Many of you may have seen the Forbes video that is online at the moment, that covers the recent MaiTai event on Maui and interestingly looks at the connection between kitesurfing and the number of Silicon Valley VC’s and Entrepreneurs who are into the sport. If you haven’t seen it check it out, as its a great piece.
Now let me start by making this clear, I think this is an intriguing video, the connection between Entrepreneurs (or an entreprenerial mindset) and kitesurfing is something that is obviously evident and the conclusions drawn in the video are delivered well.
What does concern me – maybe concern is too strong – interest me is that once again kitesurfing is painted as being a risky adrenaline sport, taken on by the elite and reckless.
Yes, maybe this was the case 5-10 years ago, but is kitesurfing really that risky if riders have the safety conscious new equipment, lessons with a trained instructor, understand the issues and use some common sense?
Pro-rider Videos = High Profile
Video of pro riders throwing complex unhooked tricks will of course attract more coverage and profile for our sport, but when the message placed along side these shots is that only risk takers need apply i feel the sport is being mis-sold.
Where are all the riders on the MaiTai event? Are they all wannabee pro’s? Unlikely, more likely the same as the majority of kitesurfers i meet who like to cruise around doing jumps, spins and the odd kiteloop – probably not so exciting for the forbes cameraman who knows nothing of kitesurfing, but far more realistic of what kitesurfing is to the majority.
A Kite Surfers Personality
What i would take from the entreupreniral connection is that kite surfing is a sport that continually challenges riders, it offers a constant flow of new things to learn and by its composite nature allows people to add in their own style or take on tricks.
I wouldn’t say “risk taking, aggression, addiction and adrenaline” defines the personality of all the people i ride with (and a lot of them are in fact entrepreneurs), but i would say that intelligence, creativity, self ambition and individuality does. Isn’t that why entrepreneurs get into the sport?
Overcoming The Common Mis-Perception
The number of times I get chatting to non-kiters down the beach and the overwhelming perception is kitesurfing must be hard, you must be super fit, an adrenaline junkie, young and male! We need to counteract this common misconception and show the reality that kitesurfing is open to everyone. Making the sport accessible is something we’ve tried to do with all our Progression DVDs, both through the narration and the visuals, using both male, female, young and old riders.
There is room for most people in the sport, whether you want to just cruise around, ride waves, do simple tricks or the most complex tricks adding in those elements of risk and recklessness. It really has got it all.
Lets keep using our pro’s to inspire and attract attention but lets not let the underlying message be ‘risk takers only need apply’. Everyone can enjoy this amazing sport, how can we take that message out to a wider audience?