Randy Angel

Local kiteboarders make most of storms

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John Sedberry takes advantage of a winter storm to kiteboard the Hermosa Beach surf. Photo by Bo Bridges

If someone tells John Sedberry to ‘Go fly a kite’ he is more than willing to oblige… as long as it’s on the water.

The Hermosa Beach resident is one of many extreme athletes who have taken advantage of the strong winds to hit Southern California recently while enjoying the surface water sport of kiteboarding.

Riding a small surfboard with an attached kite and up to 90 feet of line length, kiteboarders utilize the power of the wind to propel themselves across the water while jumping and surfing the waves. Laying the lines out on the sand in the correct position, boarders can walk the specifically designed kites up into the wind.

“With kiteboarding everything is magnified, particularly the jumping,” Sedberry explained. “For most converted windsurfers such as myself, kiteboarding was the light wind alternative, but with the evolution in equipment design it is now the high wind alternative as well.”

Sedberry is owner of a commercial real estate investment and development company based in New Mexico that works throughout the southwestern states. Four years ago, he found a home to remodel in Hermosa Beach which he has now made his residence.

The transplant couldn’t resist the challenging conditions brought from the strong winter storm two weekends ago.

“That storm front brought very strong winds,” Sedberry said. “On Sunday, I just came back from an incredible afternoon at Sunset Beach with 30-35 mph wind. My day was done but it rarely blows that strong at Hermosa Beach, and I have always wanted to kite in front of my house, so I could not pass it up. However the conditions were far from ideal. The wind was directly on-shore with 25-40 mpg gusts. Ideal conditions are steady side on-shore winds. With the on-shore wind direction that day, the waves would cluster together so you do not get the ideal distance between the waves. I kept it safe by staying in the smoother white water.”

Sedberry grew up ski racing and was introduced to windsurfing by members of his ski team. On an annual windsurfing trip to Maui, he witnessed the evolution of the kiteboarding sport.

Hermosa Beach resident John Sedberry sizes up the local conditions. Photo by Bo Bridges

“At first everyone trying it was getting beat up pretty bad and washed up on the beach,” Sedberry recalled. “I scoffed at the brain damage of kiting and kept to windsurfing. The next year on another Maui trip on a light wind day I was slugging along on my windsurfer, barely able to plane my board, and next to me were kite-boarders zipping back and forth and jumping 20-30 feet high in the air with enormous hang time. By then the pioneers figured the sport out and schools were opened so they could teach you quickly and safely. I immediately signed up and have been addicted ever since.”

“The sport itself can be very dangerous if you do not learn the proper safety techniques. It is not a sport to learn on your own or from your buddy. Everyone must learn from a proper school with certified instructors and modern equipment.”

Mark Brog, of Hermosa Beach, is owner of Soul Performance where he hand crafts custom kiteboards and teaches the sport using the K.I.T.E.S (Kiteboarding International Training and Evaluation System) Method where novices learn all phases of kite flying – including the important of line length – in one three-hour lesson at a cost of $250.

“In 2000, I had seen kiteboarding during my honeymoon in Barbados,” Brog said. “Although the sport was in its infancy, I still wanted to try it. In 2003, I took lessons and learned at Torrance Beach which is definitely not for beginners. I suggest Belmont Shores, which has a wind corridor, as a much safer place to learn.”

Gusty winds proved to be a challenge for kiteboarder John Sedberry. Photo by Bo Bridges

Brog believes the small popularity of the kiteboarding is due to the initial cost of getting into the sport.

“It can cost over $2,000,” Brog said. “As far as budgets go, it is similar to Stand Up Paddleboarding. But kiteboarding is so much more exciting to do.”

Sedberry concurs.

“The sport is exhilarating because you are interacting with all of the elements,” Sedberry said. “You glide through the water comfortably hooked into your harness, you maneuver the kite to feel the power of the wind in your hands then either float a jump in the air or surf a wave, the options are endless. The most difficult aspect of the sport is finding the right spot with the right conditions. Fortunately the equipment is compact enough it is easy to travel with it.”

Along with local beach, popular areas to kiteboard in southern California are Sunset, Seal Beach, Belmont Shores, Santa Monica, Leo Carillo and Topanga.

“I have kiteboarded several of the most popular places in the world and continue to be impressed with the positive culture the sport brings,” Sedberry said. “Everyone looks out for each other and always gives a helping hand. I am also impressed with how good the South Bay kiteboarders are. Every time I am on the water it is humbling. The sport itself keeps your ego in check and there is always someone doing a new trick with such ease they look like it is second nature.”

For more information about kiteboarding, visit www.soulperformance.com or call 310-370-1428.

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