Interview : Billy Bosch on All Things Kiteboarding
Always popular on a holiday in Florida are water sports. Whether it be sailing, canoeing, snorkelling or diving, people flock to the Floridian coast to get their fill of all things nautical. Increasingly popular among this smorgasbord of sports is kiteboarding. Fulfilling adrenalin junkies need for thrills while also being completely safe – once you follow a few basic safety precautions – it is a sport definitely, like its participants, on its way up. So for your next trip to the Sunshine State you’re going to want to know all about it, right?Luckily for you, we recently spoke to Billy Bosch from kiteboarding school Good Breeze Kiteboarding to get the lowdown on the spectacular sport.
How would you describe kiteboarding to the uninitiated?
Kiteboarding is a form a sailing that combines many different sports such as wakeboard, surfing, paragliding, parachuting, windsurfing, snowboarding and more. It can be done on water, snow or land.
What makes it different/more enjoyable than other water-based sports?
It allows the user to incorporate multiple elements of nature. The possibilities in the sport are endless. It can be almost as much an airborne sport as it is a water sport. The different styles of riding allow kiteboarding to appeal to people coming from tons of other backgrounds. Surfers can use kites to get into waves on a surfboard. Wakeboarders can use a kite to do unreal wakestyle tricks. Sailors can use a kite to hit unbelievable speeds. Snowboarders can use a kite to go up a mountain. The possibilities go on and on.
How popular is it in Florida?
It is getting more and more popular every year. Florida is great spot for kiteboarding. With access to tons of water bodies, the area is great.
What are your favourite places to kiteboard in Florida and around the world?
My favorite place to kiteboard in Florida has to be my home here in Cocoa Beach. We have access to riding spots for every wind direction with very different conditions. This keeps things interesting. Anywhere that the waves and wind line up is my new favorite spot!
How expensive is it to get started?
Lessons range between $80-$100 an hour. Equipment cost varies but ranges from $1600-2500.
How dangerous is it? What are the risks?
There are certainly risks involved with any action sport. If you think things through and take lessons then the risks are minimal. Most accidents happen with people who do not feel they need lessons or folks going out in the wrong conditions. We really stress safety and a couple hours of lessons can really save you!
How physically fit do people need to be? Can anyone do it?
Pretty much anyone can do it. It does not take that much strength. It is more finesse. Your body weight does most of the work, since you are harnessed to the kite.
How much training is required before people can do things like board grabs, controlled flying etc?
The hardest part is learning to stay upwind. Once you are riding comfortably then airs, grabs and rolls are fairly easy. Most people take between 5-10 hours of lessons.
How do you become a professional kiter and what does that entail?
I guess you become a pro-kiter by competing in contests and getting sponsors. If you get good enough, you can be picked up by one of the major brands and they will give you kites. It entails competing, promoting and traveling.
You say you got ripped off on your first setup, how can the inexperienced avoid this?
Go to reputable shop and buy something new. Until you know what to look for, it doesn’t really pay to purchase used equipment. The sport is so new that big changes happen every year. If you must buy something used, stick to gear within the last few years and do lots of research. Maybe have an experienced kiteboarder look at the equipment first to make sure it is in good shape. New gear is MUCH safer and easier to use.
Is it right you thought yourself? How difficult was that?
I had an initial lesson from a buddy on basic setup and flying. It definitely helped! The rest I kind of learned from trial and error. The gear was much different back then and not nearly as safe. It took a lot longer then it should of with a couple of accidents. I DO NOT RECOMMEND IT! If there were people to take lessons from back then in my area, I would have.
How do you go about teaching people kiteboarding and how difficult is it to learn?
We start people in an Introductory Course where we teach them the basics on safety, setup, terminology, conditions and kite flying. Good kite flying skills are the foundation for a good kiteboarder. After that, we go out with the boat in the Banana River Lagoon and teach the rest of the skills. We use a boat for support. This spot is perfect for learning since it’s shallow, flat and picks up every wind direction. I wouldnt say it is hard to learn, it is just something different and takes practice.
Visit Good Breeze Kiteboarding for more information on kiteboarding in Florida.