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A "The Face Behind The Link" Feature Article

 


A day with Christoph Ribot of MiamiKiteBoarding


The sun is shinning, you've got the day off, but the wind is out of the west at 15+ kts... what can you do? Mow the lawn and dream about being on the water? Maybe drive across the State or head south to the Keys? How does some glassy water that is 30 minutes away sound? And no we aren't talking about Lake Okeechobee.  Welcome to MiamiKiteBoarding.

This week we didn't mow the lawn, instead we packed our gear and headed south (remember we live in WPB) to give Christoph a visit and check out his operation.

Christoph is from France and four years ago on his way to "Down Under" he stopped in Miami--and stayed.  Prior to that he spent over 10 years in the Caribbean sailing.  In addition to being a Captain he also taught.  And when he arrived in south Florida that is what he did.  His original business, Miami Catamaran, is still in operation where you can learn to sail and rent Hobbies etc.  But, hey who cares about that?  Back to Kiteboarding.  In 2001 Christoph and some rich scientist (I don't remember his name), along with Oliver Busch and the other original Miami crew started kiting.  Almost immediately Christoph realized that there is going to be a need for some training as this sport isn't as easy as it looks and MiamiKiteboarding was born. 

As a beginner in the sport I was looking for some flat water to accelerate my learning curve as I've definitely hit a block.  Not to mention I can't afford to keep loosing boards in the open ocean (has anyone seen my lost Litewave yet?). Miamikiteboarding's water taxi service is perfect.  For only $20 (FKA members, $30 non-members) Christoph will take you out to a sandbar in Biscayne bay for a 3 hour session.  They have two trips a day, from 10am-1pm and 2pm-5pm.  Everyone (5 kiter limit) loads up on a 30' pontoon boat with a 140 Evenrude on the back and in 5 minutes you are there.  Depending on the tide the water is 1-2 feet deep.  Prior to going out everyone preps their kites which entails inflating the struts and attaching the lines.  They roll up the kites and put them under a bungee on the bow of the boat.


What a nice place to kite with Miami as the back drop!

Once you reach the spot the first kiter inflates his kite on the bow.  When you are ready to launch you hand the kite to one of the crew, step off the boat with you bar, walk out, check your lines, give a thumbs up and you are underway.  It takes much less time than you'd think, as we had 3 kites up in less than 10 minutes.

In addition to the taxi service for experienced kiters, Miamikiteboarding is a PASA certified school.  We were very pleased to see all students get a vest and helmet as part of the training.


Christoph during a lesson

Generally everyone kites back and forth across the sandbar.  If you can't stay upwind when the water gets dark, you simply stop and walk back to shallow water.  If you drift to far out they'll even pull up the anchor and come get you--which they had to do for me!  I can honestly say it wasn't entirely my fault as the winds were from 5-15.  The kite stalled on a lull and hit the water, it then turned into a huge sail straight downwind on its on its face.  Ya ya, you could get it back flying again--but I couldn't.  RECON you say?  RECON my ass.  I was dam glad they had the boat cuz it was a long way to Miami at 5 kts (no I don't have a picture of that)!

Summary

As you can see the operation speaks for itself.  $20 is a deal for 3 hour of kiting in ALWAYS perfect conditions (provided there is wind).  It's far cheaper and quicker than driving across the State or to the keys.  Sure if the wind is from the north or south you can hit the beach.  But if you've only got weekends off and the winds are out of the east or west you can still kite with Miamikiteboarding.  The thing that also impressed us was communication--Christoph always returned a call or email quicker than expected!  In this sport that isn't always the case.  We can't wait to go back. Their site is http://www.miamikiteboarding.com/!


Ya, she's taken!


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