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ricki 05-30-2010 04:11 PM

Matheson Meeting Overview, Nice Turnout!
The venue, unique views and riding!

There was a great turnout of over 40 kiters to the kickoff meeting on May 26, 2010. Long time riders, new folks, a wide spectrum of kiters came out to participate in the meeting. They were concerned and enthusiastic about working to secure access at this great launch.
Full house, thanks for making the meeting!
CLICK PHOTO for full sized image
A 360 view of Matheson on a riding day.
CLICK PHOTO for full sized image
Kent Marinkovic (right) presents the concept of the new riding area procedures and answers questions. To the left of Kent is Alan Weitzel, Miami-Dade Parks & Recreation, Coastal Parks Director, to the left of Mr. Weitzel is Jeff West, Service Area Manager and to the left of Mr. West, Deallo Johnson the new manager of Matheson Park.

We were lucky to have several key managers present from Miami-Dade Parks & Recreation shown above. Alan Weitzel opened the meeting. He has been working in in the Parks Department for over three decades and has seen several water sports/activities come online in that time. Several presented management and potential safety issues which The Department made a priority to resolve. Mr. Weitzel said he liked kiting, the spectacle it brought to the waters but was concerned that it be conducted in a way that was safe both for the participants and bystanders. Crowding and incidents had raised concerns about the possible need to ban kiting at Matheson. The concession has been conceived to improve the safety and sustainability of kiting at this venue by Adventure Sports Miami, (ASM).

David West followed with insightful comments about kiting and other water activities. He has taken to the time learn about our sport and potential issues. Mr. West has also been with the Parks Department for over two decades. He would also like to see kiting continue here. He emphasized it will take our collective efforts to make keep kiting at Matheson and thriving. I second that!

I understand Deallo Johnson recently took over as manager at Matheson. Mr. Johnson may have seen kiting there for the first time around last Saturday. As some may know, last Saturday showcased how kiting should not be practiced. Excessively crowded with some incidents, folks riding too near shore, etc.. I think his reaction was something like "what are these people doing here???"

We need to change our approach to keep us kiting at Matheson to where we are encouraged to be here. Fortunately, Kent, Todd, Carlos, Josh, Bryan and lots of others at ASM with outside input from several other folks have come up with a concept focused on doing just that. It addresses specific problem areas over the years while trying to avoid unduly impacting kiting. It just makes things more realistic and sustainable. In densely populated Miami-Dade County, adding in all the visitors and many years of access pressures we need to make this a priority. So, let's work to make kiting a positive in Mr. Johnson's transition here.

Kent covered a lot of ground about the concept, rules, amenities, certification requirements, certification exams, compression station, custom 16 passenger beamy kite taxi boat to the flats, rescue watercraft for Matheson, bus and a great deal more. ASM doesn't plan to charge ANY access fees for kiting here. Once you've provided acceptable proof of certification, you're good to put on your streamer and go riding. There is a designated area for instruction, an exclusion zone for flying kites, minimum buffer distance from shore and other realistic considerations to better manage kiting here. You may want to consider buying an annual "Ticket To Ride" card to take advantage of a number of amenities and discounts. Kent even mentioned they were thinking about installing a wind meter station and live cam! He stated that for discussions regarding future commercial watersports activities at Matheson, please schedule an appointment with Adventure Sports Miami by emailing Instructors wishing to teach in the park are also invited to apply.

Click here for an overview of the kiteboarding concession. There is a lot to be offered here.

Click here for an overview of procedures, rules and amenities for the launch area
Stiltsville and the Miami Flats are close by and even more accessible with the kiter sea taxi operation. Looks a bit crowded at Mathenson or you just want to treat yourself with a quick trip to excellent riding conditions here, grab a seat on the sea taxi and head out. "Ticket To Ride" holders get taxi services at half price!

I tossed out some comments as well. Mainly about how riding as we have been for a long time will see us shut out of Matheson. We need to change which isn't always easy or welcome. Losing a launch like Matheson would be a lot less welcome. We're going to need everyone's help to work through the change to keep us kiting here well into the future.
As an aside, everyone knows what a supercell squall cloud looks like? Here's one of several that were over SW Broward and NW Miami-Dade driving down to the meeting from Palm Beach County. Hint to self, don't kite with these things around. The weather cleared before I made Matheson with blue skys for the meeting.
This is what it is all about. A great riding spot worth working to protect our access to. Thousands of hours of fun times here. We need to change a few things in our approach to keep the great times going decades into the future.
Moonrise over Matheson, going to be a good night and coming wind season here with your help!

Have questions, concerns, ideas? Post them here or get in touch with ASM at:

In closing, Matheson has some special issues that should be readily addressed through this concept. Not all areas have the launch crowding, 2.25 million residents, vast quantities of visitors, very long term kiting presence in quantity and still more issues that apply to this area. As such these measures shouldn't be needed in less congested, contested areas. Don't have these issues, great, keep working to keep it that way. Thanks again to ASM for stepping up with a solution backed by a substantial investment of time and money to make kiting sustainable at Matheson Hammock.


troubleshooter 05-31-2010 02:47 AM

Yes it was a really good turnout......even without beer.;-)

One thing that got me a little confused and partly because I didnt have a map to take back with me. The rules on buffer zones, launch-land zones, jumping zones, etc.

