Kite Surfing

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Summer again and thousands flock to Melbourne’s sandy beaches to soak up the marine atmosphere. The more often than not spectacular meeting place of St Kilda beach is often the preferred destination.

You name it, it’s there somewhere. Near to one of the top ten bike paths in the world, families have brought their kids to make memories that will last a lifetime: smells, sounds, wind and waves. Now add to that people skiing on the bay beneath a multitude of colourful kites.

Bright semi-circles of fabric glisten in the sun high above their intrepid pilots.

This wind powered activity is photogenic and spectacular as practitioners are sometimes propelled high into the air on change of direction only metres from enthralled onlookers on jetties and piers. Visit St Kilda Pier on a windy day and you’ll find tourists trying to capture the moment a kiteboarder gets airborne doing a U-turn around the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron slipway.

The concept of kite boarding is not new. George Pocock used kites to propel carts on land and ships at sea in the 1800′s. In the early 1980s French brothers Bruno and Dominique Legaignoux invented an” inflated” curved wing , a form of which , the “Bird Sail” was patented by Roland Le Bail in 1982. The inflated wing meant the kite could be relaunched from the water.

The Legaignoux brothers continued development on a shoe string budget until 1995 when their design began to be commercially produced. Another advantage of the inflatable kite design was that its power made a shorter board possible for riders , transportation simply a matter of putting it in the car boot.

Kiteboarding is a breath of fresh air and a positive development, in the view of many, when comparison to the noisy engine powered jet ski. A vehicle that is just not suited to safely sharing space with swimmers and as a result has attracted thousands of complaints. There was a fatality at Port Melbourne in February 2012.

Kite boarding has thus far been fortunate in not generating any negative publicity. It’s amazing they don’t end up flying over Beaconsfield Parade when there’s a big south wester blowing. Fortunately, to this end, lessons are available and the they can be had for less than a hundred dollars for individuals even cheaper for groups and will cater for people ranging in age from 10 to 80.

There are several schools within a few hundred metres of each other ,from The Yacht Squadron at the end of the pier to the West Beach Bathers Pavilion ;Kite Republic ,Melbourne Kiteboarding Academy and TheZu just to name a few. Also available if you want to get on the water pronto is stand up paddling, an excellent way to get a another perspective of the City if you don’t have the time to try to get airborne .

 

By Jamal Ibrahimm

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