If learning to kiteboard sounds like a worthy endeavor, then Jeffro is your man.
Kiteboarding: the act of strapping your feet into a wakeboard, and using a kite attached to a body harness to propel yourself through the water. I know what you’re thinking – body harness?
I first met Jeffro in 2006, when he founded his kiteboarding school through Urban Surf, one of Seattle’s premier board shops. He was a youngish surfer type, hair flowing out the back of his hat and large sunglasses permanently fixed on the bridge of his nose.
Jeffro’s passion of the sport has taken him to Australia and Hawaii as a teacher, but after touching down in 2004 he found a void that needed filling. As soon as he was able, he opened a school that met the necessary International Kiteboarding Organization certification standards. Naturally, it wasn’t smooth sailing (pun so very intended) in the early stages.
“Finding a dynamic form of scheduling people, instructors and the wind were and still are challenges,” says Jeffro. “Other things, from Jetski trouble to older kite equipment, were also issues. We also had to figure out how to apply the training program with the conditions offered to us in the Puget Sound. Fortunately, we found Jetty Island (just east of Everett), as it is the best shallow water training ground with reliable winds around.”
Thanks to this sustainable solution, folks have been flocking to the classes ever since. In the early stages, students were mostly boardsports enthusiasts, but interest has now piqued among the mass population, as well. The days I spent with his class were attended by, among others, a father/son duo and an accountant.
“Kiteboarding is a lot more mobile, in that the gear really packs down quite a bit and you can travel easily with it. Kiteboarders can be fairly independent and not need others to ride with like a boat.” Jeffro continues, “Not to mention that I seem to get a lot more before or after work sessions around here on our NW waterways.”
So, what are the classes like?
“For students, I think there are many levels,” Jeffro believes, “from the initial power of a training kite to the first body drag and board-start attempt, or the first time riding upwind — and then, of course, jumping.”
The first session is land-based and focused on manipulating the kite. Once competence has been achieved, the next step is to head to Jetty Island and be dragged through the water, sans board. The final class familiarizes the rider with kiteboarding maneuvers, using jet ski-assisted runs; tips on maximizing efficiency – as well as how to look cool getting in and out of a wetsuit — are also included at this time.
“As an instructor, it’s pretty awesome to see someone have a breakthrough day where everything is clicking,” Jeffro says, “and it’s equally rewarding to see people you have taught in the past now ripping out on the water! The thing about kiteboarding is there is always something new to learn and try, it continues to offer challenges no matter what level you are at.”
Think you’re ready? Classes at Urban Surf range in price from $1800 to $3000. Unlike major buck sucks like skiing or golf (two of my favorites) — where a fee is required to partake on certified lands –kiteboarding takes place on beautifully free waters where the wind is vibrant. Kiteboarding is truly an in-or-out sport — so, the only question left is: are you in?
Urban Surf | 2100 N. Northlake Way, Seattle | (206) 545-9463