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Surfers and Kitesurfers—It's All About Respect

Posted by Aaron Johnson on

Dear kitesurfers: have you ever paddled into a wave on a surfboard? 

If yes—you already get it. If not, however, please read on.

Surfers have been "out there" for much longer than kiteboarders and kitesurfers have. Since the 18th century in Tahiti and Hawaii, surfers have been paddling out, catching waves and enjoying the stoke. Eventually, it hit mainland USA and became a subculture. Boards went from long to short, and back again. Shortboarders feud with longboarders, who now get snaked by stand-up paddlers. And now here we come—the "string monkies"—with the ability to take whatever waves we want with relative ease.

It's understandable why you might get the "stink eye" from surfers as you wiz by with your kite, right?

What I'm getting at is this—respect (and listen to "Turtle" for cryin' out loud).

For years, surfers have managed to cooperate with each other by means of unwritten rules of catching and sharing waves with each other. If you've never surfed, then you probably don't understand the importance of this.

As kitesurfers, we pump up a kite, grab a kite surfboard and hit it. We can ride around and go just about anywhere we want. Sure, your legs can get a little tired after a couple hours of shredding waves, but it pales in comparison to the effort required to go surfing.

Paddling out in a prone position, through breaking waves, is real work and takes strength and technique. Just sitting on a surfboard takes a little skill. Then you have currents, outside sets, and other surfers to compete with just to catch and ride a wave. And if you bail on takeoff, you can find yourself getting hammered by breaking waves on the inside section. Grab your board, fight the current, paddle like hell to make it back outside again. Sit, wait, compete and repeat.

Getting the picture? We have it easy.

So, with that information, you can now make an informed decision to not be "that guy". 

Don't be the one who takes all of the set waves. Don't buzz the pack with your kite or ride between the surfers. Do give them room. Do hoot them on when you see a good wave being ridden. Do smile and wave, even when met with glaring eyes. Once it's apparent that you're showing them respect, you might even see it coming back at you on your next wave.

Please share the stoke, amigos!

Aaron