Pretty Soon Everyone Will Be Doing It : Zeeko Spitfire Hydrofoil Review

I’ve been kitesurfing for a long time. Years before there was even water relaunchable tube kites, I was flying foil kites on land and in the snow. I remember how excited I was when I first discovered there were other people who flew kites in Ithaca one winter long ago on the ice shelf at Stewart Park. Together we worked to figure out how to ride on the lake and failed tragically to stay upwind until Wing Eng finally went out on a 4.9 non-water relaunchable Blade II buggy racing foil kite and a 6′ long piece of plywood strapped to his feet with chopped up mousepads. Oh, how the times have changed.

The Spitfire is designed for jumping and wave riding, but the best part about it is the way it feels to ride. Not me, this guy uses straps.

After thousands of hours riding over almost 2 decades the sport was starting to lose interest for me. At 44 I had reached the peak of what I was able to do without seriously injuring myself. I tried lots of harder powered tricks, including some kite looping tricks and always ended up hurting myself bad enough to wonder why I was trying them. For the most part, I wanted to just get out on the water and jump 30 feet in the air and do nice slow front rolls all day long. The kites got better and better until the kites I ride today are what I really wanted to ride when I started but had not been designed yet. The Flysurfer Speed and Sonic FR kites I fly today are what I wanted to by flying back when I first started to ride. I laugh when I think about the first water relaunchable tube kite I bought, a 13.5 AR5 Naish with a wrist leash attached to a rear line and no chicken loop release. If I ever had to dump the kite, I couldn’t and it probably would have ripped my arm out of it’s socket if I did. That kite was so bad that I didn’t even sell it, I just threw it away because it was so dangerous. $2000 down the toilet. Such is life.

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Kite Hydrofoiling :My Healthiest Addiction Yet

About 5 years ago I was first introduced to Hydrofoiling with a kite by my good friend Norman McGuire (forum name kiterider) from Montreal, Quebec. He didn’t know me well enough to know what a risk he was taking to let me use his fancy carbon fiber Carafino hydrofoils as I pretty much destroy everything I touch. I first tried it at the Magdalen Islands which is about 15 hours of driving and then a very long 6-hour ferry ride that costs more than most plane tickets I’ve bought. Over the years, I have been to the Magdalen Islands for about 2 weeks in the summer at least 5 times, and each time Norman would show up with a new hydrofoil to try. One year he told me it was time to go strapless. I thought he was nuts, no one is riding these things strapless. After a few hours of flailing around in the water like a Noob, I finally figured it out. I was hooked.

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When kiting with a hydrofoil you ride several feet above the surface of the water. It’s a unique feeling that is nearly silent, somewhat eerie and incredibly addicting.

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Denmark’s Super Secret Kiteboarding & Cycling Utopia

Love has taken me a lot of places in this world. You could add Denmark as another country that I’ve visited for love, and then afterwards fell in love with. So often in the US I feel that my life is so good and that I am so blessed that I find it hard to imagine that things could be even better. The two weeks I spent in Denmark with Thilde made me feel even better than that, which I didn’t really think was actually possible.

Thilde and her father Lars
Thilde and her father Lars on a typical Danish street

A year ago Thilde and I committed to each other in a beautiful ceremony in the middle of Cayuga Lake with 150 other kayakers and standup paddle boarders in attendance. It was an amazing ceremony which was attended by no less than 6 Danes who crossed the pond simply to support Thilde. They were great company and seemed to laugh and smile a lot more than your standard American. I was more than a little curious to find out if Denmark really was as great as people kept making it out to be. Free universal healthcare for all, 50% of the urban population bike commutes, you get paid $1000/mth to go to college and new mothers can get 3 years of paid vacation time to take care of their babies. It sounded like a fantastic fantasyland that was too good to be true. Although I was skeptical, after spending 2 weeks there I can confirm that it is a real place and the Danes really do live that way. No wonder they are consistently polled as the happiest people on the planet although they were recently surpassed by Costa Rica probably because they have unmolested rain-forests and Denmark doesn’t. Not liking to be 2nd in anything I’m sure the Danes will buckle down and redouble their happiness efforts to beat the Costa Ricans again.

