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Surfing the sky

March 22, 2011
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Need a break from your books? Fancy kite surfing the warm tradewinds in crystal clear 30 degree water? No wetsuit, just your sun warmed skin, the taste of salt on your lips and the feeling of flying? Kite surfing has all the hallmarks of a modern extreme sports craze, with its faster, further, harder ethos. However kite surfing originated in 12th century China, where people used kites to speed their canoes across the water. In early 1800s England, George Pocock, a schoolmaster at a boys’ school in Bristol, invented and patented the 'charvolant', a carriage that would be pulled by two kites rather than horses. He also invented an automatic caning machine so he could discipline the boys without making too much effort, but that’s a topic for another day. After exhibiting the charvolant at Ascot he proceeded to attach kites to a yacht, which he took on a three week cruise in the Bristol Channel. After this nothing much happened in the world of kite surfing until the 1980s when a number of companies started to market kites designed to relaunch after falling into the water. In the late 1990s, off the cost of Maui, radical surfers, wake boarders and eccentric visionaries in their own right, Laird Hamilton and Manu showed off the extreme sports potential of kite surfing. George Pocock would have been proud. Since then kite surfing has taken off, and is one of the fastest growing water sports. If you fancy a go there are some great spots. Anguilla has some breathtaking kite surfing spots and the consistent wind makes it a surfer’s dream.  Atlantis Beach on Bonaire is becoming increasingly popular with the kite surfing crowd. Atlantis is also a diving spot, so watch out for surface marker buoys and share the beauty. And if you are a total newbie and need to be shown the ropes, both islands have kite surfing schools, Kiteboarding Bonaire and Tropical Paradise in Anguilla
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