A core group of Terrace locals have been harnessing the power of wind on water, ice and snow as they take part in the world-wide growing sport of kiteboarding.
Graham Genge and Clint Hartman are two avid kiteboarders who make up part of a core group of five to eight people in the Terrace area involved in this sport.
Essentially, a rider attaches themselves to a kite, which can span from one to 21 square metres in length. They steer the kite, and use wind to power themselves across the water – lofting themselves in the air, surfing waves or skimming the surface at speeds up to 45 km per hour.
This year-round sport is winter friendly too, as winter kiteboarders use the same techniques to pull themselves on skis or snowboards.
Genge first tried out kiteboarding while living in Norway. He has been involved in the sport for about five years, but says in the past two years a core group of kite boarders have really found their niche here in Terrace.
Hartman says the learning curve for the sport can be steep, and it starts with learning to work with a kite first.
“If you know how to ski or snowboard or skate or surf the hardest part is learning to control the kite,” Hartman explained.
In the summer they usually head out to the Douglas Channel in Kitimat, or if winds are strong enough, Lakelse Lake and even the Skeena River.
“We’re still trying to figure out all the best spots,” Hartman said, adding so far the Douglas Channel is a good one as it often has a strong, steady wind – which means fewer gusts and better control for boarders.
And since good wind is at the top of the list for a good day of kiteboarding, Genge says it is something they are constantly monitoring.
“I never really paid attention to the wind (before),” Hartman said. “We live in a really windy place, you never go more than a day or two without a good wind coming from somewhere.”
Genge and Hartman both explain kiteboarding on water can feel similar to wakeboarding, minus the boat.
“You don’t have to put gas in it, and it is the most amazing power that you could ever experience,” Genge explained. “You can surf waves, you can jump, you can go as fast as you possibly can, or you can go on little expeditions.”
However, both boarders urged people to be cautious when trying the new sport out.
“There is a high risk factor,” Genge said. “It’s all a relationship between the speed of the wind, the weight of the rider and the skill of the rider.”
He stressed that it is really important to be comfortable in water, as a wind can turn stagnant and leave a boarder swimming.
Alternatively, gusts of wind can sweep a boarder onshore if they don’t know how to properly work with a kite.
“We don’t want anyone heading out there thinking that they can pick it up no problem,” Hartman said. “There definitely is a certain way to behave out there.”
They advise newbies to hook up with someone who already knows the sport, use a training kite and take small steps until they become confident.
Genge said anyone looking to get involved can check out a local kite boarding Facebook page Coastal Kites, Terrace B.C.
On the site there is local video and pictures available for the curious.
Genge said that anyone interested can also use the site to contact others already involved
and get some help getting started.
Lessons for beginners have started up as of last weekend and will continue to be offered with dryland training in Thornhill and water training in Kitimat.