Ridin' the Wind

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    If you're looking for extreme but don't want to stand in line and wait your turn, take up kite surfing. The number of people doing it in San Diego right now is estimated in the hundreds.

    You may spot them along our coastline. Someone in a wet suit strapped to a large kite and riding the waves. Kite surfing is a very popular sport internationally and in U.S. cities like Honolulu and Los Angeles.

    It's been growing in popularity here in San Diego and if you talk with two experts, Brian Schwarz and Shane Banner from Calikites, it may seem impossible to master but it's really not.

    The gear can be intimidating with all its straps, hooks and wires. But when you strip it down it's just a wind-powered sport that uses a kite and a board.

    You step into a harness which hooks you from your center of gravity and the wind propels you through the water.

    "It's not one of those sports where you just want to wing it and start paddling out into the surf," said Banner's colleague Brian Schwarz.  "There's more to it than you might think. Once you learn, it's an amazingly fast learning curve."

    Of course the sport has its share of concerns and safety issues. Just last summer, a beachgoer complained about an incident where the line from one kite surfer had wrapped around his daughter's neck while they were standing on the beach. That was then sent off to state officials who organized new rules for kite surfing on local beaches.

    There is the perception that the wind takes over and will push the surfer just about anywhere but that's just not so said Banner. "You have a lot of control over what you're doing," he said.

    If you're just getting your feet wet, try Fiesta Island but for those looking for a challenge, kite surfers often play in the waves at Coronado Shores and Tourmaline Street in Pacific Beach.