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The Ocean Doesn’t Care Whether You Live Or Die – $666 Of Destroyed Gear

As the 8′ high waves came and crashed on my head the only thing I could think was “Get back in your kayak and get out of here or you will die”. I frantically splashed around in the water while the most powerful current I had ever experienced thrashed me around uncontrollably. The boat hit me in the face giving me a black eye, I tried time and again to get myself into the swamped sea kayak and roll it up but to no avail. Eventually I gave up and grabbed my 500lb sea kayak filled with water and started swimming toward the vacant beach.

hatteras

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Flew To SLC To Snowkite, Ended Up Sleeping Outside On Top Of Skyline Drive In -20F. Cold. Fun.

Skyline is the quintessential West coast snow kiting destination that deserves every ounce of its reputation. The scenery was amazing and the terrain was varied and extensive. Almost every day we wanted to ride there we were able to ride, except for when the storms were rolling through. Traveling with Zeb for 10 days was fantastic, he had already been to skyline countless times and he was pretty good at predicting the winds and the conditions at the top of the mountain. Zebulon is the only kiter I’ve ever met that is actually weirder than I am so it gives me immense satisfaction traveling with him. Whenever people are like ‘dude you are so weird’ I can always be like ‘Yes but my buddy Zebulon is even weirder, why he’s from the Crabnebula galaxy’.

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The trip started off pretty insanely when Zeb texted me that a woman had given birth on the flight he was on and he had gotten re-rerouted to Denver. Apparently this is a pretty uncommon occurrence as it ended up making the national news. The last time he had flown in an airplane the person in the seat behind him had stopped breathing so he had to give him CPR, that’s some bad flying karma. When I met Zeb in Salt Lake City my bags hadn’t made it there yet, so we had to wait a couple of hours till the next flight brought them in. We ended up getting a humongous Chevy Malibu rental car and Zeb had acquired conjunctivitis (pink eye) on the plane so we had a prescription for antibiotic eye drops called into the nearest pharmacy. Zeb had gotten one of the new Android phones and it ended up being a real boon to have with us on the trip, the phone impressed me so much that I can’t wait to get a google phone of my very own. It did voice activated navigation with real-time traffic updates so you can see how slow the Freeways are moving. I’ve been waiting a long time to get that functionality out of my phone, and it’s all free.
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French Canadians Really Know How To Have A Good Time In The Carribean

I met Norm at one of my many trips to Hatteras that I take whenever I just can’t get my kite fix in Ithaca. I was down in NC for a couple of days riding by myself and I pulled into kite point and saw their larger than life camper retrofitted greyhound bus and the Flysurfer kite and I immediately struck up a conversation with Norm. I knew from my paddling experiences that French Canadians in general are some of the friendliest people you will meet in all of North America. Norm and his crew did not disappoint. He invited me to sleep in the driveway of their overpriced rental home which I gladly took them up on. It is quite fatiguing when you poach a sleeping spot under these million dollar homes thinking you’ll get woken up by the cops at any minute, but I could not afford one of those nice $150 tickets for sleeping in my van and being a world-class kite bum.

Photo by Thilde Jensen
Photo by Thilde Jensen

After a while my buddy Gregg showed up and he camped in their driveway with his minivan too. It was heaven, kiting all day then warm showers and our own toilet by the pool. We made all the Canadian’s dinner one night to show our gratitude and they were incredibly hospitable for the entire week. Norm even let me fly his Speed 3 15 demo he had borrowed from Ted. That demo kite inspired me to buy 2 new Speed 3’s for my quiver. After I returned, Norm invited me to tag along with them to the Caribbean for a week so I bought a ticket to fly out of Montreal and join them for a week of kiting madness.

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Hatteras NC, The Best Place I Know To Be Endlessly Harassed By Gun Toting Government Officials

This trip down to the outer banks in 2009 could not have been more different from the solo trip I took down there about a month ago. A month ago I was incredibly emotional driving down there and it seemed like I could not stop crying. When I finally got there even though it was windy I didn’t want to ride. I finally forced myself to get up and go out and ride and then that place worked its magic on me. The cold water and wind was refreshing and soon I found myself remembering who I was. That whole week I spent alone drawing, reading, kiting and generally working on trying to improve myself and my outlook on life. The rangers harassed me constantly; they even went so far as to ask me if I had any weapons or drugs in the car. I thought it would be funny to reply “What do you need officer,” but decided against it. Everywhere I went the rangers would show up, it got to the point where I didn’t even want to talk to them; it was like a game, they would pull up in their big ranger truck and wherever I was at I would just leave. Feeling totally emotionally volatile and extremely vulnerable the last thing I wanted to do was deal with the law or get a ticket for something stupid, so I kept moving, never staying in one place for very long, riding when I could and hanging out in the van when it was raining.

Ride every day.
Ride every day.

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