Along Jekyll Island's Kite Beach, the beach kites are flying. Not your Daddy's paper kite, with one line and a streaming tail. No, these extreme sports kites are called power or traction kites, and are used by enthusiastic (crazed?) "kiters" in the growing sport of Power Kiting.
Power kites are foil-shaped and made for extreme lift. It sounds simple, but it's anything but. A traction kite to a kiting aficionado is like a dancer on-stage - fluid artistic expression.
Power kiting is both performance art and sport. It looks deceptively simple, but can be dangerous in the hands of a novice. There are two branches of the sport - kite boarding, which takes place on the water. And kite buggying or kite landboarding, which happens on the beach.
Kite Boarding -
In kite boarding, you use a kite to harness the wind like the sails of a ship, and glide over the water on a board. Expert kite boarders can make their kites perform magic, doing flips and tricks and jumping waves. It's an extreme sport, and takes training, strength and discipline.
Robb VanWie of Golden Isles Kiteboarding is a Professional Air Sports Association Certified Instructor and can have you up and kiting in no time. In just two or three training sessions, you'll be up on a board and gliding over the water under kite-power.
Golden Isles Kiteboarding supplies all the gear. You can reach Robb for lessons or a demo at (912)269-6154.
Kite Buggying and Landboarding -
Want to zip over sand at 25 mph in a tiny, wheeled buggy powered by a wind-driven kite? Then kite buggying is for you. Angus Campbell, of Coastal Wind Sports, publishes articles and tutorials on power kiting, and most days, when the wind is right, you'll find him out on Kite Beach, the area of beach fronting Tortuga Jacks Restaurant.
According to Mr. Campbell, flying the power kites is easy with just a little instruction. The smaller 2-line kites give a good pull and upper-body workout, and the more maneuverable 4-line kites can give you complete control.
Four lines allow the flier to generate power and lift, stop the kite, back it up, steer it left or right, even tack back against the wind so you won't have to walk back to your starting point.
Contact Angus Campbell at 912-577-3920. Or e-mail him at email@example.com.
Annual JIBE Kite Buggy Rally and Fun Fly -
All kite-buggy pilots, ATB/landboarders, and traction and power kite fliers are welcome.
Spectators get to see these extreme sportsters do their thing, check out the gear, and attend trainer kite demos and clinics.
If you're on Jekyll Island during the second week of May, drop in on JIBE. Enjoy the flight of the beach kites.
And when someone tells you to "Go fly a kite!" - you can do it with a smile!