Sep 23, 2005
Author: John Bryja
This article was published in the Fall 2005 SBC Kiteboard
magazine, one month before Clinton finished third at the final Red Bull
King of the Air event on Maui. Check out this short film of Clinton's
travel that year.
Clinton Bolton competes in so many American contests, you could easily mistake him as one of Best Kiteboarding’s top American team riders. His victories at the 2005 Velocity Games in Texas and the Islamorada invitational in Florida have established his place as one of the top competitors in the North American scene. At only 18 years of age, this South African already has five years of kiteboarding experience, and he looks to have a long contest career ahead of him.
What is the kite scene like in South Africa?
It is an awesome place: large beaches, giant waves, incredible downwinders with dolphins playing in the waves with you. The kiteboarding scene is still growing in South Africa, with more people getting into it; especially more surfers are getting into it.
How did you get into kiting?
My parents moved to the south of Spain at the end of 1998, and there are no waves there, so I didn’t get to surf much. I saw kiteboarding on TV, looked it up on the Internet and saw that they were going to have one of the very first kiteboarding world championships in Tarifa, Spain, in 1999, called the Red Bull Sky Ride. I went down and checked it out and saw the massive airs they were getting. I told myself then and there that this is what I’m going to be doing. Since then I have been kiteboarding.
You compete in Germany and the U.S. at a lot of the smaller pro events, as well as the PKRA events. Why so many contests?
I really like competing, and I have a lot friends who are touring as well, so it’s cool to see them when going to the events. Competing pushes me more to improve my riding. It also helps improve my knowledge for the competitive environment and helps me learn what the judges are looking for. It also lets me promote my sponsors more.
What is your training approach?
I train a lot on and off the water. It’s good to keep in shape for competitions, which also helps to prevent injuries. Off the water I do a lot of cardiovascular exercises: running, upper- and lower-body exercises like pull-ups, sit-ups, push-ups, and squats for the legs and knees. Most of the moves that we do in kiteboarding cause us to land hard, so it’s really important to strengthen the knees so that they can take the impact when landing.
What is life like as a pro rider?
I enjoy working with the Best R and D team on the gear; I get to travel and kiteboard in some of the nicest places to test the prototypes. It gets stressful at times, as well when doing photo shoots and filming. For instance, if the light’s not good or if there’s no wind, it can stress you out. You have to try and make the best out of the conditions you have. On these occasions, even if there is the slightest bit of wind, you have to go and try and get the shot. That’s part of being a pro rider. I’m grateful that I have a career as a pro kiteboarder. It’s the best job I could have ever wished for.
What kind of gear do you ride?
I ride all the kites from Best: Yargas, Nemesis, and the Hellfish. The boards I ride vary from the 121 and 125 Drive to 124 and 130 Pro board. I ride my 124 Pro with bindings. I love that board to hit sliders. It’s sick.
Who do you look up to in kiting?
Anyone who pushes the limit and has a positive attitude in the sport. The main people I look up to are Shannon Best, Andy Hurdman, Mark Shinn and Damien LeRoy.
Where is your favourite place to ride?
I have loads of favourite places, but there are three places that stand out: Mauritius, Brazil and Cape Verde Islands. But there are more places out there where I haven’t kited yet. My favourite place that I haven’t kited is Tahiti. That’s somewhere I would like to go some day.
Big shoutout to my parents, Walli and Clive, for sponsoring me for the past 18 years. Thanks, guys. Also, thanks to all my sponsors, especially Best Kiteboarding for making my career as a pro kiteboarder possible and allowing me the ability to be happy doing what I do.
Clinton Bolton is sponsored by Best Kiteboarding and Kite Fever.