Kiteboarding in the Okanagan
Oct 30, 2013 / 8:14 pm
The sport of kiteboarding or kitesurfing is gaining in popularity around the Okanagan and one man has made a short film documenting these extreme athletes at Kelowna’s Rotary Beach.
John Calder grew up windsurfing as a teenager, but realized that kiteboarding was a more popular sport upon moving to Kelowna a few years ago.
“There is a (kiteboarding) culture, but I’d say it’s a closely knit group,” Calder explains.
“There’s not a huge number of people that do it here and I think the reason for that is you’ve got to go somewhere else to learn and the conditions here are not conducive to starting the sport.”
Kelowna doesn’t have any shops that specialize in the equipment used for this extreme sport, so many athletes travel to the US or more exotic destinations. Others use the Okanagan Kiteboarding and Windsurfing Facebook page to find equipment, tips and optimal weather conditions in the area.
“If you want to do it for a sport, you have to keep your eye on the weather all the time because the windy days are not that common. If you’re not able to drop everything and go, then you basically never get out,” Calder says with a laugh.
Rotary Beach is the only designated kitesurfing area in Kelowna and Calder is hesitant when asked how much he wants the sport to grow. On the one hand he encourages anyone interested to give the sport a try, but on the other he realizes that a certain amount of space is needed from a safety standpoint.
“It’s my favorite sport so I always feel people are missing out if they haven’t tried it, but at the same time we don’t want to see any accidents and the more people you have in a small space, the higher the chances of something happening," he says.
“It works in our favour because there’s a dedicated beach at Rotary for it, but there’s only room for one person going in or launching at a time. If 100 more people decided they were going to do it, we’d probably have some real issues with the space we have there."
As for the movie itself, Calder says he has always been interested in filmmaking and it has been his hobby for a number of years. While proud of his accomplishment, he also had to miss out on a kiteboarding session in order to shoot the scenes and would rather be out on his board when the wind conditions are just right.
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