manner,” he says. Once in the water you will learn how to fly the kite and then add the board to the picture. The remaining lessons focus on upwind, mastering the bodydrag and transitions. Advanced students can also have Drew coach on jumps, flips, stalls and landings. More recently he has also embarked on teaching winged surfing, which combines kitesurfing and foiling for even faster and harder riding.

during this time Vanhunks Boarding Co. can’t keep his Twin Tip or Directional kitesurf boards in stock, says owner Tyrone Cochrane. Customers come almost every day looking for equipment to start. In-store demos can also be booked before investing in this expensive new hobby. Meanwhile, non-profit Sailing for the youth of Sarasota (SYS) continues to host summer camps crowded with children eager to learn the coastal craft of O’Pen Skiff sailing. These high performance single seater hulls have become competitive classes with races held all over the world.

“There’s a reason this boat is so popular,” says Mary Trichter, executive director of SYS. “It’s definitely a summer camp favorite!” Children learn all of the seamanship skills needed to navigate solo, including gauge knots, upwind / downwind steering, capsize recovery, rigging / relieving, drops / landing, tack / jibe by the wind and more. Further up the Gulf Coast, a personal watercraft rental company Coastal water sports offers free sailing lessons on its Hobie Wave for novice sailors when hired, from the beautiful beaches of Anna Maria Island. They also have an 18 foot catamaran for intermediate and advanced sailors. SRQ

Drew Christianson Coaching, [email protected], 941-780-5744, Vanhunks Boarding Co., 6227 N. Washington Blvd., Sarasota, 941-218-9095, Sarasota Youth Sailing, 1717 Ken Thompson Pkwy., Sarasota, 941-288-2355, Coastal Watersports, 4711 Gulf of Mexico Dr., Longboat Key and 1301 Gulf Dr. N., Bradenton Beach, 941-778-4969,


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