WORDS - Mark Shinn
INTRO ?Surely the fight isn't finally over for a 'legitimate' platform to show kitesurfing to the world, is it? Mark Shinn argues the case in his regular column
It's October and I'm fighting with myself. I'm late scribbling my words this month (well to be completely honest I'm always late, but no matter, let's continue) and the temptation to take the easy option and write about the passing of the season and the unrelenting march into winter is strong. I'm not going to do it though as it would be a cheap shot and I think I should probably try to buck the trend and attempt to cobble together something a little more inspired, failing that at least something different.
Probably of most recent note was the first event of the KSP wave riding tour at the legendary spot of One-Eye in Mauritius. I've been following the progress of this tour with interest and was stoked to see it finally come to fruition and, better still, to be blessed with epic conditions. Big waves, good wind and some of the best wave riders in the word; let's just say that I don't think we need to talk about 'legitimising' our sport anymore. What I saw was honest, hardcore, dedicated wave riding. Anyone that has ever ridden a wave in their life, no matter the size of wave or which vehicle they chose to do so on, could fail to appreciate what went down there. I'm also very happy to see that the strap/strapless debate was settled in the way it should be? let the riders choose their weapons and show what they can do. I'm very opposed to talk of a 'strapless' wave riding tour, it's not a mini sport, but part of the bigger picture and should take its place as it deserves, not marginalised by comparison to a bigger brother. Strapless riding isn't a religion; it's a means to an end, a difficult, skilled and surely aspirational means to an end, I'll admit, but at the end of the day I want to see guys (and girls) rip up waves in a functional, stylish and critical way. I don't want to see someone kind of rip a wave up and then attempt to have others justify it by declaring its technical difficulty.
I watched a few strapless videos recently (notably from Ian Alldredge) and frankly the level of strapless riding is now off the chart. No excuses needed and for sure no niche competition needed. Theres a right rider, right weapon and a right time for everything. Let's let the athletes decide when that time is.
Actually, I had one other thought on the KSP tour that's probably going to be questioned by a few. The three locations for the 2011 tour are Mauritius, Peru and Cabo Verde. Three dream locations with dream waves and nice cross-offshore winds.
Fantastic, I like to ride in these conditions as much as the next kiter, but is it showing exactly what we are capable of as a sport? I was talking with a respected journalist recently who isn't involved in sports at all and he asked me what my favourite conditions were? The answer: it's hard to say. Yes cross-offshore wave conditions are great, but so too are cross shore winds in nice beach break conditions. Of course onshore set-ups can be a lot of fun, too. One of the most endearing features of kiteboarding for me is the lack of specific conditions needed to have fun. You can score a good day in pretty much any one of a thousand locations. If the KSP tour is going to represent kite SURFING, shouldn't it do it in all the conditions that we all choose to ride in? I hesitate to make the over-used comparison with the ASP world surfing tour, but I think it's relevant. That tour visits the dream locations of of Fiji and Hawaii to show what surfing is about in the best conditions, but they also have competitions in France and New York, showing what can be done in slightly more real world situations. I'd like to see a future with events all over the world, where the World Champion is decided on ability in all kinds of waves, not just perfect ones. The Peru KSP event will be done before you all read this. I'm really looking forward to watching it; the tour is young but seems to have taken a giant first step and the future is bright. I truly hope it will grow into the showpiece kiting deserves and the riders have earned.
As usual I wrote this piece on a plane and I'm about to wrap it up and disembark in Poland where it's five degrees and raining. It sucks - whatever happened to summer? Seems like spring rolled straight into winter this year. I know I said I wasn't going to write about the seasons, but I just can't resist it and I know you all expected me to anyway! Summer 2011 sucked in most of Europe. I hope most of you find the time to get away and find some winter sun and wind. If not, hang tight: statistically, summer 2012 HAS to be better than 2011. However, statistically speaking apparently the most dangerous place to be in the world is bed (as of all deaths, this is where the largest percentage of closing moments takes place!) So get up and get out there, whatever the weather!
Find more on Mark and his boards at: www.shinnworld.com
This column is in issue #54
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