High Ambitions

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Story by Judy Edwards  |  Photography by Eric Aeder

maui kiteboarderThe next time you’ve got your toes in the Kanaha Beach sand and your jaw in your hand, absolutely gobsmacked by the butterflyesque display of color and movement that is modern kiteboarding, keep in mind that you may be looking at one of the newest Olympic sports.

On May 7, 2011, the International Sailing Federation confirmed that two of the ten sailing events for the 2016 Olympics in Rio could be men’s and women’s kiteboarding, if the trials pass the evaluation stage. Which, at this printing, is ongoing.

“Kiteboarding is the purest form of sailing and would be an awesome addition to the Olympic Family,” says two-time USA Olympic windsurfing medalist Michael Gebhardt, a member of the International Kiteboarders Association Olympic Commission. “Kite racing is . . . colorful, dynamic, inexpensive and super easy to learn . . . and can be done in water as shallow as two inches deep, opening up many places where no other craft can navigate.”

In the meantime, train your binoculars on the Maui/Moloka‘i/O‘ahu channels next April, when local enthusiasts hope to assemble at least 2,000 kiteboarders—the most ever—to flit, skip, spin, fly and zip between the Islands. The goal is to get into the Guinness Book of World Records and gain international recognition for kiteboarding’s bid to go Olympic. So, whatcha doing next April, hmmm? Come fly a kite.

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