Bishop England Student ‘Stoked’ on Kiteboarding

"Today I used a kite to pull myself across the Potomac on a board."

***image1***So said Benjamin Franklin – patriot, inventor and, just maybe, the world’s first kiteboarder.

Franklin – the world’s most famous kite flyer and first poster boy for power-line safety – would find a kindred spirit in Noah Simon.

The 17-year-old Bishop England High School student is an accomplished kiteboarder, who can be found swooping and soaring off the Isle of Palms like a wind-worshipping Icarus.

Kiteboarding is the latest in gonzo extreme sports – a fusion of kite flying, skateboarding, windsurfing and wakeboarding. Specially designed power kites propel riders across the water and also yank them aloft as high as 30 to 40 feet.

Although he only took up the sport less than two years ago, Simon has vaulted into prominence and recently received a tier-one corporate sponsorship for kiteboarding tournaments and exhibitions. This means that his sponsor, Gaastra, a leading sail-making company that has become an industry leader in kiteboarding products, will provide free equipment but no salary.

"I started surfing when I was about 8," said Simon, who lives on the Isle of Palms. "By the time I was 12, I was competing in surfing competitions. When I was out surfing, I’d see people kiteboarding and it looked like a lot of fun. So I tried it and I was hooked."

Simon works at Air, a full-service kite shop that specializes in kiteboarding, stunt kiting, kite flying and kite repair. Owner Adam Von Ins, 33, opened his shop at 753 Coleman Blvd. two years ago after abandoning a successful corporate career with Fortune 50 companies."I first met Noah when he’d bought a kiteboarding kit at a competitor’s shop and came in and asked me to put it together for him," Von Ins chuckled. "It wasn’t long before he was working here."

Since then, Von Ins has watched Simon excel at a sport that is becoming immensely popular across the country. For example, his shop realized a 500 percent increase in kite sales in its second year.

Extremely popular in Europe, kiteboarding is a year-round sport that can be enjoyed on surf, flat water or snow. It’s possible to do in lower winds and is very portable and affordable. Consequently, the sport has become very popular in windblown states like Oklahoma and North Dakota.

But Simon’s form of kiteboarding is not for the fainthearted, unless, perhaps, you want to slip the surly bonds of earth … and touch the face of God.

Consider the time Simon had to ditch his gear when he was being pulled out to sea.

"I spent about an hour trying to work my way back to shore and wasn’t getting anywhere," he recalled. "I finally had to swim for it before I got too far out."

Or consider what happened during an event a month ago in North Carolina when Simon was launched by prevailing winds into a big marsh.

"I got killed," Simon said with a smile.

But don’t expect him to abandon his new passion. He is contemplating foregoing college after graduation to kiteboard full-time. Simon and Von Ins drove to Orlando, Fla. two weeks ago for a huge Surf Expo. And they see a day when kiteboarding will become a sanctioned sport in the Velocity Games and later in the X Games, which is the Olympics for extreme athletes.

"I fell in love with kiteboarding that first time I caught air and got about 5 feet off the water," he said. "I was stoked and I still am."

Daniel Island Publishing

225 Seven Farms Drive
Unit 108
Daniel Island, SC 29492 

Office Number: 843-856-1999
Fax Number: 843-856-8555


Breaking News Alerts

To sign up for breaking news email alerts, Click on the email address below and put "email alerts" in the subject line:

Comment Here