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The latest extreme sport to hit the Scottish shores is the ultimate crossover activity for adrenaline junkies. Words: Carolyn Aiken

stablished in Hawaii and France, kite surfing is a mix of wind

surfing and kite flying. Spectacular to both do and see, kite surfing

is an activity for any time, any place, any season, because it is dependent on wind not waves. And that makes Scotland an ideal location with its many spacious beaches (St Andrews, Troon and Barassie are just a few) and ever-breezy climate.

You can’t wind surf in the summer, but you can kite surf. You don’t need waves to make your jumps, you use the lift of your kite. Strong winds require smaller kites and light winds require larger kites. Wind forces of 1.5 to 9 are suitable conditions for kite surfing, whereas with windsurfing you will need a force of at least 4 or 5. Got that?

The first shop in Scotland solely dedicated to kite surfing is Wind Wizard on Maryhill Road, Glasgow which was opened in mid-August 2001 by Dutch entrepreneur and avid kite surfer, Bjorn Verduijn. Verduijn is in the process of establishing a Scottish Kite Surfing Association, as well as organising Scotland’s Kite Surfing Tour 2002 to be held in June.

Verduijn believes kite surfing is the ultimate crossover sport: “Kite surfing is very similar to snowboarding and there a lot of snowboarders not


20 THE LIS‘I' 14—28 Mar 2002

Once you

manage to go upwind, then you can start the really fun

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If you’re heading outdoors you’ll have to keep your energy up. Experts swear by trail mix which you can buy prepacked or best of all, create your own. Just pick your ingredients and enjoy

I Peanuts I M&Ms

I Raisins I Cashews I Mini marshmall 4‘ I Dried apricots I Almonds

I Banana chips

doing anything over the summer who get into it. Then there are the many people who have no specific background who think: “This is new and I want to be into it,” whether they’re skateboarders, hand gliders, surfers or into any other board sport.’

Basic kite surfing equipment starts at around £650, which includes everything you need to get started, such as a board, kite and harness. Verduijn reckons seven days of full time practice and tuition is enough to get any beginner going upwind and familiar with the basics. Once you manage to go upwind, then you can start the really fun stuff, like jumping and trying out kite surfing’s infinite number of tricks. “There are hundreds: people are inventing new tricks every day,’ says Verduijn, ‘which is a cool thing, because the sport is so new.’

Interest has been so immense that Bjorn has increased the number of days he runs tuition lessons from one day a week to three. The size of UK’s scene has taken off from a small group of about twelve kite surfers at the beginning of I999 to today when, in Scotland alone, there are between 40 and 50 people who have the equipment.

Bjom emphasises that for kite surfers however. it’s more than a sport, it’s a way of life: ‘Once you get into it, you just want to get out there and practice. Whether you’re a professional, number one in the world or have just started, you’ve got the same reason for being out: you like being in the wind and in the water. Rather than showing off, it’s a lifestyle.’