by Eddie Senechal
Owner Cape Cod Windsurfing
I started windsurfing in 1980 and became a windsurfing instructor in 1983. Windsurfing has been my way of life for 30 + years. I opened Cape Cod Windsurfing in 1992 and just today I taught 8 people how to windsurf here at Old Silver Beach on Cape Cod.
Approximately 8 years ago I learned to kiteboard and became an instructor through PASA. One of my first students was Robby Douglas and he now holds the world speed record. That year I hurt my hip kiting, and lived in pain for 5 years until I had a hip replacement. Teaching people to kite made me feel very uneasy, because I knew that one mistake could end up in a severe injury, or even in a death.
I watched all my friends get really good at kiting, and I also watched as many/all of them got hurt. Three people I knew were killed kiting. Parents were calling me to teach their teenage children how to kiteboard. People did not want to accept the fact that kiteboarding was potentially dangerous, because it looked so easy, watching kiters from the safety of their car from the parking lot. I personally had my own kite nightmare and became fearful of the sport. I like kiteboarding as a sport and I also like to snowboard and ski, but not in avalanche conditions.
I have sailed on some decent waves at Hookipa in Maui, some hurricanes, and some storms, but I never was good or crazy enough to windsurf the 40 foot waves of Jaws. Kiting can be safe and it can be extreme, but just like cliff diving it’s not for everyone, and is never going to be a family picnic sport. I will teach windsurfing to approximately 100 children from the Boston South Shore YMCA group this summer, and I am sure that not one of these parents would want me to teach their children kiteboarding, if they knew the dangers.
Kiteboarding should at least have a chance to be recognized by spell check before it is considered an Olympic Sport.