by Carlo / iKiteboarding.com
Kiteboarding as we know it today is vastly different when compared to as little as 5 years ago. In those early days you would have been lucky to see another kiteboarder whereas today it is almost impossible to be the only one out on the water.
Congestion has become a part of every day kiting to those who regularly kite at popular kiteboarding beaches. Localism, once thought to be exclusive to surfing, is slowly becoming a reality in kiteboarding. Compared to surfing, kiteboarders have near infinite access to the water - there's no need to hang around a particular break or spot. Yet most kiteboarders prefer to stick together and ride at popular and crowded locations.
The Individual Sport
Kiteboarding shares a lot of characteristics with other extreme sports like surfing, snowboarding and windsurfing. Besides the common denominator that all extreme sports share - the thrill-seeking experience, kiteboarding shares a wide array of characteristics with other extreme sports.
Kiteboarding is much more than a thrill seeking sport. Unlike team sports like soccer, football or cricket, kiteboarding has no rules. There are no team players.
But there's more to it. Kiteboarding is a solitary activity. There is no structure that we have to conform to. It provides an escape from the rules that binds society together. We are able to escape rules and authority.
Kiteboarding is a individual sport where people are able to express themselves, where the lines between athletics, art, individualism and anarchy get blurred.
A Community is Born
Even though we are all solo athletes we still stick together, just like surfers, snowboarders, skateboarders and windsurfers do. We stick together even though we play our own game. While surfers often stick together because of limited breaks, kiteboarders are usually not restricted in that way.
So why do so many kiteboarders kite the same spots day in and day out?
Certain people stick together at a spot because of a unique set of conditions that makes the spot better than other spots. When new people join the sport they naturally stick close to the established spots. When they get better, other newcomers join them and so the cycle continues.
Perhaps the number one reason why so many kiteboarders stick together is Habit. By nature human beings are social. We prefer to socialise in places of choice, which becomes habit.
The Safety Aspect
The major drawback of kiteboarding is the safety aspect. Kiteboarding is a dangerous sport not only to ourselves, but to the general public. Swimmers, surfers, windsurfers and beach goers can easily be harmed by out of control kiteboarders.
In contrast to surfing where the numbers are threatening to overcrowd local spots and leads to localism, the overcrowding of local spots in kiteboarding not only leads to localism but could lead to the banning of kiteboarding in certain areas where the safety of the public is jeopardized.
Even though we all take part in this individual sport where we are free of rules, order and structure, the local spots that so many kiteboarders frequent leads to communities and ultimately rules that are imposed on these communities.
Crowded spots are the root of all our problems. We can spread out, why don't we?
Society has a natural tendancy to want to be governed. But will the banning of a kiteboarding spot prevent future accidents? In surfing surfers have learnt to respect each other without being policed. There are no rules, yet there is a common code that exists amongst brothers. You don't drop in on someone else's wave, or drop in on a good wave if you don't know how to handle it. Yet certain kiteboarders see nothing wrong pitching up at a certain spot and jumping on the beach between people, or body dragging between other kiteboarders on the water. We are lacking a certain code, a lack of respect for each other - we are not lacking rules or governance. What we don't need is for more people to offer our spots to the local councils so that the spots can be governed in order to preserve kiteboarding there. We've all heard the story of the local kiteboarding shop liasing with authorities in order to preserve a spot and prevent it from being banned. Is a sign board with a bunch of rules really making a difference, or is this a case of certain industry players trying to protect their bread and butter?
Whilst many kiteboarders fight to preserve their spots and not to get their spots banned, I fight to preserve the individual sport and freedom. I am against crowded spots, rules, localism or authority. I am against locals who believe they own a spot, or have more rights than others to kite at a spot. I am against accidents and congestion. I am against regulation. I am against banning of kiteboarding spots - the ocean belongs to nobody and thus cannot be taken away from anyone. Kiteboarding is a escape from the 9-5 life, the rush, traffic and downfalls of society. With all the rules and congestion at kiteboarding spots, is kiteboarding not becoming part of the system? Are we not drifting away from the very reasons why we all participate in this sport?
Are we not fighting for the wrong cause? I am a kiteboarder, have you forgotten that you are one too?