Joe Sargent

Kiteboarding, the culmination of snowboarding, surfing, wakeboarding, and windsurfing, has made a home for itself on the Central Coast

Strapped to a board and tied to a kite, boarders are pulled down the face of waves and dragged above the lip for big airs with the power of wind, and San Luis Obispo County has some premium kiteboarding spots at San Simeon, Oceano and Morro Bay.

With spots to ride, places to buy gear, and instructors, the Central Coast is a great place to learn the relatively new sport, however, it has a learning curve, is equipment-focused, and can be a strain on the wallet.

To kiteboard, also known as kitesurfing, you need a board, a kite, a harness, a bar, and if you’re riding around here, a wetsuit. A new kite and board alone can cost $2,000, but used equipment is readily available on Web sites like ikitesurf.com, which has a classified section with over 600 used kites and 100 boards.

One of the reasons there is so much used equipment is because the relatively new sport of kiteboarding is progressing more every year and new and improved equipment is coming out at the same time, said Steve Beneran, a local kiteboarder and a member of the Central Coast Kite Boarding Association (CCKA).

“Equipment change is pretty radical from year-to-year,” Beneran said. “Last year’s model can be a quarter of the price.”

One of the big improvements over the last two years is in safety, Beneran said, adding that there are a lot of safety issues with the sport and that most accidents actually happen on land before anyone even gets in the water.

“If you haven’t learned correctly, the kite can pull you straight up in the air 10 or 15 feet and drop you back on the ground,” Steve Beneran said.

Between safety issues and the cost of the equipment, someone new to the sport should take lessons he said.

XtremeBigAir.com, an everything kiteboarding Web site, based in Shell Beach, offers classifieds, kiteboarding news and lessons. A personal five-hour beginners course costs $375 and is offered any day the wind is blowing in March, April, May and June.

If you just want to check out some local kiteboarding, the fourth annual KiteXPO will take place at Pismo Beach from May 19 to 21. This is one of the largest kiteboarding events in the country with contests, equipment demos and sponsored events.

To learn more about kiteboarding on the Central Coast, the CCKA has a chat group on Yahoo Groups. Just search for CCKA.

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