From what I recall, there were a few layers of buffer zones. Kent even discussed some option about being able to jump in one zone as long as you landed in another? That confused me a bit. Someone had a question about the zones also and one of the crew had it on his laptop. Could a good color version be posted here?

A suggestion could be this. Launch/land zones dont need to be marked. Its the beach. No bouys are needed. Your protocol on who goes first....launchers or landers....and the distance from shore will be followed.

I think only two sets of bouys would be needed.

The no ride zone which is already established, red bouys nicely marked and obvious.

Then the one buffer zone which includes no jumpng, no cruising back and forth in, and which contains the launch/land zone. I shoudnt be able to cruise in this zone even if I have one hand on the other side of the bouy (yes sarcasm).

Crandon is marked this way, red bouys =no ride zone. Yellow bouys equal launch/land zone and no jumping (in theory). Making it universal will aid all. People who ride Crandon will also ride Matheson.

I think this will make it easier for all and for visitors. The less complicated it is will help when new comers arrive. Good job promoting it. Now lets all walk the walk. We will help in everyway we can.

kent 05-31-2010 09:09 AM

Hi Troubleshooter,

You will see the full color version posted here and at the site after the holiday. It is exactly as you stated. There are only 2 sets of buoys. The point is that there is a launch and land zone that is 35 meters wide. We are requiring that rider’s feet be at least 25 meters from land when launching. If they launched at 25 meters this means that they would have to walk or body drag another 10 meters to leave the LZ. Then riders will exit quickly through the only buffer area which is approximately 40 meters wide. This is a no riding area which includes "no landing". This was a reasonable answer to having the white buoys half way across the bay which was totally unreasonable and unenforceable which resulted everyone disregarding what was intended to be a decent guideline. We’ll give this one a go and make revisions if necessary. I believe that the rules are pretty basic and well tailored to the venue. Let’s see how they work.

ricki 05-20-2018 10:58 PM

Matheson Hammock has a long history in the Kiting Community. Lonny Morris was there before anyone else for kiting and wrote a summary of the history on Facebook. I thought it would be good to include that history here. Thanks Lonny!

"Lonny Morris: ... since you started kiting @ Matheson in 2010 I think you need a bit of a history lesson on the spot. I was the first person to ride Matheson with a kite in 2000. It was an old windsurfing spot that actually used to have an active windsurfing scene. Although due to the shallow water it was never a great spot because you couldn’t ride there much of the time with the tide. After I started kiting I realized the shallow flat waters would make an epic spot to kite for freestyle training, and thus it became my main spot and soon many others joined. And it was epic, for a time...

The evolution of Matheson was, as you might expect, very natural. Friends came, students learned, people visited and stayed. We were all quite innocent in relation to the dangers of kiting that are obvious today, and especially those unique to Matheson and the “beach” parking lot. Around 2003 Matheson was becoming quite crowded. If you can imagine a Wild West scene occurring at a beach that was Matheson with issues almost every day. Several people had been substantially injured by then, with blunt force trauma injuries, kite lines taking fingers and one very close friend being so substantially injured that he eventually lost his life in 2004. That is something none of us that knew him will ever forget. We loved our spot, and a few of us knew we had to start some form of self-regulation to protect innocent riders that didn't know better and protect access for the rest of us.

The sign that Rick posted was produced and installed by me in 2004. It was based on a number of rules that were being initiated at several kite spots across the country at the time as well as some issues that pertained mainly to Matheson. I sought out Rick's guidance at the time because he was and still is the preeminent authority when it comes to kite safety. No single person has done more to protect kiting access in Florida than Rick, and we all owe him a debt of gratitude for his efforts. As you can imagine with several issues related to kitesurfing at Matheson, the park management started to take notice of the activities at the beach and it was not in positive light. By 2005 we had 3 or more schools teaching, most of them doing nothing to preserve access to the space, nor obeying the self-imposed regulations that were well known, and in fact, only made it more dangerous for everyone. There were also several riders that simply didn’t want to be regulated, told how to kite, or felt they knew better because they thought they were better. Several of us worked tirelessly - paying for buoys, raking the beach of rocks, getting in arguments with riders, trying to appease park management regarding their issues, and spending hours simply policing the beach. When I say I and the many other riders that gave their time to protect the spot didn’t sign up for that, I can assure you we didn’t and it took much of the love and stoke away from Matheson.

By the time Adventure Sports began the concession at Matheson in 2010, the County had reached an impasse with kiting and was preparing to shut down the spot permanently. Self-regulation with the riders had not achieved the results necessary to safely allow kiting to continue in the eyes of the County. Quite simply, had it not been for the actions of Adventure Sports there would be no kiting at Matheson period. Within 3 months under Adventure Sport’s stewardship Matheson was a wonderful place to kite once again. I could just show up, pump up my kite and ride – no aggravation, or nightmares. If anyone could be bitter about paying a fee to do that don’t you think I would be? Guess what, I am not, and in fact, I am also paying member at 76th, and Crandon. Why? Because the sport I love as much as life, whether we like it or not, has to be regulated, must be managed, and we as a community need to support the companies that are performing the management. As long as the costs are reasonable, we should be willing to help support the companies/people that are managing our kite spots, not because it is legal under the strictest application of a deed, but because it is the right thing to do."


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