Best Not-So-Cheap Thrill - 2006
East Coast Kiteboarding
Six years ago, kiteboarding was in its infancy. There were no magazines about it, no DVDs, no lessons. Pioneers just went out to the beach, tried to harness the wind, and got slingshot hundreds of yards down the beach in the process. That's when East Coast Kiteboarding's owner, Damien Wright, went to Maui to give it a try. "It took me about eight months to ride upwind," he says. "That's a long time." But he got hooked on the sport, which he describes as "wakeboarding, flying, and snowboarding" all wrapped into one, and started his traveling kiteboarding school, which now offers lessons from West Palm Beach to Miami. Kiteboarders have been clocked going 55 knots per hour (although the average speed is closer to 20), and waves can work like ramps, sending kiters 20 or even 40 feet in the air. There is a danger element, though. Says Wright's wife, Jen, who teaches with him: "You can put yourself or somebody else in the hospital." Lessons will help newbies learn to control their kites and perform self-rescues. At East Coast Kiteboarding, it costs $120 for a beginner lesson on land or $599 for a weekend camp that should get you up and riding -- but, as Damien puts it, "If you think of the $30,000 it costs to buy a wakeboarding boat, it's cheap." Beware: Jen says, "Once you get past the initial learning curve, you'll spend every day looking at the wind, just waiting for it to pick up."