I’ve just come back from Maui and spent many an hour watching people kite surfing at Ho’okipa beach, having first fallen in love with the sport in Esouria a few years back… and it all got me thinking about whether I could kite surf…
My situation is as follows: A few years ago I broke my back and am now dependent upon crutches to walk. The muscles in my upper legs work normally (i.e. quads and hamstrings) but my calf muscles don’t - which means that I cannot move my feet - other than through the movement of my upper legs. I ride a motorbike, do some basic rock climbing and am happy to hike over pretty much any terrain so know that once I’m going I’d be fine kite surfing. My concern relates to one main area; namely of getting the kite up, being hooked in and getting into the sea and onto the board…
So… does anyone know about any schools who have trained people with some sort of a physical disability? Do people on here think that it is possible to train someone in my situation? Any thoughts/tips/recommendations?
I think it is awesome that you want to get into kiteboarding and see no reason why you can’t. Here’s what I would recommend:
1) Consider getting a high depower SLE kite like our One or even our Rise (which has slightly less depower than the One). This is because it will allow you to absorb gusts with your arms (by depowering the kite) and less with your legs (by edging harder).
2) Consider first learning to kite on a sit down style set-up. The 2007 January / February issue of The Kteboarder Magazine has an interesting ad in the back for “sit down kiteboarding” The company’s name is Extrong. Their website is www.extrongsports.com and their phone is 310-835-1350. They call the product the “Surf Runner” You could get one of our kites and use it with this unique boat like seat. This would allow you to learn to kite and to work towards standing on a board.
Good luck getting into the sport Charlie. I would ask that as you make progress you keep us all posted here on our forum. Your experiences can guide others interested in joining the sport who may have similar disabilities or challenges.
John Z - OR
@Johnz - thank you so much for your advice. I really do appreciate it hugely as one of the main parts of my injury is overcoming others’ perceptions of what a “disabled” person cannot do. That battle against a socially-accepted norm is fantastic for maintaining one’s mental capabilities but can be very stressful upon one’s system.
I shall take your tips with me when I contact one of the kite surfing schools in the UK and shall definitely let you all know how it goes on. If my body will support me kite-surfing then great; and if not then at least I can say that I tried!
Hope you all have a great summer and thank you once again.
It’s adam from “that other place” here…. If you are serious drop me a PM here and I will get one of the local to you instructors to get in touch.
Disability? PAH! You WILL be able to do it…it’s just how we get you there :D
I have a pacemaker and am ALWAYS being told that the things I do are NOT suitable for a chap with a heart condition so I do know where you are coming from with the perceptions angle!!
16m one, session harness and a pyro pro equipped….. 9 on the way soon!
Perhaps once you learn in the sitdown position, you could have a board with so-called Wakeboard bindings. These will offload the calf. Footstraps require quite a bit of calf strength for edging the board.
Good on you- give it try!
Hey Charlie. I just wanted to pass on some props for just getting out there and doing it. Forget what anbody tells you. You can do anything you want. All these guys posted great info and I have total faith that you could be up on a board. I liked the idea of the wakeboard boot bindings. You will find that most of kiteboarding is done on your heel side so a lot of the effort in your legs will come straight from your quads and not so much your calfs. I’m stoked to hear how it goes. Get out there dude!!
If Adam is unable to help you (highly unlikely as he is a great guy) you can hit me up too. I have a list of all the certified schools in the UK and would be happy to put you in touch with the one closest to you.
Good luck and good on you!
Charlie - go for it, I say, I’m sure you can set things up to ride with just your quads. There’s a guy here in Vancouver, Canada, an amputee above the knee on one leg, who windsurfs great with a heavy-duty prosthetic leg. He hasn’t made the switch to kiting yet, but if & when, I’m sure he’ll rip. Handicapped, most of it’s just a mind-set like you say.
Regarding getting the gear to the water, I think you’ll find your fellow kiters willing to help - that’s one on the unique things about kiting, although it’s a solo thing out on the water, the launching & landing works best with help from others. That fact brings kiters together in a really unique way. So again, I say go for it, you’ll have lots of help from fellow kiters with the launching and landing. And after a while, I’m sure you’ll figure out how to do it solo, when you’re the first one out.
Best of luck, cheers !
Comox Kite Repair
There’s this guy in Cabarete who only has one leg and kites, when I last saw him he was using a windsurf board that he sat on, at the time he blew my mine and he’s still probably better then me with the kite now, he could do pretty much anything on that board.
Go for it, your a great inspiration.
Kiting is great can’t wait to retire so I can do it full time. Bring on the wind.