Flowin’ in the Wind Download PDF
In North Carolina and across the country, older adventurers are going crazy for kiteboarding: a fun and waaay-fast watersport.
I’m kiteboarding with Mary Hammond-Tooke across Pamlico Sound, a 300-square-mile estuary of waist-deep water ringed by North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Mary, a 63-year-old former midwife, is attached to a behemoth blue-and-white parabolic kite, dwarfing her with its 25-foot wingspan. Her technique is careful and deliberate: one errant maneuver and the kite could slingshot her airborne or plow her into the water. But Mary fearlessly dips her steering-control bar and the 100-foot kite lines snap taut, sending the nylon sail into a power dive that catapults her downwind. She leans back and throws her weight into her hips, edging her board and carving a deep upwind tack that ejects a foamy white rooster tail. Now she’s slicing through the balmy water with ballerina precision at close to 30 miles per hour—startlingly fast for a relative beginner who has been kiteboarding for only about a year.
“I love the speed, the thrill of moving with the wind,” says Mary, lean and limber, with the body of a long-distance runner. “It makes me feel alive.” After 20 minutes of riding, as we zoom across the sound, I finally get close enough to see her irrepressible grin—the adrenaline surge is working its magic. The kiteboarding rush is instant and intense, a giddy high that lubricates muscles and masks fatigue. I’ve kited five-hour sessions and hardly felt tired (though there’s a morning-after effect strangely akin to a hangover). Continue reading