With the number of kiteboarders growing, local beaches are becoming as crowded as the major kiteboarding destinations around the world. Is localism on the rise at your local beach? How do you deal with the crowing crowds and increasing number of new riders?
Here is the SBC Kiteboard editorial about localims from the 2008 Summer Issue:
“I’ve seen some crazy shit in the past few days. I understand there is a learning curve, and we all were there once... but this amount of stupidity and lack of common sense, let alone prickish disrespect towards all other beachgoers has to stop!” —Smokey
This posting on a local forum sums it up perfectly. Kiteboarding is experiencing exponential growth and, as a result, some growing pains. The advent of safer high-depowering SLE and bow-style kites has some riders taking shortcuts in their progression. People are becoming self-sufficient riders faster than ever before, but as a result, they’re also missing out on a great deal of the mentorship that experienced riders took for granted in their learning curves. It was during this mentorship that most riders learned local beach etiquette.
It is the etiquette aspect of the sport that increasingly has experienced riders shaking their heads in disbelief and, for the first time ever, wondering if there may be too many riders. Localism may even be on the rise as a result, and this would be a tragic loss for the sport. Growing crowds and congested riding spots are something we are all learning to live with. In many cases, they inspire us to set out and find new places to ride.
That, to me, has always been one of the greatest appeals of kiteboarding—the search for new spots. I have spent countless hours scoping out new locations with Google Earth before making the expeditionary first strike to the as-of-yet-unridden location. Increasingly, I have been arriving to my next secret location only to find a crew of locals already ripping it up.
“How are the conditions today?”
“Any hazards to watch out for?”
Having a friendly bunch of locals already on the scene makes riding easier and less stressful. The less busy the beach, the more friendly the locals, and the longer and more in-depth their responses to the standard questions.
The beach I normally ride is becoming one of the area’s busier beaches. On the days I can’t visit somewhere less traveled, I try to answer visiting riders’ questions with the same enthusiasm I receive at the almost-deserted beaches. I will happily explain the launching and landing etiquette and the rules of the road to the newcomers. It seems we’ve all been doing this on a daily basis since we started kiteboarding.
One thing I will not happily do (edit: I meant to say I still would but not happily) is explain the local beach etiquette to a new rider who has forgotten to ask anyone. I’m sure you’ll agree: none of us want to feel like a beach cop. Riders new to the scene should come over to us and ask about local etiquette before we need to go over and tell them what they’re doing wrong.
Asking questions is the ultimate sign of respect, and it goes along way to keeping localism to a minimum. I am looking forward to asking and answering lots of questions this summer. — John Bryja, Editor