tbabkite2

 

The sand stings Graham Howes’ ankles. He looks down the beach and feels the wind tugging at his hair. Above him the motionless seagulls race against the tempest and with one turn of their wings they shoot downwind – Jonathan Livingston Seagull style!
Graham’s heartbeat quickens.
Today he will also fly.
“There is a moment when you just get so excited, because you know what is about to come,” says the Big Bay resident and Red Bull King of the Air kite surfer.
“You also get nervous because you know there are consequences for what you are doing. The bigger you go the harder you fall!”
Most people stay indoors during these “perfect days”, but Graham and his friends see how far they can push the envelope, very much in the vein of Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
TygerBurger caught up with Graham just a few days before he was due to test his skills with the best in the world at the annual Red Bull competition that will be held right in his back yard.
“This competition is all about going big and impressing the crowd rather than being judged on one’s technical ability. It is also all about having fun, which is important. Having fun and keeping it fresh means you will always progress.”
There are apparently four competitors in a heat and after 10 minutes one person will be eliminated. The scores will be reset to zero and then the whole process will be repeated until just the winner remains and progresses to the next round.
Last year Graham fell out in the quarter-final round after he came up against one of the best kite boarders in the world and one of Graham’s idols – Ruben Lenten.
“He is constantly just pushing the boundaries of kite surfing! The other day he rode in a 60 knot storm. You can’t even stand on the beach in wind like that,” he says.
It is, of course, this challenge that fuels his desire.
“When I started kiting it seemed to me to be a limitless sport. You are not limited to the power of a wave or the size of a boat. You can go as high as you want…”
Graham adds, however, that someone’s body can take quite a strain during a wipe-out. Not all of his injuries have been the result of kite surfing, but there have indeed been enough to emphasise his last point.
“It’s hard to stay fit if you are not on the World Tour,” he says with a hint of regret.
The Red Bull competition is, in fact, the only one he does in a year.
Don’t miss the King of the Air Kite boarding competition in Big Bay at the end of the month. The precise date depends on the weather. Follow TygerBurger on twitter for updates when a date is announced.
***DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE WAS PUBLISHED IN TYGERBURGER, A CAPE TOWN BASED MEDIA24 COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER. IT MAY NOT BE DUPLICATED WITHOUT ACCREDITING THE SOURCE – TYGERBURGER, MEDIA24.***

 

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